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  • Exec Board Co-Chair Gives Governor Inauguration Invocation

    Executive Board Co-Chair
    Gives Governor Inauguration Invocation

    Rev. Dr. Dee Eisenhauer, Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry’s Executive Advisory Board co-chair and pastor of Eagle Harbor Congregational United Church of Christ, was invited by Governor-Elect Jay Inslee to offer an invocation at his inauguration this last Wednesday, January 16th.
    As co-chair of the School’s Executive Advisory Board, Dee shares the School’s passion for diversity and inclusivity at the core of its values and mission. Dee talked with us this week about this experience and how it reminded her of her passion for the School and its work.

    My involvement with Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry’s Executive Advisory Board for the last ten years or so has strengthened my commitment to being an authentic practitioner and representative of my own faith in a context that respects the faith traditions of others.  Writing the invocation for Governor Inslee's Inauguration was an excellent opportunity to practice what the School preaches--to be true to one's own spiritual roots without belittling the commitments of others.  I tried to seek the common ground of our human experience while crafting a prayer that would open hearts instead of shutting ears (which is what happens when one is offended).  I hope and pray I succeeded in directing the assembly's attention, at least momentarily, to Higher Ground.  I'm grateful to Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry for reinforcing this goal of people of diverse backgrounds living and working together in peace.

    Dee shared with her congregation some thoughts about this opportunity and the thoughts it surfaced for her, earlier this month.

    How does one pray for government?  Is it appropriate?  How can one pray appropriately in a public setting in which religious pluralism and the independence (i.e. separation) of Church and State are rightly valued and protected?  How can one pray from one’s tradition and values without preaching a sermon in the guise of a prayer?
    Praying for an individual who is given the responsibility of governance seems less dicey.  Most forms of intercessory prayer in formal liturgies include prayers for those who govern, and the forms in prayer books leave blanks to fill in the names of leaders so they may be named in the Church’s prayers.  For example: “Mighty God, Lord of the nations, direct all those who govern us, your servant _________(first name of President), the President of the United States, and those with authority in every land; that they may be led by your wisdom and rule with justice and mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”  That seems like a good prayer, and I expect most of those who govern would welcome people of faith praying for them in such a manner.  Those who still have a healthy conscience are probably praying for wisdom and guidance pretty often; no doubt they would welcome some prayer allies.
    I admit that it doesn’t often occur to me to pray for those in authority.  In the run up to the Iraq war I did pray often for President Bush and Saddam Hussein, using a line from a hymn which (in God’s voice) promises “I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts for love alone.”  I prayed a lot during that season that God would turn their hearts of stone into hearts of love in time to avert a war.  The war, obviously, was not averted; I don’t know if my prayers or anyone else’s softened the hearts of anyone in authority.  Prayer and its “effects” remain a mystery.  But as I think about it now, it probably would do me and the world good to pray more often for those who lead us.
    In terms of the honor offered to me to participate in the Governor’s launch, I know that in the Realm of God it is no more or less important than praying at the bedside of the humblest someone who is ill or injured.  I just hope that somehow this might be an occasion of grace.   I know that as I approach the podium I will pray my standard internal prayer—the one I have prayed a million times as I go into situations where I feel anxious or uncertain: “Just let me be a blessing.”

    Watch the video of Dee’s prayer here, at 28:16. Copy transcript also below.

    Governor Inauguration Invocation


    Governor Jay Inslee Invocation: January 16, 2013
Rev. Dr. Dee Eisenhauer
    Holy One whom we call by many names,
    Out of our separate paths we have converged in this place on this day of new beginnings.  Call us out of our separateness, out of our parties and caucuses, out of our interest groups and and districts, help us for this moment to transcend all that divides us.  Give us in these moments of prayer a spirit of true unity as we attune our souls to a Higher Power.
    God of grace, we come to this day of new beginnings with joy, celebrating the hard work, deep convictions and good intentions that brought all those who have run for public office into this temple of democracy.   We thank you for inspiring Governor Inslee and all of his colleagues in government with a will to serve, and we celebrate their Yes! to the call to service, and the people’s Yes! to their abilities.
    We come to this day and this place with excitement and with some trepidation as well, mindful of the difficult tasks ahead for all those who hold public office.   The complexities of the problems we undertake to solve are mind-boggling.  The choices we are called upon to make are so often heart-wrenching as we juggle competing interests while struggling to discern greater goods and lesser evils. 
    We do this juggling and struggling as imperfect beings.  Creator, you know us to be creatures with speckled hearts.  We long to do good and we relish being right.  We are suitably proud of our skills and accomplishments, and at the same time often blind to our own faults and weaknesses.  Keep all who lead vigilant against the powers and temptations that would corrupt the heart and cripple our democracy.  Keep each one humble enough to confess a mistake and hopeful enough to begin again with the fresh insight that only failure can teach. 
    We need your aid to see beyond our own narrow interests to a broad vision of the common good.  We ask that you, champion of the poor and vulnerable, keep the voices of the voiceless heard in the ears of the heart.  Kindle compassion for those whose ability to take care of themselves is compromised by unemployment, disability, illness, injury, or age.  Especially we ask you to keep the future of our children and youth in minds and hearts as we strive to leave a better world for those who follow us. 
    You have blessed Governor Inslee with a passion for preserving this green earth.  Use his passion and vision to advance our state’s stewardship of the magnificent natural resources entrusted to us, that present and future generations might benefit from this term of leadership.
    Amidst the cacophony of conflict we anticipate as those elected set out to govern, we pray that you would provoke peace.  Help each one seek the common ground that welcomes both conviction and compromise.  Help us find the dynamic balance between continuity and change.  Where we cannot reach unanimity, steer us away from futile dissonance and stir us instead to creative harmony. 
    We lift your servant Jay Inslee into your light.  Give him wisdom.  Give him courage.  Give him strength and patience.  Nudge him to seek help when help is needed, from You, and from his community of friends and colleagues.  Help him to listen as well as he speaks, to learn as well as he teaches, to follow as well as he leads.  Guard his health, and protect him from all who would seek to harm him with weapons or words.  Bless and strengthen his marriage to his best friend, confidant and partner, Trudi, as they walk this new road together. 
    May the words of our mouths, the meditations of all of our hearts, the fruits of our labor, the effects of our policies, the legacy of our laws, the dynamics of our decisions be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer.  Amen.



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