Yesterday for the Feast of the Epiphany I wrote and posted a blog post titled "Wear are our Caesars" and included a picture of the United States Capitol building. I had no idea at that time that several hours later, protestors would storm that capitol building and get inside during a day of chaos and violence.
Today I woke up wondering how my words yesterday resonate in the light of these events. What is the Christian response to such horrible and dramatic historic events?
The point I made yesterday is that for Christians, our only hope is the true Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is Lord, so the Caesars, empires, powers, and principalities of the world are not. It is God that reigns, and powers of the world have no true power over we who abide in the Living Lord Jesus. This is why in the face of so-called worldly power and authority, Jesus knew they had no such power over him, even when the Roman Empire wielded its most drastic power, to crucify and kill him. His victory over the world was made manifest three days later as he rose from the grave. He not only defeated death, but defeated the illusion of the world's power and authority.
What the world considers power is weakness, and what the world considers to be weak is revealed in Jesus as strength: humility, service, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and love.
Yesterday's events in Washington D.C., the riots that spilled into the chambers of Congress, the attempt to do anything to stop a democratic process, is how the world exercises power: power for power's sake, authority for authority's sake, and the desperation to do anything to keep that power. It's the same impulse presented in the passion narratives of the Gospel, when an innocent man was put to death to protect that power.
What is the Christian response to events like this? Where do Christians stand when these things happen? Christians stand with Jesus. We are called to stand in the place of Jesus, on trial, carrying the cross, and crucified. The way of the cross is the way of love we are called to follow.
Any allegiance with the powers of the world over our allegiance to the way of love ultimately leads down the road of division, hate, and violence. We Christians must be leaders in reconciliation, truth, justice, and peace. This is a harder calling. The easier thing to do would be to cling to sides, to ally ourselves with whatever side we see as best or most right, and to dig into the trenches of partisanship. Continuing to "other" those who disagree with us further dehumanizes our neighbor, and in the end dehumanizes the one doing the "othering."
Let us pray for our nation in turmoil. Let us pray for a just peace to fall on our country. Let us pray that truth will prevail and that we will reject attempts to dissemble, mislead, provoke, and gaslight in order to take advantage of these situations or gain more power over others. We must especially be vigilant in discerning when those we agree with are taking advantage of the moment to for political power and gain. And we must follow the way of love revealed in Jesus, the way of the Cross, and take up ours and folllow.
In the words of our Bishop Daniel Gutierrez:
As Christians our faith and trust rest solely in Christ, who alone can bring light to the darkness currently enveloping our nation. In this moment of crisis and division, I encourage everyone in our diocese to pray. Pray for peace, wisdom, and hope. As one people, let us seek "the better angels of our nature." I hold you and our country in prayer. I ask the churches of our diocese to pray the following prayer:
A Prayer For Our Country
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.