Last night I participated, as I normally do, in the Troy-area Interfaith Group's National Day of Prayer celebration. This annual event serves to remind us that when we gather to pray as a nation, that prayer should be inclusive of all who make up the nation from various forms of Christianity to Hinduism, from Islam to Bahai, from Judaism to Native American religions -- and more. The nation has been influenced by its majority faith tradition, which is Christianity. To argue otherwise is to blind ourselves to the presence of Christianity in America. Of course, you can also say that America as a culture has influenced the way Christianity is understood and practiced (as is true of other faith traditions that are present).
This morning I attended the annual Troy Community Coalition Prayer Breakfast. It too is interfaith in scope. The speaker for today was my good friend and colleague, the Rev. Charlotte Sommers. She spoke of that void within us all that is fed by desire and discontent. The faith traditions help us understand and deal with this void -- hopefully in positive ways. Again, it was a good event that I was pleased to attend.
I am also involved in planning of an interfaith Service of Remembrance and Hope to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Tragedy of September 11. (It will be sponsored by the Troy Clergy Group and held on Sunday evening, September 11, 2011, at 7:00 PM at St. Anastasia Catholic Church).
So, on a day after the National Day of Prayer (a day that has become, unfortunately, entangled with a conservative Christian agenda, but need not be left to a partisan or narrow platform) I offer a prayer for the nation.
Gracious God, our Creator and Sustainer of life in all of its bounty:
You have endowed us with the desire for freedom.
You have instilled within us hope for the future.
You have called us to concern ourselves with the needs of our neighbors.
You have called us to love not only neighbor but even those we call our enemy.
You have called us to live together in community, so that even as we seek to live out the fulness of our own beliefs and abilities, to excell and improve our place in life, we are called to remember that we do not take this path alone.
Therefore, remind us of those who sacrificed so that we might have freedom and hope.
Remind us of those who reached out and helped us when we were in need.
Remind us that we are to love both neighbor and enemy as we would love ourselves.
Instill in us a sense of community, a sense of commitment to the common good so that everyone in the community has the opportunity to excell in life.
May we, O God, as we pray that you would bless America, also remember that you are God of all the nations.
We give thanks that the hand of providence is with us, but remind us that whatever gifts we have received from you are given so that they might be shared.
Let us give thanks for the freedoms and opportunities that we have. May we not take them for granted. May your blessings be poured out upon all who inhabit this earth that you have created for our benefit.