Atlanta’s NPR station broadcasts Krista Tippet’s show “On Being” early on Sunday mornings. I often wish my congregation had to get up as early as I do to get ready for church; otherwise, they probably miss her show. Yesterday was one of those times, as I listened to her moving conversation with civil rights hero, and my congressman, John Lewis.
There was so much about the show that I loved, particularly that John has been advocating for nonviolent resistance to injustice for so long that it has become a reflex reaction, a part of who he is, his very nature. He talks instinctively about “love in action,” and that seems to describe how he tries to live his whole life. You can listen to the interview and read the transcript HERE.
During the interview, they talked about the African parable that Congressman Lewis referenced in at least two of his books. It simply tells us to “pray with your feet.” That is certainly something he has done as the member of congress who has been arrested more often than any other. During his struggle for civil and human rights, John Lewis has gone to jail more than 40 times as a part of his witness to nonviolent resistance to inequality and injustice.
Of course, Jesus prayed with his feet, too, literally walking the way of the cross. A fundamentalist partnering with a repressive regime killed Jesus. John Lewis’s witness as a follower of the Way of Jesus challenged me to ponder just what I might be willing to go to jail for today. Having sat on the concrete floor of jails in a clergy collar and suit, I know it isn’t easy or fun, but, at some point, we all must decide what we are willing to do to resist oppression. How will you “pray with your feet”?
Rev. Michael Piazza