President Barack Obama hosted the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House on April 19, 2011.
Guests included megachurch pastors Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House, Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church, Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Dave Gibbons of NewSong Community Church, Mark Batterson of National Community Church and Joel Hunter of Northland Church.
President Obama’s remarks:
“The triumph of Palm Sunday… The humility of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross. And we’re reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world – past, present and future – and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection,” he said.
Citing the Old Testament book of Isaiah, Obama added, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Obama called it “magnificent grace,” “expansive grace,” “amazing grace.”
It’s that grace that calls him to reflect, pray, ask God for forgiveness, and praise God for “the gift of … His Son and our Savior,” he said.
“And that’s why we have this breakfast,” he pointed out. “Because in the middle of critical national debates, in the middle of our busy lives, we must always make sure that we are keeping things in perspective.”
While children and spouses also help keep things in perspective, the president noted that “nothing beats Scripture and the reminder of the eternal.”
Bishop Vashti McKenzie, the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, offered a powerful prayer after being introduced by Obama as the “high-tech bishop” for her iPad.
“I just have to make a quick point: you noticed that these days prayers are on an iPad,” Obama said to laughter.
The gathering was held a day after Obama reached out to the Jewish community with an intimate Passover Seder.