A Message from Ellen
October 28, 2021
This week, a small group of FLPC folks took advantage of an invitation to tour the new and permanent Anne Frank House exhibit that is housed on USC’s campus. We learned that Dr. Harris Pastides initiated this partnership with the Anne Frank House and Institute in Amsterdam years ago. As a result of his behind-the-scenes work, USC now is home to this permanent exhibit! I encourage you to make the effort to tour this remarkable exhibit.
Many of us have read The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank’s diary that gives an account of how the Frank family hid from the Nazi regime for two years before being arrested. Only Otto Frank, the father, survived the Nazi Concentration Camps. And on returning to Amsterdam after the war, he discovered that his wife and two daughters had died. Mr. Frank’s secretary, one of those who helped hide the family, then gave Otto Anne’s diary and writings, and he eventually published them to be sure that Anne’s firsthand account of life in Nazi occupied Amsterdam could be preserved.
The tour identified the “helpers” who risked their own lives to hide and to try to save the Frank family and others. And our tour guide said that those who helped Jewish families and individuals may be called “up-standers.” An “up-stander”, in contrast to a “bystander”, is one who stands up for what is right in the day-to-day business of life, even at risk of their own safety. Our tour guide lamented that there were more bystanders than there were up-standers in Hitler’s day, and so millions of Jews were exterminated – while the bystanders (most of the world) watched.
That identification really struck me as helpful. I don’t think there is any way around the Christian conviction that followers of Jesus are to be up-standers – not bystanders – who stand for truth, compassion, and justice even when, maybe especially when, it will cost us dearly. Our economic security is subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our lives are subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our government is subject to the God who – in our tradition – embodied love in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
We must be up-standers when we see hate. We must be up-standers when greed prevents others from having enough to eat or a safe place to sleep. We must be up-standers against the racial and religious hate that seems to be getting louder and bolder in our age. How can you and I be up-standers right where we are? The time is now, and we are the hands, feet, and heart of Christ in the world right now. It is up to us.
May God give us the courage to stand for the Realm of God.
Peace and Justice,
Ellen Fowler Skidmore