January 6, 2021—As Christians, we know it as the Feast of the Epiphany, an annual observance of the Visit of the Magi to Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn Christ. It is designed to be a festive culmination to the Christmas Season, full of enlightened hope and bright joy, that this Christ has come to be “a light to all peoples,” and to be an agent of justice and mercy and peace…for all peoples.
But this January 6 has been marred by a mob rushing our nation’s Capitol building, threatening violence and insurrection. We digest the news with a measure of shock made more distressing given the iconic building and all it represents for us as a republic.
But, friends, if we are honest, while shocked, we cannot say it is surprising. The rhetoric in recent weeks has been nothing short of terroristic; the invective has sought a justified violence; the anger has boiled beyond a reasoned approach to settle our civic disputes. We did not come to this moment overnight, nor do I believe we can resolve it readily.
There is a sense of Pandora’s box having been opened today, and a conspiratorial fear is feeding the frenzy that will not abate with the clearing of the Capitol. It seems surreal, but also scary because the implications for our nation, our democracy, are so great. There is a sense that a scab revealing a deeper wound has broken open, and the purulent sins of racism and xenophobia and selfish greed long festered are oozing their painful effects upon our nation.
So what are we to do?
Well, first, it seems to me that this nation must do some serious soul-searching about our grounding narrative of “liberty and justice for all.” The patina of that line has dulled a bit more today, but we know well the storied and sad history of our nation that calls it into question altogether. We have work to do—work of repentance and healing and reconciliation.
Time will tell how the insurrection in Washington will unfold, but we can hope and pray for a quiet night and a peaceful end to the ordeal. From our distance, perhaps we can hope the cogs of American jurisprudence will to mete out a nuanced but clear resolution that preserves constitutional rights of speech and assembly while holding accountable those guilty of more heinous acts.
Perhaps above all, on this Feast of Epiphany, as people of faith, who count ourselves members of this democracy in crisis, we are called to pray—to pray for our nation, for our enemies, for those with whom we disagree, for our leaders, for those whose work places them in harm’s way, for those who are oppressed, and for Christ’s justice and mercy and peace to break into our lives, here and now, in new and astonishing ways. An Epiphany for us in this moment!
I commend to you tonight’s service of Holy Eucharist at 6:30 p.m. via livestream and also via Zoom. It will come from Thomsen Memorial Chapel at the Cathedral, and all are welcome. Canon Nancy Ross will preach and preside, and I will facilitate a conversation on the events of today via Zoom immediately following the service. I hope you will join us. I bid you