Come with me to a place of horror and almost tangible evil. It’s early in the morning of the last day of 2016, and it’s cold with thick frost lying on the ground.
It’s chilling; not just physically, but spiritually. This is Auschwitz, and I’m visiting the notorious concentration camp.
When I was a Parish Minister, the congregations I served didn’t mark Holocaust Day (27 January – the day on which Auschwitz was finally liberated).
Why not? I don’t know. Perhaps because we are somewhat inured to the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jewish, Roma, Polish and other innocents. Perhaps it’s because it seems so far away in time.
But I would defy anyone who has felt the chill of Auschwitz or any of the other places of horror associated with the Nazi persecution, who has seen what’s left of the gas chambers, or the piles of shoes or the collection of battered suitcases on show in Auschwitz, not to be moved.
It is a salutary reminder of the inhumanity of wicked men that we should note and note well.
As it happens, I will be leading worship (as Pulpit Supply) on the Sunday before Holocaust Day in January and will certainly now meditate with the congregation on the hellishness of what was perpetrated back then, and pray that it is never repeated (although, tragically, there have been too many incidences of ethnic cleansing since).
I would hope that other ministers and worship leaders would do so also………