US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea for a Christmas Eve service on December 24, 2017
US President Donald Trump attended a Christmas Eve service in Florida Sunday night with First Lady Melania Trump, as they spend a year-end break at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Arriving at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach — around 70 miles north of Miami — the president was greeted by Reverend James R Harlan as around 100 people lined the street to watch the motorcade.
Mass began before the Trumps arrived, and Harlan had asked the congregation to put any phones and cameras away, describing them as an “intrusion.”
“We’re here to worship,” he said.
Seated in the third row, Trump listened to Harlan’s sermon, which centered on the power of words.
Quoting Nelson Mandela on the importance of understanding “how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die,” Harlan highlighted the ability of language to educate and enlighten, but also to cause harm.
“Your words can have as much destructive potential as they do healing,” Harlan said. “God’s word is pure light.”
A crowd lined up to shake Trump’s hand during the peace-be-with-yous — while the church’s livestream cut to another angle as he stood up to take communion.
Trump, who was accompanied only by his wife Melania, departed the church after midnight local time (0500 GMT), arriving back at Mar-a-Lago shortly before 12:30am Monday.
Earlier Sunday, President Trump and the First Lady joined in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tradition of tracking Santa Claus, taking calls from children who wanted to know his location.
“What would you like more than anything?” the president asked one child.
After the child responded, Trump said: “Building blocks, that’s what I’ve always liked too. I always loved building blocks.”
Later in the evening, they enjoyed a Christmas Eve dinner menu which included turkey, beef tenderloin and seafood, along with side dishes such as creamy kale, popovers and mashed potatoes.
Trump also took to Twitter to wish his followers a “Merry Christmas,” once again lamenting what he described as an “assault” on the phrase.
“People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again”, he wrote.
“I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!”
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