Buffalo horns and red banners and gas masks and guns and people filled with fear and people filled with anger . . . so much anger. These are the images that still haunt me a week later, as I sit at my desk in my new Associate Pastor’s office. Anxiety and disgust and disappointment were my initial feelings. And I still feel those. But I’ve struggled with “official” words to say, as a pastor, to respond to what happened this day, last week, at our nation’s Capitol.
So many people seemed immediately to have just the right words to say, as they posted on social media. I’m a ponderous person, so it sometimes takes me longer to find the words. I remember seeing a clever description of last Wednesday’s events as the “Epiphany Insurrection”—a burningly ironic name, I suppose, as the Church celebrated Epiphany that very day. . . . Epiphany being that time when the Wise Ones encountered Jesus and gave him gifts. When barriers were broken down between “us” and “them.” When we celebrate the Light breaking into this crazy world with its pain and darkness. But last Wednesday was so much the opposite of all that. There was division . . . a cruelly hardened “us versus them” mentality. There was hatred and violence, the antithesis of peace. There was darkness for our country that was noticed around the world.
But Epiphany also means an “A-ha!” moment. And my “A-ha!” came from seeing the banners with the words “Jesus 2020” emblazoned on them. And it made me wonder: where was Jesus in all of this? Was Jesus on the campaign trail now? Was he—a brown-skinned Middle Eastern peasant who spoke of God’s love and justice and peace and a different kind of “kingdom”—being represented there?
And it made me realize that my new “job” as an Associate Pastor at a new church is going to be pretty hard. I work for that name that had been put on those banners. As a pastor, I am representing Jesus. I represent God’s love, truth, peace, justice, hope. . . . How will I represent Jesus with love and integrity to all people—those who cheered on the events of last Wednesday as well as those who were appalled by them? And I would say “and everyone in-between,” but is there an in-between nowadays?
Journey with me as I ponder this, as I stumble and pick myself up again, as I reach out to others along the way. As I figure out how to do this ministry thing with the “Jesus” label in a painfully fractured world. . . .