Thank you. First giving all glory and honor to God, I’m humbled by this opportunity to share at what is considered the National House of Prayer for all People.
I want to thank Bishop Ted Eastman, our celebrant today, for the fine work he has been doing in and around D. C. for so many years and in so many different capacities.
I want to acknowledge and congratulate the newly consecrated Episcopal Bishop of Washington, Bishop John Chane. I am looking forward to working with him on the many challenges we face as citizens of this great city.
A special thanks goes out to the dean of this Cathedral, the Very Rev. Nathan Baxter. Dean Baxter is truly an asset to our city and he is always a most gracious host, whether we are celebrating, as we are today, or we are mourning, as we did here following the tragedies of September 11th. I would also like to acknowledge Dr. Mary Tyler Brown, director of the Cathedral Scholars program, which is part of my Passport to Work program. This program provides promising DC public school students a rich three-year experience that increases their academic skills in English, mathematics, and computer skills. It also exposes them to new ideas and experiences including those in the workplace. I have three students working in my office this summer, Phu Pham of Wilson Senior High School, Lauren Oliver, Ballou Senior High School, and Jamie Adams, Wilson Senior High School.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m humbled by this opportunity. It’s good to see so many of you out this morning.
A lot of people have wondered how in the world can I function as mayor if I’m the type of person who enjoys non-political pursuits like reading about antebellum America, bird watching, and architecture. As I look at the awesome architecture in this Cathedral, I’m inspired by these achievements and the achievements of our great city. As a student of architecture, it is a special honor for me to be here in this magnificent Cathedral. I have always been impressed by the carvings, by the stained glass windows, and by the beautiful gothic arches over our heads. But the arches aren’t just beautiful. They are a weight-bearing system that enables the cathedral to stand strong—symbolic of our city and our nation this past year.
In Matthew 24, while Jesus was seated on the Mount of Olives the disciples asked him, what would be the sign of him coming and of the end of the age. He explained to them that they must be watchful of people leading them away in error, there will be wars and rumors of wars—he said this must take place, but it’s not the end. He said that nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes, he told them they will be hated by all nations for his name’s sake. He said the love of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity. However, he reminded them that he who endures to the end will be saved. And that this good news of the kingdom will be shared with the world and then will come the end.
Many of us see some of what Jesus described in our world today. Even today, we sit here and wonder what will become of the city in which I live—the District of Columbia. My friends, that will depend on God’s plan for this city and our attitude toward it.
Psalm 133 reminds us, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
The residents of this great city are doing what they can to create one city with one future in the midst of everything that is going on in the world today, our city continues to strive for peace. That’s why it is so important that we are united by our commitment to the future of this city. Yes we may have different rituals, yes we may have different prayers, but we have the same desire to see that the place we live, work and play is peaceful.
Romans 12:5 says that “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” If one part hurts, the other part is uncomfortable until the hurting part is healed. If one of us is hungry, another part of the body should see to it that the person is fed, if a part of the body is lacking in education, another part of the body should make sure that we come up to speed, if a part of the body doesn’t have a job, another part of the body should make sure that you have the skills to secure one. If a part of our body is depressed, we should encourage it.
Just as our eyes, ears, arms and legs have a different function in our human body so does each and every one of us in this city. As I’ve said before, as residents of our nation’s Capital, and as people of God, we must act together to achieve the same level of harmony as those who built the Cathedral. If we continue to give our share and contribute to the body of unity in this our great city, we too can build lasting monuments. And just as our reading proclaimed earlier in this service in Psalm 89, “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.”
Though our city has accomplished a great deal, we’re still a city too often divided by skin color, income, and geography. I proclaim to you today, that it is not our differences that are the problem they are what make us strong and great. That’s why we can not be slothful in our everyday business, but we must be “fervent in spirit; serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer,” as Romans reminds us and as we’re doing today.
At my State of the District address, I said I believed we could become one city, with one future. I still believe that today. Jesus Christ used 12 men with different backgrounds—yet they were united by a common goal which was to preach the gospel to seek and to save the lost. Even though we have different backgrounds we can still come together. I believe we can do the same in our city. It’s why the work of my Interfaith Council is so important to me. I’ve visited a number of different places of worship this year and though I’ve done things differently every place I went, I realized one thing, that all of us are united by our commitment to the future of this city, and to our children who will inherit it.
So, as a body with different parts, let each joint continue to supply the need of another. And as an orchestra with different instruments, let’s continue to play in tune and harmony. So that after all is said and done, generations to come will call us blessed.
So I would like to leave this grand august body assembled here in this great edifice called the National Cathedral the words of our true and living God and these words are:
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth for this first heaven and the first earth were passed away. And there was no more sea. And I John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heave, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, ‘Behold the tabernacle of God is with men and he will dwell with them and they shall be His people and God himself shall be with them and be their God.
“‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. For the former things are passed away,’ and he that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new.’”
So as Mayor of the District of Columbia, I will work unselfishly and tirelessly until Washington, D.C., can be that great city where poor people will have affordable housing, where East of the River will truly be a Garden of Eden, where people West of the River will play together and laugh together with people east of the river—this is the new Washington, DC and with your help and leadership we will make this city—one city with one future for all that dwell within. God bless you and God bless America. One nation under God with liberty and justice for all.