On Thursday, October 20, we were thrilled to host a statewide event, “From Mudslinging to Mutual Respect: How To Make Politics More Civil,” featuring Senator George Mitchell. We welcomed nearly 200 people from every corner of Maine, who were inspired and moved by Senator Mitchell’s reflections on the importance of civility in politics, the reasons it has gone by the wayside in recent years, and what citizens and faith communities can do to ensure that civility flourishes in our public life. This is the opening prayer offered before Senator Mitchell began his remarks:
INVOCATION FOR “FROM MUDSLINGING TO MUTUAL RESPECT” OCTOBER 20, 2016
Because we gather in a nation that welcomes people of all faiths (and of no faith), I invite you to personalize this prayer in your heart, according to your own tradition and beliefs. I respect and honor those who pray in ways other than mine, even as I claim my own tradition of prayer in the name of Jesus of Nazareth who calls us to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. Let us quiet our hearts in a spirit of prayer…
In the heat of this election year we pray for our nation, our churches, our elected officials, our candidates, and ourselves. In the midst of meanness and deception, may our words be kind and true. In the midst of loud speeches and harsh accusations, may we listen well and try to understand. In the midst of division, polarization and hatred, may we carry on the work of wise and selfless public servants like Senator George Mitchell, breaking down the dividing walls, meeting together in the face of disagreements, and speaking the truth in love.
Guide us into the disciplines of love, grace and sacrifice that cultivate a commitment to our children and our children’s children that theirs should be a better land than ours is now— with more mature leaders and citizens than we are— with greater opportunities than we have known— with deeper respect for all its citizens than we have demonstrated.
Help us to work for peace in a world that seems to prefer violence. Help us to develop patience in a world that rushes forward at breakneck speed. Help us to demonstrate kindness to all, especially those to whom we find it very difficult to be kind. Help us to learn generosity with our resources and generosity in our attitudes and behaviors toward people. Help us to be faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.
We pray that each of us, that all of us, might do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but rather, in humility, regard others as more important than ourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
I pray in the spirit of the one who challenges us to remember that the one who would be greatest of all must learn to be the servant of all.