by Sister Pista, Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary
World Prayer Congress
Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
May 22-26, 1996
It is a great joy to be with you on this special occasion. I bring you greetings in the love of Jesus from Mother Basilea Schlink, whom I've been invited to represent. Her name may be known to you as the author of many books and founder of our Sisterhood in Darmstadt, Germany. Although Mother Basilea is too frail to be here because of her advanced age, she is with us in spirit and upholding us in prayer.
We have come together to celebrate Jesus' 2000th birthday. When we are invited to a birthday party, we think up lovely surprises and special gifts to express our love and gratitude. But how much more so when we celebrate Jesus' birthday! We want to show Jesus how much He means to us. We want to bring Him our love, our praise and worship. Above all, we want to bring joy to His heart. And what could make Jesus happier than knowing that we love those whom He loves - His people, among whom He lived and died as a son of Israel!
As a spiritual daughter of Mother Basilea for almost 50 years, I feel privileged to share with you what is on her heart. You see, we are German. We can only confess that as a nation we did not love God's chosen people. We sinned grievously against them, especially in the Hitler era from 1933 to 1945. All of us Germans must share the blame for the death of millions of Jews. Even if we were not actively involved, we did little or nothing to prevent it. We failed the Jews in the hour of their greatest need. And so there is blood on our hands, too, and we cannot pray for God's chosen people unless He forgives us our sin. In a prayer by Mother Basilea we confess:
"Without end the blood on our hands cries out to heaven: the serious crime against Israel. We repent deeply and humble ourselves in the dust before those whom we have cruelly driven to their deaths. Oh, that we would now seek to make amends for the evil we have done, showing kindness to the people of God!
"Jesus, the Lamb of God, by whose wounds we are healed, is the One we have afflicted. Oh, listen to His lament, 'Your blows against My people have fallen on Me."
As European Christians, we have something else to repent of. Two thousand years of Christianity have been marked by hatred of the Jewish people. We showed the Jews a distorted image of Jesus. By our actions we discredited Him. We made His precious name offensive to them, because in the name of Jesus we European Christians persecuted and killed them.
Can we as German and European Christians really join in celebrating Jesus' birthday? Does He really want us as His guests?
Here at the place where Jesus prayed with bitter tears in Gethsemane, ascended to heaven and will come again in glory, He wants to open our eyes. He wants us to see what we and our ancestors have done to Him during the past two thousand years. He wants to give us a contrite and broken heart for not loving His chosen people.
We have grieved Jesus by not seeing Israel as our elder brother, through whom we have received the Scriptures, the Law, the Prophets, and Jesus Himself. We have ignored Romans 11, which says the Jews are the root of the tree. They bear us, not we them, for we are only grafted in.
Our tears of repentance would be a comfort for our beloved LORD on His birthday. And they would help to soothe the deep wounds in the hearts of His chosen people here in Israel and around the world. When we see the abyss of our guilt, the day can come when Israel's eyes will be opened to see their Redeemer. God's gifts and His call are irrevocable: He will never go back on His promises to His chosen people.