At the Newtown Interfaith Vigil for the victims of the tragic attack, President Obama used Scripture several times in his moving speech. It had been a somber weekend following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children dead on Friday. Obama appeared to be not only a President at the Vigil but a comforter and an understanding father.
Following his speech, Washington Post associated editor David Maraniss was apparently so moved that he took to Twitter to compare the president’s words to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. “People will long remember what Barack Obama said in Newtown…his Gettysburg address,” Maraniss tweeted.
While it was an interfaith vigil, Obama quoted from New Testament Scripture and paraphrased other verses from the Bible.
To the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests, he addresses his first references:
“Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly, we are being renewed day by day.” ( 2 Corinthians 4:16 )
“For light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all, so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.“(2 Corinthians: 4: 17-18)“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands.” ( 2 Corinthians 5: 1)
Near the end of his speech, is his final quote from Scripture:
“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”(Mark 10:14)
The Christian right does not seem to know what to do with the President. He seems to defy the mold. Many do not believe he is a Christian, that it is a “cover”. But, I for one, was impressed with the President last night. In a tragic case such as the Newton tragedy which defies all words, President Obama’s spiritual eloquence seemed appropriate. The Scriptural references were about hope, love, restoration, everlasting life, and respect and love for all children. While it was an interfaith event, the words, by and large, did not seem to upset anyone…perhaps that is the beauty here. Here is a black progressive President speaking the truth of the good news.
I was moved by this section in his summation, which Paraphrases Scripture:
“We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain, that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that, no matter how good our intentions, we’ll all stumble sometimes in some way.We’ll make mistakes, we’ll experience hardships and even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.” (James, Paul, Peter)