Most years I receive an invitation to give the invocation down the street at the Florida State Capitol. Sometimes the invitation comes from the House of Representatives, sometimes the Senate. This year it was the Senate who called.
I am ambivalent about public invocations. I don’t like “generic” prayers that offend no one and address no deity in particular. On the other hand, I don’t think I should take advantage of a captive audience to foist the Triune God upon a sea of bowed heads.
I usually accept the invitation, however, because scripture mandates that we pray for those in authority and because, quite clearly, they need it.
Perhaps you know about the deadlock between the Florida House and Senate. The Republican-dominated Senate has proposed a budget which includes expanded health insurance for about 800,000 working Floridians who can’t otherwise afford coverage. (These officials can’t bear to admit they want to buy into the Affordable Care Act, so they talk simply of “expanded coverage.”)
The House, however, also dominated by Republicans, seems to have lost not only its heart but also its mind, and continues to cling to the fantasy that it can remain pure of the taint of Obama Care without, quite literally, killing some of its most vulnerable constituents.
On April 29 the House adjourned three days early, giving a huge raspberry to the Senate and, for that matter, to the folks who elected them.
On my way to offer my prayer for the Senate the next day, the church office got a call. Turns out the Senate decided not to bother coming back into session at all. No Senate. No prayer.
So, here’s the prayer I meant to pray. I hope God hears it anyway.
We thank you for the freedoms we enjoy,
for the high calling of public service,
and for the sacred duty you have laid
upon those in authority
to show compassion, justice, and mercy to all
Grant to these, your servants in the Florida Senate,
refreshment from their labors,
vision to see beyond the current crisis,
and courage to stand with the least of your children.
In all their dealings today and in the future,
give them wisdom, patience, fortitude, and good humor,
that your will might be done
and your love for all might be made manifest.
This we ask in your holy name. Amen.