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Obama said the story of Easter morning is still vivid in his mind's eye, from the crucifixion to the "discovery, just three days later, that would forever alter our world -- that the Son of Man was not to be found in His tomb and that Jesus Christ had risen." He continued:I can't tell any of you anything about Easter that you don't already know. I can't shed light on centuries of scriptural interpretation or bring any new understandings to those of you who reflect on Easter's meaning each and every year and each and every day. But what I can do is tell you what draws me to this holy day and what lesson I take from Christ's sacrifice and what inspires me about the story of the resurrection.
A partial list of attendees released by the White House included:We are awed by the grace He showed even to those who would have killed Him. We are thankful for the sacrifice He gave for the sins of humanity. And we glory in the promise of redemption in the resurrection.
And such a promise is one of life's great blessings, because, as I am continually learning, we are, each of us, imperfect. Each of us errs -- by accident or by design. Each of us falls short of how we ought to live. And selfishness and pride are vices that afflict us all.
It's not easy to purge these afflictions, to achieve redemption. But as Christians, we believe that redemption can be delivered -- by faith in Jesus Christ. And the possibility of redemption can make straight the crookedness of a character; make whole the incompleteness of a soul. Redemption makes life, however fleeting here on Earth, resound with eternal hope.
Of all the stories passed down through the gospels, this one in particular speaks to me during this season. And I think of hanging -- watching Christ hang from the cross, enduring the final seconds of His passion. He summoned what remained of His strength to utter a few last words before He breathed His last breath. "Father," He said, "into your hands I commit my spirit." Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. These words were spoken by our Lord and Savior, but they can just as truly be spoken by every one of us here today. Their meaning can just as truly be lived out by all of God's children.
Pastor Bill Hybels, senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, Ill.
Bishop Vashti McKenzie, bishop, A.M.E. Church
Elder Nancy Wilson, Metropolitan Community Church
Commissioner Israel Gaither, national commander, Salvation Army
Pastor Joel Osteen, pastor, Lakewood Church
Hyepin Im, Korean Christian Community Development
Dr. Arturo Chavez, president, Mexican American Catholic College
The Rev. Sharon Watkins, general minister and president, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Rev. Larry Snyder, president, Catholic Charities
The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president, National Council of Churches
Dr. Julius Scruggs, president, National Baptist Convention of America
Sister Carol Keehan, president, Catholic Health Association
Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, senior pastor, Windsor Village United Methodist Church
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