02/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's Election: "This Thing Is Ordained"

With the inauguration of the first black president occurring the day after Martin Luther King Day, politics and race are firmly colliding in Washington D.C. this week. A subtext of it all, however, has been religion, whether it be the choice of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation tomorrow or the deep sense of spirituality that some read in Barack Obama's election.

At a religious service honoring Martin Luther King at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in D.C. the soon-to-be president was at the forefront of nearly every speaker's mind. But it was two of the political guests who weaved religious threads into the political process.

"Let's join hands with this new leader that we will install tomorrow," said Majority Whip James Clyburn, "to put our faith disciplines to work. It will be then and only then that religion and service can come together and give meaning to the lives of those who pray and hope that there is a better day here on earth."

Rep. Kendrick Meeks, meanwhile, recounted a particularly depressing day he was having during the election, in which Obama's prospects didn't appear that good. He talked to his mother, former Congresswoman Carrie Meeks, who soothed the anxiety.

"She said that this thing is ordained," recalled the younger Meeks.

In his crowd-pleasing speech, Meeks made another interesting remark. Among all aspects of the election that he found particularly moving, the endorsement of Obama by Colin Powell was close to the top.

"I couldn't move," the Florida Democrat recalled of that late-in-the-campaign "Meet the Press" interview. "This man gave the best endorsement of Barack Obama or any other leader in my lifetime."