Eighty-seven year old United Methodist clergy person and Civil Rights activist Joseph Lowery provided the benediction at President Obama's inauguration on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. Updating scripture, providing advice, and infusing the event with humor, Lowery struck a homerun (IMHO), vastly outpacing Rick Warren's long, rambling, and slightly offputting invocation.
Let me say that Rick Warren surprised and impressed me with his invocation. It was relevant and - for the most part - appropriate. Where he ran aground was in his inability to refrain from "speechifying" and in the use of the Lord's Prayer. While Rev. Warren and President Obama are both Christian and, thus, the prayer may in many ways be pertinent, the invocation serves as a call for the whole nation and not just for Pres. Obama (or all Christians gathered). He erred on the side of exclusion using a prayer exclusive to our community, even though some can and will argue its use as both appropriate and meaningful.
I found Rev. Joseph Lowery's benediction more meaningful. Was it because I watched in an interfaith setting? Because I'm United Methodist? Because I'm just simply not a big Rick Warren fan? I don't know. In the end, even though some might accuse me of doing so, I don't need to take anything away from Rick Warren in order to praise Joseph Lowery. While others may have found Lowery's benediction "interesting," I thought it was absolutely delightful. He spoke out of his faith, but in a way that appeared to be more inclusive and invitational - but, that is just my opinion.
Here is video of Joseph Lowery's benediction:
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