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Saturday, January 09, 2021

Epiphany part 2: the dark side of revealing radiance

 The post below was written on Jan 6, Epiphany, in the daytime in East Africa, in between a full hospital day, some meetings with local teams, and an evening zoom with our Home Office. At 9 pm our time (1 pm EST), we sat down at the end of an exhausting day to watch the Joint Session of Congress certifying the electoral college vote, an interesting arcane exercise of our democracy that had never seemed very dramatic or important until now. CNN was covering live, and whenever possible it is helpful to listen to actual speeches rather than what someone tells us about what was said. We watched Vice President Pence presiding, and the beginning of the state roll call. Alabama, Alaska. Then Arizona, and the objection presented, the retiring to the debates, the alternating speeches. We were watching live as the reporters outside the Capitol building began to note the increasing aggression in the crowd. Then we watched the surge up the steps, the barricades turned to ladders, the mayhem, breaking windows, the people gawking in the rotunda with their red hats and their Trump and confederate flags, and then a voice behind an outdoor reporter saying "the FBI has shot a woman," the jostling confusion, the stretcher, the blood.  No need to describe the day; the documentary evidence of violence was splashed across our screens.


Literal light arising, this morning

It occurs to me though that those hours are also appropriately called an epiphany, it is appropriate that they happened on January 6. 2000+ years ago, Jesus was revealed to a few who had searched, found in a fairly obscure outpost, in weak and dangerous circumstances, a truth that was enfleshed in powerlessness. In 2021, there were more revelations of character, though weakness was derided in favour of aggression. This Epiphany day, the phrase from Luke spoken by Simeon over the infant rings true: "the thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."

Nothing about America changed on Jan 6, but many hearts were revealed. Glorifying the Confederacy, questioning democracy, using untrue and incendiary phrases to incite a physical, illegal, violent occupation of congress to stop the final step in certifying a lost election, repeating baseless allegations after 60 lawsuits and dozens of recounts proved them false, building an actual GALLOWS AND NOOSE, these are all just as evil as breaking the window or trashing an office. But the afternoon of insurrection made those attitudes visible in actions. 

The fact that the vast majority of domestic terrorism has arisen from the white majority not from immigrants or minorities is not new news, but we all watched it on Wednesday. The fact that a large proportion of our elected officials care more about pandering to the lowest common denominators of fear to maintain their power then they do about the rule of law or the truth is not new news, but we listened to it in speeches even AFTER the rioting and danger.  The fact that law enforcement treats protestors unequally based on race or demographics is not new news, but we watched in real time the complete lack of organised resistance to the take-over of our US Capitol.  The fact that our outgoing President actively encouraged this anarchy might have been suspected but we could all watch it on TV on Wednesday.

So, another epiphany, a revealing. We have sold our souls, and the Devil is taking payment. 

But the good news is that when light shines, the hearts that are revealed can change direction. 30 years after the wise men, Jesus started walking around saying Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Light is shining, and we're all a mess. Every single one of us carries the same broken heart that would choose to harm those in our way. Perhaps this will be our national reckoning. We have too often accommodated injustice to protect our own way of life, and too often worshiped power and money. Jesus offers us exactly what we need: forgiveness, and change. Because we are loved, we can love others. We are preaching this to ourselves and to others. None of us are innocent, all of us need the good news. Many of us get much more than we deserve, hallelujah. Praying the church steps into this moral vacuum with truth: nooses and confederate flags and broken windows do not represent the Gospel, and getting the world while losing your soul is never a good bargain. Let's ask for that Kingdom to come ON EARTH as in Heaven, in equitable vaccines and oxygen, in empathy for those losing loved ones, in transparency of accounts and discomfort for the greater good.

Deep breath, and forward into 2021. Lord we NEED your mercy, we NEED your grace to love others more than ourselves. Amen.



3 comments:

Unknown said...

Thank you. Thank you. I feel like I am living in a surreal place, watching things I never would have imagined occurring in this country. Jesus. Only Jesus, all the time, His kingdom and His reign. May it save us all.

Hythem Shadid said...

The most cogent poetic analysis on the Jan 6, 2021 Epipheny I have read. Thank you for allowing us a glimpse through the lens of Kingdom of God.

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