This year to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day we will stream a memorial service from our school Chapel on Wednesday 27th January at 7pm. You will be able to access the service via the linked image below on the evening.
Every year the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust share resources and a theme with us, previous ones being ‘Stand together’, ‘How can life go on?’, etc. This year’s theme is ‘A light in the darkness’ which we can interpret in so many ways and is particularly poignant for the way the world is moving. We invite you to join us at 7pm and stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by the evil of genocide and pray for a future where hope and light rid the world of darkness. If you can, have a candle or tealight with you to light during the service.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, in their introduction to this year’s theme capture the way in which light and darkness are manifest in the actions of humanity today:
It encourages everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide. Be the light in the darkness is an affirmation and a call to action for everyone marking HMD. This theme asks us to consider different kinds of ‘darkness’, for example:
- identity based persecution
- denial of justice
as well as different ways of ‘being the light’:
- acts of solidarity
- rescue and illuminating mistruths
Increasing levels of denial, division and misinformation in today’s world mean we must remain vigilant against hatred and identity-based hostility. Rapid technological developments, a turbulent political climate, and world events beyond our control can leave us feeling helpless and insignificant. The utterly unprecedented times through which we are living currently are showing the very best of which humanity is capable but also – in some of the abuse and conspiracy theories being spread on social media – the much darker side of our world as well. We can all stand in solidarity. We can choose to be the light in the darkness in a variety of ways and places – at home, in public, and online.
As we look towards HMD 2021, the world is dealing with the global pandemic of Covid-19. It is a time of great change and uncertainty for us all. Many are experiencing anxiety with the separation from family and friends; and some are taking an authoritarian approach and condemn others’ behaviour. As we have noted, there is a proliferation of conspiracy theories about the pandemic, with minority groups targeted in many instances.
Yet this is also a time when so many people are bringing light to their neighbours and communities. Within days, 750,000 people signed up to volunteer for the NHS. In every corner of the country, mutual aid community groups, charities and neighbourhoods have joined together to provide help to their neighbours and communities – a beacon of hope in dark times. Holocaust Memorial Day enables us to remember – for a purpose. It gives us a responsibility to work for a safer, better, future for everyone. Everyone can step up and use their talents to tackle prejudice, discrimination and intolerance wherever we encounter them.
A candle flame is so often a symbol of hope, an outward expression of our response to the pain in the world. Light dispelling darkness, Jesus Christ the light of the world is the antidote to the darkness of evil in the world. We light candles of hope to share with others that we stand in solidarity, that we believe in another way, that we can be something special when seeing the wonder in others. In St Paul’s letter to the Philippians he says:
“Let each of you not look to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
If those words were always taken at face value imagine the good place the world would be in. Earlier this week I spotted a report from the WHO that spoke of only 25 vaccines having been administered in low income countries, compared with 39million in richer countries! Yet again the disparaging inequality of the world is showcased before our eyes, the constant messages from Pope Francis about the need to look after the poorest, most recently in his letter Fratelli Tutti, a timely reminder.
We need to develop the awareness that nowadays we are either all saved together or no one is saved. Poverty, decadence and suffering in one part of the earth are a silent breeding ground for problems that will end up affecting the entire planet. (Fratelli Tutti 137)
Pope Francis echoes the same message which Jesus spent his ministry trying to share with humanity, which the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust are reminding us of – the other. In the New Testament the words ‘one another’ are used 100 times! Jesus and St Paul repeatedly issues instructions to followers, to the Church about how to be with one another. Such repetition is so intentional, they are reminding us that our faith, the way life should be is looking to the good of others all the time not just ourselves. “One another” is two words in English, but it’s only one word in Greek: ἀλλήλων (ah-LAY-loan).
We hope you can join us on Wednesday evening as a community, with one another thanks to the gift of technology.
We pray together:
Jewish Prayer for Holocaust Memorial Day
I lay my pain upon Your altar, loving God;
This is my lamb, my ram, my sacrifice,
My plea for pardon, plea for forgiveness
For all my sins of doing and not doing,
Prayers that blossom like flowers out of pain
Above the earth-pull.
My people’s sins have flamed in sacrifice
Upon your altar through slow-moving time.
Pain for all evil, hatred, cruelty,
For the sick of body and the sick of heart,
For all the loneliness, the lovelessness of men and women,
The unmeasurable loss of those that know not You-
The pain of the world, dear God, I place
Before Your shrine.
Look down in pity and forgiveness.
Cause Your countenance to shine upon us
And give us peace.
Mr M Robinson