Each year, on 27 January, the nation comes together to
remember the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews. This year’s ceremony also marked the 75th
anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazis’ death camp, on the 27
January 1945. At that time, I was a four-year-old
in South Wales completely unaware of the horrors that had been taking place across
Europe. Similarly, young people today
can be unaware of the dangers that lurk just a little below the surface of our
everyday lives. Many of those who were
directly affected have now died and each year there are fewer left to tell what
happened. It is therefore our responsibility
to make sure these memories, and the accounts of what happened at this most
terrible time in the world’s history, are not forgotten.
The following are the ten recognised steps that lead to genocide: 1. Classification creating an “us” and “them” mentality 2. Symbolisation of the “other” such as being made to wear a yellow star 3. Discrimination against certain groups 4. Dehumanisation against the other as being inferior 5. Organisation through state involvement to execute actions 6. Polarisation between “us” and “them” through propaganda 7. Preparation of armies to protect “us” from “them” 8. Persecution by separation of “them” from “us” 9. Extermination by mass killing 10. Denial by not accepting what has been done It is so important that we guard against this happening.
“Stand Together”, the theme of this year’s Holocaust
Memorial Day (HMD), reminds me of that new commandment that Jesus gave us when
he said that we are to “love one another as I have loved you”.
This simple commandment has an urgency and power that
makes it an essential motivator to the way we live our lives. It challenges us
in every way you can think of. We, as Christians, are called to live out these
words in all we do and say, putting them into action in our day to day lives,
following Jesus to build communities that stand together as Jesus wants us to
The Revd Nigel Uden, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, explains how reading about ‘wilderness’ and ‘vineyard’ people has inspired him
A recent reading highlight has been Andrew Bradstock’s authorised biography of David Sheppard, Batting for the Poor. Sheppard was a one-time first-class cricketer, and later, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool. Bradstock has a close association with the United Reformed Church, having twice served as its Secretary for Church and Society. His book is a fascinating account of a life that was at once passionate about batting for England, and for England’s poor.
As well regarded as his sporting
life was, Sheppard would become one of the highest profile Christians in
Britain in the last quarter of the 20th century. Alongside the kudos that being
a sportsman afforded, he was never priest of a very ordinary parish. Having a
privileged background that included education at Sherborne School and the
University of Cambridge, he surprised many by focussing throughout his ministry
on inner city contexts and having a sincere ‘bias to the poor’.
Derek Estill, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, on how to bring new, better ways of being into this new year
The festive season usually gives us an opportunity to come together with family and friends, no matter how distant they may be from us and from each other during the rest of the year. If we can’t physically come together, we can feel closer through the exchange of cards, letters, phone calls, emails, Skype, WhatsApp etc, which gives me the feeling that our world is becoming smaller. The great distances that some of us have grown up thinking about and have struggled with over the years, are now, it seems, much easier to come to terms with.
One thing is for sure, at this
special time of year, and that is that there is a real feeling of the need to
connect, particularly as we think about the holy family and their trials and
tribulations. They must have had great difficulty getting about, not to mention
finding somewhere to stay, and then having to hot foot it to Egypt!
Now that the excitement of
Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve has passed, I have begun to look back and take
stock. I’ve asked myself: Have I been able to make a difference by bridging
physical or emotional gaps in my life?