During the German occupation of France, Mother Marie, a nun in the Russian Orthodox Church, was arrested and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp for her part in sheltering refugees and assisting Jewish women to escape from persecution.
One day the prisoners were told to line up outside the shower block. As they waited in the queue a mother carrying her baby became hysterical. Seeing this, Mother Marie called the guard and volunteered to take the woman’s place in the queue.
As the large doors opened, Mother Marie walked forward into the gas chamber. It was Good Friday 1945.
In recent weeks across the world, in our community, down our street, we have heard of acts of sacrifice. Doctors and nurses who have returned to the NHS. Thousands of volunteers assisting in the relief effort. The shop owner in Barnsley setting up a support hub for the elderly. Gas company employees in Widnes making deliveries for the local foodbank. Frodsham Open Hands.
This is not simply people trying to be good, but a recognition that there is such a thing as society, as each of us depend upon the sacrifice, support and contribution made by another.
The prophet Isaiah writes:
“He was despised and rejected by men,
A man of suffering and acquainted with disease.
He was despised as one from whom men hide their face;
And we didn’t respect him.
Surely he has borne our sickness
And carried our suffering;
Yet we considered him plagued,
Struck by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for our iniquities.
The punishment that brought our peace was on him;
And by his wounds we are healed.”
(Isaiah 53 verses 3-5, WEB)
In these days, as we remember the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God, may it challenge our thoughts, our actions and our way of life, so that together we rediscover and celebrate his love for the world.
Amazing Love, a song by Graham Kendrick:
The reflections here are written by members of our congregation.