There is not as much excitement about the Inauguration this year as there was when President Obama first took office, but it still is a momentous day.
There will be ceremonies and celebrations, and public and private prayers. (The website for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies explains that there will be a private swearing-in ceremony on January 20, and a public ceremony on January 21.) The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church has this prayer ”For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority.”
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world:
We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace.
Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
Shortly after election day, we read Psalm 146 as part of our Sunday service. I thought it might have been more fitting before the election, but I decided to keep it in mind for Inauguration Day.
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, O my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.
This Psalm is a good reminder that even the greatest human leader is human, with faults and failings, imperfect judgment and limited power. On the other hand, if we put our trust God, we will not be disappointed. God is always faithful, and serves a broad constituency–including those that may be disenfranchised from human politics.