UCM’s campus minister, Rev. Evan Young, delivered the opening prayer at the Ohio House of Representatives today (April 5, 2011). “I confess to a certain ambivalence about this,” Young said, “because I’m not certain prayer belongs there. But since it is there, I think it’s incumbent on me to speak a progressive word of truth to power.” Here is the prayer he offered:
Spirit of Life, source and ground and destination of us all–here we are, in this chamber of power, gathered to do the work of leading your people who live in this great state of Ohio. Those in this chamber have the power to decide and determine what rights and privileges our government will protect and defend, and who qualifies to enjoy those rights and privileges. Who is entitled to a say and who is not concerning the conditions under which workers’ labor is bought and sold; who may marry and who may not; what sort of treatment we the people will consider hateful and abusive and who should be protected from such treatment, and how; to what great moral purposes the taxes collected from the people of Ohio should be put. The power concentrated in this chamber is powerfully attractive to those who wish to see their own interests furthered by the decisions made here; so attractive that they bend every effort to ensure that their voices are heard here and their interests are represented here. So, as we begin this session, we pray that the hearts of these representatives who have answered the call to serve be turned ever toward justice. We pray that they be given to understand that the measure of our justice consists in how we treat those who have been pushed to the margins of our society. We pray that they yield not to the temptation to listen only to the voices of those with the power and privilege to make their voices heard here, but that they strive to hear and attend to the voices of those who have been too often silenced by oppression or alienation. We pray that they humbly and steadfastly focus on the “all” in “justice for all,” and seek to extend justice across all the lines and walls that so often divide us. And most of all we pray that the decisions they make produce the just, merciful, and compassionate society we dream of for all of Ohio’s children, for their children after them, and for all the children who find their way here by whatever means in the years to come. Mindful of all that we have been given through your abundant grace, we lift up this prayer in all the many names we give to you who have always been beyond naming. Amen; blessed be.