Sunday, January 28, 2018


We will watch and listen Tuesday night to the State of the Union
     We will hear as the Sergeant of Arms says dramatically,
         "Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States."
     We will watch the choreographed procession down the
         aisle with much backslapping, applause and good humor;
     We will all be there:
         the leading military people,
         the chief justice,
         the senate leader,
         the house leader,
         no doubt a few momentary "heroes" in the balcony.

We will listen to hear that 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 will be much applause---
     and we will be 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 will watch and notice with some wistfulness
    all of those who are 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 will embrace 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 connections 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.

Walter Brueggemann-Prayers for a Privileged People


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