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January-Holocaust Memorial Day

In January we focus on new beginnings. But how do we begin again when the worst has happened, when the dark shadow of the human condition has shrouded the world’s landscape? Christianity presents a new frontier, one of hope and courage. This has been reflected by Christians throughout the ages. This month we commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. The Shoah presents a stark reminder of the danger we face when we fail to recognise the God-given dignity of all people. We are also reminded of the vital role that each of us has to speak out on behalf of those who are marginalized, oppressed or victimized.

A Poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

Psalm 137

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.

Reflection Richard Greenwood, Outreach and Communications Manager

A visit to Auschwitz is not easy but is somewhere everyone should try and go. On the walls there are thousands of photos of the people who died there. It is impossible to remember them all. I chose to focus on one face, one young man, aged just 17. His image has stayed with me ever since. The photo captured a look of shock, terror and abandonment. Aside from his face and age, I know very little else about this boy. He will have been forced out of his home, out of his community and spent the last months of his short life in absolute fear and desperation. He never returned to his home, but some survivors do try to return home. Those who fled the genocide in Darfur may not yet be able to try, and many survivors of past genocides are unable to return. Let us speak out for all those forced out of their homes and strive for justice for their communities, and remember those today who feel abandoned and unable to return to their homes.

Prayer

Lord God, creator of the Universe look upon us your children with mercy and compassion. Teach us to see the world anew, not as a place of difference and division, but as a home where all are welcome, valued and honoured as human beings created in your image and likeness.

Help us learn to speak Truth to power, remembering always that You are the God of freedom who saved your people from slavery in the Exodus and from the power of death through the Resurrection of your Son Jesus.

Guide us as we seek the ways of peace and reconciliation, ever mindful the you hear the cry of the poor and the oppressed.

Amen