Rev. Adam Hamilton reflected on the leadership of Moses, whom he referred to as the Bible's "great emancipator," as he delivered a sermon before President Obama on Tuesday at the Washington National Cathedral's National Prayer Service.
Hamilton, founding pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, said he was inspired to speak about Moses, the religious leader who freed the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, because this month marked the 150th anniversary of the emancipation proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.
Speaking to President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the Methodist minister esteemed the character of Moses as an example of godly leadership, saying his "humility was coupled with a deep compassion and concern for the marginalized and the oppressed. "
"This is what God looks for in the Scriptures from every king, every rabbi, every leader. He looks for those who will take seriously the call to justice, to do kindness, to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves," said Hamilton, who leads the largest Methodist congregation in the nation, with 16,000 members strong.
Crediting Moses' successful exodus of Egypt to his vision, Hamilton went onto to say that American remains divided because it lacks a common vision.
"Until we resolve our issues here or at least find some unifying vision that brings us together, we're going to find it very, very difficult to solve any other problems we're facing – debt ceilings, issues of healthcare," he said.
Hamilton told Obama, "God has given you a unique gift, Mr. President. Unlike any other President we've ever had, you have the ability to be to cast a vision and inspire people. You should've been a preacher."
"God actually has you exactly where God wants you. and yesterday you began to lay out a vision for us in your inaugural address that was very powerful and compelling. Somewhere we've gotta find and forge one or two dreams or visions that people on the right and the left, the Republicans and Democrats, can come together and say, 'Yes, we can stack hands on this." Even just one or two. And you pointed toward that, you hinted towards that yesterday.
We have to remember our picture of the promised land. And when we do that anything is possible in America.'
The United Methodist preacher also encouraged Obama to not give up despite opposition to his leadership, as Moses had experienced during the time leading the Israelites through the desert.
"To be a leader is to invite criticism. If you're a Sunday School teacher, they'll criticize you. If you're a supervisor at McDonald's, they'll criticize you. If you're a preacher, they'll criticize you. And I don't know how you're still standing," Hamilton said to laughter.
Commenting on the theme of the inauguration, "Faith in the future of America," Hamilton said that Americans first should turn to God.
"In this service we come together to acknowledge that, in order for America to have a future, we will first need to find a deep and abiding faith in God."
In his closing remarks, Hamilton prayed, "Lead us to be a compassionate people, to be concerned for the marginalized. Help us re-discover a vision for America that is so compelling it unites us and calls us to realize the full potential of this country, to be a shining city upon a hill. And when you feel your lowest, don't give up. Wait upon the Lord, he will renew your strength, that you might lead us as a nation to knock holes in the darkness. "
The National Prayer Service or Inaugural Prayer Service was live streamed online at the Cathedral's website and through several media outlets.