4 notable remarks from President Obama’s Easter Prayer Breakfast

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President Obama speaks to Christian leaders on April 7, 2015 at the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House. Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

President Obama speaks to Christian leaders on April 7, 2015 at the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House. Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama turned both personal and preachy Tuesday (April 7) during his annual Easter Prayer Breakfast, which he has hosted at the White House six times since he was elected.

The long list of Christian leaders attending included Sojourners’ Jim Wallis, National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson, Roman Catholic Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Rev. Al Sharpton, retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, civil rights veteran the Rev. C.T. Vivian and African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Vashti McKenzie. The Rev. Amy Butler of New York’s Riverside Church gave the opening prayer.

Here are four memorable statements from the event:

1. Though he said, “I am no preacher,” he almost preached:

“Even as we grapple with the sheer enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice, on Easter we can’t lose sight of the fact that the story didn’t end on Friday,” he said. “The story keeps on going. On Sunday comes the glorious resurrection of our savior.”

“Easter is our affirmation that there are better days ahead — and also a reminder that it is on us, the living, to make them so,” he added.

2. He acknowledged he falls short of the mark:

“Today we celebrate the magnificent glory of our risen savior. I pray that we will live up to his example. I pray that I will live up to his example. I fall short so often. Every day I try to do better.”

3. He praised several preachers, including the late Rev. Gardner C. Taylor:

He quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and acknowledged Pope Francis, whom he will welcome to the White House later this year and “who encourages us to seek peace, to serve the marginalized and be good stewards of God’s creation.”

And he remembered the Rev. Gardner C. Taylor, the “dean of American preaching,” who died on Easter Sunday at age 96.

“Anybody who had the privilege of hearing him speak knows what power he had,” the president said. “He was a friend of Dr. King who used his spellbinding sermons to spread the gospel and open people’s hearts and minds.”

4. He tears up when he thinks of his daughters:

“I want to thank everybody here for their prayers, which mean so much to me and Michelle, particularly at a time when my daughters are starting to grow up and starting to go on college visits. I need prayer. I start tearing up in the middle of the day and I can’t explain it. Why am I so sad? They’re leaving me.”


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  • Greg

    I don’t know what to believe from this man anymore. He is a pure “politician,” plain and simple. It is almost laughable to hear him speak of Jesus; he clearly does so only for his political advantage. The crying is pretty good too; whenever you see a politician cry, try to locate the water source. But, if he can spontaneously well up some tears, then that is a real gift.

  • Greg

    I believe the president’s problems are worse than that. What did Jesus say? “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (Luke 12:48). When a man such as this president of ours is given the opportunity by God Almighty to lead a country (John 19:10-11), he must do so for the common good, and the greater glory of God. But instead, this president has opened the floodgates to abortion funding, gay marriage, forcing churches to fund abortifacients, turning a blind eye to reasonable Christian concerns, and the list goes on. He has done everything to tear down our stable society, and replace it with one that is alien to us, and has no long-lasting good. What is the Milton line? “Better to rule in hell, than serve in heaven.” What people like this president do not understand, is that there is no ruler in hell, but the Devil, and souls that end up there will be tormented forever (Mat 25:46).

  • “Thanks for your prayers”

    Atheist translation:
    “Thanks for your concern, your thoughts and your hope for me and my family – I don’t really think your prayers will do anything at all – but your concern, your thoughts and your hope for me and my family fill my heart with joy as I know we are not alone but we have all of you, our friends, with us in a very real way.
    It is incredibly comforting to have you so close by and ready to help if we need it.”

  • Diogenes

    Mere interpolation Max, you may be right, but not for the reasons you think.

  • Diogenes

    Avoiding drunkenness is indeed a command from the bible, complete abstention from alcoholic beverages is not. Further, there is no scriptural text that describes the wine that Jesus made as diluted, though admittedly that was the common practice. However, the governor of the feast at the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned the water into wine, declared that the best wine had been saved for last, which was not customary. What do you suppose was the distinction between the better wine and the average; the taste, the alcohol content, the fact that it was not diluted? In the context of the human condition, probably all three. Moderate consumption of alcohol is not condemned in either the Old Testament or the New. Though the Bible advises we should never provide a stumbling block to others.

  • Greg

    Yes, Diogenes, the Bible teaches moderation in all things.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Hey,R….take a deep breath my friend.There is nothing so zealous as a reformed alcohol,which frankly you sound like.Since you weren’t there,making pronouncments concerning the strength of the wine that was drunk at the Wedding Feast is an exercise in futility.Move on.

  • Larry

    Most importantly, despite the predictions of many Christian conservatives, neither Obama nor the clergy burst into flames upon close proximity to each other. 🙂

  • Rev. Dr. Norman Martin

    God bless President Obama and God bless the United States.

    Don’t stop there, pray Lord, keep loving the people who scream out against you.
    Love those who can’t love because they have experienced little of it in their lives.
    Please love those who equate religion with doctrine instead of personal experienced belief in a power far greater than themselves.
    Actually, Lord please help this world, call each of us to work for peace, to love others when it is not demanded or commanded. Help my good brother Max to know a gentle peace of mind.

  • John from Nebraska

    You have “good” white cops shooting black men in the back and you give Obama crap for worrying about the safety of his black daughters to the point of tears? Not only are they black they also happen to be the children of the most successful black politician the United States has ever seen. So that makes them even MORE a target of radical elements in our society!

    I’d cry. I’d bet you’d cry too, Larry.

  • John from Nebraska

    Sorry… that comment was directed at Greg… not Larry.

    Carry on.