Hope, Act, Vote.

We have a dream to carry on and work to do.

John Lewis and Susan Henry-Crowe

The loss of civil rights leaders is sad and disquieting. This is not the moment to lose the voices and witness of the Honorable John Lewis, the Honorable Elijah Cummings, the Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery and the Reverend Dr. C.T. Vivian.

We once were able to celebrate in community; now there are not sufficiently comforting ways to celebrate their lives and legacies in this virus-infected world, making the losses feel more profound.

How do we hold them to the light?  What do we do to live out their legacies? What do we celebrate? What do we grieve? What do we hold onto?  What do we take into the future? What do we tell our children?

All of these questions are important.  Now is the time to lift high their dreams, press on to the goal of freedom and continue the work that they laid before us.

Collectively, they gave us much; passion for justice grounded in the Gospel, non-violence as the way, faith as the foundation,  love as the cornerstone, resilience as the response, and action at every point on the journey.  Individually, they contributed their own voices and their parts in the struggle for freedom.

We are compelled to carry on.  From Hebrews 11 we remember “that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  We know they saw the dream and pushed us toward it.  Like for most of the faithful the completion of the dream was not totally fulfilled.  The writer of Hebrews goes on to call the roll of the faithful.  Abel, Abraham, Sarah “who died without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them”.  And on the roll call goes, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, David, and the prophets.

Finally in verse 39 we hear our own names.

“Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.” 

We have a dream to carry on and work to do.

As John Lewis lies in state, we hold his words close.

Anchor the eternity of love in your own soul and embed this planet with goodness. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates. Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.

The sign outside the United Methodist Building celebrates the life and witness of Congressman John Lewis.