Sunday, November 09, 2008

… for Barack, our President-Elect …

My parish uses two Eucharistic Ministers at the main service. In addition to administering the chalice, one reads the first lesson and the other is intercessor. I always prefer the latter role. I love leading the Prayers of the People.

It's a familiar drill. After the Creed, I move from my position in the chancel into the nave, saying as I go: "The form for the Prayers of the People begins on page 387," then after a pause, "Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church and for the world." Reaching my position in the center of the nave, waiting for the page-rustling to end, I begin: "Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church," and the people respond, "That we all may be one." And on it goes through Form III (which we've been using throughout the long green season of Pentecost).

This photo isn't from today. It's just a shot of a typical Sunday.

Our priest provides written copy for the intercessor, adding in the names each week for the diocesan and Anglican Communion prayer cycle, parishioners who "suffer from any grief or trouble," the names of the departed, and so on.

You Episcopalians know that prayer. After the prayers for the church, we get to the prayers for civil authorities. We pray by name for the President, Governor, and Mayor, "and for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world," and the people add, "that there may be justice and peace on the earth."

When I serve as intercessor, it's all comfortably familiar and yet always new and (for me) intense.

I didn't expect what happened today.

I began the prayer for civil authorities, using the prepared text: "We pray for George our President, Barack our President-elect, Matt our Governor, Jay our Governor-elect, John our Mayor, and for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world." But when I spoke the phrase, "Barack our President-elect," I lost it. Completely lost it. Everybody heard my voice crack. As tears suddenly burst, it took a moment for me to be able to continue, and my voice was quavering with the sort of emotion that I just do not show in public.

For a horrifying time which felt like minutes, but probably was only moments, I was silent as I tried to gather myself. I thought, "I'm not going to be able to get through this." I was actively crying. Not quite sobbing, but way too close for comfort. And certainly not the "decently and in order" that guides our Episcopal liturgy. Fortunately, I knew my dear friend Marc was only a couple of rows behind me, on the aisle, and he would pick it up without a hitch if I just handed him the text.

But I thought: You can do this; you must do this. So I continued.

But it didn't get any better as I moved onto the pray for our parishioners, name by name, "who suffer from any grief or trouble." Then the prayers for the departed, including a dear friend's mother, who died this week. On this day, the names moved me, as I know feelingly what most of them are going through which led to their inclusion in the prayers. So many people suffering grief or trouble, and yet enduring it with the hope and faith we have in Christ.

It was all too raw.

I got through it all finally. And we moved to the confession.

It's been a couple of hours now, and I keep wondering why I was so darn emotional today.

The first reason is obvious. I am so very, profoundly grateful that Barack Obama was elected this week. I did not really believe it could happen. But it did, and I am profoundly grateful. And not just for political reasons. Also because this predominantly white nation was able to put its trust in an African American man. I hope, I pray this move signals a positive change in the racism that has plagued us from the founding of this nation. … As a dear friend said at a celebratory party Friday night: for the first time in eight long, miserable years, I am again proud to be an American.

Yes, I wept as I watched the election returns roll in Tuesday night. But I thought I was "back to normal" by today. To still have this much emotion today caught me completely off guard.

Now, with a couple hours reflection, I'll admit that it occurred to me later: Oh, no! What if some people thought my voice broke because I was a grief-stricken McCain supporter? Maybe some did. But the intercessor isn't in charge of the prayers. We just lead them, trusting that the folks in the pews are doing the praying that they need to do.

How 'bout you all? Are any of you having unexpected, delayed reactions to Obama's election?

19 Comments:

Blogger Ann said...

Still doing the happy dance - but what a great moment for you to be able to say that prayer - first in your church- maybe first in your time zone! I doubt anyone who knows you would think you were crying over the McCain/Palin ticket losing. LOL

11/09/2008 2:57 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Ann. I seem to be going back-and-forth between the "happy dance" and tear-filled grateful dance. Weird. I didn't expect to have such an emotional reaction.

