A Reflection from Rev. Harry Knox
April 6, 2012 by Guest contributor
Rev. Harry Knox is a member of HRC’s Religion Council, founding director of HRC’s Religion and Faith program and the current interim executive director for Integrity, the denominational affinity group for Episcopalians. Harry was appointed to the White House Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships when he was the HRC Director of Religion and Faith.
On Wednesday morning I attended the White House Easter Breakfast. I have had the honor of attending every year since being appointed to President Obama's first White House Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. President Obama is the first Chief Executive to honor Easter, the high holiday of his faith in this way. He also hosts a Seder with Jewish staff and an Iftar to mark Ramadan with Muslim leaders. (This is the man former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has accused of mounting a war on religion. Sheesh!)
The Easter Breakfast is an amazing example of the challenge and genius of the way Barack Obama governs. Rather than filling the room with sycophants, the President insists that his guests reflect the broad diversity of Christian belief and political persuasion. Each of us comes to the table in thanksgiving for our common belief in the Risen Christ and in our desire to pray for our President and our country.
I love the Episcopal tradition of praying for secular leaders first by name, then by title. Each Sunday the deacon at our St. James Church in Clayton, GA intones, "We pray for our brother Barack, President of the United States...for our brother Nathan, governor of Georgia..."
The pastors and bishops who make their way to our nation's capitol each Spring have made the event, by their actions and words one of support for our nation's brave leader and a time of deep prayer for him and for all those to whom he gives his life in service. I am so pleased to be among them and to pray with them for the President. The President described our gathering this way, "It's an opportunity for us to reflect on the triumph of the resurrection, and to give thanks for the all-important gift of grace. And for me, and I'm sure for some of you, it's also a chance to remember the tremendous sacrifice that led up to that day, and all that Christ endured -- not just as a Son of God, but as a human being." You can read the entire transcript here.
There is no more demanding job in the world than that our brother Barack rises to do each day. I am heartened to know that he believes that redemption and renewal come through trial. He preached to us today (and he said he wasn't going to give a sermon but, "Wow," it sure came close) that he has learned an important lesson: Sacrifice is a path to new life when the sacrifice is freely chosen.
Although I don't always agree with the President (mostly I do), I always pray for my brother, who is giving himself up for us everyday in selfless service and has that all important gift of grace. May God the Holy Spirit guide him today and everyday as he works to make our country a better place.
And may God the Holy Spirit guide us and us as we seek to find the triumph of the resurrection everywhere in this land we love.