Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a Blessed Benediction!

I told you the benediction is more powerful than the invocation! Did you recognize the opening lines as being from what is termed the black national anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing"? (By the way, I thought Rev. Warren's invocation was just fine.)

Rev. Joseph Lowery, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr., delivered the benediction at the inaugural ceremony. Below is a transcription of his address, provided by CQ Transcriptwire:

LOWERY: God of our weary years, god of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our god, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.

Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day.

We pay now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration.

He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national, and indeed the global, fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hands, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.

Our faith does not shrink though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you are able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that yes we can work together to achieve a more perfect union.

And while we have sown the seeds of greed -- the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.

With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around...

(LAUGHTER)

... when yellow will be mellow...

(LAUGHTER)

LOWERY: ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen.

LOWERY: Say Amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen.

LOWERY: And Amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen.

(APPLAUSE)

4 comments:

Joel said...

A preacher's daughter will appreciate the little nuggets of King James he peppered the benediction with. Very effective, especially when religion has been such a factor in the election.

And it was an especially good touch inviting a man who had marched alongside King for this inauguration. I was moved in spite of myself.

ms. kitty said...

I did appreciate his words very much, Joel. Thanks for your comment.

kim said...

oh, thank you. I knew those first lines were from a song or poem, but couldn't remember what.
It's in our hymnal, isn't it?

ms. kitty said...

Hi, Kim,
It's thought of as the "black national anthem" by many people and was written by James Weldon Johnson. It's "Lift Every Voice and Sing", #149 in the hymnal. It is truly beautiful.