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United Methodist bishop offers prayer at White House breakfast

 


United Methodist bishop offers prayer at White House breakfast

May 6, 2005

By Tim Tanton*

WASHINGTON (UMNS)—People attending the National Prayer Breakfast saw a trio of United Methodists sitting together in the front row: President George W. Bush, first lady Laura Bush and Bishop Peter Weaver.

Weaver, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, gave the closing prayer of the annual interfaith event, held May 5 in the White House’s East Room. Two days earlier, Weaver led a delegation of four other bishops to the White House, where they presented a Bible to the president and prayed with him.

The two meetings represent steps toward what the Council of Bishops hopes is becoming a closer relationship with the White House. The council, meeting May 1-6 in the Washington area, has been working on building relations with the administration.

"I think there is a new openness in the relationship," Weaver said afterward.

He told the council that the breakfast "was a marvelous event in the sense that I think we took the next step."

Weaver, who leads the United Methodist Church’s Boston Area, said the White House expressed interest two weeks earlier in having him do the prayer on behalf of the council. At the time, arrangements were being made for the May 3 visit. The bishop said he prayed before writing the prayer and drew on Micah 6 for inspiration.

Before the breakfast, Weaver and the handful of other leaders in the service met the Bushes in a small room adjoining the dining area. The Bushes greeted each person, and Weaver, standing at the end of the short line, presented a Bible to Mrs. Bush. As he did, the president spoke to him.

"Take our greetings to the Council of Bishops," the president told Weaver.

The council had signed both Bibles given to the Bushes May 3 and 5.

The prayer service, marking the National Day of Prayer, included music by the St. Olaf’s College choir from Northfield, Minn., a prayer by inspirational writer Max Lucado, and other offerings by people of different faiths.

The president spoke near the end of the 45-minute event. He thanked those who were participating in the service.

"Laura and I are proud Methodists, and we’re pleased to be here with Bishop Peter Weaver, who is the president of the council of Methodist bishops, who will deliver the closing prayer," Bush said.

The president emphasized the importance of the National Day of Prayer, and said "we pray as a nation for three main reasons:" to give thanks for freedom, to pray for help in defending freedom and "to acknowledge our dependence on the Almighty." He referred to President Lincoln’s response to a minister who had expressed hope that the Lord was on Lincoln’s side. "Lincoln wisely replied that he was more concerned that he was on the side of the Lord, because the Lord was always on the side of right."

Weaver’s prayer followed the president’s remarks. The bishop gave thanks for the time shared that morning and prayed for those in need.

"Someplace, O God, this day there is a child who is crying, a mother in despair, a soldier in harm’s way. Someplace, someone is jobless and worried, a prisoner without hope, a spiritual seeker yearning for a spiritual home—make us instruments of your peace."

He asked for God’s blessings on the president and first lady, the nation and world. "For we believe that each of us, whatever our place or station in life, can make a difference for God and the good, someplace, with someone this day."

*Tanton is managing editor for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

The full text of the prayer Bishop Weaver delivered at the National Prayer Breakfast at the White House on May 5 follows.

"O Lord our Lord, How excellent is your name in all the earth.
We thank you for the gift of this day before us
For the wind of the spirit behind us
And for the embrace of grace around us.
We are grateful; for this sacred time and space for prayer and meditation, 
breaking bread and reconciliation.
We thank you that you have brought us together on this common ground, bringing our diverse gifts of faith and experience.
Send us now to create common ground in your name on which the gifts of the whole human family may be shared in love and generosity,
peace and tranquility, justice and liberty.
Someplace, O God, this day there is a child who is crying,
a mother in despair, 
a soldier in harm’s way.
Someplace, someone is jobless and worried,
a prisoner without hope,
a spiritual seeker yearning for a spiritual home –
make us instruments of your peace.
May the words of our prayers become the work of our hands.
Let us be the prayers we have prayed.
Bless President and Mrs. Bush, our nation and our world this day.
For we believe that each of us, whatever our place or station in life, can make a difference for God and the good, someplace, with someone this day.
So, having spoken with our words to you, O God, in this hour, let us now go listening for your word to us.
Go with us, that we may fully love you and our neighbor.
Go with us, that we may do justice, love kindness,
and walk humbly with you.
Go with us, that your kingdom, the only everlasting kingdom, may come.
A
nd your will, the only true and perfect will, may be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Go with us, that we may go with you in peace and in joy.

AMEN

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