Humble and Hope-filled Reflections on the events at the Capitol
Immediately, watching the TV in real-time, one of my first reactions was a desire to say something publicly. I wasn't sure what, but "something." This desire was driven perhaps by our cultures' quick dismissal of people who don't come out with some declarative statement quickly enough. This thought has been driven further by the "Silence is violence" philosophy frequently banded about. Sometimes though, silence is wise – at least for a little, especially when you’re not sure what to say. It is my experience that silence allows for quiet and quiet for reflection. Perhaps more than ever, reflection is needed.
If my response feels like it’s coming too late, I ask your forgiveness – loud and fast are not natural parts of my disposition.
So, how should the Christ-following Christian reflect on what happened on January 6th? (I use the term Christ-following as it appears that there are some Christians who aren't following the way of Christ).
Because Christ is still sovereign, and the church still has hope to offer, and our call is always to love deeply; we must also reflect deeply. I offer four Christian responses to the events of January 6th, 2021, at the Capitol Building. I realize there are more and I would love to hear yours. Here's mine…
What happened was wrong – it threatened much of what we hold dear. It was painful – things that we value were shaken and lost. It was tragic – people who matter to God lost their lives, families are grieving, and the broken pieces of many lives will never be fully put back together again. Because of this, we acknowledge the wrong, we hurt because of the pain, and we grieve the losses.
There are many appropriate responses to evil, pain, and tragedy, but perhaps the word that ties them all together for the believer is "compassion"? As believers, we are people who are to weep with those who mourn, who grieve with those who grieve, and we’re people who enter into a pain that we can often physically feel. As you reflect on the Capitol events on January 6th, do so with a heavy, broken, and compassionate heart. I believe that this posture was the first inclination of God's heart – He was deeply saddened by what was happening. Compassion creates empathy, and empathy creates some connection in our totally disconnected world.
Let sin sting.
Sadly, the Capitol events are the inevitable and predictable fruit of the back and forth distrust and discontent of which we have all been privy to over recent years. However, I am reminded that that which was supposed to tear us apart, in its failure, can often serve to strengthen us. In the afternoon, divisively destructive action upon democracy was challenged. Through the evening's reconvening, we were brought a reminder that our shared democracy is where our resilience and victory lies in these turbulent times.
It was rather emotional for me late into the night to watch the Senators and Congressional leaders' speeches, including those I personally disagreed with, to continue speaking, advocating, and debating together. The very fact that they could do so, in the exact place that had been overrun just hours beforehand, speaks to the STRENGTH of our democracy.
This process is profoundly scriptural. We call it redemption. What was meant for evil is used for good; what was meant to destroy makes it stronger. We are reminded by Paul that "all things," even the hard, tough, and ugly things, can be turned around "for good."
Let challenge make us stronger.
Build upon what we agree upon
Building on this redemptive idea, many things happened at the Capitol that can bring us together. The near-universal outcry about this attack on such a symbolic structure provides for us all a common cause to rally around. Our shared understanding of the behaviors that got us here must cause us collectively to rediscover who we want to be and how we want to act. Our disgust at the threat to life, liberty, and justice must cause us to pursue these same tenants with renewed vigor and passion. The inappropriate liberties that were indecently violated must call us to both corporate and personal accountability. The pride on display must invite us all to repentant humility. The collective hypocrisy that abounds must invite us to live lives of personal integrity.
Everyone is calling for unity, but to truly find it is both an appropriate and complex cry. It would make sense, though, that we start the process of unity around the things that we can agree upon. We are not going to build a base for unity around what we disagree on – let's build it around what we can agree on. Let's use what we agree was wrong about this situation to build a right, bright future.
A common cause, a shared understanding, virtuous tenants, accountability, humility, and integrity are all building blocks to discovering the unity we crave.
Start with what we can agree on.
Stay humbly focused
It is symbolic to me that these events happen on January 6th, Three Kings day. On this date, the Christian Church remembers three wise men of power who shunned Herod's worldly authority and submitted themselves to the Christ child and an earth invading kingdom governed by love, humility, justice, and joy.
As I reflect on the Capitol events, I pray that I, would have that same epiphany. While there is good hope for all of us in a healthy democracy, there is greater hope in the faith-filled presence and promise that Christ provides. Because we pursue Jesus, the author of our faith, we must also pursue a vibrant democracy that reflects these eternal and life-giving values.
The church has been culpable and complicit in the tensions of the past few years – of that, there is no doubt. With humility, as healers, the Church must repent of the numerous sins with which we have contributed. Perhaps our biggest sin is not the waywardness of our politics but the idolatry that comes from replacing the spiritual kingdom of love, humility, and justice with one focused on hatred, pride, and selfishness. We’ve been pursuing politics when we should have been looking to principles presented by the Prince of Peace. Father, forgive us and help us to reflect your values of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness in our broken worldly systems.
Humbly seek the better way.
In humility and hope,