Saturday, May 02, 2009

Kentucky Derby Day

Today is the "high holy day" for all Kentuckians. It is the Kentucky Derby. Even when I have traveled in the Middle East and the locals discover I live in Kentucky, they respond, "Oh, Kentucky Derby, very good...Government is very bad, but Kentucky Derby very good." Of course, that is pretty much the general response of most folks in the Middle East. "Oh, America have Ronald McDonald...McDonald's Sundae very good...Government is very bad, McDonalds very good."
Anyway, so a former active member asked me a few weeks ago if I had a prayer for horse races. I honestly thought he was kidding. After all, he attends a Baptist Church in Lexington. Why would he a) read an already written prayer and b) surely he's not gambling. I politely chuckled and said, "Well no, no horse racing prayers." Several days later he attended a funeral I was officiating and asked me again if I knew of any prayers for horse racing. I remarked that maybe I could talk to one of my Roman Catholic or Episcopalian colleagues about it, they might have a prayer for horse racing. The next day an email arrived, "Do you have a prayer yet?" So, in honor of this Kentucky Tradition, here is a prayer for all of you who might be attending The Kentucky Derby.

Father of all creation, you have made all that is.
The majesty of your creation with stars dotting the sky,
the sun and the moon,
the grandeur of mountains and the vastness of seas
attest to your might.
Your Church teaches that in all of creation,
humans are made in your image.
We are humbled,
yet marvel at the beauty of another creature
that bears the grace of your hand.
Merciful God, may you be ever be praised
for creating the Thoroughbred Racehorse.
Its power and agility are combined in a competitive dance
we call The Kentucky Derby.
Father, I pray, first, for the safety of all horses and riders.
I ask that the spirit of competition linger in the air,
reminding us of its power to inspire to greatness.
And finally Father, in faithfulness to utilize my winnings
for the glory of your Kingdom, to alleviate the sufferings of the poor
and to contribute to the support of your holy Church,
I humbly implore you to remove all impediments
that might prevent (horse's name) to win, place or show.
If I have offended your holiness with such a request,
forgive me and account my zeal to a desire to enjoy the festive
gathering that has made this great Commonwealth
the focus of the world. Know, most merciful God,
that I will always bend my knee as my lips and my heart forever confess
that Jesus is Lord, for it is in his name I pray. Amen.

Well, with that, I kinda feel like General Patton's Chaplain. Good luck everyone because I know Church attendance will be low tomorrow. My folks will say, "Well Rev. Ike, Churchhill Downs does have the word 'Church' in it."

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