“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (NRSV)
Each day during the summer of 2000, I took the Metro in Washington, D.C. from Rosslyn Station to the Capitol Hill South stop. I would come up the steps and walk two blocks to the Cannon House Office Building. When I came up from the subway station, I would look up and take in the majestic view of the United States Capitol. I would glance at the Statue of Freedom atop the palatial rotunda dome. And it took my breath away each and every morning.
One of my roommates that summer at Georgetown University was an intern in the Speaker’s office so I always offered to come to his office for lunch. A group of us enjoyed the fantastic Capitol Fourth on the 4th of July on the lawn of the Capitol while waving to friends and family on the television cameras. My favorite day, though, was the summer after the Texas Congressional delegation hosted with Blue Bell ice cream served on the lawn.
I was home yesterday afternoon for a late lunch after filming the Clergy Round Table when I turned on the television to watch the certification of the Electoral College. From there I watched an attempted coup. I watched the halls that I walked daily that summer filled with violence. I saw unimaginable images of Capitol Hill police and Secret Service agents with guns drawn blocking the entrance to the House Chamber while the Capitol was stormed for the first time since August of 1814 by the British during the War of 1812.
Now before you stop reading or send an email about how I should stick with religion and stay out of politics, let us be clear that what happened in our nation yesterday is a spiritual issue. What happened yesterday is about fear and division. What happened yesterday is about our seeming inability to deal with our differences in respectful and civil ways. What happened yesterday is about when people who do not get their way refuse to accept the sting and pain of defeat that happens to all of us. What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday represents a spiritual deficit as if God keeps a score of wins and losses. And to top it off, there were people carrying crosses and “Jesus Saves” banners while attempting to defile and disrupt democracy.
That is why churches like ours are so important. Churches like ours are the last places I know where people who have differing opinions, ideas, backgrounds, and theologies can gather and respectfully discuss those differences with the sincere desire to understand. We worship together and learn together. We laugh together and break bread together. We baptize our young together and bury our old together. We work hard to ensure that the lonely are not alone and the afraid are not scared. We seek to lift one another up and carry each other’s burdens.
As the chaos ensued yesterday, a friend text messaged me and said: “I don’t know what to do. Pray?” I responded, “It’s the only thing I know to do.” I hope you will join me in prayer for our nation and our church. May both be places where those with differences can find common ground and know that God does not keep score and never has.
For those working in harm’s way to keep us safe
Loving God, remind me that you do not keep score. Amen.