You know things can't be going well when you get this message from your church after sunset, as I did last night:
"This has been a difficult day for our country and democracy. It is times like these when we are called to come together to pray, even when we don't know what to say, and to hold each other and be held by God."
Then we were invited to join in a brief time of prayer and reflection via Zoom last night.
So members of my congregation did, remembering, in the words of my pastor, Paul Rock, that "the sadness is real, the anger and the embarrassment and the frustration are real," but "love is the thing we hold to."
Prayer is important, I believe, but as I say to a weekly Bible study group I help to lead, so is action and so is the prophetic voice that each of us has. By prophetic voice, I don't mean some weird ability to predict the future. Rather, I mean the obligation that people of faith have to speak truth to power, to describe what they see going wrong and their ideas for fixing it. A prophetic voice is a way of saying publicly that what is breaking God's heart is also breaking ours, and we won't be silent about it.
So even though we seem to have entered a post-truth period in this country, here is what I believe to be true about what happened in Washington, D.C., yesterday and what I believe we should do about it in response:
-- The president of the United States yesterday, in harmony with his behavior the last four years, encouraged a treasonous insurrection by his followers that played out at the nation's Capitol building.
-- The president was aided by some elected officials who were willing to repeat the lies he has repeatedly told about the election being stolen from him -- delusional lies that he by now may have come to believe. One of those who aided and abetted the president's coup attempt was one of my own senators, Josh Hawley of Missouri, who needlessly sought to object to Trump's loss.
-- President-elect Joe Biden, in a clear and forceful statement, called on Trump supporters to stop their rioting and insurrection and asked the president to make a clear statement that the rioting and violence needs to stop. The president ignored Biden.
-- As we work to support elected officials who understand their Constitutional duty and are willing to perform it, we must communicate our thanks to them and show our support in whatever way we can.
-- We should publicly denounce officials who failed to protect the nation yesterday.
-- We should pray for peace, calm and reason to prevail. We also should pray for the family of the woman who was shot and killed and for others who were injured.
-- We should find ways to support public officials, especially Republicans, who condemned the president's words and actions and who now may pay a political price for their courage.
-- Finally, the hardest part: We must recognize that even every single insurrectionist, sucked in by conspiracy theories and lies, is a child of God and a fellow human being and must be treated as such.
I'm confident that our nation will survive this president-led catastrophe. But healing will take time. Let's be firm about maintaining the law but gentle with each other as we find our way from this darkness to more light.