Yesterday sobered us. A mob breaking into the Capitol. People fleeing. Shots fired. In the midst of the crowd, a banner proclaiming Jesus appeared. It was held high by one of the rampaging protesters. Boldly proclaiming the Prince of Peace as an ally to lies, hatred, and violence, its offense — and that of the broader assumptions it represents– compound the grimness of what happened there.
We’re shaken, and rightly so. This chaos came closer than some which we’ve only observed (or silently consented to when promulgated by U.S. actors) far afield.
An assault on safety, civility, and property is deeply disturbing. The distortions of truth from which it grew are utterly unacceptable. And the immunity with which many have collaborated in falsehood is worthy of prophetic condemnation.
Yet someone lifted up a banner bearing only the word “Jesus.” As if he approved.
That flag takes the name of Jesus in vain. It reflects the unholy linking of faith to ambition and ideology. To commandeer Jesus as a tool of political supremacy warps his truth. Appropriating his name for personal or national power must be challenged. Among the things we may have learned yesterday is that being silent to keep a false peace or because we are tired of conflict is not acceptable.
One of the commentators on the events said that they’re reminders that we are all responsible for the work of protecting democracy. The same is true of peace: we are all responsible for the work of building it, even as we seek the strength of God in that work.
The One whose birth we have just celebrated over Christmas recognized common humanity, not lines of division. He didn’t shy from confrontation but called for accountability. He built peace and also insisted boldly on justice.
May we who follow him make our way through this time by doing the same!