From the Book of Common Prayer:
Under apartheid law, black South African men over the age of sixteen were required to carry a pass card. Anyone found without a card by the police could be arrested. On March 21st, 1960, black South African men had planned to leave their pass cards at home, go to the police station, and ask to be arrested in an act of civil disobedience. When the men began their walk to the police station, officers opened fire, killing sixty-nine and injuring hundreds in what has been remembered as the Sharpeville Massacre.
Hard to believe these kinds of things have happened. Even harder to believe that these things happen still. We see it all around us in different forms. We hear it in the words people choose to use. We hear it in jokes. We see it in stereotypical comments and jest. We see it in the way entire groups of people are portrayed on TV. It's still here.
I am thankful for the people like those brave South African men who decided to defy unjust laws and expose the hatred and bigotry that built them. I am heartbroken that lives were demanded as a price for standing up and speaking out. We have heard many stories like this in our own country's history. May we never forget. May we work diligently to make sure these kinds of atrocities need not repeat themselves. May we speak up and speak out on behalf of those around us who are threatened by unjust laws or hateful and biggoted language.
Desert father Abba Anthony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, "You are made, you are not like us.'"
Lord, we remember those who have given their lives for the sake of justice and freedom. Help us not to take our own freedom lightly, but to use it to advocate relentlessly for the freedom of others. Amen.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you wherever he may send you;
May he guide you through the wilderness and protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you;
May he bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.