I was asked to offer the opening prayer for the March 25, 2019 gathering of the Tennessee General Assembly by Representative Bill Beck, who represents the district where both my home and church are located.
Creator of all things,
whose steadfast love is everlasting,
we gather tonight as a people called and elected to the task of leadership
in the service of our neighbors.
May we come without the illusion
that we are people of power,
but rather come with the humble knowledge
that we are servants to all who live around us.
Help us this night O God,
to remember especially those
whose voices are often muted in our society:
those who are struggling to make their way;
those who are just trying to make ends meet;
those who, through no fault of their own,
are judged as less deserving of our consideration.
Never let us forget
that we are no more special than they are,
and that their voices are just as important as ours.
As we debate our positions tonight,
help us to have the humility to listen,
the grace to speak carefully and kindly,
and the knowledge to recognize
that we work for the common good;
striving to make our state a place
in which ALL are welcomed,
in which ALL are kept safe,
and in which the vision of a place
dedicated to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
is open to ALL people.
Help us to remember that the conviction of our beliefs
does not mean that those who disagree with us are our enemies.
Help us to never forget
that your call for love and justice
applies to every part of our state,
from the river bottoms in the west,
to the mountains in the east;
along the Tennessee River in the south,
and the Cumberland as it travels through the Big South Fork.
Remind us daily,
that you are present in our large cities
and in the farms and hamlets far off the main road.
And may we always recognize
that the citizens of this state,
people of varied backgrounds,
genders, ethnicities, and nationalities
shall always carry with them
the volunteer heritage
that says that we help when we can,
serve when we must,
and respect all as people created in your image.
As we deliberate tonight,
may we remember the teachings of our forebear, John Wesley
to avoid doing harm,
to do as much good as we can,
and to stay in love with the one who created us.
Speak tonight, O God,
and give us your light in the midst of the darkness
that we will see your way
and carry out your desires.
We ask this in the name
of the one who created us in the beginning,
who reconciled us to you when we tried to do things our own way,
and who sustains us and empowers us to be people of light and love.