It was my fault!
Every morning when I come to work at the church, I am reminded that it sits literally in the shadow of the Clarion County Courthouse.
It is a poignant reminder that I am both a citizen of this world and a citizen of God's kingdom.I have a foot firmly planted in both realms and as such have responsibilities to both worlds.
I am also reminded that both worlds are governed and under the authority of God, even when there is little evidence to support that at times.
As I heard and watched with a horror and sickness that I had not experienced since the morning of Sept. 11 at the unfolding assault on our nation's capitol building, I was forced to come to grips that I was responsible.
I had failed in my responsibilities as both a citizen of the world and of the kingdom. It was my fault that this was happening.
I had gotten lazy and abdicated my role in this democracy.I let others govern for me.I had failed to keep informed.I had become cynical.
I allowed myself to be bullied into silence by the rhetoric of the extremes.I placated family, friends and parishioners in an effort to keep harmony (and so everyone would like me that hasn't worked out so well).
I stopped listening to those different from me.I deleted posts and unfriended many.I slid into stereotyping and labeling.
I threw myself into my kingdom world responsibilities and patted myself on the back that I was being such a good Christian.
Failed there too! I found myself sucked into the vortex of violence and insightful rhetoric.
One of the scariest moments was recognizing if I had been in charge of those who were sent in to quell the insurrection it would have been a bloodbath.
I would have no second thoughts and no regrets Herod has nothing on me. (By the way, the reason I do not have a gun in my house is to protect you.)
I have failed to stand up in solidarity with those who have no voice in the system. I have not been an advocate for the poor and the outcast.I have failed to walk the walk of the kingdom.
Many today want to blame Trump for this debacle, but the truth is it was me.
It was me and you and the millions of citizens across this country who were complicit by our failure to take on the responsibility of being good and faithful citizens of both world and kingdom.
It did not happen in four years but instead has been brewing for decades.Our failure to get our hands dirty in the hard work of democracy (the work of the people) and Christian virtue has come home to roost.
If this great democracy is to survive and not go the way of every other empire in human history then we have much work to do.
As citizens of the world, we must be informed (and that does not mean watching CNN or Fox News.)
We have to do the hard world of studying the issues, weighing the arguments and risking the hard discussions.We need to know our legislators and hold them accountable for their words and actions.
We need to denounce violence and rhetoric that incites division. Legislators need to be less concerned about re-election and pandering to their consumer constituencies and more about working toward the common good for all.
We can no longer tolerate the divisiveness of race, gender or economic station.We need to stop vilifying rational thought as well as discounting the dullard.
A word for my younger colleagues and friends: we have given you a mess and for that I apologize for my generation.I was heartened by what I have seen you accomplish and how you are willing to engage in your citizenry of this world, but I am afraid we are going to need more.
As citizens of the kingdom we must stop letting the radical fringes dictate our agenda.We must wrestle with the pressing issues facing our world with the treasures of our Scriptures, our traditions, our confessional documents and our reason.
We need to raise up faithful leaders with values, morals and integrity that they may be equipped to live out their worldly vocations. We must accept the call of our God to be repairers of the breach and ministers of reconciliation.
Finally, our God self-identifies as the God of mercy, justice, loving-kindness and peace this needs to be the face that we show the world at all times.
The saddest moment of today was recognizing that as we were focused on the attempt to placate a schoolyard bully who had lost his job, this nation was experiencing the deadliest day yet in the pandemic.Let that sink in, my friends.
As Abraham Lincoln stood among the graves of those who died at Gettysburg he spoke these words that should cause us to pause: "We are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether this nation or any other nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."
I have hope for this nation, not because of me, or even you, but I dare to hope in the future of this nation because God is ultimately responsible for both the world and the kingdom and God's will, will be done (on earth as it is in heaven).n
(Jacobson is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Clarion, and assistant to the Bishop NWPA Synod Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA.)