It was strange to wake up this morning and recall the images and videos of the events in Washington DC yesterday. It seems almost surreal, even though it’s of no real surprise. I suspect that many of us remain unsettled, and anxious for our American neighbours. I’m sure many of us are deeply dismayed at the blatant arrogance and privilege of white supremacy (it’s hard to fathom what would have happened if the armed crowd that stormed the Capitol was made up of BIPOC people; though we got a glimpse during the BLM protests). And maybe, like me, you’re left with the strange feeling of being absorbed with a political situation that you really cannot affect.
What’s as troublesome as anything is that there are those who see this as in some way connected to Jesus, that this is somehow an appropriate Christian response. It is, unequivocally, not.
Which got me thinking about the challenge I put forth in last Sunday’s sermon, to read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), weekly, for the next year. I want to double-down on that challenge. Because that is where we see what Jesus—the Servant King, who refuses to grasp at power but empties himself for love’s sake (Philippians 2:5-11)—is all about. If we will discern how to respond accurately and Christianly to a world that is so often divided and tumultuous, the Sermon on the Mount is a good place to start. Our witness to another way, to The Way, depends upon our willingness to trust that Jesus calls us to repentance and new life—to be not conformed to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed, so that we can discern and live in the will and way of God for the world (Romans 12:2).
I think this is integral. The Church needs to figure out again, for our time and place, like every generation of saints, how to show the world another way; how to speak it and how to live it, in the name of Jesus—crucified, risen, and reigning—and the power of the Holy Spirit, who shapes chaos into beauty.
This is something we must do together; yesterday we witnessed what happens when toxic individualism infects a people. So, over the next year, I’m going to host a monthly, drop-in conversation rooted in the Sermon on the Mount, open to anyone who wants to learn to live what we pray more: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven. The first gathering will be Monday, January 25, at 6 pm. If that time doesn’t work for you, and you would like to do this, please let me know and we’ll make it happen.
Until then, perhaps start today by praying through the Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 1-11). What is Jesus calling us to, in those words? What promises shape our lives?
Grace and peace.
*This was first offered in the weekly email for University Hill Congregation