Torn from Home

Sunday 27th January 2019

In the UK and around the world, January 27th has become known as Holocaust Memorial Day, a day when we remember all those countless numbers of people who have been affected by genocide.

Why January 27th?  This is the date when, in 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the concentration camps, was liberated from the Nazis.  Six million Jews were known to have been murdered by them, but the actual number could far exceed this.  However, Holocaust Memorial Day is even more than remembering with sorrow the countless numbers of people who were killed by the Nazis.  It is when we remember also all the genocides that have taken place since the second World War.  On this day we call and pray for an end to racial violence.

To mark January 27th, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chooses a different theme each year, relevant to the Holocaust and subsequent genocide.  This year the theme is Torn from Home. The theme encourages us all to reflect on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call ‘home’ is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide. ‘Home’ usually means a place of safety, comfort and security. On HMD 2019 we will reflect on what happens when individuals, families and communities are driven out of, or wrenched from their homes, because of persecution or the threat of genocide, alongside the continuing difficulties survivors face as they try to find and build new homes when the genocide is over.

The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) encourages Christian communities—churches, clergy, individual practicing Christians—to observe Holocaust Memorial Day. This is for two reasons.

Firstly, there is the historical and the theological. A Christian in a post-Holocaust world cannot ignore the Holocaust. The reality that 6 million Jews were murdered by people who were mostly baptised Christians, and who lived in Christian societies, has an unavoidable impact on the Christian’s personal faith.

Secondly, there is the personal and the political. There is a Christian duty to hear and give space to human story— the experience of Holocaust victims and survivors should be a large part of that—and because of the related Christian duty to reshape the world in love for all people. The fact that on HMD we remember subsequent genocides as well is a reminder that people of faith are called to witness in the world as it is, and to work to prevent the onset of hatred which tears people from homes.

For more information visit the website of The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

O God,
for those of us who haven’t experienced it,
we cannot really imagine what it is like to go through such an atrocity as the
Holocaust or other genocides,
but may Jesus’ manifesto,
to proclaim release to the captives and let the oppressed go free,
be our manifesto.
Help us to be alert to the insidious creep of the type of propaganda
that led to Jewish people and other victims of genocide being seen as
sub-human, dispensable.
Help us overcome any fear and apathy
and grant us the courage to speak and act in the face of evil.
Help us to imagine the world as you would have it be
and to strive for it no matter how impossible that might appear.
Help us truly to be the body of Christ,
living in tune with your will for the whole of humanity.
In his name we pray.

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