A letter from Swedenborgian Denomination President, Rev. Jane Siebert

Rev. Jane Siebert

Posted January 8, 2021

It is time for all Christians to speak with love and wisdom….

I am writing this as president of the Swedenborgian Church of North America, but not as your voice, for we all have our independent voices.  I am writing this with my voice, and it may or may not resonate with yours, and that is OK.  I must write.

The morning of Epiphany, January 6th, I was sitting with a dear friend whose husband had just died. She performed CPR as she waited for the local EMS to arrive.  They continued to try to revive him for an hour and she finally had to say, “That is enough. He is gone”. His body was just being removed from her home as I arrived.

We talked and wept through the morning with other friends, all sitting in disbelief, confusion, and deep sadness.  When I left mid-afternoon, my car radio was tuned to NPR and the reality of what was happening half a continent away somehow mixed with what I had just experienced on a farm in Kansas. Looking back, I cannot separate the deep sadness, confusion, and disbelief of the juxtaposition of these two events.

The insurrection at the Capitol is one of those events that we all will remember where we were, how we heard, what we felt, and the images we remember seeing on the news.

That night as I was praying for my friend, I also prayed for the crew of Capitol employees who had to clean up the mess and destruction caused by the unexpected events of the day.  I wonder what they were thinking as they picked up the shards of glass and re-enforced the broken wooden doors that so many have entered over the decades. How many hands worked all night to clean the blood off the statues and rehang famous pictures representing our proud history.  What could wipe away the boot marks on the speaker’s desk? How can you remove the invisible stain of violation when someone rifles through your personal desk, your office, your chamber? Nothing can erase the images of vandalization that had been perpetrated in this historical space.

At the same time, I prayed for our Congress as they came back together late in the evening to finish the work they had started, tabulating the electoral votes.  Many of our congressional representatives were visibly shaken and some changed their minds about objecting to this fair and open election.  Some did not.  They will be judged for their decisions and that is for another day.  I am thankful our Congress stayed, walked through the shamble that had been made of our capitol to enter their desecrated chambers, and confirmed the truth of the election results.

The vision that plays in my head is the confederate flag being proudly carried through the halls of our capitol, followed by the American flag with a picture of Trump on it, followed by a flag with Jesus Saves.  How can we as Christians accept the conjunction of these three images?  This is not us. We cannot let this group speak for us and speak for Jesus with the hate burning in their eyes and anarchy driving them to destroy what we hold dear in our democracy.

Yesterday I participated in a large group of Christian leaders around a Faith Table discussing what can we as Christians do now? We agreed more voices need to speak out for the restoration of our Christian faith. What we saw on Wednesday points out the deep chasm that exists in our Christian faith.

Yes, we hope and pray for healing and reconciliation AND in the midst of our prayers and Christian brotherly/sisterly love we must speak the truth as we see it.

  • We must defend the good, love and wisdom of our various traditions.

  • We must restore the integrity of our Christian witness to the world.

  • We must name the systemic racism that exists.

  • We cannot leave it up to the new administration to “fix it.”

  • We must pray and fast (recommended 4 days of prayer and fasting in our own way leading up to the inauguration, starting with Sunday January 17th, encompassing Martin Luther King Day on the 18th)

  • We must speak our heart truths to our families, our friends, our congregations.

So, I challenge you and me, Swedenborgians and friends: let us fast in our own way, let us pray fervently, let us speak our truth, let us come together, with all our variety and individuality for which we are proud.  Let love guide.  Let truth prevail. Because it is the truth that will set us free.

I love and care for you all,

Rev. Jane