Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The power to make a difference: Invocation for the Colorado State House of Representatives. 1/31/19

Dear God:

We can all feel the power in this room:  
  • The power to make change. 
  • The power to legislate.
  • The power to denigrate – to desecrate – to perpetuate – to change the fate of our community…

But this power is fragile:   it is limited by term, tenure and temperament.
It is also illusory – for everything we do is relative to our situation and our ability to perceive the world around us.

On this beautiful morning – let us think about other kinds of power – the power that is not bestowed by the ballot box, but rather by our ability to perceive the miracles that surround us.
  • The rising of the sun is not affected by the pounding of the gavel.
  • The winds that bring desperately needed rain and snow are not dependent on rhetoric, reason or debate.
  • The laughter of small children and the desperate cries of mothers and fathers who cannot feed them;
  • The emptiness in the eyes of the downtrodden;
  • The optimism of those who work to bring hope to the hopeless…

…all of these and more are driven either by a vision of hope or our inability to find it in the dark dungeons of despair.

Help us all to make a difference, O God.
We can feel the power in this room – not because of our feeble attempts to bring order into chaos – but because of our passion for truth, righteousness and justice.

Eternal Creator – be with us this day.  Help us to see the wonders of Your creation.  Keep us humble and aware of our debt to You for the very air we breathe and the dance of life you grant us – and for the music we feel with every breath.

And in the awareness of their own hubris, may these legislators work together to overcome petty partisanship and apathy that poisons the precious opportunities that they are granted to make a difference.

We thank you for the power of partnership.

We are humbled by Your Grace.



Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Opening Prayer for the CO State Senate - Remembering Dr. King

I usually deliver the opening prayer at the Colorado State House of Representatives on Thursday mornings.  I was asked to also offer the prayer at the State Senate today.  This is what I said:

Opening Prayer for the Colorado State Senate
January 22, 2019
Rabbi Joseph R. Black – Temple Emanuel – Denver, CO

Our God and God of all people:
God of the Rich and God of the poor;
God of the impoverished and God of the privileged;
God of the empowered and God of the embittered;
God of those who have no god:
We come to this place one day after our nation has honored the legacy and values of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
For some, yesterday was a day to relax: to appreciate the opportunity to sleep in, to catch up on unfinished business; or to enjoy the bounty and natural beauty of the State of Colorado.
For others – it was a day of volunteerism: of helping others; of making a difference; a day “on”, not a day “off.
For others, it was a day of marching in the streets – showing both solidarity and determination to realize both the potential for holiness and the glaring inequalities that still plague our nation - 51 years after the death of a great and visionary leader.
This morning, as we come back to work, we pray that the memory of Dr. King and the justice and equality for which he prayed, marched and died might inspire everyone in this sacred chamber. May the deliberations and discussions that take place during the messy and holy process of governing bring about change.
May all who labor for our great State of Colorado find hope, encouragement and fulfillment as laws are enacted and lives are changed.
There is too much cynicism in the world today. Too many people are discouraged and jaded by the tenor of degrading discourse that has replaced dialogues with diatribes.
Dr. King – despite the enormity of the task that was thrust upon him with the burden of leadership – never lost hope in the potential of humanity.  In 1964, while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm, he said:
“I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”
Let Dr. King’s vision, optimism, activism and spiritual depth become the measure of all of our actions.
Bless this chamber, God. Bless these Senators, advisors, clerks, aides and all who labor on our behalf. May this be a day of change. May this be a day of hope.
And let us say:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Opening Prayer for the CO State House - 1-17-19

Our God and God of all people, you give us the gift of self-reflection.

As we enter into this new year, this new legislative session and new day of deliberation, we take a moment to appreciate the simple fact that we are able to be here today.

With each breath we take, we fill not only our lungs with air - but also we infuse our souls with meaning.

Life is a gift.  What we do with it depends on our awareness of the preciousness and precariousness of our daily existence.

That we are here together in this sacred chamber of deliberation is a reflection – not only of the fact that the members of our community have placed their trust in these lawmakers, but also in the potential for change and healing that can take place in the deliberations and debate that make up the business of this sacred chamber.

And so, as we take this moment of reflection, let us ask ourselves: What do we hope to accomplish today?

Whose lives are we impacting?  
What are the needs of our community?
Who feels pain?  Who fears the future?
Who is poised for greatness?

How can we take the time we have together to work to improve our state, our communities, our families ourselves?

Help these legislators to see that the issues that they are discussing and the laws they are enacting should serve to enlighten and animate the Divine implanted within them and the people they serve.

May any disagreements that arise be for the sake of bringing healing and wholeness to our world.

Let the perils of partisanship give way to the echoes of empathy – and may the work of these legislators  reflect the highest values of each of our faith communities.

Bless these proceedings and all those who labor here today. Watch over august body. Give strength and purpose to all who are here today:  elected officials, clerks, bailiffs, aides, interns, policy analysts, members of the press, maintenance staff and advisers – everyone who labors to sustain and support our great State of Colorado.

For the gift of gratitude; for the promise of new beginnings, we give You our thanks.

And let us say, AMEN