Monday, July 7, 2008

Finally, some controversy

Tonight I performed my usual duties at the City Council meeting for the City of Fate. I offer the invocation (opening prayer) for the city council meeting proceedings. The newly elected mayor, Bill Broderick, asked me back in May to regularly assume that duty. I was happy to perform that task. However, with civic governments going the way they have been in the U.S., I fully expect this responsibility to be short lived for two reasons:

1. Someone is bound to eventually get offended that I pray to the Christian God who has revealed himself as three distinct, yet equal persons (The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit). I'm a Christian, and therefore cannot confess that any other god exists. Moreover, since I truly desire to pray for the city council's proceedings, I must address the One I believe exists and is able to receive and answer prayer. To pray generically, or to an unnamed "god" is to not only compromise my faith confession, but it is also to fail in my responsibilities because it would constitute not praying for the council at all. It would simply be offering religious sounding words, patronizing the hearers with insultingly placating speech. Since I will not do this, but instead insist on praying to the trinitarian God for the sake of the city council, some Muslim, Hindu or Wiccan is bound to get bent out of shape sooner of later.

2. Someone is bound to get offended that prayer happens at a city council meeting at all. The separation of church and state has become the frenzied de-religion-izing of America. It has contributed greatly to the U.S. rightly being considered as entering a "post-Christian" era. It seems inevitable that someone will eventually challenge the city council's right to have prayer to God (and the God defined by Christianity at that) offered at a city event.

Though I thought one of the two objections mentioned above would arise sooner or later, I didn't predict that the first one to object at a city council meeting would be one claiming to be a Christian "minister." The objection was that supposedly by appointing a single individual to pray for the council meetings, the Mayor had shunned other ministers in the community that should perform this as well. The argument went that in order to ensure that other ministers and faith sects are not disenfranchised, the council members should either rotate performing the invocation themselves, or create a roster of all ministers in the community to ensure no one is left out. These, supposedly, were better alternatives to having one man continually perform this community task.

What caught me off guard about it was that it was a Christian "minister" who objected to this. I was already trying to "push the envelope" in terms of how much Christ could be honored in the public square; and then this dude is bent because other ministers aren't represented? Unbelievable! The goal is not that everyone prays. The goal is that the One who should be prayed too, hears from a city government asking Him for blessing, wisdom and accountability.

After the council meeting had adjourned I asked for clarification from the Mayor and other council members still present. It was further explained that, though the responsibility fell to me to network with area ministers to ensure that the invocation would indeed be delivered by a local pastor if I needed a substitute, the duty was mine to perform for the city council of Fate when they meet the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month. The Mayor's desire (and that of the council members speaking with me too at the time) was that by assuming this duty, continuity and stability can be enjoyed in this simple task for the city. It's not large contribution, but it blesses the city government to have some consistency in this area.

Therefore, I will keep performing this task for the glory of Christ. We'll see how far this goes. I'll keep doing what I've been doing, knowing that my window of opportunity to see Christ honored in the public square, in this manner, may very well be quite short.

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