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On January 6, Americans witnessed the shocking assault upon our nation’s Capital. The shock is yet with us. But as disconcerting as this was, something more disturbing took place three days before. On Sunday, January 3, Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), an ordained Methodist pastor, offered some most unusual words in his opening prayer for this 117th Session of Congress.
Cleaver concluded his prayer with the words, “amen and a-woman.” Of course, many have been the reactions to this gender inclusive use of amen and “a-women.” The Hebrew word “Amen” has nothing to do with gender. It simply means “so be it” or “in truth.” Cleaver later stated that he was merely making a pun in view of the many new women in Congress.
While I think the use of a pun in a prayer for such a solemn occasion inappropriate, my greater concern comes following Cleaver’s quote of the Aaronic Blessing in Numbers 6:24-26: “May the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace. Peace in our families. Peace across this land and, dare I ask…oh, Lord…peace even in this chamber now and ever more.” He then asks for this peace “in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and the god known by many names, by many different faiths.”
Oh, how far we have come or, more to the point, wandered away from the faith of our Founding Fathers. What is most distressing is that this prayer comes from a Congressman who is also an ordained Methodist minister. Invoking the name of “Brahma,” the Hindu god of creation, was entirely out of place not to mention blasphemous. While there is little any of us can do to change the universalistic, all inclusive views of our Congress, it is nevertheless crucial as genuine Christians that we never forget the words of Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
God is the God of all creation and all humanity. But He is the Father and author of salvation only to those who “diligently seek Him” (Jer 29:13; Heb 11:6) and who correctly “call upon his name” (Rom 10:13). For we recognize the God of our faith said, “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isa 42:8).
Let me encourage you to follow our studies this month in “What the Apostles’ Believed” using the Apostles’ Creed. Know what you believe and why you believe. Know what qualifies you to call yourself a follower of Jesus and one who can honestly pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.”
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