Canon Ivor moody writes: In announcing the birth of Jesus Christ and the beginning of his Gospel, St. John describes Jesus as ‘The light [which] shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’. There could be no more an appropriate text than this for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, with its theme of ‘Be the light in the darkness’.
Here is a Christian text which speaks nevertheless to the hopes and aspirations of all faiths and to those with no faith that persecution and genocide might cease from the world. It is a reminder that Holocaust Memorial Day is one of the most important occasions for all beliefs to come together to express a common humanity and a deep, genuine respect for all people. And to express a common shared conviction that no matter what shape is the spectre and velocity of evil, darkness in whatever form it takes- persecution, misinformation, denial of justice- will not have the final say.
This last year has brought us all closer to a darkness, of fear, of confinement, of loneliness and isolation, which has affected every level and corner of society, but we have witnessed too incredible acts of human solidarity and kindness, little (and not so little) gestures of sacrifice and care which have reminded us, through all the ugliness of which human beings are capable, also of the beauty and grace which is humanity.
One of the most important legacies of the Second World War concentration camps is the testimony of the Holocaust survivors, not just to keep alive the memories of terrible atrocities, but to hand on the lights of hope and testimony to us to carry on resistance, speaking out, seeking justice and to continue those acts of kindness which demonstrate that love is stronger than death. And to do so in the face of a world which seems to be in as much danger as ever of polarising into the haves and have nots, the accepted and the despised, then powerful and the powerless. Holocaust Memorial Day is a reminder that we are stronger together, and that if one candle can split the darkness, then myriads of candles shining together can turn night into day.
A prayer for Holocaust Memorial Day:
Loving God, we come to you with heavy hearts,
Remembering the six million Jewish souls murdered during the Holocaust.
In the horrors of that history, when so many groups were targeted because of their identity,
And in genocides which followed, we recognise destructive prejudices that drive people apart.
Forgive us when we give space to fear, negativity and hatred of others,
Simply because they are different from us.
In the light of God, we see everyone as equally precious manifestations of the Divine,
And can know the courage to face the darkness.
Through our prayers and actions, help us to stand together with those who are suffering,
So that light may banish all darkness, love will prevail over hate and good will triumph over evil.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Senior Imam Qari Asim.