August 2, 2020

Dear Friends,

Each week, I receive an email from the webpage Journey with Jesus (, a webzine which features essays on the week’s lectionary readings, poetry, and blog posts on our variety of topics. This past week’s poem continues to capture my heart and imagination.

Voices From Lemnos

by Seamus Heaney (b. 1939)

History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave,

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.

The many tributes to John Lewis in the week since his death and particularly the powerful stories and remembrances at his funeral yesterday were a vivid reminder that the tidal wave of justice, as poet Heaney writes, can and does rise up. Lewis’s life and legacy is a testimony to a vision for justice that would not be deterred by the violence of oppressors, the indifference of those not wanting to cause trouble, or the repression of a Jim Crow legal system.

While the waves on our inland sea of Lake Michigan are determined by the wind, tidal waves in our oceans are formed by the gravitational forces of the earth, sun, and moon. The waves always roll in to the shore with their force and intensity influenced by the wind and the current. When you catch a wave and have the perfect body surf onto the beach, it can be exhilarating. When that next wave catches you unaware and tumbles you upside down as it crashes to shore, it can be terrifying. The breaking in of God’s justice can be just like those waves – exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. And yet, that is the paradox of our faith. We are called to step into both the immense joy and the sometimes overwhelming trepidation that building God’s beloved community demands.

John Lewis’s letter, written soon before he died to be published after his death, reminded us that “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble.” Bearing witness to God’s justice can be redemptive and get us into good trouble. In these times where the impact of profound and historic injustice is so very evident, my prayer for each of us is that we may, in the words of Lewis, “answer the highest calling of [our] heart and stand up for what [we] truly believe.” This work is part of our All Saints’ DNA and I look forward to the privilege getting into good trouble together in the days and months ahead so that the tidal wave of justice can rise up.