President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their families attended the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service today at the National Cathedral. There, the crowd of 2,200 heard Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh "voices," all part of the "interfaith service," according to the pool report.
The pool report continues:
The interfaith service included voices from several Christian denominations as well as Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism, representing what Dean Gary Hall calls “the distinct role that people of faith have to play in our national discourse and policy decisions,” according to the Cathedral website.
“Strengthen the hearts of our president, Barack, and our vice president, Joseph,” Kathryn Lohre, president, National Council of Churches,said in one of several prayers for those who govern. “Make them bold for the work you have set before them. Grant them wisdom to discern your will and to consider your word among the counsels they receive.”
The sermon was delivered by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kansas, who began by joking that Obama should have been a preacher for his ability to inspire.
His speech, titled, “Compassion, Vision and Perseverance: Lessons from Moses,” weaved Moses’ story with the lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and turned to the struggles facing the president. He called for unity and an end to partisan fighting in Washington, singling out the debt ceiling and health care.
“We’re in need of a new common national vision – not one that is solely Democratic, or solely Republican,” Hamilton said. “We need at least one or two goals or dreams that Americans on both sides of the aisle can come together and say, ‘Yes! That’s what it means to be American. That’s where we need to go.’ God has given you a unique gift, Mr. President. Unlike any other president we’ve ever had, you have the ability to cast a vision and inspire people; you should have been a preacher.”
… “The theme of this year’s inauguration was ‘Faith in the Future of America.’ But in this service, we come together to acknowledge that in order for America to have a future, we’ll first need to find a deep and abiding faith in God. ... It is this faith that helps us discover the kinds of visions that are worthy of our great nation, worthy of the sacrifices we make. It is this faith that sustains us when we feel like giving up – a faith that comes from trusting in the words of Jesus, who said, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
He concluded by directly addressing POTUS. “There’s a lot of darkness in the world. Lead us to be a compassionate people, to be concerned for the marginalized. Help us rediscover a vision for America that is so compelling that it unites us and calls us to realize the full potential of this country to be a ‘shining city upon a hill.’ And when you feel your lowest, don’t give up. Wait upon the lord; he will renew your strength that you might lead us as a nation to knock holes in the darkness. Amen.”
The service featured other readings and song. The President led a standing ovation after Children of the Gospel Choir sang “Determined to Go On”:
“Say yes! I believe it. / Say yes! I believe it. / For I am determined yes, I am, to go on.