Rev. Andy Gathman
Like many of you, I watched the events unfolding in our nation’s capital yesterday with a mixture of shock and disbelief. And as I’m certain is true for you, I continue to find myself swamped by a range of emotions and reactions. But I write to you today not to share those reactions or to characterize those events, but rather to offer words of comfort and guidance that grow out of my faith in Christ and my confidence in God’s goodness.
First, words of comfort. Although many words have been used to describe yesterday’s events, the words of the Psalmist have continually come to my mind: “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot in vain?” (Psalm 2:1). These words were recorded thousands of years ago in another time of political upheaval, yet the psalmist recognizes that for all the chaos that can be sown by nations and their people, God stands secure as the One who rules over all.
Elsewhere a different psalmist records God’s command to those who would threaten violence against God’s people:
“Be still, and know that I am God.Psalm 46:10
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
That same psalm offers these words to those who feel threatened by such chaos:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Psalm 46:1-3
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
So even with the events and images of yesterday still swirling in our minds, let us take comfort that the God who we worship is the One who rules our lives, just as our God is also the One who rules the nations and directs the unfolding of history.
Second, some words of guidance. It is especially important in days when our confidence is shaken, our security threatened, and our reality seemingly upended, that we remember that as Christians we bear the name of God’s anointed, Jesus Christ. Let us not be dismayed nor discouraged by these momentary turns of history, but be resolved to trust in the One who died on our behalf. He overcame the power of sin and death and “forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands” by “nailing it to the cross.” By this same act of self-giving love and sacrifice, Jesus also “disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:13-15)
In other words, in Jesus we have a both mediator for our own sin and brokenness as well as a model for how to respond when sin, violence, and death breaks into our lives. Jesus shows us that the way is not revenge, retaliation, enmity, or violence. Rather, his is the way of grace and love. Jesus is the rightful ruler, and his command to us is to love our neighbor, and also to love our enemy, to offer compassion to those who threaten to harm us, and to pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:43-45, Romans 12:19-21).
I hope these words of comfort and guidance have been helpful, and hope you know that you all are in my prayers today, as you are every day.
Yours in Christ,
– Pastor Andy
Chestnut Grove Presbyterian Church