1/23/13

Inauguration Week thoughts

It has been quite a week in our nation's life and history:

Monday we honored the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the struggle of the Black community for civil rights.  This year that remembrance was especially poiniant for many as this year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Emmancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln and the 50th Anniversary of Rev. King's great "I have a Dream" sermon delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Monday, on the other end of the National Mall, across from the Lincoln Memorial also saw the second public inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama who, as everyone knows, is the first Black president of this country, and the first Black leader of any major Western Nation.  Though we still have a long way to go, President Obama is a testimony to how far along our country has come towards Rev. Dr. King's vision. 

Tuesday we marked the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision paving the way for tens of millions of unborn children to be terminated in this country.  While some of those abortions were performed in cases of medical necessity, when the life of the mother was in danger or in the case of extreme birth defects, the great majority were simply cases of birth control in which the child, already living in her mother's womb, was seen as a burden: unwanted and unvalued.  How desperately sad that is if one really thinks on it.  Many of us this week have prayed not simply for changes in the laws concerning abortion, but even more than that, for a culture that is life and child-affirming and sexually responsible; we pray for a change in the American heart.

Mother Teresa said it best I think, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."  That applies not only to the individuals who decide to have abortions (or who pressure a woman to do so), but also to the community that turns a blind eye to the poverty, family breakdown, and desperation of so many young women that pushes them towards that decision.

I can't help but reflect, now later in the week, that there is a complex symbolic connection between President Obama's swearing-in and these other remembrances this week.  The President even used Rev. Dr. King's Bible for his inaugural oath, deliberately tying himself and his work to the legacy of the great Baptist Pastor, and certainly there is a connection there that is worth celebrating, even if some in the Black community warn us not to blur them together (see here).  Yet I cannot help but see a partial connection between the plight of the Black community and the abortion-friendly policies of some leaders, including President Barak Obama.

 
 
Speaking of the President's policies, many in our country, myself included, were a bit disappointed that President Obama's inaugural address, while calling for unity, seemed to announce his intention to pursue a sharply ideological policy and to govern from the left rather than the center.  Even NPR and the New York Times saw the speech as a sweeping call for a Liberal/progressive programme.  Yet we feel to me like "a house divided that cannot stand" and what we really need today is unity.
 
That need for unity is why one of the more enjoyable aspects of the inaugural festivities (for me) this year was watching well-known United Methodist pastor, Rev. Adam Hamilton, preach to our nation's highest leaders at the National Cathedral's Inaugural Prayer service yesterday.  Rev. Hamilton preached upon the leadership qualities of Moses emphasizing his compasion for the oppressed Hebrew slaves, his humility, his unifying vision for the people, and his reliance upon God.  
 
 
The sermon did not address that whole Golden Calf incident (and the many forms of idolatry that it could represent for us) and when Rev. Hamilton spent some time emphasizing the types of social justice issues that Democratic politicians like the President already tend to champion, I began to wonder if the sermon would simply be a liturgical "high five" offered to the victorious President.  Yet as he continued, Rev. Hamilton spoke of the need for a unifying vision to bring people together, and not a partisan one (like the one the President articulated only hours before at his inauguration), and Rev. Hamilton, using the example of Rev. King's prayer in a dark time, spoke of our need for the living God to give us our strength, direction, and hope.  It was then that I thought, 'There is someone speaking the truth to power,' and I was glad that Rev. Hamilton is United Methodist.  You can watch Rev. Adam Hamilton's sermon here (sadly, or humorously?, you will mostly be watching the back of the preacher's and the President's heads).      
 
As I reflect on the events of this week, I feel myself moved into prayer: for our church, for our President and other leaders, and for the heart of our nation as well.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Fellow United Methodist blogger Matt O'Reilly has an interesting post discussing the Roe v. Wade case here:

http://www.mattoreilly.net/2013/01/maybe-maybe-not-reflecting-on-roe-40.html

10:06 PM, January 23, 2013  

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