This afternoon Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, the senior Greek Orthodox leader in Michigan, opened the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, with an invocation.
“Coming from a Greek background, I learned (from the ancient Greeks) that man is a political animal,” Nicholas told the Detroit Free Press, “Good politics brings people together. Bad politics is divisive. We have to bring people together.” He added: “I’m here to offer a prayer on behalf of everyone, not just Orthodox.”
Nicholas was representing the national head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the U.S., who was represented at last week’s Republican National Convention by the senior Greek Orthodox prelate of Boston.
Both parties’ national conventions feature Protestant, evangelical, Catholic Orthodox and Jewish clergy. The Republican event included a Sikh. The prayers are carefully nonsectarian and exemplify American civic religion while also revealing subtle emphases by various clerics.
Here’s the prayer from Metropolitan Nicholas, as transcribed by IRD’s new intern, Nathaniel Torrey, who is himself Eastern Orthodox:
Oh God, most pure and author of all creation, as You spoke to us of old, speak to our hearts anew. You, who had fellowship with Abraham and Sarah, come and stay in our midst. As you led your people through the wilderness lead us now as the Democratic National Convention open its deliberations for the benefit of the people and the land of these United States. You have brought us here from every place on earth that Native Americans and immigrant Americans, people of color and of every tongue, might find not just hope but a land which seeks life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Grant to all here a deep and abiding respect for the task at hand so that our common efforts will perfect our desire that law and government be for and by and of the people. Assist us to set aside personal differences so that the unity of purpose that we have will rise above us all as an enduring symbol of freedom and let freedom so reign in our hearts that we would never fear to lead the oppressed to freedom, never fear to give shelter to the homeless and displaced, never fear to treat our neighbor as ourselves. To give dignity and opportunity, as in Detroit and elsewhere in America, to the struggling unemployed and less fortunate brothers and sisters in this great land, let us never be afraid!
While our prayers and assistance are with those affected by Hurricane Isaac, we trust in You Oh Lord, that Your gracious love will be with our President, Barack Obama, with our Vice President, Joseph Biden, with all of our public officials, and those who serve the good of this nation. We ask also that You preserve and protect those who stand in harm’s way as they defend and serve for the benefit of all. Come and be with us Almighty God, as fortress and deliverer, that through You, and by the faithful and strong leadership of our government, we shall rejoice knowing that our children and our children’s children will know peace and every blessing, to You be glory forever. Amen.