Any week of the year may have special days within it, and this week started with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is held in most countries on 27th January. As we listen again to the words of survivors and try and imagine back three-quarters of a century, we stand silent at the sheer scale of such mass murder. In Guildford Cathedral last Sunday the morning service ended with a lone violinist playing the theme tune to Schindler’s List. It is a piece that I have played myself and the experience of doing so is, in itself, very moving. It weaves its tune around us and leaves us emotionally torn.
John Williams the composer, wrote of this piece, “The film’s ennobling story, set in the midst of the great tragedy of the Holocaust, offered the opportunity to create not only dramatic music, but also themes that reflected the more tender and nostalgic aspects of Jewish life during these turbulent years.” Reflection and tenderness are qualities so alien to the death camps and terror that we bring to mind, that they remind us too of the strong bonds of love and faith and self-sacrifice that mark a people in mutual danger, whose whole way of life was threatened and then destroyed.
This coming Sunday is Candlemas and within it we read of the patience and spiritual sight of Simeon and Anna. They too are both reflective and tender, but it is Simeon, particularly, who sees the crucial role for this child, and the sorrow of Mary that will pierce her as with a sword. The Gospel reading from Luke chapter 2, whilst recording these words of warning, is even more so marked by hope and fulfilment and peace. At last these two elderly servants of the Lord, Simeon and Anna, have their eyes upon the child whose life will bring salvation to all people, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.” It is, indeed, a glorious Gospel, full of hope, bringing us the knowledge of the all-conquering love of God as seen in the Christ-child of Mary.