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President Obama Honors Jesus, Pope Francis During Holy Week Easter Prayer Breakfast

( [email protected] ) Apr 15, 2014 09:36 PM EDT

(Photo : whitehouse.gov)
President Barack Obama bows his head as Pastor Joel Hunter gives the opening prayer during the Easter Prayer Breakfast in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 2014. Sitting with President Obama is Dr. Otis Moss.

President Barack Obama ushered in Holy Week at the White House Monday, joined by 150 Christian pastors and leaders at the fifth annual Easter Prayer Breakfast.

The Holy Week tradition was started by the Obama administration in 2010 to specifically honor the life of Jesus Christ.

"So this Easter Week of course we recognize that there's a lot of pain, and a lot of sin, and a lot of tragedy in this world," the President said. "But we're also overwhelmed by the grace of an awesome God. We're reminded how He loves us so deeply that He gave his only begotten son, so that we might live through Him."

The President added that more than 2,000 years after Christ walked the earth, His life continues to inspire us.

"We are drawn to His timeless teachings," he said, "challenged to be worthy of His sacrifice, to emulate as best we can His eternal example to love one another just as He loves us."

President Obama also offered his prayers and condolences for the victims of the shooting in Overland Park, Kan., and he applauded those gathered for their good work in ministry.

"You don't remain on the sidelines," he told the group.

He also had very kind things to say about his recent meeting with Pope Francis.

"He reminds us that all of us, no matter what our station, have an obligation to live righteously, and that we all have an obligation to live humbly.  Because that's, in fact, the example that we profess to follow," he said of the Pope.   

The President wrapped up his remarks by praying with his tongue-in -cheek: "Lord fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I've said enough."

"The Almighty is nudging me," he said to laughter as he sat down.

Rev. Otis Moss Jr., whose son Otis Moss III replaced the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright as the senior pastor at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, delivered the sermon for the gathering and Christian performer Carlos Whittaker sang for the group.

Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Central Florida offered the opening prayer and in a move no one expected, Obama asked openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson to deliver the closing prayer.

The President and First Lady will host a Passover seder at the White House on Tuesday, on the second night of the Jewish holiday.