This Monday our country will commemorate Presidents’ Day. My personal celebration of this holiday in past years has had little to do with any presidents and much more to do with taking a ski trip over the long weekend (with roughly a billion other people who are also trying to take advantage of the winter weather and the school break!). But this year I decided to remind myself of just who we are meant to be celebrating.
As you may know, the federal holiday is technically Washington’s birthday, honoring the first president of the United States. Presidents’ Day is a state holiday in most states as well, although who is celebrated varies. Some states just commemorate George Washington, while others include Abraham Lincoln, or some other combination of presidents, including Thomas Jefferson. Wikipedia told me that the holiday has become a day to honor all of the presidents.
That revelation got me thinking about the challenges of high-level leadership like the U.S. Presidency. It is easy to get blamed for things you have no control over. It might be tempting to misuse your power in self-serving and destructive ways. But we hope that the president our country has elected will inspire all our governmental leaders to work together to make the United States a more peaceful, equitable, and just nation. No one can do this job alone, and no one should have to do it without a lot of prayers from people of faith. To that end, let us use the opportunity of Presidents’ Day to say a prayer for President Biden and all our civic leaders:
For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of New York, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(BCP p. 820, revised to contemporary language)