Before you speak of peace,
you must first have it in your heart.
 
—Francis of Assisi

Dear Friends,

Greetings in Christ’s name!

Today, we turn the calendar another page to the eighth month of the year. Welcome to August! So much has happened in our world even as we stayed home, practiced safe distancing from others, wore our masks, and washed our hands. Strange that the world did not take the same pause we did. And yet, the sun keeps rising and setting, giving us each new day. We watch and listen to the news. We pay attention to the political landscape. The pandemic has taken no vacations. And we wait.

This last week marked the death of one of our nation’s most courageous persons. John Lewis was a formidable figure, a man of moral courage and a prophetic voice. Read his biography! His courage was certainly demonstrated when he and others marched across the Edmund Pettis Bridge over the Alabama River on their attempted walk from Selma to Montgomery.  But it was far from the only act of courage by this brave man.

In the second-from-last paragraph of a powerful essay published by The New York Times posthumously, John Lewis said:  “Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring”  The New York Times, July 30, 2020.

Lewis, a protégé of Martin Luther King, Jr., a man of deep faith and profound spirituality, was also a man of action, unafraid of what he called “good trouble.” But something there is about the courage of faith that also seems to be so deeply rooted in a spirituality of peace. To paraphrase Francis of Assisi, before you can speak of peace, first you have to have cultivated peace in your heart. That takes long hours of study and prayer, along with considered and deliberate actions that demonstrate in favor of the justice that undergirds peace. It’s both an inner, spiritual task, and an outward physical action. That’s what it means to “take up one’s cross and follow” the Christ.

And now it’s our turn to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way, wherever we are, whenever we can. Such a way is so beautifully consistent with Christ’s commission to love as he did. John Lewis lived that commission. So can we!

August 2nd is a communion Sunday, so you may wish to prepare the elements of bread and cup for communion at home. I close with our usual invitation to join for worship tomorrow, Sunday, August 2, by visiting our website: https://newfanechurch.com/audio-links/ to access the audio link to listen and participate in the service. There you’ll find links to worship. As usual, you’ll find the worship bulletin attached to this email.

Sandy and I will be taking a break next weekend. Mike Kelly will lead worship with Miriam and Jim Kyle.  Meantime, we join our prayers with all who pray for and take action to enhance a world that is more loving, just, peaceful and hospitable.  May our lives be joined in communion  with all who work for a day of holy, transformational justice.

May this Sabbath feed your souls with Christ’s peace.

Rob Hamm
Pastor, Newfane Congregational Church
An Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