"Yad Vashem" - Pastor Tom Hocking

Earlier this month, my wife and I spent some time at Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. In silence we stood in the deep darkness of the children’s memorial, as a disembodied voice intoned—one by one—the names, ages and countries of origin of the one-and-a-half million children who were killed during the holocaust.

At the center of the memorial a small circle of candles flickered, their images caught and reflected into infinity by strategically placed mirrors. It seemed to me that the memorial artist’s message was that those these children, whose lives have been cut short by racist violence, still have a voice—a message of light—that reverberates down the silent corridors of time and space.

But what is that message? Surely Yad Vashem teaches us about the horrifying endgame of bigotry, intolerance, and prejudice. Perhaps those reflected pinpoints of light are meant to challenge us to uncover the xenophobic fear or selfish pride that lurks deep within each of us (regardless of our skin pigment!).

However, I believe that the voices of those massacred children also proclaim a message of hope. In Hebrew, Yad Vashem means “a memorial and a name.” But, amazingly the source of the phrase [Isaiah 56:5] is God’s promise that one day He will give “an everlasting name that shall not be cut off” not to His chosen people but rather to “the son of a foreigner”! What astonishing hutzpah! God tells the very people who have endured practically unlimited “foreigner-hatred” that He intends to show limitless “foreigner-love”! And the fact that Israelites chose to call their holocaust memorial “Yad Vashem” indicates that—at some level—they have embraced a profound truth: The best way to battle systemic racism in the world is through a vigorous, intentional practice of love—love for the stranger—in our personal relationships.

Today, let’s celebrate the promise of Revelation 5:9-10. Because of the resurrection, Jesus has redeemed for God people out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. But, in addition to celebrating what He has done and what He will do in ending all forms of racism, today let’s also intentionally speak blessing into the lives of those who differ from us!

HOW TO PRAY:

  • Ask God to open our minds to understand that all His children are brothers and sisters in the same human family. 

  • Ask God to fill us with courage that we might seek to heal wounds, build bridges, forgive and be forgiven, and establish peace and equality for all in our community 


Revelation 5:9-10 “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’”

Isaiah 56:3-5 “Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.’ And let no eunuch complain, ‘I am only a dry tree.’ For this is what the Lord says: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.”


About the Author: Pastor Tom is a pastor in the greater "Church of Bellflower”