Sunday morning at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins' sermon was about the Old Testament's Queen Esther speaking up for the people.
The lesson: Esther's cousin Mordecai urging her to take advantage of her place in the king's circle to fight for Jews. Despite her fear, she follows the advice.
Rev. Hawkins referred to Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and the first black president of the Harvard Law Review as examples of those who stayed away from the "flowery bed of ease" to fight for justice.
"Thank God for the Mordecais in our lives, those who stir us to do what is right and just," he told the congregation before addressing Obama directly. "Listen to Mordecai. Perhaps, just perhaps, you are where you are for just such a time."
The congregation of the mostly African-American church founded in the 1800s stood and applauded as the future first family entered and left the church Sunday, just two days before Obama is sworn in as he first African-American president of the United States.
Obama was mentioned in Chicago pulpits, too, wehre Africans-Americans attended church to give thanks for the path Martin Luther King Jr. helped clear for soon-to-be-president .
On the eve of Martin Luther King Day, people who packed into the 10,000-seat Salem Baptist Church sang a joyful rendition of the usually mournful civil rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome."
Salem's Rev. James Meeks says Black America still has progress to make but should take a moment to celebrate Obama's inauguration.
Insurance agent Kevin Brown attended the service. The 36-year-old Park Forest resident says he grew up listening to stories about King but never thought he'd see a black man as president.
Brown says he'll keep his four children home Tuesday so his family can watch the inauguration together.