The events of Wednesday in Washington, DC were deeply disturbing. As the joint session of Congress fulfilled its constitutional duty to certify the vote of the electoral college, the Capitol was breached by rioters (a term which I use definitively: “a group of people who meet in a public place and behave in a noisy, violent, and uncontrolled way, often as a protest.”) The lawful machinations of the federal government were halted by the acts of a disgruntled few. What are we to think of these developments? What are we to say to our children? What do these distressing behaviors indicate about our overall societal condition?
The words that I preached upon last Sunday came back to me as I watched the special reports:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
As Jesus began his earthly ministry in the countryside synagogues of Galilee, he started by drawing the attention of those who gathered toward the words of the prophet Isaiah, declaring that, under the Spirit’s influence, he had been commissioned to share the good news with the oppressed, as well as several other dismissed and discounted groups. This term, oppressed, is used only once in the original languages of the Bible, and, as a perfect passive participle, truly means “the ones who have been broken or shattered.”
The good news of Jesus Christ, the historical ‘evangel’, is that the day of the Lord has come which will bring about the restoration of the broken. The sad news of our present-day, displayed earlier this week, is that many are seeking wholeness and repair through human might or mental gymnastics. The startling reality is that we all are, to some degree, broken people: sin has caused its damage, fracturing relationships and corrupting worldviews; society has wrought havoc, deepening divisions and disenfranchising the marginalized; selfish ambition has severed many conduits for compassion and care. Therefore, we all, in our brokenness, need someone to share the ‘evangel’, the good news of the Lord’s favor through Jesus, in ways that we can understand.
Join me in grieving the human condition that motivates a vocal and violent minority to take the measures that were broadcast earlier this week. Join me in grieving the despairing brokenness that leads some to seek personal restoration through raucous and reckless behavior. Join me in praying that those who know the truth would proclaim the truth to those desperate to hear it.
Your plight – your poverty, pain, and penitence – is not imperceptible to the one who is in power. The one who governs all of creation cares about your brokenness and has brought you a cure. The salve for your shattered self is the Son of God, who came to announce God’s grace for the captive, the blind, and the oppressed. Jesus came to make you whole again.
As I think of the broken glass that fell upon the floor of the House chamber, I assume it will be replaced. That is what we do; we replace what has been broken and make it all better. That is not what God does. God repairs the shattered panes that litter our lives. He reassembles every piece, perfectly fitting each shard and sliver together until we are whole. That is good news indeed for all those who are watching the daily news with dread.