Suggestions for a Service of Repentance
The arrangement and selection of the following material is optional. Pauses
can be included for silent prayer, reflection, confession, extempore prayer,
music, scriptures, psalms, hymns, etc.
'L' stands for 'Leader', and 'A' for 'All', I / II when praying in 2 groups.
L Eternal Father, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we come before You
as representatives of our nation and Christian tradition on this occasion
as, united in spirit with Christians around the world, we commemorate
two thousand years of Christianity. A deep sense of urgency has brought
L Hear our prayer, O Lord;
A give ear to our supplications! In Your faithfulness answer us and do not
enter judgment with us; for no one living is righteous before You.
See Psalm 143:1-2
Am I My Brother's Keeper?
L Early in the Bible the story of Cain and Abel is recorded. Out of jealousy
Cain murdered his brother Abel. But then God challenged him, 'Where
is Abel your brother?' And today God is challenging us, 'Where is Israel
your brother? Where is he?' In response to our reply, 'I do not know: am
I my brother's keeper?', God would point to Auschwitz, where the
smoking chimneys stood
L He would point to the site of other massacres throughout Europe
L throughout the Middle Ages
L He would point to
L He would point to
L Thousands upon thousands of Jews have been cruelly slaughtered in the
Christian era, sometimes directly at the hands of professing Christians,
sometimes indirectly due to the influence of anti-Semitic theology. Over
six million Jews were murdered in the twentieth century alone. And God
is saying to us, 'What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood
is crying to me from the ground' (Genesis 4:10).
We cannot evade the issue. Each one of us is his brother's keeper.
L Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his
ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face
from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with
blood Isaiah 59:1-3
A Lord, we confess that our hands are stained with blood
-- Pause --
L In 1 John 1:9 we are reminded:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
L We cannot expect any blessing for our nation and church until we have
confessed before You our personal sins and the sins of our Christian
A We do not present our supplications before You on the ground of
our righteousness, but on the ground of Your great mercy.
See Daniel 9:18
L If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and
pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will
hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
Our Hands Are Stained
L Although Your Word says of Your chosen people, the Jews,
they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers Romans 11:28
love has not been characteristic of Christianity's attitude towards the
Jewish people these past two thousand years.
A O Lord our God, we confess our lack of love. Forgive us, we pray.
L From earliest times we have adopted towards the Jews a loveless, arrogant and critical attitude, foreign to the spirit of Jesus. We have not remembered Your Word:
L Do not boast over the branches Remember it is not you that
support the root, but the root that supports you do not become
proud, but stand in awe. Romans 11:18,20
A O Lord our God, we confess our spiritual arrogance. Forgive us, we
L We are guilty of stealing Israel's birthright, claiming that we, the Christian Church, have replaced Israel, that we are the New Israel, and that
the covenant belongs exclusively to us. This we have done in complete
disregard of Holy Scripture, which declares:
L They are God's people; he made them his sons and revealed his glory
to them; he made his covenants with them and gave them the Law;
they have the true worship; they have received God's promises; they
are descended from the famous Hebrew ancestors; and Christ, as a
human being, belongs to their race. Romans 9:4-5 GNB
A O Lord our God, we confess that we have stolen Israel's birthright.
Forgive us, we pray.
L Flawed theology led our forefathers to persecute the Jews in the erroneous belief that they were assisting You and avenging the death of Jesus,
although Your Word says that all people, both Jew and Gentile, put Your
Son to death:
L 'The kings of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers were
gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed' -- for
truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant
Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with
the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel. Acts 4:26-27
A O Lord our God, we confess that our theology concerning Israel has been
flawed. Forgive us, we pray.
L When Israel suffered trials and hardships, we failed to see that You were
treating him as Your first-born and that as a wise and caring Father You
discipline those whom You love. For as You have said:
A I am a father to Israel. Jeremiah 31:9
L Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I
speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart
yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him. Jeremiah 31:20
A O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have swept away your
transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist. Isaiah 44:21-22
L And the New Testament states unequivocally:
God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Romans 11:2
A O Lord our God, we confess our spiritual blindness. Forgive us, we pray.
L Instead of sympathizing, instead of weeping with those who weep, we
have actually increased the sufferings of the Jews -- and this in spite of
I have begun to punish my own people, so should you go free? No,
you shall not evade punishment. Jeremiah 25:29 LB
L Babylonia will fall because it caused the death of so many Israelites.
I, the LORD, have spoken. Jeremiah 51:49 GNB
L The time has come for me to punish you. Your proud nation will
stumble and fall The people of Israel and of Judah are oppressed.
All who captured them are guarding them closely and will not let
them go. But the one who will rescue them is strong -- his name is
the LORD Almighty. He himself will take up their cause.
Jeremiah 50:31-34 GNB
L I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of
Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have
scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land.
