From: Geoff Earle
Sent: Thursday, February 4, 2016 10:11 AM
To: Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO
Subject: Pool report #4, Feb. 4, 2016
POTUS delivered a sermon on fear at the Nat. Prayer breakfast - acknowledging that everybody including himself feels it, and reflecting on ways to avoid fear's temptations.
He had rejoinder to 2 Corinthians (though he didn't mention that one): "Second Timothy," a passage he said has been thinking and praying on lately. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear but a power and of love and of a sound of mind," Obama quoted the scripture.
POTUS spoke for about 28 minutes, starting with a joke. "I have always felt a tinge of guilt motorcading up here at the heart of DC's rush hour. I suspect that not all the commuters were blessing me as they waited to get to work. But it's for a good cause. The national prayer brunch doesn't have the same ring to it."
Check transcript for exact quotes.
Then he shared his personal fear. "The main one I feel right now is that my children grow up to fast. They're leaving. That's a tough deal. You miss some central moment in their lives. Will they call? Or text?"
Obama spoke about how faith helps him deal with "unique elements of my job," like having to send cadets into harm's way, and speaking with parents whose children have been gunned down. "That reminds you there's evil in the world," he said.
"Like every person, I've known fear," he said. "But my faith tells me that I need not fear death. That the acceptance of Christ promising everlasting life and the washing away of sins."
He mentioned Syrian refugees. "It's the faithful from mosques, churches and synagogues who welcome them."
He mentioned as fears "disruptive conflict" and "disruptions to our environment," then added what sounded more like a gripe. "It's all amplified by a media that is unceasing, that feeds 24/7 our ever shrinking attention spans."
And he spoke about less spectacular efforts by congregations: "Just helping people."
POTUS referenced his trip yesterday to the mosque, as well as his recent trip to the Israeli embassy, repeating the story of Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, who told the Nazis "we are all Jews" and saved his fellow POWs from assassination.
Obama called for faith during "smaller moments," not just in "public piety" we all profess, sand said he prays "that our differences ultimately are bridged ... and that "we don't divide."
He finished by offering a final prayer:
"I pray that our leaders will always act with humility and generosity. I pray that my failings are forgiven. I pray that we will uphold our obligation to be good stewards of God's creation, this beautiful planet. I pray that we will see every single child as our own, each worthy of our love and of our compassion. I pray we answer scripture's call to lift up the vulnerable and stand up for justice, and ensure that every human being lives in dignity. That's my prayer for this breakfast and for this country in the years to come."
Many thanks to Angela Greiling Keane of Bloomberg for stepping in to help.