At the dedication of the Holocaust Memorial at the Statehouse in Columbus Ohio, Monday on June 2, 2014
This historic event was the culmination of over three years of inspiration, planning, and hard work, as a tribute to all who lost their lives in the Holocaust and to the survivors and to those who liberated them and to their families.
Bishop Roger and I were privileged, along with Fr Kevin Maney and his wife Dondra, to be present, and to participate in the ceremony, which was held in the Ohio Theater across the street from the Sate Capitol.
It began with the solemn ringing of a huge bell on stage with two Holocaust survivors, a man and a woman standing by as silent witnesses to the horror that was perpetrated against an entire people.
A Rabbi, soft spoken and also a son of parents killed in the Holocaust, came to the podium and began with prayer in Hebrew followed by reading Psalm 23. Then in a hushed and reverent moment, he began to sing an ancient prayer in Hebrew, to which others in the audience joined their voices. I recalled Bishop Roger’s words from his sermon the day before “ We are a people both ancient and future,” grafted into God’s Covenant People in Christ. I was reminded that in Hebrew, there is no word for ‘future’- only GOD and God’s will that will ultimately triumph in the earth and will usher in the ‘new creation.’ Candles were lit in honor of both the victims and the survivors and those family members alive in the present who could stand witness to the reality of the atrocity that happened in history, not only to the Jew, but also to the weak and marginalized in society. When families of liberators were asked to stand, Fr. Kevin Maney and I stood to our feet. I could not help the tears. Why? Because in that moment I was acutely aware that only by the grace of God was I present,
Standing there alive. And to what purpose? That this should never happen again. The quote, ‘The only thing evil needs to triumph is that good men do nothing” is as relevant today as it was then. The first speaker, soft-spoken and barely audible, delivered this quote. He said that Hitler’s last act, in a bunker, with the war lost and a suicide plan already intact, sent a Nazi colonel to the prison where Dietrich Bonheoffer was in being held, and had him summarily executed. Only days before liberation. Why? Because, he said, evil cannot tolerate anything GOOD and must eradicate it from the face of the earth. But as one of my favorite songs says…evil cannot stop it. The Song of Creation, sung for generations over dinner tables, and altars, in schoolyards and in prison yards, cannot be stopped or drowned out. God gave the song. The question posed to us at the memorial dedication was “Will you continue to sing the song or will you remain silent in the face of violence, hatred, persecution and injustice?”
Governor Kasich said that we ‘all are created in the image of God and must be treated with respect and dignity and love
Upon arriving home, the mailman delivered the newest issue of Christian History magazine. . Its banner reads: ‘EYEWITNESSES to the modern AGE OF PERSECUTION” with the scripture from Hebrews 13:3 …’and continue to remember…those who are being mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.’
“Amanuensis” to bring back into experience the reality of an event. This is what we do at every Eucharist. Jesus is REALLY PRESENT with us having OVERCOME DEATH for us and we enter afresh into this very present mystery of LIFE everlasting in Him.
I read the whole issue, front to back. Persevering corporate PRAYER along with speaking the truth in love and acting to defend the defenseless were the focal points. But detailed reporting of our brothers and sisters around the world being killed simply for being Christian was reported. Nigeria was mentioned and the terrorist group Boku Haram that have slaughtered thousands in the last year in villages and churches in the northeastern part of that African nation. Recently, over 300 young girls were abducted by this terrorist group with hardly a whisper of it in the US press.
Together, as a CHURCH, we can STAND and give witness to God’s image in man for ALL people and to SAY that to tolerate violence under any excuse is to fall into the inhuman atrocity that was the Holocaust.