Rev. Jim Ryan, PhD — firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-pastor of Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles Community
Community blog: https://maryofmagdala-mke.org/blog
In the wake of the deaths in one day, Friday, 17th of July 2020, of Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivien and the Honorable John Robert Lewis, MC, and one day before the 102nd birthday of Nelson Mandela we are reduced.
Reduced badly enough in their loss alone, we are also reduced in the loss of leaders who risk life and limb for the principles they believe in. Where are such leaders today? Again, we are reduced, reduced as a people who all too often fly the flag, declare being proud Americans, and proclaim freedom – in emptiness.
In a time when America is “great” with Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths we are reduced from any position of responsible leadership. We are reduced as a people who follow mandates not to smoke in a public place yet who refuse to wear a mask, so offensive to our vaunted 1st Amendment rights as that would be.
We are reduced. Representative Lewis, please lift us to a place of caring for one another. Remember when you proclaimed from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “We want Freedom Now!”? These days National Guard troops are deployed on those same steps to protect our “freedom” from peaceful protesters. We are reduced.
Mr. Lewis, don’t let us be the older generation that tells the next generations, “Not yet.” You advised us to get into Good Trouble, let that trouble prevent us from causing further reduction.
As if being reduced as a people who have cowardly, racist, and draft-dodging leaders isn’t enough, we are also embarrassed. Mr. Lewis you are an American of the finest stripe. With you gone we have to further be embarrassed by those who claim the mantle of leadership. The current occupant of the White House had a tee time to get to as the nation awaits him joining all 4 living Presidents in saying something, anything in tribute of you. We are embarrassed.
Mr. Lewis, you gave yourself in Christian faith, believing with good people the world over that we are to love our neighbor as ourself. We are embarrassed to say that Mr. White House can only use the Bible as a prop in an “outside the church doors” photo-op. He couldn’t even go inside to pray? God forbid he kneel to anything other than his own likeness! We are totally embarrassed.
Listen, children (we are the older generation, after all) of Black Lives Matter, I Can’t Breathe, No Justice-No Peace and all freedom loving citizens. You are consigned to be John Lewis, CT Vivien, Rosa Parks, Mother Jones, Dorothy Day and all the giant ones over the next 70 years. Be your own giants; we will join you as long as we can. We hope that you will replace being reduced and embarrassed with expansion of rights and pride in your accomplishments.
Holy, Eternal, Just One accept your servants, C.T. Vivien and John Robert Lewis, who have passed to your everlasting life of freedom and peace. They believed in and acted upon the commands of Jesus Christ who was killed for teaching that love is the Way to Life.
Each of these men raised the banner of Civil Rights for all persons. They believed in the sanctity of the citizen’s right to Vote. They saw victory in the past but also experienced demonic forces in these times – forces of systemic racism, assertions of white supremacy, voter suppression, and economic deprivation.
These forces did not defeat your servants and must not defeat us either. Hope is our commitment to carry on the visions and complete the commitments of your servants. When our time of passing comes we pray to rejoin them at the River of your Glory and Consolation where we will live eternally in unity and peace with you, your Son and the Holy Spirit of Fire and Wisdom. Amen.