January 25, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
Public and Private OathsThis week we heard our new President take the oath of office as he began his official duties as our nation’s leader. He promised that he “will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” After he made this oath he went on to give his inaugural speech outlining his vision for our country and inspiring us to draw strength from a few of the core values that have for generations defined our nation, namely, service, sacrifice, charity and perseverance.
President Obama placed his hand upon a Bible and took a very public oath of office, a public promise to serve our country. You and I live much more private lives, and yet each of us in our own way lives out our private oaths, seeking to uphold the values and commitments that define our lives. You and I may not hold an elected office, but we do hold many important positions in our lives. We are parents, siblings, grandparents, children, spouses, coaches, teachers, aunts, uncles, colleagues, neighbors and friends. Each of these “offices” are sacred and while they might not require a public oath, our choices and actions in these roles reveal the values and commitments that we are actively working to “preserve, protect and defend.”
Our new president knows that there are great expectations being placed upon him. He knows how important the decisions will be that he and the other leaders of our nation will make in these tough times. And yet as important as our leaders are, President Obama made it clear in his inauguration speech that it is the citizens of this country that will ultimately define its future. It is you and I, faithfully fulfilling the “offices” that we serve, that make up the fabric of our society.
President Obama made this clear in his speech:
“For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.”
Strong families and strong nations are both defined by the choices that the individuals that comprise them make. Strong families and strong nations demand strong leaders, and you and I are the leaders our country and our families have been waiting for. As we pause to pray for our new president, let us also pause to pray for ourselves and for one another as we seek to faithfully fulfill the offices we have been called to serve, so help us God.
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