Dear Friends
4th July is, of course, Independence Day in the USA and my diary (one especially for the use of priests) recommends a service of Holy Communion with the special intention of praying for justice and peace on that day. Of course, at this time of continuing Covid-related restrictions, it is still not possible to hold such a service, but we can at least pray for justice and peace — for the world and especially for the USA which is currently undergoing yet another ‘long hot summer’ of racial unrest, something which, sadly, seems endemic there.
Ever since the struggle for racial equality in the early 1960s, largely led by Martin Luther King, student riots, sit-ins and marches, and violent police crack- downs there have featured in news bulletins. And what happens in the States is quite often reflected subsequently in our own country. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign has once again brought to our attention that issues of systemic racial inequality still need to addressed here in the UK, as well as in other parts of the world.
A photograph in my latest copy of The Church Times depicts a demonstration in Birmingham. A young white woman is holding up a home-made cardboard placard with the slogan, ‘I shouldn’t have to protest this. Enough is enough’, written on it. I remember similar demonstrations when I was at College — it seems that every generation in recent times has tried to ‘make a difference’ by exposing the evils of exploitation, slavery and discrimination, but progress continues to be slow. '
I notice also, in the same photograph, that all the participants are wearing face- masks — no doubt in years to come archives of ‘the summer of Covid-19’ will record this particular phenomenon, Fortunately, there are straws in the wind that lockdown is gradually easing, although whether things will ever return to the previous status quo is perhaps debatable. But at least we can now open up our churches and places of worship for private prayer, and here at Sidlesham St Mary’s will, thankfully, be opened up once more for this purpose, although please do adhere to the social distancing and hygiene guidelines as indicated in the notices on the doors.
As I write, it is still unclear when and in what form services may resume but we might, all being well, perhaps look forward at least to a special service for All Souls’ Day when we can remember those who have lost their lives, as well as give thanks for the exceptional service rendered to so many by NHS staff and other frontline workers.
Stephen