On the evening of November 9-10, 1938, the German Reich unleashed a pogrom against the Jews, burning down synagogues and smashing the glass fronts of Jewish shops in Berlin and all big cities in Germany and Austria. The pogrom was allegedly in retaliation for the assassination of a German diplomat at the German Embassy in Paris by the 17-year old Herschel Grynszpan.
To describe it, the Nazis coined the phrase Kristallnacht or Night of Broken Glass. On that night 91 Jews were killed, 30.000 Jews sent to Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camps. 5.000 Jewish shops were looted, 191 synagogues attacked, bonfires made of Torah scrolls, prayer books and volumes of Jewish history, philosophy and poetry. This action was a signal event whose importance in the history of the Shoah or Holocaust, as it is also called, is that it represents the shift from mass arrest and terror to mass murder. From the time of Kristallnacht onwards, the momentum of the Holocaust gathered force and led to the wholesale persecution and the killing of six million Jews including one and a half million children.
The Night of Broken Glass was crucial in the movement towards the Final Solution, a systematic programme of genocide, which was designed to annihilate every Jew in Europe. Soon would be added the deaths of millions of civilians, service men and women and partisans during WW II.
An Aboriginal man, William Cooper, was the only person to stage a private protest against the Nazi persecution of the Jews. An important piece of history.
(from a service in New South Wales)
We remember a night of darkness and fear that swept the heartland of Christian Europe like a scourge. We remember those who were persecuted. Jews for being Jews. We remember those who spoke out, brave souls who tried to save a world.
And we remember the silence! How many stood aside, mute and unconcerned forgetting the divine command: “You shall not stand idle while your neighbour bleeds.”
For the sin of silence,
For the sin of indifference,
For the secret complicity of the neutral,
For the closing of borders,
For the washing of hands from blame,
For the crime of forgetfulness,
For the sin of meaningless rhetoric,
Let there be no forgetfulness before God, and let memory startle us at any moment, when we lie down and when we rise up. Let us remember and never forget.
Golden crystal hope – a blessing to go Hope is the gold we melt and pour
between the crystal pieces, shattered,
smatterings and scatterings beneath our feet.
Tread carefully, hold gently the shards,
bear the wounds the healing cuts.
Offer the sacred price for peace, to mend
the broken crystal at our feet.
May the Holy bless us as we go, in peace. Amen
Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story. Written for the commemoration of 80 years since Kristallnacht, the state-sanctioned demolishing of Jewish synagogues, schools, homes, and businesses in Germany and Austria; written for the interfaith gathering hosted by The Canberra Jewish Centre and Wesley Uniting Church, 7 November 2018, at which was premiered the work by Elena Kats-Chernin, ‘To Mend Broken Crystal…’, which inspired this blessing.
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4: Habakkuk complains to God that justice is perverted and God’s help does not come, but then, as he waits for God’s answer, God’s word comes to him offering him a vision of the downfall of the proud and the vibrant life of the righteous. Psalm 119:137-144: The psalmist celebrates God’s regulations, affirming their value and goodness for all time, and giving thanks for the strength they offer even in times of hardship. 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12: Paul celebrates the faith, love and endurance of the Thessalonian Christians in the face of persecution and hardship, and prays for God’s strength to sustain and inspire them, so that they may glorify God. Luke 19:1-10: In Jericho Jesus invites himself to be a guest at the house of a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus, in spite of the criticisms of people. As a result, Zacchaeus is transformed into a man of generosity and compassion. (Bible readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
Habakkuk – ‘how long’? A theology that has no place for lament is left only with thin, inadequate murmurings. The covenantal relationship is reduced to a mere shell, maneuvered about with smoke and mirrors rather than serious and faithful engagement. . . . A theology which takes our covenantal relationship with God seriously must then also take the laments seriously. One cannot happen without the other. (Source: Logan C. Jones, The Psalms of Lament and the Transformation of Sorrow)
Readings: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Habakkuk complains to God that justice is perverted and God’s help does not come, but then, as he waits for God’s answer, God’s word comes to him offering him a vision of the downfall of the proud and the vibrant life of the righteous. Psalm 119:137-144
The psalmist celebrates God’s regulations, affirming their value and goodness for all time, and giving thanks for the strength they offer even in times of hardship. 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Paul celebrates the faith, love and endurance of the Thessalonian Christians in the face of persecution and hardship, and prays for God’s strength to sustain and inspire them, so that they may glorify God. Luke 19:1-10
In Jericho Jesus invites himself to be a guest at the house of a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus, in spite of the criticisms of people. As a result, Zacchaeus is transformed into a man of generosity and compassion.
