(RNS) — I stepped into the pulpit on Jan. 10 feeling an extraordinary weight. Four days earlier, 11 miles from our church, some of those protesting the certification of the presidential election broke through glass, beat police with American flags, and precipitated the first incursion into the U.S. Capitol building since the War of 1812.
The weight came not only from the disorienting images of the day but also from the disparate ways I knew those hearing my sermon viewed the week’s events. I knew that watching online was the mother of “Elizabeth from Knoxville,” whose brief interview (“We’re storming the Capitol; it’s a revolution!”) had been seen millions of times online.
In the sanctuary sat a woman who had been praying at the Capitol on Jan. 6 in support of President Donald Trump, another who accepted QAnon narratives, and a young man who just returned from campaigning for Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Georgia. Also in the room was a Black immigrant who, out of his experience of American racism, later told me, “They wouldn’t have reached the Capitol doors if they had been a different color.”