Thursday, July 2, 2009

Madness at Oradour Sure Glane (1st part of 2)

Oradour Sure Glane is a French town without inhabitants. However, thousands of visitors walk its streets each month of every year. Christine and I were two of these guests during one of our day trips. Neither of us was prepared for what we saw as this sign invited us to remember.

Once a vibrant community, it was razed and all its occupants massacred by a Nazi army division following the D-Day invasion by Allied Forces in Normandy. The village was far from the heavy war activity and its families were uninvolved with the war effort. They were innocents. Yet so comprehensive was the German occupation of France that even an isolated community like Oradour Sure Glane was invaded and controlled by Hitler’s company.

On Saturday June 10th 1944 soldiers of the Der Führer Regiment of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division Das Reich murdered 642 men, women and children without cause and without explanation. As Christine and I walked within the remaining ruins of the shops and homes, the church and municipal buildings, we were struck by the silence. Groups of tourists moved speechless through the streets. Captivated by pathos we were overwhelmed with sadness at the human cruelty evident around us.

Humanity is not improving of its own accord. Humankind had not been on planet earth very long before the extent of its depravity was obvious. Mind you now, I am not getting preachy. I am simply reading what it says. Scripture attests that human wickedness offended the Creator so much that he regretted making the creature. Genesis 6:5-6 tells us “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Then came this pivotal response. So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them “(Genesis 6:7). The cataclysmic flood followed. Only Noah and his family survived because Noah found grace in God’s eyes. I wonder how God thinks about humanity today.

I deduce that there is no point in asking whether any of us might find grace with God today because possessing grace innately or through performance is not the definition of grace. I marvel at this following clear explanation. Ephesians 2:7-9 (New International Version) “…in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, 9 not by works, so that no one can boast."

Wow! all that humanity must do is to accept the gift and Oradours can be avoided. Or perhaps more to the point is to say that when the gift is ignored Oradours will be an inevitable result.

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