I’m in shock over this week’s events at our nation’s Capitol. If you are a praying person, will you join me praying for our country.
We need to open ourselves to God, asking for insight in how what we might do as individuals and in the groups we’re a part of to being healing to our nation.
There will be a lot said about yesterday’s events in the days and weeks (and months) ahead. I am sure there are those I will agree with and those with whom I will disagree. However, we should remember one of the founding principles of the Presbyterian Church. “There are truths and forms with respect to which men of good character and principles may differ, “our Book of Order states. In these things, it is the “duty both of private Christians and societies to exercise mutual forbearance toward each other.” How we relate to those who think and believe differently from us is a telltale sign of the trust we have in God.
That said, as a follower of Jesus and a pastor, these are some things that weigh heavy on my heart.
First, our political rhetoric has gotten out of hand. It seems people on all sides think that if the government doesn’t do what they want, or if the vote at the ballot box doesn’t go their way, it is a personal affront and they have a right to take things into their own hands. While the right to peacefully protest is a hallmark of our nation, we do not have the right to incite violence or to intimidate others. If this doesn’t stop, we’re going to destroy ourselves and our nation.
The problem of white privilege
Next, as many of my African American friends have pointed out, if those who attacked our Capitol were people of color, there likely would have been more bloodshed. White privilege is real. You can see this with the supposedly Q-anon leader stomping though the Capitol with bull horns, dressed like Hagar the Horrible. Had he been a person of color, instead of roaming around like a pagan Viking, his blood would likely be flowing across the marble floors.
The misuse of Jesus’ name
Finally, as I posted on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon, I was offended to see people on the porticoes of the Capitol with signs and flags bearing Jesus’ name. These were not law-abiding protestors. They had already pushed past the barricades set up for those protesting. The above photo I snapped from my TV screen. The sign says, “Jesus Saves.” I doubt such a sign will convince non-believers that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Would the Jesus, whom we know through the Gospel stories, be seen taking part in such a demonstration?
No, Jesus, the one who had the power to call down angels to save himself, refused to take part in any insurrection. He also stopped his followers from going down such a path, telling Peter to put away his sword. My advice for those who carried such signs and symbols yesterday is to leave Jesus out of whatever devious plans they concoct. If they really believe in Jesus, they should immediately drop to their knees and beg forgiveness. Such signs are a violation of the commandments. It’s blasphemy.
We all need to be praying and confessing. We need to confess our failure to live up to our ideals as we seek a better way forward. I offer this simple prayer:
Lord, what we witnessed this week was humbling and scary. We are blessed to live in a nation rich with opportunity. We are grateful. Yet, we realize our hands and our hearts are not clean. Forgive us when we did not speak up for justice, when we did not support those being demonized, and when we didn’t challenge false and dangerous ideas. Show us, Lord, how you might use us to build bridges with others who have also been created in your image. Use us, in the words of Francis of Assisi, to be an instrument in your peace. Lord, what can I do to further your kingdom? Amen.