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It Happened On Main Street

And making a whip out of some chord, He drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well... (John 2:15) Third Sunday of Lent

It happened on Main Street -- downtown, Rock Hill, South Carolina. The year was 1961. Sadly, in the big scheme of things, only a blip in time has since past. That year, on the morning of January 31st, a group of students from the all-black Friendship Junior College sat down to eat at the whites-only lunch counter in the McCrory's five and dime store.

Today, for those too young to remember, it may be hard to imagine. The segregation laws and customs that separated whites and blacks at that time -- in schools, restaurants and other public places -- resulted in the arrest of those young men. And then the nine Friendship students were given the choice of paying a $100 fine or spending 30 days in jail at hard labor. Up to that point in the civil rights movement, protesters had paid their fines and gone home after being convicted. But nine of the men arrested in Rock Hill that day chose instead to serve for a month at York County’s prison farm. And their courageous “Jail, No Bail” strategy reignited civil rights protests around the country.

On January 28, 2015, nearly 54 years later -- in a long overdue righting of a terrible wrong -- the nephew of the original trial judge who sentenced them, ordered that the convictions of the "Friendship Nine" be overturned. -1

The story of the Friendship Nine is a fitting reminder of the story in today's Gospel Lesson. When we move into the kind of union with God that Jesus makes possible for us, love is kindled within. We become more and more sensitive to the needs of other persons. And we feel a collective sense of guilt and shame when we see an injustice. In all of the ways we express our Christian love, perhaps there is none greater than compassion. When we see someone who is hurting, we do what we can to bind up the wounds. When we see a wrong, we do what we can to right it. Compassion is a mark of a Christian.

There is another dimension of Christian love, [...]

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Stories you can use...

We've got a million of them (well, almost).

Words

”A word spoken in due season, how good it is... like apples of gold in a silver setting, a word that is aptly spoken” (Proverbs 15:23, 25:11). Two men who hadn’t seen each other in several years chanced to meet... ”How is your wife?” asked the first man. ”She’s in heaven,” the other answered. ”Oh, I’m sorry,” said the first man. But that didn’t sound quite right to him, so he added, ”I mean, I’m glad!” Again, it didn’t sound quite right. Reaching for just the right word, he then said, ”I mean, I’m surprised!”

Service, Healing, Reconciliation

“. . . he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘you are bretheren’” (Acts 7:26). A bright and cheerful young nurse was attending a new patient named Tom in the men’s ward of a big city hospital. The patient was desperately ill and the nurse did all she could to make him comfortable. But the man was surly and downright rude. And his only response to the nurse’s cheerful charm was a string of profanities and blasphemies. The nurse was broken-hearted because she knew the poor fellow was dying and that there was little she could do but pray for him, silently and earnestly, as she went about her rounds. Then, when she saw the opportunity, she spoke to him gently and tactfully about God’s goodness and mercy. Whereupon, the man turned on her fiercely and, with a curse on his lips, used his last ounce of strength to strike her a stinging blow across the cheek. Immediately, the scene in the ward turned chaotic as half a dozen men rose from their beds and rushed to defend her. But quietly the nurse said, “Please, gentlemen, go back to your beds. If the head nurse or a doctor hears you, Tom will be in real trouble.” And so the would-be rescuers backed off. The nurse then noticed that Tom, though still conscious, was gasping for breath. He couldn’t last long. So she drew close to him and prayed as she’d never prayed before. After a bit, she stopped, whispered his name and said, “God loves you.” She looked up and saw that Tom’s eyes were fixed on her. She smiled, and, to her joy, Tom smiled too, and his feeble lips formed just two words, almost inaudible: “Sorry ... Pray.” Then, to her surprise, Tom seemed to rally enough to join in the whispering of the Lord’s Prayer. And when they came to the words, “Deliver us from evil,” Tom sank back and breathed his last. Tears flowed from the nurse’s eyes, but there was gladness in her heart, as she whispered a final prayer: “Thank you, Lord, for that blow on the cheek.”

Faith, Christianity

“Examine yourselves… Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is really in you? If not, you have failed the test” (II Corinthians 12:5). When the great Japanese Christian, Toyohiko Kagawa, visited the United States for the first time, he attended a student conference at a leading University. After addressing the students, Kagawa said he would be happy to answer any questions. Whereupon, one of the student delegates shouted, “Why are we wasting time discussing Christianity? Christianity has failed!” To which Kagawa replied patiently and quietly, “Mine hasn’t!”

Wisdom

An anonymous writer has given us this story of an American tourist’s visit to the 19th century Polish Rabbi, Hofetz Chaim, who was looked upon by the people of his time as an extremely wise and saintly person. On his arrival at the rabbi’s residence, the tourist was astonished to discover that it consisted only of one simple room. The walls were lined with books; a table and a chair were the only furnishings. “But rabbi,” the tourist asked, “Where is your furniture?” to which the rabbi replied, “where is yours?” “Where is mine?” said the puzzled tourist, “I’m only a visitor here, just passing through.” So am I,” answered Rabbi Chaim, “So am I.”

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