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The Call to Worship Based on Psalm 78
Listen up people! I have something to say
All: I want to tell you stories that contain all the secrets of old.
What is passed down from generation to generation is important to continue to tell to our children
All: They need to know that God helped us and came to our aid when we called.
Generations to come, children yet unborn need to hear these stories
All: So that they can learn to trust God and live by ethical laws.
Holy One we recall your love for us as we acknowledge your presence here with us. We are drawn together by your spirit to support and sustain each other. Help us to live ethical lives worthy of your commandments. Remind us to tell the stories of your love for us to our children and our children’s children so your ways will be known to all humanity, that peace may become a reality on earth. Amen
The Wisdom of Ernest Holmes
We believe in God, the living Spirit Almighty; one, indestructible, absolute, and self-existent Cause. This One manifests Itself in and through all creation, but is not absorbed by Its creation. The manifest universe is the body of God; it is the logical and necessary outcome of the infinite self-knowingness of God.
We believe in the incarnation of the Spirit in us, and that all people are incarnations of the One Spirit. We believe in the eternality, the immortality, and the continuity of the individual soul, forever and ever expanding. We believe that Heaven is within us, and that we experience It to the degree that we become conscious of It.
A Reading from the Wisdom of the Apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 4.15-18)
15For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher, Virtual Chaplain, Sunshine Cathedral
Click on the audio bar below to hear the recording. Text follows.
Today marks the commemoration of the horrible and tragic events of Kristallnacht on November 9 and 10, 1938. These were the days that Hitler’s army brought its full might to bear on the Jewish population of Germany. In this 48 hour period 191 synagogues were burned, more than 7500 businesses were destroyed, and 20,000 Jewish men were rounded up and imprisoned at Buchenwald concentrations camp. At least 100 Jews were killed as the assault of the Third Reich on the Jewish population of the world began.
The events of those hours are known as Kristallnacht, Crystal Night, because there were so many windows broken as the destruction was carried out all over Germany. And perhaps the most important point for us to be reminded of today is that there was virtually no international protest to the events of that day. Germany’s legally elected government was not challenged by anyone when it focused all of its might on the Jews in Germany.
Retelling this story is important. Because retelling it reminds us of what can happen if we do not learn the lessons of historical injustice. This was not the first time that genocide has happened in human history.
The Armenian genocide in Turkey beginning in 1915 resulted in perhaps as many as 1.5 million people being massacred and survivors deported and forced on death marches into the Syrian dessert.
Indigenous peoples in the Americas were were killed in large numbers from diseases brought to the North American continent by settlers. They were killed in wars waged to take their land and thousands rounded up and marched to reservations that exist to this day in the United States.
And even since WWII these kinds of things continue to happen. The ethnic Kruds in Iraq and Iran have been and continue to be under assault, the Rawandan genocide in the 1990’s saw the slaughter of perhaps a million Tutsis at the hands of the Hutus there, thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Serbs were executed in the newly formed Bosnian government after the fall of the Soviet Union, and sadly, the list goes on and on.
So it is important to tell the stories of genocide and particularly remember that the world stood by while 6 million Jews along with 5 million Russians, queers, gypsies, and others were literally exterminated from the history of the world by a single regime, at the order of a single man, Adolf Hitler. The only thing that stood in the way of the Third Riech’s “Ultimate Solution” was the armed forces of the allied armies. The brave men and women who fight in the armed forces to protect our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness deserve our thanks and our honor for their sacrifice. On this Tuesday, Veterans Day in the US and Remembrance Day in commonwealth countries, let us remember what they have done for us in the service of preserving freedom.
But where do we go with these horrific stories of war and genocide, of sacrifice and martyrdo? How can we keep from falling into despair or becoming desensitized to these horrific events?
Well I think our readings today give us the framework we need to learn the lessons of history and continue to fight for justice in the world. What we need is hope… hope that we can somehow transcend our lower nature and rise to our true potential as children of a loving Creator who wants nothing but the best for all of us. The words of Ernest Holmes remind us that we literally make up the body of God, that God’s spirit lives within us, that we are incarnations of that One Spirit and we are eternal and immortal, that our soul continues.
Our reading from Thessalonians gives us and image of God’s spirit within us responding to the call of God to come home, to become again part of the eternal whole that is God. The reading gives us an image that tells us that whether we are alive or dead, our spirits continue to be in communion with God and one another. It is the ultimate image of hope.
Yet as we discussed last week we still feel grief when we experience the loss of a loved one. Even the disciples needed to mourn Jesus death. And then they awoke to the reality that the Christ lives on in us, we are the incarnation of God’s spirit and it is our job to do the work of making justice in the world, just as Jesus did.
We remember the atrocities of Kristallnacht and other genocides so that we can never become complacent in our work for justice, so that we can remain empathetic to the plight of those who are victimized by power and privilege. Keeping these memories alive is what it means to be Christian. Working for justice is what it means to love God. Stepping up and speaking out is what it means to love our neighbor.
Even in our grief we are enfolded in God’s love. In our work for justice, in our empathy with those who are oppressed, in our grief when we lose a loved one or come face to face with another genocide… even then we are surrounded in God’s unending love for us. As we remember Kristallnacht we remember the indomitable spirit of all those who live in violence, poverty, and disease. And we pray for their deliverance even as we work, in whatever way we can, to alleviate the suffering.
It is important to remember. It is important to tell the stories again and again. It is important to be reminded that we are never alone, that we are part of a whole that is God, and that love will ultimately win, no matter how dark the day may seem. Today we pray for all those who live in fear, in pain, in hopelessness, that they may know God’s healing power through us. And we remember all those in the armed forces who fight and die to preserve liberty.