Thought for the week
It should not surprise us that the Scriptures return often to the themes of repentance and forgiveness. One reason for this constant repetition is that these foundational ideas are harder to understand and practice than we may at first consider. For many of us, repentance has come to be viewed as a personal apology to God for things we have done wrong, and forgiveness is what God gives us in return. However the Biblical picture is far richer and more challenging than this. In the Bible, God’s forgiveness is given before we even know that we need it – that’s the miracle of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, and it is demonstrated in the Zacchaeus story which is the Gospel reading for this week.
But, when forgiveness touches our hearts, it automatically leads us into two responses. The first is that we respond in repentance – which simply means to change. We stop doing the destructive things that rob us and others of life, and we embrace a new, life-giving way of behaving, thinking and speaking. The second response is that we begin to extend God’s forgiveness to others, recognising that as we accept them in Jesus’ name, so God’s Spirit can work healing and transformation in them through us.
This week, we will meditate again on the profound gifts of forgiveness and repentance.(Summaries and thought for the week by John van de Laar)
Diana Butler Bass, October 2016: Zacchaeus seems to be a guy who thinks you have to climb up to see God, to get closer to “power.” What does Jesus do? Jesus says, “Come down.” And invites himself to dinner. This is a radical rejection of the Roman patriarchal system and replacing it with hospitality. It isn’t about going “up” to see God. It is about sitting at table.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalm 115:16) One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4) After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They cried out in a loud voice, saying: Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb! These beloved have gone on before us into eternal life. (Revelation 7:9-10). Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely. Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:10)
The day we prepare to honor the saints who have gone before, first we get honest about the skeletons in our closet, about how monstrous we can be and what’s spookiest about us and what we most fear, about our masks and false personas and our secret aspirations, about how we trick each other and parade about stuffing ourselves with junk. We get honest about it, and also laugh about it. We laugh at ourselves, and also laugh at our evil. Then, having lightened ourselves of the burden of our righteousness, tomorrow we can move on freely without guilt or pretense to be the saints we actually are. (Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
For all the saints, who from their labors rest, The saints gone too soon before the fullness of their grace was truly known by human minds. The saints who were not lauded, but whose faithfulness bore generations of fruit. The saints whose witness spoke truth to power and brought forth new creations. The saints who died with doubts, questions, and hope in mystery. The saints whose pained ends brought out words that God received, knowing their truth. The saints whose legacies are the history from which we learn how to do and be better. The saints who are only remembered by God and who rest in light perpetual. For these and so many others, we give thanks to God. Amen. (Source: Rev Julia Seymour, posted on RevGalBlogPals)
A Call to Worship for All Saints Day (Hebrews 12: 1) We remember, O God… The countless saints of history who have blazed a trail of courage through time, We remember, O God… The tender touch of loved ones, the example of heroes, the healing words of comforters, the remarkable acts of fearless ones. We remember, O God… The gentle strength of grandmothers, the loyalty of friends, the kindness of strangers, the joy of children, the sacrifice of parents. We remember, O God… The supreme love of Jesus, the blessing of his Spirit, the reminder of his words, the sharing of his suffering, the glory of his resurrection: shown forth in the lives of his disciples, young and old, dead and living, articulate and silent, strange and familiar, brilliant and ordinary. We remember in every time and place the saints of God who have shown us the Lord. Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses… let us worship God with joy! (Desperate Preacher’s website)
A reflection by Joe Kay on Sojo: Death cannot separate us from love “Those who die remain part of our lives. Death can’t break our connection to Jesus’ embodied spirit of love – he is with us always.”