A O Lord our God, we confess that we have increased the sufferings of
Your chosen people. Forgive us, we pray.
Reaping What We Have Sown
It is a spiritual principle that we are often punished by the very things in
which we sin. Take Germany, for instance
In the Third Reich the synagogues were torched; later, churches throughout the country burned. Jews were driven from their homes; later, German refugees had to flee. Jews were buried alive; later, under crumbling
buildings, Germans were buried alive. Jewish families were divided; for
many years the Iron Curtain divided German families.
L They hunted down their brothers, the Israelites, and showed them no
mercy. Their anger had no limits, and they never let it die. So I will
send fire Amos 1:11-12 GNB
L These people fill their mansions with things taken by crime and
violence And so an enemy will surround their land, destroy their
defences, and plunder their mansions. Amos 3:10-11 GNB
The Suffering Servant
L In the messianic psalms, ultimately fulfilled in the sufferings and death of
Jesus, we can hear the anguished cry of the Jewish people:
L So many troubles have fallen on me
that I am close to death.
I am abandoned among the dead;
I am like the slain lying in their graves,
those you have forgotten completely,
who are beyond your help.
You have thrown me into the depths of the tomb,
into the darkest and deepest pit.
I am closed in and cannot escape;
my eyes are weak from suffering.
Darkness is my only companion.
L The waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying;
my throat is parched.
More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
The insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me.
Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none;
and for comforters, but I found none.
They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
L Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
L My days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
L Because of my loud groaning
my bones cleave to my flesh.
L My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Yet thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In thee our fathers trusted.
In thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.(1)
L May our hearts ache to see this chosen people of God wandering through
the centuries, wretched, despised, shunned, ostracized and afflicted with
pain like the suffering Servant of God in Isaiah 53. Then, looking on
them, we will be reminded of You, our Lord and Saviour.
A Forgive us for not seeing in Your people a reflection of You, Lord Jesus.
L Though You are called the Consolation of Israel, we have made Your
name repulsive to the Jewish people because of the many atrocities
committed in Your name.
A Forgive us for discrediting You and bringing shame upon Your name,
L Unlike the Good Samaritan, we so often looked the other way when
Your people were in need. But what we do to the least of Your brothers
we do to You. And so it was You we have failed and grieved.
A Forgive us for failing to fulfil the divine mandate to show love and
mercy, Lord Jesus.
L The prophet Zechariah says:
He who touches you [Israel] touches the apple of his [God's] eye.
L And the prophet Isaiah writes:
In all their affliction he was afflicted. Isaiah 63:9
Confession and Repentance
L In the words of Psalm 51 we confess our guilt and the guilt of our Christian forefathers. It is against the Thrice Holy One, the God of Israel, that
we have sinned.
A Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in
thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit
Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
For thou hast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering,
thou wouldst not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.(2)
L Although we cannot undo centuries of evil, may we be truly repentant
and, in that spirit of true repentance, find ways of expressing love. Give
us, we pray, the right attitude to our Jewish brothers and sisters.
You Are the Man
The story is told of a wealthy man who chose to prepare a meal for a
guest with the pet lamb of a poor man rather than selecting one of his
own flock. King David, hearing of the rich man's greed and heartlessness, cried out indignantly that he deserved to die and that he should
restore what he had taken four times over. At that Nathan the prophet
replied, 'You are the man' (2 Samuel 12:7). Nathan then confronted David
with his adultery and murder Could it be that the Lord is saying
something similar to us as Christians? In our 2000-year history how often
the accusation 'Christ-killers' has been levelled against the Jews.
However, the truth is that we have crucified Jesus anew in the person of
His people. The last 2000 years have seen untold atrocities committed
against Jews, often in the name of Jesus. We can almost hear Jesus,
echoing Nathan, say to us: 'You are the man!'
Zion, for Whom No One Cares
L In this moment of quiet, we pause to reflect on the past centuries. In deep
shame we deplore:
L The Crusades of the Middle Ages, when Jews were burnt alive in
Jerusalem's synagogue by Crusaders singing hymns and brandishing
their Crusader crosses in the belief that they were avenging the death
L The practice of segregating Jews, herding them into ghettos and forcing them to wear the badge of shame -- a forerunner of the Yellow
L The forcing of Jews to undergo baptism as an alternative to exile or
L The false accusations of ritual murder, costing thousands of innocent
L The Inquisition, which consigned thousands of Jews to death by
burning at the stake.
L The pogroms, sometimes occurring on Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter.
L The prejudices shaped by theology causing many of us, or our parents and grandparents, either to give tacit consent to the persecution
of the Jews during the Holocaust or to remain indifferent to their
plight. Very few Christians helped our Jewish brothers and sisters in
the hour of their greatest need.
L Lord, have mercy,
A Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy and forgive us our guilt towards
Your chosen people.
