I was honored this morning to deliver the invocation at the virtual swearing-in ceremony for Thurston County officals:
In the first century, the Jewish Sage Rabbi Tarfon taught: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either” (2:16)
That is, in many ways, the description that we apply to government and to the work of our elected officials. All those who serve are entrusted by the citizens and residents of this County, to do the work on our behalf of building a sacred society. We know that with each successive election, the work may not be finished, but each cycle may we draw closer to creating the community we desire.
This past year has been difficult in many ways, although through it all two of the blessings that we have been able to recognize is that we are truly dependent on one another, and that government, when functioning well, has the ability not only to create the conditions for us to live out our individual rights, but to give shape to our communal responsibilities. That good government must allow all of us to rise up, and must prevent all of us from falling behind.
To you, our local officials. May you come to recognize the true nature of your work, and may you be blessed in your commitment not to desist from it. May you approach your work with wisdom and courage, compassion and humility, discernment and curiosity.
As you work together, on courts, councils, committees and commissions, may you each be firm in your convictions yet modest in your opinions. May you treat each other with the respect befitting a fellow elected, and dignity befitting another human created in the image of God.
May you recognize compromise as a sign of strength, not weakness. And may you see that no one person has a greater claim to truth, commitment, empathy or justice. May you listen and learn from one another, and honor and respect the sacredness of everyone you serve.
And most of all may you be blessed with peace, as you create peace for Thurston County and all who dwell within it.
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