Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How many invocations does a new president need?

Yesterday, the Presidential Inauguration Committee announced Initial Talent Line-up Confirmed for Lincoln Memorial Event:
Musical performers scheduled for the event include Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Usher Raymond IV, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, will.i.am, and Stevie Wonder. Among those reading historical passages will be Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington. The Rt. Reverend V. Gene Robinson will give the invocation. Rob Mathes will be the music director and arranger for the backing band, which will support all of the artists. Additional performers will be announced as they are confirmed.

While I was reading this paragraph, I started humming that song from Sesame Street.
One of these things is not like the others.
One of these doesn't belong.
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
now before I finish my song?

Despite the obvious misclassification of the opening invocation prayer as entertainment, I couldn't be happier that Reverend Robinson will be there to deliver it. As the first gay man to be elected bishop in the Episcopal Church, Reverend Robinson is viewed by many as a divisive force, even causing some congregations to splinter away from the church. Unfortunate as that is, I'm reminded of one of my early software development mentors who taught me that "you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet." Reverend Robinson puts it this way in his book, In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God:
Everything we do in our congregations, our workplaces, and our families -- all of it has a ripple effect. And the actions we take in the Episcopal Church have ramifications around the world for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes, we are told, those ramifications are negative and divisive. But sometimes, especially to the ears of the discounted, despised and marginalized, those ramifications are breathtakingly holy, bringing life and hope to those whom Christ came to serve."

I'm a Christian who doesn't believe that homosexuality is an enormous sin, an abomination, or anything other than God challenging me to find purpose in a world that would rather I didn't exist. The church in which I was raised stressed the importance of family, of the sacraments, and of love. When I came out, I was told that my love wasn't the right kind of love, I would never receive the sacrament of marriage, and any family I built would be inferior. I hadn't received communion at a Christian church since.

Many members of BR's family attend the Gilliam Methodist Church in Gilliam, Louisiana. When BR was diagnosed with MS in 2007, the church did what churches do best -- they came together to support the family. But not only that, they reached out to San Francisco to support BR and me. The regular cards, letters, and e-mails of encouragement from the pastor, choir, and individual church members really helped us as we adjusted to all the change. So when BR and I attended Christmas Eve services with the family in Gilliam, I felt perfectly at ease receiving communion.

WE ARE ONE: THE OBAMA INAUGURAL CELEBRATION AT THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL, the Opening Celebration for the 56th Presidential Inaugural, will be presented exclusively by HBO on Sunday, January 18 (7:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT). HBO will televise the event on an open signal, working with all of its distributors to allow Americans across the country with access to cable, telcos or satellite television to join in the Opening Celebration for free.

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