For us in Missouri, it's a two-fer. Not only do we get to say "buh-bye" to "Dumya," but we also kicked out our Rethuglican boy governor and get a proven progressive governor in Jay Nixon (who has served something like 16 years as Attorney General).

LOL indeed. But since we're the only Episcopal parish within 30 miles, we do have some die-hard Republicans. I just don't seem to talk with them much. Go figger. ;-) But I can imagine they are as disappointed now as I was 8 years ago when Bush was appointed President.

Others have said it more articulately than I: It feels like our eight-year-long national fascist nightmare is finally over. Thanks be to God!

11/09/2008 3:22 PM  
Blogger Cany said...

It was a very emotional election for many reasons. I think many of us were holding our breath...

11/09/2008 4:31 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Amen, Cany. I certainly know I was holding my breath.

The surprise for me is how emotional I'm feeling after the election. I never expected this.

11/09/2008 8:41 PM  
Blogger Laura Toepfer said...

Why, funny you should ask this. This morning I have Will.i.am's post-election song in my head and as I was making my breakfast, I started crying. Still am. So, yes, is the answer to your question. I don't know how long this patriotic relief reflex will go on.

11/10/2008 11:07 AM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Don't sweat it! A little honest emotion is good now and then (for all of 'em, not just you.) When we did "liturgy at the lake" I had to read a litany I had written about God's grace as seen in the "fleeting moments of nature" and I discovered it was one thing to write it, another thing to share it with our vicar, and another thing ENTIRELY to read it out loud in front of the entire congregation, outdoors, in the actual splendor of Thousand Hills State Park. I got all "choky-voiced" and hesitant.

Most everyone did not know I had written it myself. It was one thing to express my feelings on paper, but when it came to saying them in front of my "family in Christ" it became the big GULP moment!

11/10/2008 5:27 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Laura. Glad to know I'm not alone. Surely we'll get back to "normal" soon.

11/10/2008 7:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I know what you mean, Kirkepiscatoid. I wrote the litany for our former rector's last Sunday here (after 34 years). Like you, I wrote it (with a little help from my friend Marge) and had practiced it. Delivering it in person was quite a different thing.

Well ... it's been 24 hours. I'm not quite as embarrassed now about my little outbreak of emotion. But I'm glad it's going to be a couple weeks before I serve as intercessor again.

On a personal note: Will you be at our Diocesan Convention this weekend? If so, I hope you will "uncloak" so we can meet in person.

11/10/2008 7:17 PM  
OpenID rgreyjay said...

Lisa, being in the congregation and hearing your emotion only made the prayers this week as important to me as the feast was. It is at those times (when I have cracked a bit in a spiritual setting/moment) that I really know that I have been touched by the Spirit and feel closest to God. Please, don't ever feel embarrased, feel blest, if not for yourself, then for those that you are touching in a more profound way than you know. God always has a purpose for everything...even so-called "inappropriate" tears.

I too, for the first time in a long time am hopeful for the future. Just to see the "ripples" that are already happening since the results were announced, not only in our land, but globally. I truly believe that YES WE CAN!!

11/10/2008 8:26 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Roberta. That is helpful. All I can do is "offer it up." I am grateful for your insights.

11/10/2008 8:38 PM  
Blogger JCF said...

Harumph. You got "Barack, Our President-Elect", I got a sermon that included that "Obama will NOT save us . . . only Jesus!" (as if we were in danger of thinking otherwise?)

Now I love my priest---and I think he probably voted for Obama---but he can be a (patronizing) killjoy at times. :-/

11/11/2008 12:18 AM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Lisa, I am not one of our Convention delegates, but feel free to go talk to all the Trinity-Kirsville delegates. It will add to their amazement that "everyone knows me", ha ha. I will uncloak enough by giving you a facebook friend request, it is something I have been meaning to do but I get incredibly lazy about all those facebook notifications. There are some photos of the "Kirksville people" on my facebook page for easy recognition.

