President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters, Sasha and Malia, attend Easter Sunday service at Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., April 4. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pausing to observe Holy Week amid war and policy struggles, President Barack Obama said last week that the agony of Jesus Christ through death and resurrection puts mere political struggle "in perspective."
For the second year running, Obama hosted an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House, and the East Room was filled with administration officials and clergy from across the country.
Obama said "critical national debates" are raging, and "my plate has been full as well. The in-box keeps accumulating. But then comes Holy Week ...
"As busy as we are, as many tasks as pile up, during this season, we are reminded that there is something about the resurrection ... of Our Savior Jesus Christ that puts everything else in perspective."
Obama spoke just before heading to a town meeting in Virginia on his deficit plan -- the start of a cost-to-coast tour promoting his fiscal blueprint as more balanced than the one advocated by congressional Republicans.
Obama has used previous prayer breakfasts to underscore the depth of his Christian faith in the face of polls indicating some Americans question his religious beliefs. Last August, a Pew Research Center poll found 18 percent wrongly believe that Obama is a Muslim.
On Tuesday, Obama recounted the story of Christ's march to Calvary, the crucifixion and resurrection, the "unfathomable grace" of taking on the sins of the world.
"This amazing grace calls me to reflect, and it calls me to pray," he said.
Obama said his daughters help keep things in perspective for him, and so does having a "strong spouse.... But nothing beats Scripture and the reminder of the Eternal."
The event included an opening prayer by African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Vashti McKenzie of Tennessee. Other well-known clerics included Bishop T.D. Jakes and Archbishop Demetrios, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.