On January 6, 2021, people of our nation watched with horror as the U.S. Capitol was overtaken during an attempted insurrection spurred on by the President of this country.
We saw images of guns drawn in self-defense in the Senate chamber and of police officers overtaken by an angry mob. We know of at least one person who died and many more who were injured.
The soul of this nation has been wounded yet again and needs healing. This will take a long time as the roots of our issues go back in history.
Thankfully, Congress reconvened through the night to finish its work of acknowledging Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the lawfully elected president and vice-president. However, our work of healing as a nation lies before us.
Among the images that disturbed me deeply as a Christian was seeing banners of Trump supporters that said “Jesus 2020” next to flags showing a machine gun touting, Rambo version, of President Trump. Both Jesus and Trump were being upheld as saviors of the people but the word savior literally means “healer,” and the contrast between Jesus of Nazareth and the President on this point could not be starker.
The President of this country has either willfully or delusionally continued to twist reality to his purposes, lying to the American people and pretending to be a victim of injustice at the ballot box. He is trying to cling to power and white privilege.
Trump endorses a macho version of power that refuses defeat, and has built a personal cult bordering on idolatry.
In contrast, Jesus of Nazareth lived a humble life of service to the truly disenfranchised and systematically oppressed of his time. He healed people wounded in body, mind, and spirit. He also practiced love for those who sought to destroy him in their desperate effort to hold on to privilege and power.
As a Christian, I see the very presence of the divine and the patterns by which we are to live our lives manifested in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus never wished to be worshipped. He called on his companions to live lives of service and compassion for the healing of the community. Jesus also never sought wealth or power, especially not at the expense of others. He spoke truth to false power and paid for it with his life.
I pray that we can find the grace to have compassion in these times, even for those with whom we deeply disagree.
My faith reminds me daily that we are all in need of a transformation from the delusions of separateness into deeper love. My faith also compels me to decry injustice and recklessness.
If anyone has reason to name injustices at the ballot box it is those who have been systematically disenfranchised over the centuries based on the color of their skin. They have also been faced with harsher force when voicing their grievances.
We are still learning to live into Jesus’ vision of a truly just and equitable community and our secular vision of a more perfect union. In Jesus’ vision of community people are empowered to serve each other and the common good regardless of race, gender, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity.
As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other Christian visionaries and prophets remind us, we all have a role to play in identifying unjust suffering in our midst and work toward healing. May we rise up from the ashes of January 6 to face this challenge with passion, compassion, and clarity.
Rev. Dr. Ute Molitor is pastor of First Congregational Church, Camden, United Church of Christ