So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters,
and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.
There are those among us whose noble stature is at once grand and meek. Grand enough to command the attention of the masses; meek enough to understand—stand under—the pain of the suffering. They are leaders who capture our imaginations and lift them to higher planes. They are leaders whose expansive canopy of wisdom and kindness nurtures the proud and weary alike.
Though most of us will not have known the Distinguished Congressman John Lewis personally, I join with many of you in the collective sense of mutual affection for this civil rights icon. If our affection comprised mostly of awe and respect, we see today that his affection was deeply pastoral.
I read Congressman Lewis’s op-ed in the New York Times this morning as an exhortation a pastor might write to her beloved parish. A letter to the generation following the hard-fought strides of his own, the op-ed challenges and loves its readers. Lewis’s letter, like his life and words many of us have come to learn more widely in the past several weeks, reconnects us to our soul’s longings and determinations. His encouragement does just that: gives courage.
Courage lives in the heart, through the heart, to the heart of others. Derived from le cœur – coraticum – cor-"heart”, courage originally meant speaking one’s mind by telling all one’s heart. This may be why the hearts of justice-seeking and peace-building people of our nation and of the world are affectionately drawn to a man we have not met in person. He speaks to the common human desire for connection, belonging, inspiration…for love. So today, while we mourn the death of this towering gentle figure, we face the rising swell of possibilities and challenges of our day with renewed courage.
I loved learning about Congressman Lewis's preaching dreams. Though as a shy young boy, he ministered to chickens on his family 's farm, even practicing baptizing them, he became a distinguished public servant who faithfully led a nation. His life was a sermon for a world struggling to find peace with itself. For people of faith, we recognize this preacher's Spirit-dependent heart resounding in the posthumous op-ed published today. We hear a beloved of God's encouragement to walk with the Spirit who is calling us to act justly, to love mercy, and to commune humbly with God. May we walk with the Spirit. May we walk with the wind.
The wind blows where it chooses,
and you hear the sound of it,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
And suddenly there came from heaven
a sound like a mighty rushing wind,
and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Send us everywhere you would have us go.
Only go there with us.