Sunday, February 2, 2014


(We watched the other night) the State of the Union message:
  We heard the Sergeant of Arms say dramatically,
     "Mr. Speaker, the President of the United State."
   We watched the choreographed procession down the
      isle with much backslapping, applause, and good humor;
    They were all there:
       the leading military people,
       the chief justice,
       the senate leader,
       the house leader,
       and a few momentary "heroes" in the balcony.

We heard that the state of the union is in good shape:
    the war is being won;
    the economy is coming back;
    migrants are facing new rigors;
    unemployment is down.

There was much applause----
    and we were glad for such political performance.

Except, of course, we know better.
     For this is not an assembly of the union,
     this is a gathering of "the suits,"
     the men---and some women---who have good educations
          and even better connections.
     It is a meeting of wealth, and entitlement, and privilege.

We watched and noticed with some wistfulness
      all those who were absent from the meeting:
            the poor who lack voice,
            the pensioners who lack health coverage,
            the unemployed who lack benefits,
            the gays who still live under threat,
            the victims of disasters who still need our help,
            the prisoners who live at the very edge of
                     their constitutional rights.

We embraced the buoyancy of the speech with gladness
      and with great dis-ease,
      because we know better.
      We know better because our Lord has told us about
             the lame and the blind,
             the hungry, the homeless, the poor,
             the prisoners, the ones who thirst.
And we are in touch, with our baptism, with them.

We hope and pray and work for a more perfect union,
    a binding of all by dignity and security and well-being,
       and less binding by money and connection and power.

Our Lord is so weak and so foolish and so poor,
    and yet he is our Savior.
We are pulled apart by our double awareness
    of self-satisfaction and dis-ease.
We submit to your goodness our vexed lives
    that we cannot resolve.
Give us honesty and openness that we may become aware
    of the true state of our union.

Adopted from: Prayers From a Privileged People, Walter Brueggemann

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