I received a call a couple of weeks ago from a White House staffer inviting me to preach the National Prayer Service that is a part of the presidential inauguration festivities. The National Prayer Service is held on Tuesday morning following the inauguration and is a tradition that goes back to George Washington. The President and First Lady, Vice President and Mrs. Biden, members of the cabinet, various members of congress and 2,000 other invited guests will be in attendance.

I’m honored to have been asked to deliver the message for this service of worship. And, to be honest, I’m a bit nervous as well. I’m used to preaching before thousands of people each weekend, but I’ve never had the President of the United States and our nation’s top leaders sitting on the front rows.

Our congregation will be live streaming the event to our sanctuary so our members may join in the service (9:30 a.m. Central time). The service is held from 10:30 to Noon Eastern Time and may be viewed online at www.nationalcathedral.org. It will be led by a diversity of religious leaders sharing readings and prayers. I’ve been invited to deliver the 15-minute sermon.

My sermon on Tuesday morning will be focused on the leader of the Bible’s great emancipation story (in the light of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation) and is one I hope will inspire, encourage and challenge all who hear it. To my surprise the White House did not tell me what to preach on. Their direction was that the sermon should be spiritual, inspirational and inclusive.

I would value your prayers as I prepare for Tuesday’s service!

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