A Response to the Violence at the US Capitol
Like many of you, I spent yesterday afternoon and evening watching news coverage of what unfolded in our nation's capitol. And more than twenty-four hours later, I still cannot believe what saw. For the second time in my lifetime, I saw the United States Capitol Building evacuated. The first time that happened was nearly 20 years ago after the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Yesterday, it happened as a group of people crossed the line of protesting and became terrorists in their own rights by breaching the capitol building while both chambers of Congress were in session to formalize Joe Biden’s election as our next President of the United States.
In all my life I never imagined that I would see images of our capitol police barricading the doors to the chamber of the House of Representatives and being forced to hold a mob back at gunpoint as that mob tried to enter that chamber. In all my life I never imagined that I would see our elected officials have to put gas masks on as tear gas was fired to try to protect their safety as that angry mob continued to encroach. In all my life I never imagined that I would see capitol police officers have to open fire on our own citizens to protect the Representatives and Senators that these citizens were seeking to harm. In all my life I never imagined that I would see anything like we saw yesterday.
For those of you that have been a part of this church over the years, you know that I do not often tread on the topic of politics. And I do everything I can to remain as politically neutral as possible. But today, I do not want to mince words. The attack on our nation's capitol yesterday was deplorable. And, as a pastor, I thoroughly denounce these acts of violence.
And this attack was made even more deplorable by the fact that the President of the United States helped to set it in motion. The President's words delivered in the midst of yesterday's rally created the scene we saw unfold in our nation when he encouraged the protestors to show their strength and march to the capitol building.
But as appalled as I am by the behavior of the President of the United States, I am equally appalled that many people in this mob carried flags or wore clothing that identified them as Christians. As someone who has been a Christian for over 30 years, and as someone who has been a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ for 13 years, I can tell you that yesterday's mob was not following in the way of Jesus.
Yesterday, we watched as the President of the United States refused to accept his loss in a fair and free election. And we saw him encourage his followers to literally fight his battle inside the halls of Congress. But when Jesus stood on the verge of losing his life in the Garden of Gethsemane, he told his followers to put their swords away.
The way of Jesus does not lead to violence. The way of Jesus does not lead to total and abject hatred of another. The way of Jesus does not lead to chaos. The way of Jesus does not lead to shame and despair.
Rather, the way of Jesus leads to peace. The way of Jesus leads to love for one another. The way of Jesus leads to reconciliation. The way of Jesus leads to hope.
So as the unimaginable events of yesterday continue to ring in our collective consciousness in the days to come, let us as followers of Jesus seek to really follow his way. Let us pray for the division in our nation. Let us pray for the police officers and soldiers who have been called upon to protect our nation's capitol and our elected officials. And let us pray for the women and men who are trying to lead us through.