Friday, August 5, 2011

Houston Sports Authority

This week I had the pleasure to pray for the opening of the Houston Sports Authority's bi-monthly board meeting where they meet at Minute Maid Park. HSA's board was established by the legislature to oversee the three major sport stadiums in Houston (Reliant, Minute Maid, Toyota Center and Dynamo). The money to fund those projects comes from hotel taxes, car rental taxes and the lease arrangement with each location. The HSA is now engaged in, as board chair Kent Friedman said, "a marketing function to get heads in beds and butts in cars" in Houston.

I wondered how to pray in such settings and exactly what to say. I did what I normally do when I am asked to pray at such functions: I get there early and meet some of the people and ask lots of questions. I learned a lot. Both about what the HSA does but more importantly about the people present and their families. I learned also that at least three major religions were represented. I learned that these folks dress really well in very high dollar suits. I learned that we could find things in common to make us laugh and pause reflectively. But behind the things that were said were fathers and mothers with families and joys and struggles. You learn the more you meet people that all of us are so completely just normal people with lives and loves and losses.

I think where I saw that so clearly was in the the way they received my daughters, Grace and Hollis, who came along with me. It was nice to see a very high functioning and professional group of people find joy in their presence.

So, as I thought about how to prayer and exactly what to say, I did what I normally do on such occasions: I sat quietly by myself and wrote a prayer to God for us all. Here it is:

Most gracious God, we express our gratitude that You remain near to us, Your creation. As Your handiwork, we are aware that when You made us, You pronounced that we were not just good, but VERY good. For that, and so much more, You are greatly to be praised.

In the context of the work of this team of people, we first thank You for the gift of sports and stadiums and elite athletes and competition. They all combine to bring us so much joy.

In the context of the work of this team of people, and perhaps specifically in light of today's agenda, we ask for Your Spirit to be very present. For the decisions that must be deliberated on and made this morning, we ask that a spirit of truth-telling mixed with humility and unity would prevail. We ask that these things would prevail for some higher collective purpose and good, than just our personal desires and what we feel we may need. We ask these things by Your grace.

To God be the glory. Amen.