Wednesday, 4 September 2013

September Thoughts

I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

 I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and before the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the mount with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the genuine discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, pray together; to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom forever, knowing that we will be free one day.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we're free at last!"

50 years ago, Dr Martin Luther King spoke these inspirational words as part of a speech before over  250,000 of his fellow Americans in Washington. They were there to mark the centenary of President Abraham Lincoln's 'Emancipation Proclamation' to free African-Americans. King argued that the freedoms promised by to the newly-emancipated African-Americans never really materialised, and the March on Washington was an attempt to encourage all Americans to re-commit themselves to the Emancipation Proclamation's original promise.

 Many Christians and others of goodwill will particularly remember those words on Racial Justice Sunday, 8th September. Fittingly, that day for us in Elland will be St Mary’s Patronal Festival, as we give thanks for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord and God, and Mother of the Church. Her ‘Yes’ to God, ‘Let it be to me according to your word’ showed her to be worthy to be the bearer of the Word made flesh, Christ Jesus, true God and true man. Only in Christ will all barriers be truly broken down. King knew this of course, the words at the beginning of the 2nd paragraph as quoted above, are words from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, which the Church has always understood as pointing to Jesus. Mary opens up for us the way to a new humanity, made real in Jesus. In her, it is good to be human, for there is only one race, the Human Race.

It will be good to welcome back Fr Martin Wood, former Team Rector, as our preacher on September 8th, together with Phyll Wood, who served here as a Reader, for the Parish Eucharist at 10am in S.Mary’s, (There will be no 9.30am or 11am services that day.) We also look forward to an Organ Recital on Saturday 7th September, with Thomas Moore, Organist and Director of Music at our Cathedral Church of All Saints Wakefield, beginning at 7.30pm.

September brings a new School Year and a fresh start for many of our Parish Organisations, and now that we have completed the work necessary to establish a new relationship between our Parishes in the United Benefice, there is an opportunity to revisit and renew our Development and Transformational Plans. Canon James Allison, priest in charge of Coley in our Deanery, and a member of the Diocesan Mission Group, will be helping us to kick start that process at a meeting in the Canon Winter Centre at All Saints, at 7.30pm on Tuesday 17th September, for All PCC & Core Group members from both our Parishes.

Like the great Christian heroes, we are called to look forward, in hope and faith.

May God, who is able to keep us from falling,
And lift us from the dark valley of despair
To the bright mountain of hope,
From the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy,
To whom belongs all power and authority,
Give us his blessing and his peace. Amen.

 Pax et Bonum – Peace and all Good to you! – Father David