What, Then, Can We Do?

Members of the United States Senate, the House of Representatives, the Vice President of the United States, all of their staff members, those who work in the U.S. Capitol building – all of them could easily have lost their lives on January 6 while doing the work before them. One police officer and several others died. Their lives were threatened, not by a plane flown by a foreigner who hates the United States, not by a spy who had infiltrated the government to such an extent that they could make such a credible threat. No, their lives were threatened by a mob of insurrectionists led astray and enraged by those who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, which is the founding and enduring document that created and sustains our fragile union as a country. 
 
Pastors and other leaders in congregations are often admonished to avoid reference to politics so as not to disturb those with whom they might personally disagree. This is not a time to be silent about those who threatened the lives of these public servants nor to be silent about the rage and the lies that fueled their actions. It is especially not a time for church leaders to be silent because of the way the seditionists have conflated their desire to overthrow democracy with the Christian faith. Carrying a cross or a sign about Jesus while calling for the Vice President to be hanged cannot be ignored. 
 
Addressing the events of January 6 and all that preceded it, and will continue for the months and years to come, is also a delicate path for religious leaders.
  • We cannot present ourselves as wise and others as gullible.
  • We cannot claim that these actions do not represent the American people when there are those among us who have felt this anger and level of violence directed at them for generations because they have been seen as different or un-American.
  • We cannot call people back to the “Christian principles on which this nation was founded” when that founding meant the slaughter and removal of the people who first lived here and the enslavement and degradation of the people whose toil created wealth we enjoy.
  • We cannot imagine that we are all treated according to the equality with which we were created when we have seen with our own eyes that this is not the case.

What, then, can we do?

  • Psalm 146:3. “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.” Remind people that no politician is a savior. There is only one Savior who called us to love one another with servant love.
  • James 3:5a “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature and is itself set on fire by hell.” Guard your own speech. Be sure that what you say is true. Call out falsehood when you hear it.
  • I Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.” Practice this love to which we are called. Expect this love from those with whom you serve.
  • Philippians 4:8-9a “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard.” The problem with being a Christian is not that it is confusing or opaque. The problem is that it is so hard to do.
 
This will be another momentous week-and-a-half in the life of the United States of America. There will surely be at least the attempt of more violence and the propagation of more lies and hatred and venom. Guard your own energy and soul so that you can continue to lead. Call out hypocrisy and evil when you see it. Our call always has been and remains this: to bring hope in the name of Jesus Christ.
 
The Rev. Susan (Sue) Krummel
Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Chicago
312.488.3015
skrummel@chicagopresbytery.org

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