Prayer to Open the Texas House of Representatives

 I was honored to deliver the prayer below, to open the final Saturday of the 82nd Legislative session of the Texas House of Representatives. Below you will find the printed text, and a video version that’s been posted to YouTube.


Many thanks to my dear friend, Representative Rafael Anchia, for the invitation, and the opportunity to do this….EF

Opening Prayer: Texas House of Representatives
May 28, 2011
Rev. Eric Folkerth
Northaven United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas

Holy and Gracious God,
We come before you on this day, on the final weekend of the 82nd legislative session. And as we pause before you in prayer, Holy God, we give you thanks for each of these esteemed members of our state government; for their families, their communities, and for the life-experiences that led them to these honored positions.

We know and understand the personal sacrifice that goes into being a public official…the time away from family….the long hours….the stress of the public spotlight. We give you thanks, O God, that these before us today have answer the call of public service. And we ask you to bless them.

But God, on this Memorial Day, in this chamber we are also keenly aware of even greater servants, those who have died in the service of our country, and their family members who are here this day. We who serve government in other ways come before them in humility. May they always know our deep and abiding gratitude, and may they also know the deep and abiding presence of your love and grace. And may all of us work toward that day when “nation shall not rise up against nation, and neither shall they make war any more.”

In great humility, O God, we recall how you call us to be a holy people. You, O God, call governments to be a holy manifestations of your will and desire for the world.
So, O God, remind these leaders of our state that their decisions matter to you, that you care deeply about what they decide here.
God, during their work here, help these servants of the State of Texas to be holy people, and to leave partisan politics at the statehouse door.

But also, O God, help them to make Texas into a holy people. For you call us to account. And we remember that your Parable of the Last Judgment is a judgment upon the nations of the earth.
And so, make Texas into a a holy people.

Make us into a holy people, O God, like the People of Israel, whom God challenged to treat immigrants as if they were native born.

Make us into a holy people, O God, like the Church of St. Paul, who championed care for widows and orphans, the most marginalized people of his day.

Make us into a holy people, O God, as Jesus taught….so that we might care for the sick….for those in prison…for those without clothing and shelter…for “the least of these.” And let us be reminded, as Jesus taught, that when we so care for others, we are caring for the face of God in the world.
Make us into a holy people, O God. For we know, when we search the scriptures, that these are the kinds of holiness God calls our government to achieve.

And, God, when this session has finished…when the final bill has been passed, and the last gavel comes down….when these elected servants are back in quiet of their homes, and praying to you in the privacy of their own hearts….accept their prayers of forgiveness for all the ways in which they will have fallen short of your holy vision.
All these things we pray, in your most holy and gracious name.
Amen.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

3 thoughts on “Prayer to Open the Texas House of Representatives

  1. "Make us into a holy people, O God, like the People of Israel, whom God challenged to treat immigrants as if they were native born." And some may think coincidence that HB 12 failed after Pastor Folkerth prayed this prayer.

  2. Great prayer, Eric. You were very kind. I was scheduled to pray, but had to back out as they picked a date when I was out of the country. I probably would not have been so gracious.

  3. Thanks you guys.Owen: I learned of the failure of HB 12 from your post here. Really glad to hear that it died.John: I am sure you'll be asked again very soon. Still looking forward to seeing you in the real world someday.

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