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Obama Easter 2009: Pastor Says "The Fate Of Easter Is In Your Hands"

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A pool report on the Easter church service attended by the Obamas, filed on Sunday afternoon by Washington Times reporter Christina Bellantoni (read much more about the service HERE):

* * * *

No more news, but a few more details and some quotes from the Easter sermon given by Rev. Luis Leon at St. John's.

Also, a statement from Josh Dubois that didn't go out to entire press list is pasted below.

Details - Rev. Leon's sermon included a reference to Bonnie Raitt's "Love comes just in the nick of time," saying, "I think Easter comes just in the nick of time."

He also talked about the "joy of spring" after the long season of Lent.

"Don't you just love this time of year? After a few months of cold storage, energy comes pouring out of the ground. ... The robins have come back and joined those pigeons that have been around all winter long," Leon said. "Overhead and under foot and all around us we can hear we can see we can feel the news and the joy of spring."

Then he dove into a subject very close to President Obama's heart.

"Of course it's made even better," he said, adding that a friend asked him, "How are you going to get into your Easter day sermon that the Tarheels won the NCAA championship?"

He said he wasn't sure he'd be able to reference the winning team, but added: "But anyway, it's a great day, I'm delighted the Tarheels won this year. We are delighted in our household."

"Not only that, baseball season has started," Leon said, adding the church drummer is a big New York Yankees fan.

Leon said he wanted to remind everybody that the Orioles have beaten the Yankees twice so far, and therefore, "The world lives in hope"

"I'm a fairly charitable person, but I have to tell you - I hate the Yankees," he said, and laughter erupted from the pews.

"Let's get on with the cosmic quality of the day," he continued.

"I'm not here to dampen the enthusiasm of those of you who can believe 100 percent of the time. I'm not here to mount any guilt on any of you who are skeptics. I'm not here to add any discomfort to any of you, who may be here for whatever reason drew you to this church today. To all of you, I say welcome, regardless of where you are in your journey of faith."

"Easter is available to believers as well as to doubters alike," he said.

He said he would not try to explain the resurrection.

Leon said, "I think that the resurrection of Christ is one of those mysteries of the heart," like "the B-minor mass," "like lovers," "like starlight, like sunset."

"I can't explain Easter to you - it just can't be done. It's like a professor trying to explain one of E.E. Cummings' poems. It can't be done. You ruin it if you try to explain it. It's not meant to be explained. It's intended to be felt, it's intended to be experienced."

"Do not be alarmed if you don't have 100 percent faith. Do not be alarmed if you don't understand everything. It takes time to be a believer," he said.

"As much as we may want to have the whole thing wrapped up and resolved once and for all in one single episode of 60 Minutes, faith cannot be forced and faith cannot be coerced. Faith is hard work," Leon said. "Faith is often frustrating, faith is forever inconclusive."

"Knowledge can take us so far and then what is required is a leap of faith," he said. "I think it's important that you believe in as much of God as you can today. And that's good enough. It's good enough because it's true, it's good enough because it's honest, it's good enough because God will accept it."

Leon said he personally believes in the "power of resurrection" but won't say anything for certain.

"That's beyond my payscale, I can't figure it out, and I won't try to fool you," he said. "I am convinced that there is more."

"The fate of Easter is in your hands. Whether the message of hope lives or dies is up to all of us," he said.

During communion, regular congregant Ann Compton of ABC News (married at St. John's) spotted your pool in the back pew.

She informed us from her up-close view that the first family chose to intinct the wafer in the chalice of wine instead of drink from the communal goblet. ("They dipped but didn't sip," she said.)

Finally, a statement from Joshua Dubois, the head of White House Faith Office:

"The First Family has not made a decision yet on which church they will formally join in Washington, but they were honored to worship with the parishioners at St. John's Episcopal Church and at 19th Street Baptist Church earlier this year."

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