Ten days ago the USA had a day off. Martin Luther King, the famous non-violent activist who campaigned to end racial segregation and to introduce equality, is remembered by having the third Monday in January as a bank holiday.
It is a time to reflect on his life and what we can learn from it. A time to try and understand his non-violent approach to the often violent injustice black people faced living in America in the 50s and 60s.
It is also 50 years since a bullet ended the life of this peace-loving man. All that time has passed and yet our news is still full of prejudice and hate, violence and pain. This week includes Holocaust Memorial Day, where we take time to stop and remind ourselves of the worst that humankind can do. Anne Frank was one of the many millions whose life was cut short because of her race. She has something in common with Dr King. Dreams.
We all know Martin had a dream, but did you know that in one of her school exercise books Anne asked the question: “Will I ever be able to write something great? Will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”
Many of us have hopes and dreams and some, like the young Anne or the Preacher Martin, don’t get to see them come to pass. But they can and they often do!
The longest conversation recorded in the bible that Jesus had was with a woman by a well. It was a life-changing conversation that saw a victim of harassment and prejudice turn into a woman of hope and of change. Then there was another woman dragged naked to Jesus by bloodthirsty men. She had dreams. But in that moment, as she saw her accusers pick up rocks ready to uphold the law, any thought of the future was gone.
“Shall we do what the law says, O peace-loving Jesus?” they scowled. Then this wise man whispered: “Feel free to throw a stone, if you have never done anything wrong.”
One by one, the stones fell where they stood and the gathering dispersed. Just Jesus and this woman and a future ahead.
So this week, as we reflect on the impact of prejudice, hold onto the stories of hope from the Annes and the Martins and the Jesuses of our world.
Let these amazing lives equip us to encourage all who are around us and whose paths we come across.
Paul Sanderson MBE
Chaplain at The Littlehampton Academy
The closure of St James
St James Church, in East Ham Road, has been a centre of worship and a focus of witness to the people of that part of Littlehampton for more than 100 years. Built as a daughter church of St Mary’s, the Parish Church of Littlehampton, a succession of faithful priests have served at St James and ministered to the people of its parish during its long history.
The church has had an important place in the lives of many people – those who have worshipped there week by week, and people who have been married, had children baptised or whose loved ones’ funerals have taken place there. However, sadly the time has come when the church must close.
The Bishop of Chichester will celebrate the final Mass at St James on Sunday at 6.30pm. This will be an occasion to give thanks to God for many blessings in the past, and an opportunity to show support to the present congregation, some of whom have worshipped at St James for many years.
All are welcome to the final Mass, and to the reception afterwards in the church hall.
Fr Roger Caswell, Vicar of St Mary’s
Sponsored sleep out
Worthing Churches Homeless Projects invite others to join sky-diving nun Sr Clare Bernadette, from the Franciscan Convent in Littlehampton, in the Annual Sponsored Sleepout, to be held in the playground at River Beach Primary School in Littlehampton on Saturday, February 24. For more details or to sponsor Sr Clare Bernadette online go to: mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/clareknowles2
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