Repairing the Breach
By Junius B. Dotson
I watched in horror, as did the rest of the nation, behavior on Wednesday that felt much more damaging to our spirit than to our buildings. We can replace windows. We can sweep floors. We can shampoo carpets.
But what kind of damage have we done to our souls, not just in this riot, but in the years of lies leading up to it?
Fretting over the soul of our nation, I found solace in Isaiah 58:12: “Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”
Many spiritual and political leaders need restoration having given cover and comfort to an administration that has laid ruin to truth, toppled innumerable norms, and sent snaking fissures spreading across the foundation of the world’s oldest democracy.
Perhaps, however, the best of us can emerge from our response to these dark impulses, but only if we can muster the courage to speak truth to the wide swaths of people in our pews and under our pastoral care about the one, true transformative Jesus of Nazareth.
We saw a literal breach Wednesday, and not just a breach of Capitol security.
We saw a breach of the social contract. A breach of trust. A breach of Democracy.
We saw a literal breach Wednesday, and not just a breach of Capitol security. We saw a breach of the social contract. A breach of trust. A breach of Democracy.
In the aftermath, five people are dead, dozens have been arrested and countless others face FBI investigations. The nation has peeked into the abyss and saw its reflection.
The rioters constructed gallows from which they hung a hangman’s noose. They paraded Confederate Battle flags. They flew Christian flags. They chased and fought police officers. They battered down doors and ransacked lawmakers’ offices.
The dark art of lying birthed and unleashed this terror.
And in this moment, the question is, “will those who gave spiritual cover to the events of the past four years now retreat and remain silent?”
Silence is toxic to any relationship, including your relationship with God.
This fall was due to leadership, but so was the restoration we saw in Georgia. The riot happened about a day after a great awakening.
Some 50 years ago, black people were killed and tortured for simply aspiring to vote.
But January 5, some of those same people, and their children and grandchildren, stood in line for hours, themselves breaching voter suppression barriers sanctioned by the state, cast votes that toppled those barriers, and sent the first black US Senator in the state’s history to Washington DC.
Those barriers were breached in no small measure, because of the work of devoted United Methodist leaders like Stacy Abrams. Hers is the gift of the black church prophetic leadership tradition of standing up and speaking out in the face of evil, rather than falling silent and shrinking from it.
African American Georgians, who’d had hundreds of their polling places closed in an attempt to suppress their votes just a few years ago, were awakened, and they are now forcing this nation to finally live the ideals white evangelical Christians so boastfully claimed but so seldom embodied.
The symbiotic support white Evangelicals and the President confer on each other is astonishing.
The President, in the smoldering rubble of the riot he incited, said that he loved them, and that they were special. They, in turn, continue to believe that the man who lost the popular vote in 2016 election by 3 million votes somehow won the 2020 election he lost by 7 million votes.
Unfortunately, too many believers feel too uncomfortably close to that unholy Trinity of white nationalism, right-wing politics and Christianity. They continue to wrestle, as journalist Jon Meacham says so eloquently, with their darkest impulses and better angels.
I believe discipleship is the key to the embrace of our better angels. We have an opportunity to refocus on our baptismal vows. Remember these questions, “do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of your sin?” “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”
Intentional Discipleship leads us to truth. You can’t live a lie and stand on truth.
A recognized visionary leader in church revitalization, the Rev. Junius B. Dotson is the General Secretary (chief executive officer) of Discipleship Ministries, an international agency of The United Methodist Church. He began his tenure on July 1, 2016. Prior to his present position, Rev. Dotson was pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas, where he was instrumental in transforming the church into a 3,500-member multi-campus congregation.