Sermon: We have done only what we ought to have done

On a February afternoon in 1960 – 50 years ago now – four college students sat down at a lunch table where they were not allowed to sit. That time seems a piece of history right now – I imagine so even for those of us who were alive then. In an age of seemingly instant action and conversation, when every injustice, perceived or true, is immediately tweeted and every tragic death Facebooked in tribute, it must seem to our youth an awfully small thing to just sit down in a restaurant that doesn’t serve your kind. These four boys were black Americans, and they lived in the South, where segregation was the law, and if you were a certain colour you stood at the snack bar in the back because the seats were for white people. I was reminded of this story by a piece in The New Yorker this week, and it came back to me as I thought of this morning’s gospel, and the line that stuck with me especially: “We have done only what we ought to have done.”