My Dear Siblings in Christ,
Like many of you, I was filled with a mix of emotions as I watched the horror unfold in the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6. I was angry, anxious, afraid, and deeply, deeply sad—heartbroken for this country whose ideals are so noble but whose failure to live into them has rarely been more evident than when that mob of terrorists and white supremacists stormed the Capitol Building. Fueled by a steady diet of lies, disinformation, and incitement of violence from the president and his allies, it was a horrifying, shocking, though not surprising culmination of the last five years in which people apparently without a moral compass enabled and abetted a dangerous demagogue.
I have heard some say, “This is not who we are.” I beg to disagree. It is who we are. And unless and until we can face up to that reality, face up to what we saw—we have no chance of healing and moving in a different direction. So, yes, we are a nation divided. A nation with too many people occupying the corridors of power whose sole interest is retaining power, furthering their own careers without caring one whit for the people they purportedly serve—and a populace that keeps electing them. We are a nation that has never acknowledged or begun to deal with our original sin—that this nation was built quite literally on the backs of enslaved black people and the genocide of Indigenous People, and at every level of government and society we have endeavored to subjugate people of color ever since. We are a nation whose founding documents refer to all “men” being created equal and, despite tortured attempts on the part of some to say “men” meant everyone, it is clear that at the time, and too often still, it meant what it says: men, specifically white men, are created equal—others not so much. That is our truth. A truth on ugly display as Confederate flags were waved around in the inner sanctum of government.
But there is a far deeper truth—and that is that God is in, through, and beyond all of life—that all is held in God. That, just as we observed at Christmas, God is with us in this life with all of its insurrections and ugliness—moving among us as the force of love and peace, which will ultimately win the day.
I have been sifting through this week in my mind—looking for where God might be moving amidst this mess—looking for the hope. And I think I have found it—in the apocalypse. Don’t panic, I am not talking about what many Evangelical Christians mean when they talk about the apocalypse—that God is angrily going to destroy the world and only a few chosen will be saved. That is highly offensive theology to God and to humans. I am talking about the real meaning of apocalypse which is unveiling or revealing. This week has been a moment of revelation—holding up for us to see plainly where lies, fear, white supremacy, evil have taken us—how thoroughly we are enslaved by Empire and how we can no longer say this is not who we are when it so clearly is. And in that revelation, there is hope—the gift of clear sight that affords us the opportunity to turn as individuals and as a nation and go in a different direction.
Our response to this revelation as Christians must be to be people of hope, of love, of peace. To be repairers of the breach. To examine our own hearts and lives and our collective life and model them after Christ. To live out of the God’s honest truth that God loves ALL people—every single one of us. We are called to serve others as citizens of this country, yes, but more importantly as citizens of God’s kin-dom. We are called as individuals and as a faith community to do our part in the work of dismantling oppressive systems—systems of Empire that dehumanize and abuse—systems of White Supremacy. We as St. Peter’s are called to renew our commitment to being a voice of love, justice, and anti-racism in Philadelphia. And together, we can, we must, engage in this work. We can find the courage and strength to do this in the sure and certain hope that God is with us in the muck of life and always will be.
Rev. Sarah and I are here for you—if you need to talk please reach out. We will support each other, pray for each other, encourage each other during the next tense weeks and we will commit ourselves to continue God’s work of justice going forward. Things may get worse before they get better—we humans have a distinct aversion to seeing the truth about ourselves—we tend to get irrational and angry. And the powerful never give up power without a fight. But hang in there—because the ultimate revelation in the Book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is at the heart of all of life and that his way, the way of self-sacrificial healing love is the way of God. Which means that the vision at the end of Revelation, of all people, from every tribe and nation, streaming into the City of God—healed, restored, united—is where we are ultimately headed. That is a vision worth fighting for and that is the hope in which we live and move—accompanied by the God who loves us and walks with us now and always.