President Barack Obama and his family attended a worship service Sunday morning at an Episcopal church just across the street from the White House where presidents frequently have visited.
The president, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia made the short walk across Lafayette Square to St. John's Church.
The sermon by Rev. Dr. Luis Leon was based on the story of John the Baptist, who told the religious leaders he was neither the Messiah nor the prophet, but a voice calling in the wilderness.
Leon likened the story to the president and the expectations Americans may have of him. People have illusions about the nation and about God, the pastor said, and urged the congregation to open its eyes not "to the God we have created, but to who he really is," he said.
Just before the announcements, the congregation laughed when a young boy ran to the front of the church and took a good look at the Obamas.
The first family participated in Holy Communion before strolling back through the park to the executive mansion.
Obama has worshipped at St. John's previously, including Easter services in 2009. He has also attended other churches in the nation's capital.
One of the church pews has a small brass plaque designating it as "The President's Pew." Church history claims that every president since the nation's fourth chief executive, James Madison, has visited.
Sunday night Obama spoke briefly of the story of Jesus's birth during the 30th annual "Christmas in Washington" concert.
He said the story of Jesus Christ has changed the world by teaching basic values such as loving one another, helping and serving the less fortunate, forgiving, drawing closer to family, being grateful and keeping faith.
"Those are values that are shared by all faiths," Obama said at the concert. "So tonight let us all rededicate ourselves to each other, and in that spirit, from my family to yours: Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America."."