11/11/2008 9:52 AM  
Blogger IT said...

I was very emotional on election night with respect to Obama.

Now, not at all. I'm glad for it, of course, but emotionally I feel strangely distanced, as though the neighbors down the street are having a party and I'm not invited.

This isn't feeling actively rejected as I am by my fellow Californians (indeed, I find myself scowling at people on the train wondering if they are bigots who voted Yes....).

But as far as Obamamania goes, I'm just not part of it, as though I belong to a foreign country. I'm clinically detached, with observer status. It's simply not about me and I'm not included. I'm not One of Them.

Can't help it. That's how I feel.

11/11/2008 5:09 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

JCF, I am very lucky. I know my priest is supportive of Barack and of LGBT issues. And I can't imagine her ever uttering words like "Only Jesus will save us." That's the kind of thinking I left when I shook the Baptist dust off my feet 25 years ago.

11/11/2008 5:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Kirkepiscatoid, I'll try to find your parish during the convention, and I will tell them how notorious you are here and across the pond. ;-)

11/11/2008 6:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

IT, I think I understand. I never bought into the Obamamania, either. I didn't do much for the campaign. But once the election was over, I feel a deep sense of gratitude. Grateful that the English language will again reign in the White House. Grateful that Obama will have some "instant credibility" with the developing nations that the white guys never had. I pray he will use it all for good, and that he has some ideas about how to heal our broken nation. I don't think he's the Messiah, by any means. But the other result would have been just horrific.

11/11/2008 6:28 PM  
Blogger IT said...

Lisa, I think you misunderstand. Had all things gone well, I'd have been as giddy as the rest of you.

my feeling has more to do with how the Democrats threw the no-on-Prop8 under the bus.

In fact, aside from Lady DiFi (whom I will always respect due to VERY strong memories of the assassination of Milk and Moscone) there was more vocal opposition from republican Jerry Sanders (mayor of San Diego) than from Dems.

Obama's own words were used against us.

Gays are SO inconvenient. But our money is SO welcome.

So I'm feeling quite cynical about it all.

So yes I'm intellectually happy that Obama won, given the alternatives, especially. But I have no joy, on account of my community got thrown under the bus. Because when it came to doing justice or doing expedient, all politicians are the same.

11/11/2008 8:07 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for the correction and clarification, IT. I think I do now begin to understand.

It reminds me of the summer of 2003, when the General Convention of the Episcopal Church threw all the gays under the bus with the passage of B033. I took a sabbatical from the church, not knowing whether I would return. That's when I began this blog.

You bring me to a sobering recognition: Senator Obama could have helped the No-on-8 forces, but he chose not to (for political expediency, I suppose). Many ethnic minorities were empowered to vote for Obama, and many of them voted against us. I am having a hard time with that ... though it doesn't touch me as personally as it does you.

I'm not a political optimist. In fact, I'm pretty cynical about politicians. But I shall hope that Obama will use his "bully pulpit" to include all ... all ... all ... under the umbrella of justice. However, he's no Desmond Tutu.

So many people saying such lovely things ... but then voting the expedient way. I still remember my raw fury ... which I also expressed to my bishop and the GC deputies.

11/11/2008 8:30 PM  
Blogger Barbi Click said...

I too am very happy and excited, filled with a great amount of hope. However, there is this dark feeling in the back of my mind that keeps asking me would this have happened if the market hadn't crashed or if gas prices weren't through the roof and if everyone's pocket book wasn't hurting so much. I just don't know if we really crossed a color barrier or if times are just so tough that even a black man offered more hope than the status quo.
Did it take the fear of losing financial security to get us to look past our bigotry? That is a scary sad thought but one that I can not shake.
The up side of it all is the same old same old -- to know us is to love us -- same thing with race. It is the fear of the unknown that causes the problem. Our President-elect will make that fear a thing of the past.
So, thanks be to God for that!

11/12/2008 9:35 PM  

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