What has this got to do with me? Are we here just to tick a box? Feel better about it? Do we know why the Holocaust happened? And who's this bloke Greg Price anyway? What right has he got to be speaking about this subject?
In one way I haven't - I'm a nobody. I'm an Anglican, glad and proud to be Anglican. I'm a vicar, but I believe that this is a culmination of God preparing me for this moment. I'm also a CMJ regional rep. That's another elephant in the room because we're not supposed to talk about Yeshua to Jewish people because they react about it but when you think about it, Jesus is a Jew. The Bible is Jewish. The Apostles were all Jewish. Jesus didn't come to set up a new religion. He came to set lives free, and He came to the Jew first - and what have we done with it? Well, I can say about CMJ, The Church's Ministry amongst Jewish People, founded and supported by William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury- 213th anniversary in a few days' time. What did they do? They went to Israel, instituted the very first bishop of Jerusalem for two thousand years - a Jewish believer in Yeshua the Jewish Messiah! When the Jews were starving, they provided them with a means to learn trade, and food to eat. When they were sick, they built a hospital. When they needed education, they built a school. Many years later, when Jerusalem was divided and the Hadassah hospital was on the Eastern side and they had no hospital on the Western side, CMJ gave up their school so that the Israelites, the Jewish nation, could use the school as their hospital. That's love. Now, if somebody wanted to know about Yeshua Ha Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah, of course we would tell them, but anybody knows that if you have been in a PCC meeting or any other council meetings to try and get anybody persuaded to change their mind it is nearly impossible. So, to think that we have an agenda to feed them and are forcing people to become Messianic Believers or Fulfilled Jews or whatever they like to call themselves - it's absolutely ridiculous. We're told to love God's people - and that's what CMJ seeks to do. I also had the privilege of being a volunteer for over 20 years at the first National Holocaust Memorial Centre in Laxton in Nottinghamshire and working with the Smith family, Marina, Stephen and James. A Christian family, who'd gone to Israel and seen about the Holocaust and thought, 'I've never heard of this before. Why haven't I heard anything about this before, not even in school?' so, they set upon the journey of doing something about it. Like Rick has tried to do something about it with the sculpture - to struggle with those terrible things that are difficult. It took a lot for the Smith family because at first people thought they had a hidden agenda to evangelize them. But then over time they realized it was just love. Love and no hidden agenda and love to bring some sort of redress by teaching the next generation and the previous generation about what it was all about. Over 500 young people per week go through that centre from all local schools and others from far and wide. I remember being a volunteer and packing up posters when the Holocaust Memorial Day first started when the government introduced it and sending them out to the local councils so that they could have their exhibitions. And I also volunteered as a bookshop manager and doing hospitality 2 2 in the coffee shop and I had the privilege of being responsible for providing and supporting and waiting on tables for the founders of the Holocaust centre, but also the Holocaust survivors who came every single day and shared their testimony with the young people from the schools. In this sculpture, many of the things that you've heard are the things they say, ''Where was God in all this?' 'I have this burden that I'm carrying always.' 'Why am I alive and they're all dead?'. I can understand that call for forgiveness because one of the amazing things from the Holocaust centre is that they have an organization called the Aegis Trust, that takes the principles and the things learned from the Holocaust to try and stop genocide happening again, especially in Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Uighurs. And it all starts with unforgiveness, anger, resentment, hatred, separation, murder, genocide. That's why I say to my people in my churches, 'Repent quickly and say you're sorry quickly,' because, actually, what it does, that anger and resentment inside, eats you up and destroys you from the inside out and you build barriers, so you don't get hurt again - and it kills love. But what about the Church? The Church, they met in houses, and they broke bread and they shared together, and they were persecuted. To have Faith was a matter of life and death, as it is in many countries today, so their faith is real, it’s not just theory. And perhaps one of the worst things that has ever happened to the church was when Constantine came along - wasn't doing very well with his battles and said, 'Whichever religion helps me to win the battles will become the state religion.' And supposedly he saw this cross in the sky and he put it on his shields, and he won a major battle and then declared Christianity as the Faith and religion of the Roman Empire. Now, it sounds great, and I'm sure the Christians were absolutely delighted that they weren't being thrown to the lions and all the rest anymore. Well, what happened? Like the Norfolk turkey, turkeys voting for Christmas. All the pagans say, 'Well, I'll convert,' and they joined the Church and brought all their pagan ways with them, and they integrated and Christianized their pagan practices and then bit by bit the mixture watered down the True Faith, and then Religion as we know it emerged. You know, we wear coloured stoles for communion or chasubles the coloured stoles go back to the Roman Empire. They were given to the magistrates and the leaders and we're still carrying on wearing them today. There's a leaflet actually on the bookstall at the back from Prayer for Israel and it shows a massive list of terrible persecution from Christians. How? - How can a Christian who follows the Lord of Love, who laid down his life and poured out his blood willingly for you and me? How can anybody do such a thing? Hitler justified what he was doing by the use of Martin Luther’s sermons Martin Luther preached seriously antisemitic sermons because he was mad that the Jews would not convert! The misguided arrogance of it – he believed his own propaganda and did not adhere to the Word of God! The 1222 Synod of Oxford, for which the Church of England is going to be leading a repentance service, was used as justification for expelling the Jews - and the Dark Ages came. When you think of some of our major places around the country, like Lincoln. Saint Hugh, the little boy who supposedly was killed by a Jew and his blood was used to make Matza for Passover was used to justify killing all the Jews in the area. And what about the Jews in York that were so terrified that things were going to happen that they went into the tower and committed suicide? And there are 3 3 some people that we have made into heroes. What about De Montfort? Oh, there's a university site called De Montfort – The University in Leicester but what people don't say about him, even though he was a royalist, yes, he was a royalist. He was very supportive of the Royal Family at the time and wanted to do all he could to assist the king for his coronation; but the king needed the knights on side, but the other knights weren't particularly in favour, so De Montfort promised that he would do away with all their debts on the day of Coronation of the King. So, on the day of Coronation and the first day of parliament, he organized that all the Jews who the knights were in debt to, were murdered, guaranteeing their loyalty! What about the Inquisition? How could anybody, anybody who follows Jesus and the law of love want to torture people and murder people and disembowel and do worse things to people in the name of Christ? How? I suggest that because of the mixture that came to the Church, that mixture opened the door for Satan to influence people and do wicked things - in the Name of Jesus. And then there are the perpetrators, those who did the atrocious things, but I'll tell you one thing. There were more people who said, ‘I didn't see anything.’ ‘I didn't hear anything, so I didn't do anything.’ ‘Nothing to do with me.’ Sounds like Pontius Pilate washing his hands to me, but there were many people who turned a blind eye. And I know it's a challenging thing, very challenging thing, but if you were in the situation for example in WWII and perhaps you and your family and your children may be thrown into Auschwitz if you helped a Jewish family, would you do it? Now we don't know for sure until we're in that situation. But when you think about it, Prince Philip's mother helped many Jewish families survive. So much so that it affected her health and her mental health, and she's buried, in blessed memory, on the Mount of Olives. So, it can be done - it should be done. Today, all around, we see anti-Semitism on the rise. We see anti-Zionism on the rise. Have you not read your Bible? Don't you know that the Israelites, the Jewish people, are the apple of the Lord's eye? Have you not read that He's not a liar and He's not changed his mind and He won't change His mind, no matter how they are? You know, the lie that the Church replaced Israel is heresy. If you read the Bible, it is clear - we are grafted in by Grace and we have a responsibility to bless God's people and what does it mean to bless God's people? Accept everything Israel does? No, because they're not perfect. Of course, our government is! Not! So, why would we treat them as if they are? You know - why is it that the United Nations has had hundreds of resolutions against Israel and none against Iran or China or other dictatorship or genocidal regimes? I remember talking to a Holocaust survivor who was talking to a student, and that child said,' I can't imagine six million people.' But the answer is you don't need to - it's one person at a time, one father, one grandfather, one great grandfather, one son, one uncle, one brother, one mother, one great grandmother and so on. You know, the Holocaust Center in Nottinghamshire, there is a pile of stones and every child and every person who visits, places a stone on that pile. That pile of stones, which has been going for twenty years is about to the top of the television here and it's nowhere near reaching the one and a half million stones that are needed to represent the lives of the children alone who died. And as we think about the Fountain of Tears - it’s a struggle. You know that creative activity trying to grapple with the things to express in his carving - it's not easy - but what can we do about it? We can repent. One person at a time. I remember going to Yad Vashem and I was given a name, Trude Levi. That’s the person that I remember. At the back on the right-hand side, there is 4 4 a waterfall picture with ‘Zakor’ on the top, which is the Hebrew for, 'We will remember.' Because if we remember, and there’s no details of this person that I was given that for. I’m just remembering somebody that I don't know anything about. It means that their life has value and meaning to me and to you. There are a selection of words on that poster - shame, evil, debauchery. Ordinary men and women doing atrocious things and why? The Bible says the heart of Man is deceitfully wicked, who can know it? It's like that experiment with the blue eyes and brown eyes that was done by the students and half the students became tyrants at the end with those that were in charge and that's because of our hearts. We need to be changed and that's why our relationships are so important. Some of our Jewish friends, unfortunately, are not here today because they felt offended, that we were thinking about Jesus and the Holocaust in the same breath. Just think of one of them. When Jesus cried, 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?' and it went dark, and it was the first time that the Father was not there? I can just imagine that Satan was taunting Him and showing every atrocity, every rejection, every sin, every lie, every murder, every lost life in His Name. Taunting him that it wasn't worth it - 'because this is what they'll do in Your Name. But He still said, ‘Yes. I love them enough to still give up everything.’ So, I'm grateful to Rick - for struggling with this dilemma. I know that putting Jesus and the Holocaust in the same breath is a challenge but it's something that we must talk about. It's something that must challenge us both. It's something that must change our hearts because we're called to love each other as the Lord loves us. Each one of you and them were created to be magnificent by God. But it's up to you and me what we do with what we're given. We can choose what happens next. You've made that first step by coming today. Some of you might think, well, you know it was my duty to come and we are thrilled that you're here, but God wants to bless you and transform you and He wants you to have open eyes and ears and hearts because this is not a tick box exercise. This is not about accepting all the religions as one. This is about knowing God's heart for you and for His people. And if you read the Book of Revelation - I'm doing a Bible Study on the book of Revelation at the moment - bit of a challenge, Praise the Lord, you'll see that God has a plan. And there's something very important about that plan - right in the middle of it is Israel and Jerusalem. And Jesus is not coming to Wimborne, I'm sorry. He’s not coming to this green and pleasant land; he’s not coming to Wimborne. He's coming to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem; sorry, He might come to Sherborne – if there’s a revival! He's coming to the Mount of Olives and the Bible clearly says, 'Those who bless Israel will be blessed but those who curse Israel will be cursed.' Just as a final thought. After the British mandate, when we sided with the Arabs because of the oil and we stopped the Jews from emigrating to Israel and we did things which were shameful. This is interesting - that not long after, we lost the Empire. Those who curse Israel will be cursed - those who bless Israel will be blessed. So, pray that our country and our government will turn back to God 5 5 and treat Israel as it should be treated. Because one of the things it says in the Book of Revelation is the Lord will send pestilence - oh by the way that's a pandemic. 'And if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face then I will hear from Heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land.' and My Lord we need our Land healing today. Amen.