Tag Archives: Jewish

Advent: A time for anticipation, and patience

Today is the first day of the period known as “Advent”, a season observed by most Christians as a time of expectant waiting and preparation as we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas, as well as his return at the Second Coming.

Two popular songs from my lifetime often pop into my head when I think of Advent themes. “Anticipation” by Carly Simon and “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses.

No, they are not traditional Christmas songs. It is the themes which those two songs are built around that highlight this period in the church.

Anticipation…is keepin’ me waitin’“, as Simon sings in her 1971 song from the album of that same name.

The song opens with the lines: “We can never know about the days to come. But we think about them anyway.

This is entirely true when we consider that Advent is not only a lead-up to Christmas, but is also a time to reflect on and prepare for that return of Jesus at the end of time.

We don’t know when that time will come. A thousand years from now? A century? A decade? Next year? Maybe today.

What we do know is that He will come again. It is our job to be prepared for that time coming at any time.

As the Gunners 1989 song from their “G N’ R Lies” LP rolls towards it’s end, my favorite part of the tune plays out:

I’ve been walking the streets at night
Just trying to get it right
It’s hard to see with so many around
You know I don’t like being stuck in the crowd
And the streets don’t change but maybe the names
I ain’t got time for the game ’cause I need you
Yeah, yeah, but I need you…

Today’s world is more hectic than ever. The demand for immediacy and perfection is a major challenge to the happiness of many.

But consider the world before the last few decades. A time when there was no Internet. No cellphones. No cable television. Why, just a century ago there was no radio or television at all.

Those 100 years are nothing. A fraction of time when you consider that the United States has been a nation for 243 years now, and that mankind has been building civilizations for thousands of years.

The Jewish people have been known to history since at least 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. From the very beginnings, it was known that one day a savior or messiah would come to redeem and liberate the Jewish people.

These early Jews were the forerunners of today’s Christianity. As Christians, we believe that the Messiah came to the world as Jesus Christ.

But imagine being a Jew who was waiting for that messianic appearance. A thousand years. Generation up on generation lived and died knowing the time would come, hoping it might come in their time, yet never experiencing that appearance.

That is some patience.

During this time leading up to Christmas, many of you are going to feel rushed. You are going to feel pressured. You are going to feel overwhelmed. Shopping, decorating, parties, and more.

Stop. Breathe. Do not allow it to happen. Anticipate the coming of Christmas with joy in your heart, and do not ever allow commercialism to overtake that joy.

Have patience with crowds, with family, and most importantly with yourself. Keep things simple. You don’t need to be all things to all people. And you certainly don’t need to go into debt to make others happy.

The anticipation of the coming Christmas holiday comes natural to most of us. It is just as important that you prepare to exercise that quality of patience as well over these coming weeks.

 

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Remembering the Nazi Final Solution

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Adolf Hitler rose to power by utilization of force, fear, propaganda, and prejudice in the Germany of the 1930’s

The Nazi Party came to power under the guidance of Adolf Hitler during the 1930’s, and early on they blamed the Jewish people for many of their problems. The Nazis then began to formulate a plan for what Hitler himself called the “final solution of the Jewish question.” 

In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were passed which saw classification of German citizens by race. If all four of your grandparents were of German blood, then you were a good German. If three or four of them were Jewish, then you were Jewish. With one or two Jewish grandparents, you were considered a ‘crossbreed’.

The laws prohibited marriage and intercourse between Jews and Germans, as well as the employment of German females under age 45 in Jewish households. They also stripped those of the non-German blood of their German citizenship.

Efforts to begin eliminating Jews from German society began even prior to World War II. Those of Jewish ancestry were slaughtered in mass killings and became the victims of ‘pogroms‘ – systematic riots against and attacks on their population centers. The attacks included physical violence and murder against people, destruction of businesses, and destruction of their places of worship.

Beginning in September of 1941, all Jews living in the lands under German control were required to wear yellow star patches on their clothing for identification. Jews were not permitted to become doctors, lawyers, or journalists, could not use state hospitals, and would not be schooled by the state beyond age 14.

By the time that 1942 rolled around, with WWII underway fully across the globe, one million Jews had already been killed by the Nazi regime. But this was only the beginning of the worst slaughter of one group of people in the history of mankind.

On January 20th, 1942 at the Wannsee Villa in Berlin, a conference named after Hitler’s statement of ‘The Final Solution to the Jewish Question‘ was held by a group of Nazi officials. It was here that the idea was born to build actual ‘extermination camps‘ at which mass extermination of Jewish people would occur. Many Jews would also be held at ‘concentration camps‘ if deemed healthy enough and would be utilized as slave labor, until they either died of disease or exhaustion.

As the Germans conquered new territories, they set up a system of mass warehousing of Jews, and their transportation on trains to the extermination camps. Built under the direction of Heimlich Himmler in Nazi-occupied Poland, this use of actual extermination or death camps was the beginning of the final phase of the Jewish mass murders that has become known as ‘The Holocaust‘.

This coordinated genocide of mostly Jews, but also Serbs and gypsies, was accomplished by herding those who survived arduous train rides into the concentration camps. Here they would be led one-by-one into gas chambers, with the bodies then being either cremated or buried in mass graves.

Between two and three million people, most of them Jewish, were killed during the years that the death camps operated. As many as 10 million more Jews were killed by the Germans when you count in mass shootings and other murder victims.

Today, April 21st, is ‘Holocaust Remembrance Day‘, on which we call to mind all of those who were murdered by the German Nazis in that final racist solution. Still today, over six decades after their use, the death camps with their gas chambers and crematories are lasting symbols of the pure evil that existed within Germany during the years just prior to and during World War II.

Evil is a very real force, a real entity in our world that exists still today. We need only do what today calls on us to do, remember the Holocaust in the Nazi final solution, to plant that knowledge of evil firmly in our consciousness. We must always be willing to fight to overcome that evil.