Tuesday, January 20th

I will sing of loyalty and of justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing. I will study the way that is blameless.  When shall I attain it? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;  I will not set before my eyes anything that is base.  I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.  Perverseness of heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.  One who secretly slanders a neighbor I will destroy. A haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not tolerate. I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, so that they may live with me; whoever walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. No one who practices deceit shall remain in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue in my presence.  Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the LORD.” Psalm 101

 

George Washington wisely declined to become king.  That decision was as revolutionary as the war which made the decision possible.  Rather than assuming his throne, President Washington merely took his turn.  Rather than cloaking his authority in God’s special favor (the divine right of kings) or his own genetic superiority to those he ruled (hereditary monarchy), President Washington assumed a position of constitutionally limited power to exercise his role for the sake of those whom he served.  That was revolutionary.

 

Prior to that first presidency, all the colonists had known was the supreme rule of a hereditary monarch or the chaos of powerless representative democracy written into the Articles of Confederation.  The drafting of the constitution, the election of those to serve, and the inauguration of President Washington was truly a leap of the human imagination.

 

Today, Barak Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States.  The experiment continues.  Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent or a Yankees fan, you have to admit that today is a day unlike other days.  The crowd which gathers in the Washington Mall today will rewrite the record books.  The first black President to be elected in a country whose embrace of diversity still struggles to fight through the clouds of racism will give a speech that school children will be reading for a long time.  May God protect him and may he do his job well.

 

The Bible passage for this day is Psalm 101.  Tradition says this psalm was a prayer to be included in the elevation of a new king.  If so, we would do well to hear its words this day and to carefully notice what we accept and what we reject – for there is no earthly king in this country of ours.  So we applaud the prayers for loyalty, justice, integrity and wisdom.  Humility is a virtue for the one who would lead us, haughtiness among the worst of vices.

 

But, given that we have no king, we should have little room for a leader who would destroy a neighbor, or who would practice the favoritism of looking with favor only upon the faithful when he is elected to serve the whole.  We want a leader who serves rather than one seeking only to be served.  We want a president who sees beyond “destroying the wicked” or “cutting off evildoers.”  And, given that the awesome power of the United States is intimately tied to the destiny of the human community, we want a president with the kind of vision that sees the “city of the Lord” as the entire cosmos.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, it is good that you draw your people together into nations and that leadership and power be exercised there for the good of the whole.  Yet in our sin we far too often abuse and misuse our earthly powers, nations fighting as enemies rather than living together as neighbors.  Bless President Barak Obama today as he takes office.  Bless all those in positions of power and public trust – that they might serve their people to the benefit of all people.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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One Response to “Tuesday, January 20th”

  1. Sam Thomas Says:

    Thank you for this devotion. Hopefully we will get a new renewal of our country. We must love our neighbors. world wide. We must try to talk to our problem neighbors and put the guns away.

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