Today (March 7, 2015) is the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when civil rights protesters
marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Congressman John Lewis was one of the leaders of that march. Today he gave a speech in commemoration of the march’s anniversary. I wanted to share part of that speech with you:
“My beloved brothers and sisters, members of the American family on this day. We as a nation have a great deal to be thankful for. Jimmy Lee Jackson, … who’s death inspired the Selma march along with so many others, did not make it to see this day. But you and I are here, we can bear witness to the distance we have come and the progress we have made in 50 years and we must use this moment to recommit ourselves to do all we can to finish the work. There is still work left to be done. Get out there and push and pull until we redeem the soul of America.”
We tend to think of the redemption of souls as the Lord’s work, but as a Methodist, I also believe that we have a part to play in our salvation. As Augustine of Hippo said, “God who made us without ourselves will not save us without ourselves.” Or if you prefer, as the Apostle Paul said in one of John Wesley’s favorite scriptures: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
As Christians, we are not called to love America uncritically, the way a young child loves their parents, but rather we are to love our country despite it’s flaws, the way an adult child loves their parents. We are called to appreciate it’s good points; to delight in what is good, and right, and true, but also to recognize that improvement is still possible and seek to make things better. Loving America as a grown-up, loving America as a Christian, means working to redeem her soul.