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Notes from Obama's Easter Service

1:17 PM, Mar 31, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Obama and his family this morning went to Easter Sunday services at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Here are notes on the Easter service from the pool reporter, which included this part, "It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back ... for blacks to be back in the back of the bus ... for women to be back in the kitchen ... for immigrants to be back on their side of the border":

Notes on today's Easter service at St John's (from the program):

The hymn "Jesus Christ is Risen" was followed by the "Song of Praise."

This was followed by "The Collect of the Day" (Celebrant: "The Lord be with you"; Congregation: "And also with you.")

The first reading, by Rev. Fred Walker, was from Exodus 14:10-14, 21-25, 15:20-21.

The anthem, sung by St John's Choir was "Victimae Paschali Laudes."

The second reading was Romans 15:4-13.

The entire congregation sang the hymn, "Come, Ye Faithful."

The Holy Gospel reading was from John 20:1-18.

Highlights from the Rev. Dr. Luis Leon's sermon:

Opened with a welcome and a joke about people who came to church just so they could tell their parents or people they're having lunch with later that they did.

What God wants of every one of us is to believe as much as we can at a given moment ... it's all right to have doubts.

We often want things to go back to the way things used to be, before "work got difficult and faith got confused, and life got more confusing," but when we dwell on the "if only" of life we forget that "God addresses us in the now."

As Jesus told Mary not to hold on to the past, "You cannot go back."

"It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back ... for blacks to be back in the back of the bus ... for women to be back in the kitchen ... for immigrants to be back on their side of the border."

"The message of Easter is about the power of love over loveless power."

"Easter vision" will allow you to see the whole world in a different way. "There is no injustice so insidious that there can be no truth ... no war so deep that there can be no peace ... no enemy so bitter that they can't become a friend."

"Easter vision" means recognizing reality in a new and wonderful way.

"May God bless you with Easter vision now and forever."

The sermon was followed by the prayers of the faithful, led by Rev. Patrick Williams, which included prayers for "Barack, our president," and for "leaders in Afghanistan, Haiti, and the Middle East.

Next on the program was "The Peace"(during which members of the congregation shake hands and greet each other with "The peace of the Lord be with you," etc.)

This was followed by the Holy Communion (along with its accompanying collection, hymns, and recitation of The Lord's Prayer).

Pool was able to catch a glimpse of POTUS and the First Lady taking communion.

The post-communion prayer was "Hallelujah Chorus."

Pool was ushered out at 12:39, before the dismissal. Now outside the church waiting for the president's exit.
A correction: It was an error to assume that the Obamas were seated in the first pew. National Journal's George Condon has pointed out that, according to the church website, it is tradition for the president to sit in pew 54.

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