“Will you offer a prayer at the Governing Board meeting for Mesa Public Schools?”
“Sure!” I replied, not knowing exactly what that even meant.
This is how a meeting ended with a small group of leaders from Mesa Public Schools concerning refugees that are making their way into our city and how we as a community can best support them.
In need of deep wisdom on how to offer a public prayer in a multi-faith community like Mesa I did what any seasoned leader would do…
“Ok Siri. How do you offer an invocation?”
This was an honest question.
One well known Christian thinker rejects the opportunity to offer an invocation because of the fine print that often accompanies the invitation.
- Don’t pray in the name of Jesus
- Recognize this…
- Say (fill in the blank)…
While I respect his perspective, is that really the best response?
Fortunately, the instructions that the Mesa Public Schools gives to those who offer an invocation is to pray according to one’s conscious.
So as I was considering how to pray my mind kept floating back to a letter in the Old Testament from the prophet Jeremiah to some exiles living in a multi-faith city called Babylon.
‘Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you…pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’ (Jeremiah 29:7)
Here were some of my questions:
- How can I pray a prayer that builds bridges with my neighbors but is also authentic?
- How do I pray in such a way that differentiates the Christian faith in the Triune God from the faith of my neighbors?
Well, here’s what I did.
Thanks for the invitation and a special thanks to Board Member Jenny Richardson for the connection!
I’m one of the pastors of Chrio Communities, a Christian Church that gathers in West Mesa at Pedro Guerrero Elementary School on the corner of Alma School and Broadway.
I’m grateful to live in a city with much diversity and I’m grateful to have friends that are Sikh, Muslim, Mormons, Unitarians, as well as those who are Agnostic. I believe part of what makes Mesa beautiful is our diversity.
As a Christian, I’ll be praying in light of my faith in the triune God—Father, Son and Spirit. I invite you to engage this prayer in any way that you feel comfortable.
One more thing, the first portion of this prayer comes from NT Wright’s ‘Trinitarian Prayer.’
Will you pray with me?
Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth: set up your kingdom in our midst.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God: have mercy on me, a sinner.
Holy Spirit, breath of the living God: renew me and all the world.
As we open this time of planning and evaluation we approach you God—Father, Son and Spirit.
We recognize your uniqueness, Father Almighty, because you made everything and the coming of your kingdom is the key to the flourishing of our community.
We recognize your uniqueness, Lord Jesus Christ, because we are not perfect. We need forgiveness. By your death and resurrection you open the door for us to live within the Father’s kingdom.
Holy Spirit, breath of the living God, we recognize your uniqueness too. You bring life. You bring love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness and much, much more.
These leaders here, our public school’s Governing Board need all of that! So come.
God—Father, Son and Spirit—move in our midst. Empower these leaders with wisdom and enlarge their hearts. Do the same for the rest of us too.
So that’s what I did. What would you do?