Over the past few weeks there was much scorn and disappointment for the Obama administration choosing the Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the Invocation for the Presidential Inauguration. I was not thrilled by the choice but I thought it was a politically sly move. Why? On the one hand the choice reached out to those who identify themselves as Evangelicals (folk like me, mainliners, are barely 10% of the population). Obama is going to need a working majority coalition to move his policies through Congress; evangelicals will have to be a part of that. On the other hand, it forced Rev. Warren to hedge his words (notice no public interviews before the inauguration!). Rev. Warren, in the future, more than likely will not make the kind of statements he made before concerning homosexuality - being the one chosen to deliver the invocation. He may even nuance how he words future sentences in the future. Thus, a politically sly move.
Onto a more practical appraisal. Employment of Rhetorical Devices. Think back to middle school or high school English class. When constructing clauses in a sentence save the best for last. Western rhetoric always weighs the latter rather than the former part of a sentence. So onto the choice for the Prayers. Who is going to remember an invocation? No one. But everyone is going to remember the Benediction. Save your best for last. Rev. Lowery's prayer was quite remarkable!
Think about your average church service. When was the last time someone commented on the invocation? I cannot remember any. (I am not slighting their importance for they do serve the liturgical purpose of awakening us to God's presence). But I am willing to conjecture that you have remembered or been touched by a benediction.