I wonder how history will remember the events of the last ten days. As momentous and tragic? Perhaps as the watershed moment when everything changed? I hope to live long enough to see what history makes of this. But even more than that, I’m interested in how we make sense of it right now.
Throughout history, sacred stories have helped us in finding meaning. People of faith turn to the Bible and look for analogues to help us understand what’s happening and what we might do about it. When just rolling out of bed feels like a battle, we turn to Paul’s encouragement to put on God like armor. When we feel small and powerless, we call to mind Mary singing of God’s action to life up the lowly, fill the hungry, and demonstrate divine strength. When it feels like all is lost and nothing but death remains, we remember the story Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones and God’s recreation Israel and the new life they’re given. We use scripture to inform our understanding of the world and our response to it.
So which story will we compare these events to? We could view the mob attacking the capitol like a horde of Philistines massed on Israel’s border, poised to capture the ark. Or lawmakers fleeing their chambers in gas masks might resemble David’s flight from Jerusalem as Saul advances on the city. What worries me is that some in the mob (and many outside of it) might see themselves like the army of God, circling Jericho and blowing their trumpets, in order to collapse its walls, that divine justice might be served.
The stories we choose are lenses that drive our decisions. If Christians see ourselves as a persecuted minority, like the early church, we relate to the world quite differently than if we see ourselves as people sent to carry God’s light, forgiveness, and love to the world. The stories we tell ourselves matter.
I don’t yet know how to interpret what happened. I know it left me frightened and worried for our nation. My hope is that, like an addict hitting rock bottom, this incredible violation serves to steer us away from a dangerous path of nationalism and white supremacy. But whatever comes next, I remain committed to the story that stands at the heart of Christian faith: God has poured out unconditional love on every human being through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No matter how bad things get, no matter how fierce the crowds, how violent the opposition, we are called to stand in the place of Christ. We are bearers only, ever of God’s Good News.
Blessings to you in these strange times.