Washington.– Archbishop Demetrios of America participated last Wednesday in the National Prayer Service held at the Washington National Cathedral, attended by President Barack Obama, First lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife Jill. The National Prayer Service is a tradition dating back to the Inauguration of George Washington, and this year had a strong interfaith character embodying the themes of tolerance, unity and understanding.
Prior to the ceremony the Archbishop had the opportunity to see the President and convey to him the congratulations and best wishes of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Orthodox faithful of America.
Archbishop Demetrios read during the service from the New Testament the following passage from the Gospel of Matthew. (Matthew 22:36-40)
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
In a way this is the American formula: From an explicitly Christian tradition but with a message that transcends Christianity.