The following was delivered as the invocation at the Commencement Ceremony for the American University Washington College of Law.

Blessed are you O Lord, Our God, ruler of the universe,
who has granted us life, who has sustained us,
and who has helped us to reach this season
, [1] “who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.” [2]

In your grace, you have given us the Law
and instilled in our hearts a desire for justice
tempered by mercy.
In pursuit of the knowledge of law
these graduates have long labored
(and perhaps long suffered)
and come now
to the end of their studies.

We gather this day to celebrate and give thanks:
Thanks for this day and the gift of life;
Thanks for the friends and family who have come
from near and far
Thanks for this University,
for the faculty and staff
for their instruction
their mentoring and guidance
their example and testimony;
And most of all, we give thanks for these graduates:
for the gifts with which you have blessed them;
for the blessing they will be to a world in need.

Help them—
Indeed help all of us who have taken on the calling of the Law
To remember the purposes
for which the Law has been put forth,
the task to which we have been summoned

On this Festival of Shavuot,
Let us hear the words spoken to us in your Torah:
“Justice, justice shall you pursue.” [3] and hear the words proclaimed by your prophets:
to “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the
orphan, plead for the widow.” [4]

On this Pentecost Sunday,
Let us hear the words of One who reminded us
not to neglect “the weightier matters of the law:
justice and mercy and faith.” [5]

On this Fifth Day of Ramadan
Let us hear the words brought by your Messenger:
“Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves.” [6]

And so, Author of all Righteousness,
that in a world of injustice
our graduates might be agents of justice;
that in a world of division,
they might be agents of reconciliation;
that in a world of conflict,
they might be agents of peace;
that in a world of unfairness,
they might be agents of equity;
that in a world where the voices of so many are drowned out
they might with their advocacy amplify those voices;
that in a world in which so many are pushed to the margins,
they might through their work draw all to the center.
that in a world of rising authoritarianism,
and in a world of rising chaos and disruption
they might be agents of that ‘ordered liberty’
that binds your people into a free and just society.
that they may work for a world in which
“justice may roll down like waters
and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” [7]

And now, O God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, [8] Send them forth in love and wisdom,
with the boldness of vision
and the fearlessness of hope,
so that in all things they may testify to that hope
in a world in need of their witness,
now more than ever.
And let us say: Amen.


[1]Traditional Jewish prayer, the Shehecheyanu.

[2]Ps. 146:7

[3]Deut 16:20

[4]Is 1:17

[5]Matt 23:23

[6]Qur’an 4:135

[7]Amos 5:24

[8]From, the traditional Islamic blessing, the Bismillah.

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