IDOP is recognised on the first Sunday in November each year, dedicated to the saints and martyrs of the Christian faith and for persecuted communities. IDOP website here. In 2019 this falls on November 3rd, which is also the closest Sunday to All Saints Day.
God, you know The plight of people far away Oppressed by governments and vigilantes In places Where Christianity is an unpopular choice. God, you knew That the day would come here When truth-telling would be despised And siding with the oppressed Part of the road less travelled. Have mercy, O God, Upon persecuted Christians there and here Who are willing to suffer consequences For speaking your Name In word or in deed In defiance or in advocacy. Grant courage and strength To all who would dare To live their convictions out loud. Amen. (UMC Discipleship) Continue reading →
Reformation Day commemorates the day in 1517 when a German monk named Martin Luther (1483-1546) strode up to the church in Wittenburg and nailed his 95 ‘theses’ (or propositions) to the church door. Luther’s intention when posting his theses was to highlight the practice of indulgences in the Roman Catholic Church. Indulgences were pardons from sin that could be bought, meaning that those who were rich enough could buy forgiveness for all manner of sins. Luther had hoped that pinning his protestations would spark wider debate and harden public opinion against the practice. However, so many people agreed with his ideas that they quickly spread across western Europe, helped by the recent invention of the printing press, leading to the religious revolt known as the Reformation. The reformation led many Christians to break off from the Roman Catholic Church and establish new, independent churches of their own, such as the Lutheran Church. Reformation Day was first celebrated in the Germanic region in the seventeenth century and between 1949 and 1967, Reformation Day was a national holiday in East Germany.
Readings: Joel 2:23-32 God promises restoration from the judgement (what the locusts have eaten) and the outpouring of God’s Spirit on all of God’s sons and daughters. Psalm 65 Praise for the God who answers prayer, who forgives sin, who formed the earth and who sends rain to bring an abundant harvest. 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 Paul reflects on his faithfulness as he nears the end of his life and looks forward to the reward he will receive, assured that God, who rescued him in the past, even when others deserted him, will bring him safely into God’s kingdom. Luke 18:9-14 Jesus tells a parable about a self-righteous Pharisee, who fails to find a right relationship with God, and a penitent tax collector who finds justification.
Jesus’ parable calls us to humble recognition of our need for God’s grace. Two people came into the temple to pray. A white man came up front and prayed, “God, I thank you that I’m not black. Thank you that I’m not a woman, or gay, or was abused as a child. I mind my own business, and I believe in you.” An undocumented immigrant woman forced to work the street stood at the back and prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” I tell you, she went home closer to God than the other. For all who are full of themselves will be empty of anything else. But those who make room for God will shine with glory. (Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light) Continue reading →
Posted inCOCU Year C|Comments Off on COCU62C.27October2019
Readings: Jeremiah 31:27-34 A prophecy of restoration, of an end to generational curses, and of God’s new covenant with God’s people – written on hearts, not stone. Psalm 119:97-104 A song of rejoicing in God’s laws and instructions and the way they guide and lead to life. 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5 Paul encourages Timothy, in the name of the coming Christ, to remain faithful to the Scriptures and to teach God’s message faithfully at all times. Luke 18:1-8 Jesus tells a parable of a poor widow who persistently asks a judge for justice, and he finally relents because of her persistence. Then he muses about whether, when he returns, he will find people of faith on earth.
Gospel Feelings resources here. Sermon: Excellent reflection by Debie Thomas on the Gospel reading here.
Patient God (based on Gospel reading) Patient God, you persevere in your care for us, in spite of our lack of persistence, lack of praying at all times. Merge our inner spirits with your will. Teach us again and again to pray always through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen (Source:Bob Eldan) Continue reading →
Posted inCOCU Year C|Comments Off on COCU61C.20October2019
In 2019, Anti-Poverty Week will be held from the 13th to the 19th of October. The main aims of Anti-Poverty Week are to: * Strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship around the world and in Australia; and * Encourage research, discussion and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, communities, organisations and governments.