Two lives are in the news this week. One is internationally known; the other is known only to us. They both have something important to say about what matters, what it means to honor and live the God-life, and how our lives can make a difference.
Congressman John Lewis died on the 17th of this month. Much has been said and written about the impact of this man’s life on our nation and the world. I will not try to summarize who Mr. Lewis was or what he did to help ransom the nation’s soul. As the last of the living civil rights leaders of the 1960’s, Lewis’s death marks the end of an era, the echoes of which one hopes are being renewed now. Yet, the thing that amazes me – no, overwhelms me – about John Lewis and his legacy is how he managed to confront the reality of evil in our midst, absorbing with his body the blows of violence and hatred – how he did this without retaliation, without becoming violent. When outraged racists extinguished their cigarettes on his skin, when he was slathered by the words of hate and intimidation, when he was beaten over the head with clubs in the name of the law, John Lewis absorbed all this with a dignified and non-violent persistence that, for Christian people of awareness, embodied the concrete reality of Christ’s own example.
P.S. Just before I submitted this article, our Bishop, Doug Fisher, sent this notice to the Diocese:
July 22, 2020
I am saddened to inform you of the death of Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro. Since September 1, 2016, Mark served as Christ Church Cathedral’s first Rabbi-in-Residence where he worked collaboratively with Dean Tom Callard. After twenty-seven years of leadership at Sinai Temple, Springfield, he came to our cathedral to teach, to preach, and to begin a conversation about God – the Mystery at the root of all faiths. It has been a gift to have a scholar of Mark’s caliber among us and as a conversation partner in these complex times.
I participated in several classes that Rabbi Shapiro offered at our cathedral. His openness and ability to share the biblical faith and experience with integrity and respect will stay with me. Godspeed, Mark.