This is the first event in Sojourners history where the White House has had a role, any role, aside from the one where they call the local police and ask them to remove us from the sidewalks. Our signs, songs, and chants tend to get on the nerves of White House residents. (I blame myself. As the long-time guitar player for our vigils outside the White House, it really is hard to keep hundreds of people on key, much less on the beat. When you've got three blocks of marching protesters, the ones in front finish "Kum Ba Yah" before the ones in the back. You end up with lots of "yah"s trailing off at the end, and I can't blame officials for wanting to get us off the street and into police wagons.)
But now it's different. We just watched a video from President Obama made specifically for our gathering, and now we're listening to a panel discussion with White House officials Josh DuBois, Martha Coven, and Van Jones (who's almost as hard to book as Obama). We're on the INSIDE, and ... well, it feels odd. Like we've won a prize or something. It makes me think we've got to keep pinching ourselves to see if it's real, and to keep kicking ourselves to keep from being carried away by it all.
The Bible is pretty clear about Christians being outsiders, what with the prophets yelling outside the gates of the city (I don't know, maybe they just wanted in to use the bathroom) and Christians being in this world but not OF it. (Although, maybe some prepositions were lost in the translation.) But there's no doubt that, if EVER there was a chance to reduce poverty, it's with the new administration in the White House.
A hundred days and counting.