I spent the last 24 hours knowing I needed to write a letter to the Gathering mailing list previewing our upcoming sermon series, but I have not known how to do so while simultaneously addressing the violence and chaos that occurred at our nation’s Capitol yesterday. I have spent the last day feeling like I did during September 11th or Hurricane Katrina, unable to stop myself from trying to find more information, more coverage, more insight into what’s happening and why. I’m doomscrolling, searching for an answer.
One of the most powerful accounts I found came from Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler who was in the House chamber when the Capitol was breached. She describes the House chaplain trying to lead our congressional representatives and their staffs in prayer, but the chaplain’s words were impossible to discern due to the noise caused by attackers coming through the rotunda to the chamber itself.
I’ve never had to huddle in fear, not even able to hear the words of prayer coming through speakers because the sounds of chaos were so overwhelming. Have you? I can’t imagine …
How does God feel about us? All of us? How does God feel about us when our individual and shared propensity towards division, anger, and violence rears its ugly head yet again?
Beginning this Sunday and leading up to this season of Lent I will be leading us in a new sermon series titled “The Real God Really Loves the Real You.” I’ve spent enough time in ministry to know that the idea that “God loves us” is something that we have an easy time saying and a very hard time actually believing. In our heart of hearts, we doubt. We doubt that God could be real, that God could really know us, and that God could actually respond with love. Yet God does.
A key point in Christianity is understanding that God’s love for us is not conditional, that it’s not something we can earn. God loves us because of who God is, not because of who we are. God loves us even when we’re at our most un-loveable, our most violent, our most hateful, our most destructive. While we were yet sinning, Christ died for us. That’s how much God loves us.
Sometimes the worst of our nature is on display in our private lives. Sometimes it is on our television screens. Sometimes we actively commit sins against God and others, sometimes we just sit back and refuse to help make the world a better place. There’s no “us” and “them” in that conversation, it’s just us. It’s just people. People who are lost. People who are hurting. People who need to be shown that there is a better way and that the map is drawn with love.
God loves us. God loves everyone, including all the people on your television screen or social media timeline today.
Changing ourselves, and changing the world, means letting that love sink in. It takes some time. Join me on Sunday, and let’s get started.
God bless y’all,
Rev. Lance Marshall