Today is Epiphany on the Christian calendar. One year ago today was Epiphany. As a Christian living in these United States, Epiphany will likely never be the same for me. The Sunday following last year, known as Epiphany Sunday, I spoke to January 6th for 15 minutes at the end of my message to my church family. It was my pastoral responsibility to do so. I reread the manuscript and this small portion echoes in me still today.
“What we witnessed is about a generations-long ideology and belief that arises straight from the pit of hell that the true Church has named as such for 1900 years. Nationalism in all forms is a sin against God and is anti-Christ, no matter who promotes it. White Superiority, in all forms, is a sin against God and is anti-Christ, no matter who promotes or tries to explain it away. Actions speak louder than words. And when either one of these is wedded to Christianity, implicitly or explicitly, you can be sure it is anti-Christ—it is heresy.
So beloved, here is where the feet hit the pavement in our current moment: our baptism is our declaration of allegiance to and solidarity with all that aligns with heart of King Jesus. This form of Nationalism and the misguided allegiances and misplaced hopes it promotes, along with the paranoid deceit it brings, breaks the heart of King Jesus. Christians cannot support what breaks our Lord’s heart. Christians should not follow the Nationalism put on display January 6 in our nation’s capitol that was proudly accompanied by racist symbols, antisemitism, and White supremacy highlighted by Christian apparel, signs, and banners. If someone chooses to support it, they can call it what it whatever they want, but they cannot call it Christian. If it does not reflect Christ-like love, make for peace, uphold Jesus’ truth, show mercy, promote what the Scriptures teach as justice, and point to what Jesus says is holy, then it is not of God, no matter what it says on the t-shirt.
Remember your baptism, beloved. And as Paul said to the young pastor Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:11, “flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” Remember your baptism.~ Sermon preached at Williamsburg Christian Church, January 10, 2021
I imagine that with every Epiphany of my lifetime there will remain one meaning and at least one concrete application. The meaning of Epiphany will go unchanged. Jesus alone is King and the true light unto the nations. The application will be that when Christians forget the meaning of Epiphany the heresy of Christian Nationalism can strengthen, and if forged together with a sense of aggrieved entitlement and White superiority it can become death-dealing.
Today I remember Christ the King as the Light unto the nations. Today I remember the shaky pillars of this democratic republic, the people who died and almost 150 Capitol and Metropolitan police officers injured. Today I remember how the Reign of Sin and Death’s promotion of idolatry and misguided allegiances can make anything possible in a post-truth society and post-truth Church.
May the Light of the World liberate our consciousness and set us free.