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Remarks at the Holocaust Remembrance Service

Remarks at the Holocaust Remembrance Service
Boca Raton, FL
25 April 2006
Andrew J. Sherman

Thank you for inviting me to speak on this solemn and sacred occasion. I am honored to speak as a Christian priest, who serves at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church in Boca Raton, and as a child of God.

The holocaust is an event that stuns us into silence and yet, paradoxically, compels us to speak. The sheer magnitude of its evil numbs and yet the immensity of this evil is exactly what forces us to bear witness to the utter brutality of which humanity is capable of committing.

One of the ways that I have borne witness is by visiting the US Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. This harrowing experience left many indelible images. One that stubbornly remains in my mind is a picture — a large black and white poster sized picture — taken at one of the concentration camps. It depicts a bleak, wintry day -- bits of snow can be seen in the corners of the image. One feels cold just looking at this picture. The main image of the picture, however, is row upon row upon row upon row upon row of sterile, ramshackle warehouses as far as the eye can see. The image is completely devoid of any sign of human life or, for that matter, any life.

This picture captures a central truth of the holocaust: this was evil that was systematic and ingeniously planned; this was evil that had become bureaucratized, industrialized. This lifeless image exposed evil in its soul-less, chillingly inhumane and yet all too familiar form.

Today I join all of us gathered in standing as a witness to this evil. I do so in the humble recognition that the Christian Church, to its shame, was far too silent — sinfully silent — in confronting this evil.

The oft quoted observation of Martin Niemoeller, a pastor in the German Confessing Church bears repeating:

When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore, I was not concerned.

And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, therefore, I was not concerned.

And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned.

Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant Church and there was nobody left to be concerned.

But today we are left, the faithful remnant the prophet Isaiah spoke of. And as children of humanity, as children of Abraham and as children of God we rededicate ourselves with a sacred oath: Never Again. Never again. Never Again.

Our remembrance tonight not only bears light to the shadows of the Warsaw ghetto and to the warehouse of Dachau, but to the refugee camps of Darfur and to any and all places where violence reigns, where innocent ones suffer and where genocide exposes its ugly, evil face.

May we remember, but may we also act in the knowledge of truth and in the power of love. For I believe that the power of love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. And that the power of love never ends.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord be gracious to you and lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen

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