An essay donated by Susan Humphreys
An alternative generic prayer
I read with interest the two part essay on the issue of prayer at town council meetings in Greece, New York.
When I first moved to my area, and joined the local Master Gardener group, we would gather twice a year for a potluck dinner. The husband of one of the members who was a minister was asked and always offered a ‘blessing’ before the meal. He often started quite generically, giving thanks (not to God or any diety, just a simple acknowledgment that we are thankful) for friends and rain (this is a farming community and we were all gardeners), for good nutritious food then ended with “in Jesus name we pray.”
I don’t pray in Jesus name and was bothered but said nothing, I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was the new girl in town and was still feeling my way around this new community. I was disturbed that with those five simple words he had turned a generic offering of thanks into a Christian’s prayer.
Later, I joined the Chamber of Commerce in the smaller town closer to where I lived where I had a small weaving studio and arts and crafts gallery. This group met once a month over lunch. Another local minister was asked and gave a ‘blessing’ before each meal. Again I didn’t object. I knew I was the only odd one in this gathering. I could tolerate what for me was a meaningless gesture. I still wondered why this man felt he had to add those same five little words after what started out as a purely generic expression of thanks.
An essay on this web site offered four alternative solutions to the problem in Greece, NY and for other municipalities. I would like to offer a fifth solution -- a generic solution for volunteer group meetings and municipal/governmental meetings:
"We are thankful for friends and family, for this good food and great weather. Whether you are a believer in God or a non-believer we are thankful that we are all gathered here today to celebrate this season and our fellowship.
We assemble today to conduct the business of this community. Whether you are one that seeks guidance from your God or wisdom from your soul we ask all to put aside their differences and seek the common ground, to consider the needs and rights of everyone in this community so that we can make wise decisions that will work towards making this a better place for everyone."
Perhaps some of the readers might send in suggestions for other generic "prayers" and "blessings." It is possible to be all inclusive, IF we leave out those five little words at the end.
IF there is a God I am sure he is wise enough to know that the believers are acknowledging his gifts even IF they don't mention his name out loud! AND I'd think he would be pleased to see the respect shown by everyone, believers and non-believers, towards each other.
First posted: 2013-AUG-17
Latest update: 2013-AUG-17
Author: Susan Humphreys