Pastoral Letter: January 6, 2021
Beloved people of God:
Today has been an extraordinary day. Some have called it “unprecedented;” I am not enough of a student of history to know whether that is so, but you and I have certainly never seen anything quite like it. Many of you have seen what I wrote as an individual and as a citizen on my personal Facebook page, but I feel compelled to write you now as your Pastor.
We watched violent men, intent on subverting our peaceful constitutional processes, storm the United States Capitol and disrupt Congress at its work. By late afternoon order within had been restored and by evening Congress is to be back at work. I have said over the last few years that I believe the institutions of our Republic are strong; I never envisioned they would face a violent assault such as this one, but I continue to believe in their strength. We will see a peaceful transition to the next Administration, even though mobs may continue to try to subvert our institutions by threatening Congress, attacking the news media, and repeating falsehoods and empty accusations.
I have also said that, in the long-term will of God, the fate of individual nations, including our own, is of little importance. I continue to believe that. Still, this is our home; this is where you and I live and work and love and play, and so it is important to us. As people of Jesus, our calling is to respond as Jesus does. That is not my instinct; my instinctive reaction is to fight back, to hope for terrible things to happen to these White nationalists, but if I am going to be loyal to Jesus, I need to seek His way.
Today is Epiphany, that wonderful day that celebrates that God is shown to the world in Jesus. Those of us committed to that truth would do well to ponder how we can best honor Jesus in our response to today’s violence. I don’t know what that is, but I remember that when the mob came for Jesus, he surrendered to it and allowed himself to be crucified, confident in the Resurrection God had promised.
I certainly hope that the people of the United States have today learned that words matter. The things that the President has said for years and especially since November 3 have an effect; the mob that attacked Congress today believed it was doing the right thing, that it was acting to preserve freedom. They had been led to that thinking by a man they believed in. I hope that you will scrutinize carefully the words you hear, whether from a political leader, from me, or from anyone who claims authority to speak, to try to discern truth. Truth is not easily come by, but it is also not so elusive as conspiracy theorists claim. It is always grounded on facts, on generally agreed-upon reality.
For you and me, the foundational truth is that God loves us, loves us all so much as to send Christ to us, and that this love for everyone, including for those who were misguided enough to storm the Capitol today, is the light by which we live. Epiphany is traditionally a celebration that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not, could not, and cannot overcome it. Please claim that truth and live by that truth in the days before us.