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King Herod and January 6th

Today is the 1 year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol and seeing as every other media outlet is offering reflections on this day I thought it would be appropriate to offer a Christian perspective. However, before you bristle up too much or click away I hope to assure you that I'll be focusing more on the relationship between King Herod and Jesus rather than speculation into the minds of you, the readers, or projecting my own thoughts against any one particular political party in my reflections. I will be comparing Donald Trump to King Herod in the words ahead - but my comparisons are against Donald Trump, the person, not Donald Trump, the Republican/President. Perhaps I'm still out of line in this and I hope you will let me know if I am. With that said, let's look back on the events of last year through the lens of Epiphany.

Quick (amateur) summary of January 6th:

  • A protest / rally is scheduled at the White House in response to the election results. President Trump plans to speak to the gathered community. Many (if not the majority) of participants present had no intentions of a capital attack and simply wanted to see the President for what would be one of the final times. These were law abiding citizens.

  • President Trump rallies the crowd, a wee bit too much (opinion), and tells them to "fight like hell" or else "you won't have a country anymore." The crowds begin to chant "Fight for Trump" and rally towards the capital. Whether they intended to break in and stop the chamber conference is unclear at this time. More than likely, a majority of them wanted to move the protest to in front of the Capitol, but remain peaceful.

  • Protestors push past police barricades, climb the capital walls, and break in through windows. Eventually protestors would make their way into the chamber and into a number of congress members offices causing damages.

  • Chamber is evacuated

  • President Trump calls for "everyone to go home" and protestors begin to leave as requested shortly after.

  • 150 police officers were injured and 5 people were killed.

There's a lot there - and it was a traumatic and painful day for America on both sides of the aisle. Many of the protestors themselves voluntarily turned themselves into the police in the days that followed and have cooperated with the FBI and such as we try to discover what caused this and how to prevent it moving forward. There are a number of great reflections on this day. Personally, I've been listening to the 3 part series from the New York Times podcast: The Daily each morning, and The Argument, also from The New York Times. While the NYT can certainly lean left I find these two shows to be wonderfully nuanced. However to cover my butt in preparing for this blog I read a number of articles from the Daily Mail (a conservative approach.)

Now let's consider some Biblical information before we put these two things in dialogue. Ever since 1-2 Kings we've seen how humanity struggles with the desire for power and how often that struggle results in violence when we are afraid of losing said power. I remember number of you saying how happy you were to finish reading those two books because it was a daily dose of "X slaughtered 100k of Y. Y massacred 200k of Z." etc. etc. etc. But, a number of you also admitted that 1-2 Kings felt relatable in a context that is so divisive. While we certainly don't have 100k people dying everyday it can feel like there's a 100k tweets, articles, and news stories about people yelling at each other everyday. Then the prophets come along and the people go into exile living under Babylon. Then they are liberated and briefly live independent before Rome comes in and puts them under "the watchful eye of big brother" so to speak. People were eager for a messiah figure that would 'drain the swamp' of Rome and usher in a new day of freedom and Jerusalem first.

President Trump was that messiah for many people. His entire campaign was run on the promise that he was going to be different from what you would expect from a politician. That he would put America (and America's people) interests ahead of anyone else, even if it came across as crass. I remember when he was first running I felt drawn to him for being so different from any other politician and for not being afraid to be frank in leadership. While I never thought he would win I appreciated that he shook things up.

January 6th for the protestors was akin to Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Passover. The people believed this was the moment Jesus would overthrow Rome. In fact, you did see his anger get the better of him as he flipped the tables upon entering the courtyard. Like those that laid down their coats and palm branches for Jesus, the protestors of January 6th laid down red hats as a vow of loyalty to the new king. One Messiah came to liberate us through peace while another infamously sought to liberate us through insurrection.

But let's rewind Jesus life back to when he's a baby...we're still in Epiphany after all, right? When King Herod hears that Jesus is born and that he might have David's royal blood in him he starts to panic. He sends the wise philosophers to find the baby and then report back to where he could find him. When they fail to return to Herod (after God's warning) Herod gets desperate as he feels his power slipping and ushers out the terrible command to kill all newborn babies under 2. Fortunately, Jesus avoids this fate, but for hundreds of thousands of families they experienced loss and trauma. Herod's acts of violence in trying to stop Jesus would eventually lead him to kill John the Baptist too. President Trump, in a scared moment when power was leaving him made one final desperate plea to hold on to that power. That desperate plea cost people their lives, and left many more in trauma. One year later we continue to mourn that we let our divisiveness boil over to such a dramatic conclusion.

Jesus' ministry was about loving neighbor and enemy alike. He brought together the Gentiles and Jews for the first time since 1-2 Kings. He healed outcasts and forgave even those that crucified him. He even called Saul who persecuted him and made him to be one of the greatest Christian authors of all time. On this anniversary of January 6th let us feel called to not reopen the wounds of division - but love our enemies a little extra as a promise to not let this happen again. Just like the wise philosophers who were instructed by God to not return to where they came from, may we do the same with our painful past. Let it be so for the glory and mending of God's Kingdom. Amen.


Scripture that Inspired Today's Blog

Matthew 2: 16-18

The Massacre of the Infants

16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men,[a]he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.[b] 17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”


Questions to Consider

  1. The large consensus surrounding Jan 6th is that much can be blamed on herd mentality. People followed the energy of those around them and went farther than they ever would have gone on their own. How have you felt influenced by those around you? How have you felt you influenced others this year?

  2. Write down 3 examples of times you personally contributed to the division our nation faces. Write down 3 examples of times you personally contributed to healing. Offer these up in a prayer of repentance and encouragement.

  3. What news sources do you get your information from? Consider adding some of the other side as well. For example, I subscribe to The Flip Side, a daily summary of the top news with points from the left and the right emailed to you each morning. Perhaps this might interest you as well?


Praying Through Praise

Music is powerful - undeniably - as people of widely different faith traditions, beliefs, ideologies, or cultures can rally behind a beloved song. January 6th is a time of mourning of divisiveness and so I'm naturally led to Good Friday and Jesus' death. However, I want us to be people of the light that proclaim to be better by our nation and better by each other. In other words, I want us to be Easter people. So, I picked what I think is a top ten hymn for everyone and invite you to join in with neighbor and enemy alike in a song of hopeful praise. He Lives!

(Annoying I can't embed this video in the blog but I encourage you to click on the "watch on youtube" for this version as it most closely resembles a traditional church version of the song.)

(Hooowwwwwwever. If you would prefer to listen to this one cause its easier than by all means listen to Alan Jackson)

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