To the Editor:
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, (the wise ones) left for their own country by another road. — Matthew 2:12
It was for many of us a sleepless night. Though the President and his supporters have been broadcasting their intentions for weeks now (years actually), the events on Capitol Hill and the Washington Mall on Wednesday were incredibly disturbing. The violence, the lies, the ignorance, the gullibility, and the cynicism were staggering to behold, filling many of us with dread about the future of our country.
Not the least of the disturbing images to emerge from Wednesday’s events was the Confederate flag unfurled within the Capitol Building. So too, the implements and symbols of Christianity were widely apparent among the insurrectionists – a sign reading “Jesus Saves,” crosses, and other such unholy displays of religious fervor were readily displayed. Let there be no mistake: this was a white supremacist attack on democracy, one that appropriated and distorted the symbols of Christian faith as a means to achieve its twisted ends.
We at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme stand firm against this unholy alliance of religion, white supremacy, and far right political values. We call on our neighbors and friends to join us in renouncing such distortions of faith, in the name of an embracing love that refuses to accede to the darkest illusions of human life. We acknowledge the long history that has misconstrued religious faith as a means to express hatred, intolerance, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny. Together, we seek another road.
It cannot be overlooked that Wednesday, January 6th was the Day of Epiphany, when Christians commemorate the journey of the Wise Men toward Jesus. It also cannot be overlooked that in that story, Herod, another unstable political leader, unleashed violence in his own attempt to preserve what little power and authority he possessed. But the Wise Men saw through Herod’s bluster and his ruses. They refused Herod’s authority, and sought out the wisdom of the Prince of Peace.
We choose the way of the Wise. That way is arduous. It forces us to interrogate our deepest assumptions about religion, and about power. It asks us to be resolute in renouncing the blandishments and deceptions unleashed by all the Herods of the world. But it is also the way that leads toward truth, toward healing, toward wholeness, toward mercy, toward life.
It was for many of us a sleepless night. Let it be our own invitation to take up the quest of the wise and to seek out another way. Let it be an invitation to search for our own country by another road.
In the name of the Child born in Bethlehem …
Rev. Dr. Steve Jungkeit, Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager and Rev. Carleen Gerber,
Editor’s Note: The signatories are all ministers at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme; Jungkeit is Senior Minister, Fitzpatrick-Nager is Senior Associate Minister and Gerber is Associate Minister.