Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
Yesterday was a shameful day for all Americans. An unruly mob of self-righteous anarchists were riled up and manipulated into becoming insurrectionists who stormed our iconic Capitol building. It was deplorable and sickening to watch this spectacle of bullies and racists rampage their way through the highest halls of our Democratic Republic. I felt both deeply saddened and ashamed; our spirit of freedom was contaminated with violence and anarchy; our sacred liberty was desecrated with dishonor and bedevilment. It was unbelievable, unnecessary, and totally un-American.
Today, we are left with a broken nation with many people looking for healing and unity, restoration and wholeness. We saw the worst of us on display yesterday; the hope today is that we can reject and oppose this force of bullies who disregard the freedoms we enjoy, the liberties we love, and the Constitution that we cherish. It won’t be easy, for there are those among us, sadly, who are even now making excuses for what happened and equivocating this day of anarchy with other protests. Instead of owning up to our failures and learning from this appalling moment, the voices of untruth and deceitfulness are once more being spread among us through social media. If we cannot learn from this despicable event, then, just like other great nations and civilizations of the past, we will ruin ourselves.
When the Apostle Paul was writing to the early church in Rome, the Empire was already beginning to fail. Christians became the scapegoats for demented leaders and corrupt authorities. It was a fearful time, so Paul wanted to reassure his fellow believers that God would not forsake them, nor leave them bereft of hope. This is why he wrote a prayer of benediction over the whole congregation with words that we can also receive, embrace, and apply today: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
My dear friends, we need to rediscover both joy and peace in our community, country, and world today. For too long, we have allowed bitterness and rancor, as well as derision and division, to contaminate us as Americans. We need to repent of our unwise ways and unquestioning idolatry that has led us to this dreadful moment which has smeared us as a free people. We are much better than this, but we don’t just have to believe it – we need to work hard at maintaining it, not just for ourselves, but for the generations of Americans yet to come.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor John Stuart