Intercession and Divine Protection
L May we be watchmen on the walls of Zion, interceding day and night,
reminding You of Your promises and giving You no rest until You
restore Jerusalem and make it a city acclaimed by the whole world.
See Isaiah 62:6-7
L Whereas we and our forefathers once failed to discern Your saving
purposes concerning Israel, sometimes actively resisting them, we want
to pray for the fulfilment of Your prophecies concerning Your people:
A Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your
rising. Isaiah 60:3
L Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of
hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favour of the LORD.
A At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you
together; yea, I will make you renowned and praised among all the
peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes.
L With the psalmist let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
A May there be peace inside your walls
and safety in your palaces.
L I say to Jerusalem, 'Peace be with you!' Psalm 122:7-8 GNB
A As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people now and for ever.
Psalm 125:2 GNB
L Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
A For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your sons within you.
He makes peace in your borders. Psalm 147:12-14
L He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
A The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore. Psalm 121:4-8
L We pray
A for the protection of the Jewish people against the excesses of their
enemies. In all their trials may their hearts be turned to You, their rock,
their strength, their comfort and deliverer.
Loving, Comforting and Blessing
A Whereas we and our forefathers once held Your chosen people in low
esteem, we want to love and cherish them, seeing them with Your eyes
L We read in Zephaniah:
A The LORD, your God will rejoice over you with gladness, he will
renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
L And in the Psalms:
A Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Psalm 50:2
L In Isaiah:
A Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no
compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I
will not forget you. Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my
hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:15-16
L In Jeremiah:
A I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued
my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3
L And in Hosea:
A I will be as the dew to Israel They shall return and dwell beneath
my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom as the
vine. Hosea 14:5-7
L We repeat with Isaiah:
I For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,
until her vindication goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
II and you shall be called by a new name
which the mouth of the LORD will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
I You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My delight is in her,
and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you
II And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:1-5
L The Word of God says of the Jewish people:
A You are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God
has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the
peoples that are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7:6
L On the basis of the Word of God we further say to the Jewish people:
A You are blessed.
You are the beloved of God.
You are the heritage of God.
You are jewels of the LORD.
You are the joy of all the earth.
You are precious in God's eyes.
You are the treasure of God.(3)
A Happy is the people whose God is the LORD! Psalm 144:15
L Heavenly Father, help us to catch something of Your heart for Israel,
whom You have chosen to be Yours, because You loved them and because through them You wanted to give us the Saviour Jesus Christ.
See Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Genesis 12:3
A 'Comfort, comfort my people,' says our God. 'Comfort them! Encourage the people of Jerusalem. Tell them they have suffered long
enough and their sins are now forgiven.' Isaiah 40:1-2 GNB
L Together let us repeat the words of blessing in Deuteronomy 28:
I Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.
II Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground,
and the fruit of your beasts, the increase of your cattle, and the young
of your flock.
I Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading-trough.
II Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be
when you go out.
I The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you.
II The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns, and in
all that you undertake;
I and he will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives
II The LORD will open to you his good treasury the heavens, to give
the rain of your land in its season and to bless all the work of your
I The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has
sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your
God, and walk in his ways.
II And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the
name of the LORD.
The Shepherd of Israel
L Lord God, our Heavenly Father, bind our hearts with the hearts of Your
chosen people, as together we await the return of the Messiah, the
Shepherd of Israel.
L He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his
arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are
with young. Isaiah 40:11
A The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want;
he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff,
they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil,
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell
in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalm 23
The Lord's Prayer
L Our Father in heaven
A hallowed be Your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory
now and for ever. Amen.
The Aaronic Blessing
L The LORD bless you and keep you:
The LORD make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are taken from the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible and used with permission.
The above material, partly based on Israel, My Chosen People by M. Basilea Schlink, is supplementary to a talk by Sister Pista at the Christian Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jerusalem, October 1997, for which an information leaflet on the guilt of
Christianity towards the Jewish people was also prepared.
For additional copies of the talk, the information leaflet (20 pages), and the above
suggestions for a service of repentance, write to:
Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, P.O.B. 13 01 29, D-64241 Darmstadt, Germany
Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary
30 Taylor Place, Theresa Park, NSW 2570, Australia
Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary
4285 Heritage Drive, Tracy, NB, E0G 3C0, Canada
and: R.R.1, Millet, Alberta, T0C 1Z0, Canada
Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary
Radlett, Herts. WD7 8DE, U.K.
Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary
P.O.Box 30022, Phoenix, AZ 85046-0022, U.S.A.
1. Ps.88:3-9,18 GNB; 69:1-4,9,20-21; 71:4; 102:3,5; 22:1-5.
3. See Ps.2:12; 60:5; Jer.12:7; Mal.3:17; Ps.48:2; Is.43:4; Ps.135:4.