Starting Small, Dreaming Big // M-Note 1.13.24

When we want to make a change in our lives we mistakenly believe that we need to take big immediate action in order to get there. But change is usually the result not of sudden and dramatic action, but of small steps. A principle of sustaining change in our lives or in the world is starting small.
I have been reflecting on this principle ahead of this week’s sermon as well as MLK Day. The Civil Rights movement is full of people who took bold and dramatic action to confront discrimination, Jim Crow racism, and institutional white supremacy. We rightly celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a paramount champion for justice and leader against the evil of racism. He worked on behalf of civil and human rights that spanned racial discrimination, voting, desegregation, labor rights, the Vietnam war, and economic injustice. He is also well known for specific bold action – the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the march from Selma, his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington, and his Letter from Birmingham Jail.
But behind every one of these well-known, dramatic moments were small steps that most don’t know about. Behind every famous person demonstrating courageous action were thousands of people largely unknown who showed the same courage. The massive change that the Civil Rights movement fought (and continues to fight) for was the accumulation of  many small steps. Over time, small changes can have massive effects.
Roy Wilkins was the longest serving leader of the NAACP and a prominent leader in the Civil Rights Movement. What I didn’t know until recently is that he was born in St. Louis. His father, William, was trained to be a Methodist pastor, but, due to discrimination, could not get work. He ended up in a brick factory here in St. Louis. But this didn’t deter him from resisting evil. One day while walking on the sidewalk he decided not to step aside for a group of white pedestrians as was expected. This refusal to step aside caused him to have to flee town and miss the birth of his son. It was a seemingly small incident, but it impacted Roy who would build on that small step later and leave a 40 plus year legacy working for civil rights. Small changes can have massive effects.
This weekend I will continue our series Clean Slate: New Habits for a New Year by talking about the principle of starting small and how it can lead to dramatic change in our own lives. Last weekend was an incredible kickoff to the year. It will be cold this Sunday but it looks like we will get to worship without any snow! I know there are people in your life that may really need to hear this message. I hope you will send them a note and invite them to join you. Let’s keep up the momentum and I look forward to seeing you in church.
P.S. I encourage you to find a way to serve or learn on MLK Day. There are many local events and volunteer opportunities for you and your family, including one featuring our own Brittany Radford!
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