Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Graduation Prayer

Yesterday I had the honor of offering the prayer of invocation at my alma mater (and former workplace) the Rye Country Day School (RCDS). RCDS is a prestigious independent school in the midst of a very affluent community. It is a fine institution of learning but, as with any institution, it has its flaws. One of its major flaws, a blemish that the administration is mindful of and actively working on (shout out to my girl Meredeth deChabert the current Director of Diversity and soon-to-be Assistant Head of School) is the sense of privilege that permeates its halls.

For many, offering an ecumenical prayer that is mindful that there are a multiplicity of faith traditions in the room is a difficult task. For me, that is not the tough part. I do not have to say the name Jesus to be praying in His name. Spoken or not, every prayer I lift up is in the name of Jesus. But for me, the tough part came in the content of the prayer. I did not want to pray extemporaneously, so I prayerfully worked on the prayer over the course of the week. The continued news reports of the Gulf Oil Spill was my background music. I was led, by the Spirit, not simply to offer a nicey-nicey prayer that would make folks feel good, but a prayer that would stir up something within the hearts of the hearers so that we all (that includes me too) would be moved to be active agents of God's love, peace, and justice in our society and in our world.

Here is my prayer:

Gracious God, we gather in this holy time and in this holy space, for a moment of pause to draw from your breath of inspiration. We gather in this holy time and in this holy space to give thanks for these graduates and their myriad accomplishments across a many disciplines. We gather in this holy time and in this holy space to celebrate all that these graduates have done and all those who have supported them in their life journey—parents, siblings, family, administrators, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends. We gather in this holy time and this holy space to invoke blessings upon these graduates and all that they will be and say and do and experience in the coming days, weeks, months, years, and decades that lie ahead.

Grant them the courage to be their authentic selves in a society that seeks uniformity and conformity--to give of themselves freely and without fear…

Grant them joy that is contagious, laughter that lifts burdens, and delight that carries them through the tough days ahead...

Grant them peace that defies human understanding in our world where anxiety and fear pervade the human spirit and cause us to act irresponsibly towards ourselves, each other, and all of creation...

Grant them a sense of justice that does not simply clothe the naked, feed the poor, and visit those who are sick and imprisoned, but one that seeks to eradicate poverty and oppression in all of its manifestations.

Grant them wisdom to know when to speak, when to keep silent, when to act and when to be still...

Fill them with passion and compassion so that it might ooze from their pores into this world that is in desperate need of their light and their mercy.

And above all, fill them with your love—love that is unfailing, love that is abounding, love that is radical, love that knows no limits...

With our hearts and souls lifted up together, we pray.
Amen and may it be so.

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