Sunday, August 4, 2013

U.S. Senate Chaplaincy – a Dying Light?

Despite all the misguided talk about the alleged “separation of church and state,” prayer has always been a part of the Congress of the USA. “The inclusion of a prayer before the opening of each session of both the House and the Senate, traces its origins back to the days of the Continental Congress, and the official recommendation of Benjamin Franklin, June 28, 1787”:

·        “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel . . . I therefore beg leave to move— that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service.” (Wikipedia)

We have come a long way. Just how far, in three short decades, was illustrated to me by the homilies and prayers of Senate Chaplain Richard C. Halverson (1981-95). In 1981, he warned the Senate:

·        No great nation or empire was defeated from without before it had rotted from within – spiritually, morally, ethically. America will be no exception. She will be destroyed not by forces without, but by her own decadence….the need is critical for her people to take a stand against the conditions contributing to the pollution and corruption of American life. Secular humanism, materialism, hedonism, self-indulgence, sexual permissiveness, drunkenness, drug abuse – a cancer is ravaging America’s health and strength. ((No Greater Power,  46)

It made me wonder what type of homily the Senate is now feeding upon. Are their hearts still being convicted by the Truth? Halverson concluded with this prayer:

·        What will it take, O God, to make us know that we cannot do it alone? What calamity must fall before we humble ourselves and acknowledge our dependence on Thee?...Lord God help us. Quicken our minds to seek Thy wisdom, our hearts to repent, our wills to obey Thee. Return us to the noble dependence on Thee by which our forefathers persevered against incredible odds to give us our grand national legacy. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

What light had been shed upon our Senate! Halverson had predicted that without the Lord at our center, we will rot. Can you begin to smell the stench?

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