On my way back from preaching at White Plains Presbyterian Church today, I met Andrew Stehlik, pastor of Rutgers Presbyterian Church on the Uptown Number 2 subway. We exchanged greetings and then began to talk shop.
As he described his sermon, Andrew reminded me that on the night of August 20-21, 1968, Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia shattering the hopes of the Prague Spring.
Velvet Revolution (Gentle Revolution in Slovakia) that overthrew the communist government of Czechoslovakia. The people jingled keys - ordinary keys - as they gathered to demonstrate nonviolently for change. This simple, yet profound, public act carried two meanings. It proclaimed the unlocking of doors - opening doors long locked by totalitarianism. The act of jingling one's keys also served to tell the communists that it was time for them to go home.
On a day when I preached about Shiphrah and Puah - the Hebrew midwives who committed civil disobedience by refusing to carry out the Pharoah's order to kill the Hebrew children - and the need to live our faith publicly, the story of the keys spoke to me with great power. I told Andrew that I will no doubt use the story in a future sermon; I will credit him when I do.
Thanks be to God for Shiphrah, Puah, the people who jingled keys in Czechoslovakia, and all who work nonviolently for life and peace and justice.
See you along the Trail.