So there I was, sitting with the Scientologist “volunteer minister” hoping that the Daily Breeze or Easy Reader wouldn’t take a picture of us on stage together…
The Reverend Friend had asked me to give the invocation for the Redondo Beach Veteran’s Day memorial at Veteran’s Park last week and told me that I could pray anything without limitations. That came as a bit of a shock because in general, city events are fairly ecumenical and “safe” (gotta watch out for those lawsuits). I was honored and said I’d be subtle.
“No,” Reverend Friend replied with great consternation, “Give it to ’em!”
I was excited to do this and thought and prayed about what I would say exactly. Maybe something like, “OOOO Holy and Awesome Father in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thank-you that the sinners of Redondo Beach have gathered to hear Thy humble servant’s prayer pleading for You not to smite this great city.”
Uhh, maybe a little too strong. I had a few weeks to meditate on it.
I received a proof of the event’s program, and made sure that my name was spelled correctly. It was. Oh look, Assemblyman George Nakano will be there! The Redondo High School Band and Choir will be there too! World War II vets! Soldiers from Fallujah!
And..and.. and…a… Scientologist would be giving the benediction! Oh nooooooooooooo!
It was now the day of the big event. Everyone was asking where they should sit on the stage. No one knew. I walked up and took the last open seat. Walking down the aisle was the Scientologist. Pat was her name. There were no more seats. Where would she sit? Ha ha ha! God has a great sense of humor. I gave her mine. I grabbed an old seat from the side of the stage and sat next to Pat in her big ole yellow jacket emblazened with the words, “SCIENTOLOGY VOLUNTEER MINISTER!” We both sat on the very front of the platform. Maybe no one would recognize me.
The band played. The choir sang. Pledge of Allegiance. Right hand over the heart. Check out the audience to make sure. Yep, the right hand. National Anthem. Color Guard. Mayor Pro-Tem Chris Cagle announces, “Now Pastor Steve Sanchez from Hope Chapel will give the invocation…”
I had prayed about what I would say. I was gonna write it out but remembered that Pastor Zac wouldn’t do it that way. Besides, I wanted to demonstrate that I can talk to God one-on-One.
“Thank-you Lord for this day. This is indeed a day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. I thank-you for the sacrifice that the men and women of this country have made on our behalf to make us free, a sacrifice that reminds us of the sacrifice that Your Son, Jesus, made on a cross 2000 years ago to set us free. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
No boos. No shouts of protest from a disappointed electorate. No loud “Amens” either. The program continued. The wonderful veterans were honored. Then the benediction…
Pat came up to the podium, unfolded a piece of paper and said, “I would like to read a prayer written by L. Ron Hubbard.” As she read something about a mystical, grand, omniflourescent, beneficent light bringing true freedom, I half-bowed my head and didn’t really close my eyes but looked at the top of the trees through my eyelashes. I didn’t want to be seen praying this nonsensical mumbo jumbo, yet I didn’t want to be a bad sport either.
The Scientologist said “Amen.”
The people applauded.
– Steve Sanchez
???Should I have been more bold in my prayer? Would you share the platform with someone who prayed to a different god than you? E-mail me. email@example.com