Complete the Revolution

Get into this great revolution that is sweeping this nation and stay in the streets of every city, every village and hamlet until a revolution is complete. We must get in this revolution and complete the revolution. John Lewis

Never be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. John Lewis

Christ, who began good work in you, will complete your transformation, day by day and era by era. The Apostle Paul

Today we grieve the loss of a great American hero: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress.

He was a giant of the Civil Rights Movement whose righteousness, faith and courage God used in the moral transformation of this nation. John Lewis was bodily present in the most death-defying scenes of the movement—facing down discrimination at lunch counters, on burning busses and beneath the batons of troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Lewis’s skull was crushed on Bloody Sunday; yet, he marched on to complete the revolution. He served in Congress until his death—revered by colleagues across party lines. 

John Lewis never stopped fighting for liberty and justice for all—all ethnicities, all genders, all sexual orientations, all economic capacities. “Our minds, souls, and hearts cannot rest until freedom and justice exist for all the people,” he proclaimed during the March on Washington 57 years ago. Only a week before he died of pancreatic cancer, Congressman Lewis bodily visited peaceful protests in American hamlets to witness the next generation of revolutionaries pour into the streets to join in the work of liberty and justice for ALL.

Spiritual Practice

Lewis lived and taught the spiritual principle of redemptive suffering saying, “[There is] something in the very essence of anguish that is liberating, cleansing, redemptive… [Suffering] touches and changes those around us as well. It opens us and those around us to a force beyond ourselves, a force that is right and moral, the force of righteous truth that is at the basis of human conscience.”

He believed that the secret to the non-violent life is the capacity to forgive. 

Now, John Lewis asks US to march on and complete the revolution that he and King and others began in the middle of twentieth century; and if we do so, and if we prevail, it will be as the Apostle Paul observes: God who began the good work of the Civil Rights Movement through the redemptive suffering of prophets and warriors like John Lewis is sure to complete the work through the redemptive self-sacrifice of the next generation.

Lewis’s language around the Civil Rights Movement was shocking to some. By age 23 he was unapologetically clear, “Get into this great revolution that is sweeping this nation and stay in the streets of every city, every village and hamlet until a revolution is complete. We must get in this revolution and complete the revolution.”

May Congressman John Lewis, who began this good work for humanity, be eternally blessed. May your family and soul friends be comforted and encouraged. May the next generation finish your work in the power of the Living Christ, who is alive IN every person. Amen

Elevate Our Hearts Today

Sometimes God’s vision of a new humanity is proclaimed in the world through the life and voice of one ordinary, enlightened person. Their words are so stunning and true, we simply can’t get past this person’s message. We cannot see around the largess of the vision. We can only marvel at the relationship between this person’s imagination and the mind of God.

Jesus is the Ultimate Example of such a life. The message and leadership of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is also an example. Reverend King’s life is a stunning illustration of how every human being might live into a portion of God’s work and imagination.

Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann puts it so well:

On this day when we remember Martin Luther King, we recall especially his “dream speech” in which he articulated a version of the kingdom of God when there would be reconciliation and solidarity across all our distinctions. King spoke out of a renovated imagination. He no longer imagined the world according to the corrupt imagination of fear and hate. He summoned his listeners into that renovated imagination through which God’s future could be seen differently… We are invited by Dr. King to engage in the new creation, apart from old ways of wounding and division.

Our hearts are elevated this day, because Divine Love within us identifies with King’s vision and King’s sacrifice.

If we are so graced today, we might empathize with the suffering of the tens of thousands of God’s children who marched and wept and prayed and suffered violence during the Civil Rights Movement in this land. If we are so graced, we might empathize with the millions upon millions of Africans who journeyed through the dark waters of the Middle Passage to this land. If we are so graced, we might agonize with the five thousand who bore the lynching tree even after the Emancipation Proclamation of this land. If we are so graced, we shall face the reality of the mass incarceration of black persons in this land today—and fight it as the plague it is.

This day let us remember the dream. Let it elevate our hearts. And let us contemplate our own true calling.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4)

Prayer for the day: God of all our births, give us in this season [Epiphany] a fresh capacity to see your hope for your world and resolve to live according to that vision. In his name. Amen. (Walter Brueggemann)