As massive crowds swarmed the National Mall on Tuesday to witness Barack Obama's inauguration as president, the man at the center of the maelstrom began the day quietly and reverently, at a church service across the street from the White House according to Talking Points Memo:
Obama and his family attended a private service at St. John's Episcopal Church, a tradition for those about to become president. The family of Vice President-elect Joe Biden also attended.
Barack and Michelle Obama waved to bystanders, then entered the church to applause from about 200 people. The choir and congregation began singing the hymn, "O God Our Help in Ages Past."
The Rev. Luis Leon welcomed the Obamas and said every president since James Madison has worshipped at the church at least once, "some of them kicking and screaming."
Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., of Los Angeles, drew murmurs and chuckles when he blessed the Obamas and asked that "they may finish these two terms in office" stronger than they are now. Obama, of course, would have to win re-election in 2012 to serve a second term.
The Rev. Joel Hunter of Longwood, Fla., offered a blessing to "Barack Hussein Obama."
The sermon was by prominent Dallas minister T.D. Jakes. Borrowing an Obama campaign slogan, he told the president-elect that he will face many critics, "but you are all fired up, sir, and you're ready to go." The nation and God will go with him, too, Jakes said.
Read more here.
Ben Smith of Politco has the pool report from the service:
Jakes read from Daniel, 3:19 and used the scripture to offer PEOTUS a series of four lessons for his administration.
1 – “In time of crisis, good men must stand up. God always sends the best men into the worst times.”
2 – “You cannot change what you will not confront. This is a moment of confrontation in this country. There’s no way around it…This is not a time for politeness or correctness, this is a time for people to confront issues and bring about change.”
3 – “You cannot enjoy the light without enduring the heat. The reality is the more brilliant, the more glorious, the more essential the light, the more intense the heat. We cannot separate one from the other.”
4 – “Extraordinary times require extraordinary methods. This is a historical moment for us and our nation and our country, and though we enjoy it and are inspired by it and motivated by it.”
After his four lessons, Jakes turned from the crowd and looked directly at Obama.
“The problems are mighty and the solutions are not simple,” Jakes said, “and everywhere you turn there will be a critic waiting to attack every decision that you make. But you are all fired up, Sir, and you are ready to go. And this nation goes with you. God goes with you.
“I say to you as my son who is here today, my 14-year-old son – he probably would not quote scripture. He probably would use Star Trek instead, and so I say, ‘May the force be with you.”
Read more notes on the service here.