Reflections on Kristallnacht

As I prepare to light my advent candles this year and reflect upon the meaning of Christ's birth, I am still feeling the glow from Kristallnacht, a gift of light and life. Any time the core of my being is reminded of God's love and God's call for us to live in community as neighbors, I try to pay attention and receive that gift of life. For it is a message that penetrates the world of fear your neighbor, hate those who are different, and try to isolate and separate yourself and your community.

We need to be reminded of the Holocaust, and the many days and nights of terror that Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and persons with disabilities had to endure. I am grateful to David Goldstein and Jeffry Johnson for creating the musical drama and reminding us that each of our voices count. In retelling the story of a survivor, I had to go back to that time in history and remember. I remember how the government and authorities in Germany supported the systematic elimination of certain people, people who did not fit the desired image. I remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the confessing church of Germany, the people who said, NO, THIS IS WRONG. I remember Bonhoeffer's fiancee and her letters to him in prison, but he was hanged just before peace had been reached. Through the memory of the survivor in Kristallnacht, I was given the opportunity to listen with my heart and hear God's call to all people for peace and justice.

Could such a tragedy happen again? it happens whenever people deny full human dignity to one another. It happens when the church becomes exclusive, when power and privilege are identified through race, gender, sexual preference or ethnic background. So, as I light my advent candles, I pray that Jesus will come again and be born in us -- to show the way out of darkness and into the "light of life".

Cynthia J. Jackson, 1997

The Cathedral of Hope 

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