Focusing Our Politics On The Common Good

A reader sent in the following background summary and prayer, posted on the Senate website at the end of last year.  The prayer at the end is one we can all pray as legislative discussions begin again over health care reform.

“Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. The first Senate, meeting in New York City on April 25, 1789, elected the Right Reverend Samuel Provost, the Episcopal Bishop of New York, as its first Chaplain. During the past two hundred and seven years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate’s faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation. The role of the Chaplain as spiritual advisor and counselor has expanded over the years from a part-time position to a full-time job as one of the Officers of the Senate.  The Office of the Chaplain is nonpartisan, nonpolitical, and nonsectarian.
Duties of the Senate Chaplain
In addition to opening the Senate each day in prayer, Chaplain Black’s duties include counseling and spiritual care for the Senators, their families and their staffs, a combined constituency of six thousand people. Chaplain Black’s days are filled with meeting Senators about spiritual and moral issues, assisting Senators’ staffs with research on theological and biblical questions, teaching Senate Bible study groups, encouraging such groups as the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, and facilitating discussion and reflection small groups among Senators and staff.
In order to stay informed of the needs of the Senate community, Chaplain Black maintains a program with a volunteer liaison in each office to assist him.  A member of his staff directs this program.

The Chaplain, Dr. Barry C. Black, offered the following prayer

Let us pray.

God of justice, bring wholeness to our world. Keep fear, ignorance, and pride from limiting Your work in our Nation.

Give the Members of Congress the insight to understand the actions they should take during these challenging times. Quicken their hearts and purify their minds. Broaden their concerns and strengthen their commitments. Lord, lead them through this season of challenge to a deeper experience with You, enabling them to feel You in their midst, as they grapple with the problems of our time.

We pray in Your Holy Name. Amen.”

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