Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. – Matthew 2:11b–12 (NRSVA)
It’s been three years to the day since thousands of people stormed the Capitol in Washington D.C., hoping to overthrow our democratically elected government.
Many of us were glued to our televisions as we watched the mob beat Capitol police and break into what we might have imagined was an impenetrable fortress. During the January 6 hearings, then-Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger said, “The forces Donald Trump ignited that day have not gone away. The militant, intolerant ideologies. The militias. The alienation and the disaffection. The weird fantasies and disinformation. They’re all still out there, ready to go. That’s the elephant in the room.”
In other words: it could happen again.
Insurrection is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. Many of those gate-stormers sincerely believed they were doing a public service. Some even claimed Jesus’ name for their cause. But Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was born defenseless. He remained so his entire life, never taking up arms for his cause, and condemning violence when his own disciples tried to defend him.
The only good insurrection is a nonviolent one. The wise ones, arriving directly from Herod’s palace, defied his orders and a chance to be king-adjacent. They offered gifts, gently given, then slipped away again by night, asking no favors of their new ruler. And soon after they went home by another way, as legend has it, Herod died.
Theirs was an insurrection that refused a throne rather than seizing it or sycophanting it.
This, too, could happen again.
King of Kings, I would never hurt or kill for your sake—nor would you ask it of me. May I enthrone peace in my life and give up power to those who would hold it best.
Rev. Molly Baskette is the lead pastor of First Church Berkeley UCC and the author of books about church renewal, parenting, spiritual growth and more. Sign up for her author newsletter or get information about her newest book at mollybaskette.com.