Quoting scripture, the preacher put it to the new U.S. president this way: " `When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light.' "
The robed, white-haired clergyman, head of the denomination to which Bush belongs, advised him and others that people today "hunger for moral leadership, and as they are satisfied, they are reconciled to one another."The advice came from the Most Rev. Edmond Lee Browning, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, at a special worship service Jan. 22 attended by Bush and officials of his new administration.
"Moral leadership is grounded in the inner disposition of love and compassion," Browning said.
"This inner disposition, nurtured by the holy writings and prayer, enables a leader to reach out to tap and release the deep well of justice and compassion in a nation's people."
In the congregation at the National Cathedral, the Episcopal center in Washington, were Bush's family, his designated Cabinet and staff, members of Congress, and an ecumenical turnout of religious leaders.
Browning, as the Episcopal Church's primate, is the presiding officer and chief spiritual guide to its 2.8 million members, including Bush.
Moral "leadership makes conscious that which lies unconscious in the soul of a nation," Browning said, his gaze roving over that gathering of the powerful. "From this leadership flows healing and unity of purpose.
"From this leadership emerges national greatness of will and purpose in the exercise of justice and mercy. From this leadership can come the reconciliation of the peoples of the earth.
"When the moral leader shows his inner disposition of love and compassion through his words and actions, the people recognize, acclaim and accept its authority."
Browning cited Jesus' Sermon on the Mount - about caring for the poor, the peacemakers, even ememies - as setting the fundamental standards of "charity and compassion toward each other."
"He helps all people to accept the attributes of a nation that is blessed by God," Browning said. He said those principles were exemplified in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War.
Leaders living by those principles pray as Jesus did that God's will be done, Browning said. "These moral leaders are blessed because they can discern what is good and bad, true and false, corrupt and incorruptible.
"They are blessed because they have internalized the will of God."
Browning quoted from the book of Samuel in which God told ancient Israel's King David that a just ruler dawns on people "`like the morning light, like the sun shining forth upon a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth'."
The homily was one of three delivered at the special service, culminating a weekend of inaugural events.
The other two sermons were by Missouri's Gov. John Ashcroft, a layman of the Assemblies of God, and by the Rev. Peter Gomes, an American Baptist and minister of Harvard University's Memorial Church.
Ashcroft, preaching on care for God's creation, pointed out that humanity was created from dust.
"That makes dust pretty important," he said. "The elements are not only God's creation, but were chosen by God to represent his own character. We are dust . . . Ultimately contamination of the environment is self-contamination."
Noting that God's first order to Adam was to tend and care for the garden, Ashcroft said "wrongful use of the garden brought to both Adam and the environment a curse."
"We still have the charge to dress the garden and to work it," Ashcroft said. " . . . We are stewards of creation, of the very elements from which God chose to create us in his own image.
"Others might think it insignificant, but to those who believe, dust and deity are closely linked . . .
"By giving us dominion over the earth . . . God has shared with us his role of creator . . . In large measure we shape the nature of the world in which we live. We can create communities of pollution or purity - we make the choice . . .
"Fortunately many of our environmental missteps of the past can be redeemed. We have an incredibly wonderful opportunity to correct some of our past errors. To clean them up and start over again."
Gomes said hope must be restored to the "destitute of our American Calcuttas," to "the prisoners of the inner city," to youths, the aged, AIDS sufferers and the "prisoners of affluence and indifference."
"God has ordained governments to be instruments of hope," he said. "In God we trust, but in governments we hope."