Last week marked the 70th anniversary of the martyrdom of Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, murdered by the Nazis for opposing the Reich. One week later, 70 years ago this week, was the final liberation of Nazi death camps in Europe, universally known as Yom HaShoah. And this is the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. This is also the one year anniversary of the Boko Haram kidnapping of hundreds of girls. The cry of “Bring Back Our Girls” seems almost faded even as 219 of the girls remain missing. Continued hate crimes, wars and senseless destruction of lives are stark reminders that the issues of those days sadly remain with us.
This famous statement and provocative poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) began circulating soon after he was released in 1945 from Dachau after his 8 year confinement in concentration camps.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Just a couple of weeks ago we celebrated another anniversary. An anniversary celebrated each year with shouts of Alleluia. An anniversary celebrated every Sunday. Easter brings with it the message of hope and resurrection. Rev. Lenhart recently wrote Easter brings the message of “love and forgiveness, new life and new starts.”
Our challenge and call is to put arms and legs on our faith. To give a voice to the message of hope. To stand up and speak up for and with those who desperately are in need of justice and peace. Our everyday faith sends us into the neighborhood and the world to make whatever difference we are able. We live out our faith together, everyday! What difference will you make, will we make, today?