Kristallnacht Liturgy and Sermon, November 7, 2012, prepared by Rev. Dr. Katie Day

 * This liturgy was created by Rev. Dr. Katie Day and with the presence and singing of rabbi Liz Bolton and the choir from Mishkan Shalom Synagogue.

Kristallnacht , also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, was a pogrom or series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary and civilians. German authorities looked on without intervening. The attacks left the streets covered with broken glass from the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues. At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers. Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone), and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.


Call to Worship

The assembly stands.


We gather this day as children of Abraham and Sarah.

We gather as Christians and Jews to remember a night in 1938 when

hope was shattered like the glass

which covered the streets of Germany.

We gather to remember and to mourn the hate that was unleashed on the people of God.


We gather to confess and to seek healing;

We gather in longing for God’s presence;


We gather, seeking compassion and courage,

so that justice might roll down like waters

 and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


Opening Prayer


O God, who has promised to be our refuge and our strength,

Give us strength this day.

Even though the earth be moved,

May we not be afraid.

O God of Jacob and Rachel, you who are called our stronghold,

Give us grace to see your face

as waters rage and foam around us.

Help us in this hour to be still and know that you are our God

And we are your beloved people.


Gathering Song                                           # 626

                           Written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in December, 1944 while in a prison cell

                                                                  and shortly before his execution on April 9, 1945.

Call to confession


Silence is more than just the absence of speech and noise

—it can be full of meaning and activity…..

-It was out of silence that the Creator God

spoke in the form of wind–ruach

-It is in silence that we open our hearts and spirits in prayer.

-But silence in the presence of suffering

is a sin against God and neighbor—

–in communicates louder than speech our own indifference.


Sisters and brothers, let us join together in our prayer of confession

Not only for the silence of the church on Kristallnacht,

But our silence, our indifference to suffering today…





Almighty God,

Creator of the infinite heavens, and the smallest grains of sand,

You who are beyond time yet present in all our moments,

We come before you in humility.

You have called us to worship you, and

yet we are more absorbed with skepticism than with awe.

You call us to be one people,

but we continue to focus on our differences and not on our commonalities.

We have forgotten who we are—your people, created and called by you.

We have lost our voices and too often we are silent when we see our sisters and brothers  suffering under injustices you abhor.

Be merciful to us, O God,

And give us the grace to be merciful to one another and to ourselves.

May it be so.  Amen.



Assurance of Pardon


Brothers and sisters—know that the voice of God speaks louder even than our silence

-know that the God of Love does not give up on us–ever

-know that we are forgiven…

…not through a cheap or easy grace

…but forgiveness that comes through brokenness,

-even the shattered body of Jesus.



Passing of peace


The peace of Christ be with you always.

And also with you.



The assembly is seated.


SONG (choirs)     Sh’ma Yisrael                                            Srul Irving Glick

                         Shma Yisra’el Adonay Eloheynu Adonay Echad

Listen, Israel, The Lord is our God, The Lord  is



Hebrew scripture—Liz                            Deuteronomy 6



Psalm 119:1-8         The refrain is introduced by the choir, repeated by all.

                                                      The choir sings the verses of the psalm.






The assembly stands to welcome the gospel.



Sermon – See below

The assembly is seated.


HYMN OF THE DAY                      # 709

The assembly stands to proclaim the word of God in song.

Prayers of the people




The choir sings If I Had the Strength




Invitation to the Table


The table of bread and wine is now ready.

It is the table of company with Jesus and the beloved community.

It is the table of sharing with the poor and the shattered of the world

With whom Jesus identified himself.

It is the table of communion with the Earth,

In which Jesus was present and the Creator continues to work.

So, come to this table,

Not because you must, but because you may.

Come, you who have much faith

And you who would like to have more;

Come, you who have been to this sacrament often,

And you who have not been for a long time;

Come, you who have tried to follow Jesus,

And you who have failed.


The God of mercy invites us to meet Gods very self here.

[adapted from Iona Communion]




Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

         Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

         Let us give thanks to God Most High.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is truly right and our great joy

To give you thanks and praise,

O God, creator and ruler of the universe,

In your wisdom, you made all things

And sustain them by your power.

You formed us in your image, to be one people,

Setting us in the world to love and serve you

And to create peace and justice among your people.

When we have wandered from you

When questions are too vexing and history seems without meaning,

You have not left us, but claimed us as your own,

Sending prophets to call us back

And courageous witnesses to reflect your truth.

At this table we are thankful for Jesus Christ whose life and death embodied the sacrifice of love which brings light in the darkness of the world—in his brokenness, shattered hope is restored.

Therefore, we join our voices with choirs of those who have gone before, with prophets and martyrs, with all the faithful of every time and place, who forever sing to the glory of your name:


(Words of Institution)


We give you thanks that on the night before he was taken,

Jesus had a meal with his friends…..he took bread

And after giving thanks to you,

he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take, eat.

This is my body, broken for you.

Do this in remembrance of me.


In the same way he took the cup, saying,

This is my blood, which is poured out for you

For the forgiveness of sins.

Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.


In this meal, we remember how you emptied yourself of all but love;

We take from the grain this bread and from the fruit of the earth, this wine

We eat and drink in gratitude

And in deep longing for the return of peace.


We offer ourselves to you, to be transformed into those

who will be repairers of the breach and lovers of your

justice in the world.

(Response):  When we eat this bread and drink this cup,

                                    We proclaim your death, O Jesus,

                                             Until you come in glory.



Blessing of elements


Gracious God,

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us

And on your gifts of bread and wine

That the bread we break

And the cup we bless

May be the communion of the body and blood of Christ.


As this bread is Christ’s body for us,

Send us out to be his bread in the world.

Lord’s Prayer


Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.

Our Father in heaven,

         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.

Save us from the time of trial

         and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

         and the glory are yours,

         now and forever. Amen.




The assembly is seated.


Communion songs                                     #  262


Post communion prayer

The assembly stands.


Let us pray. Eternal God,

You have made us one with all your people on heaven and on earth.

You have fed us with the bread of life,

And renewed us for your service

Help all of us who have been blessed here today

To be your hands in the world

So that in our daily living,

We may each be part of building a new human community

That your love might be reflected in our love

And your righteousness might shine through us

For the sake of the whole world.


Sending Song                                                    





Go out into the world in peace

Pay attention!

Have courage!

Hold on fiercely to what is good.

When you confront evil, don’t turn your eyes away

But don’t get pulled into it either.

Do not abandon those who are suffering—

Be with them…help them…honor them

And God’s justice will roll down like waters,

And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.



Go in peace to love God and love all God’s people,

To serve God and to serve God’s people.

Thanks be to God.


SERMON by Dr. Katie Day

Kristallnacht 2012

Sermon:  Dt. 6: 1-9/Mk 12:28-34



Many of us are bleary-eyed and exhausted today:

-we have been living through weeks..days..moments that feel epic

               –from anticipating/experiencing/recovering from unprecedented Super Storm

               –to, of course:  long anticipation and participation in this election

                        -have seen divisions in our society

                                    -opposing…mutually exclusive visions of where U.S. needs to go

and how to get there

-have stood tippy-toe looking anxiously into the future

                        -“never has there been more at stake”  ==heard over and over

-no one can afford to be a bystander—this affects all of us

(long lines and heightened tension at polls yesterday reflected this)

-felt: energized, anxious about future, committed to our causes—

engaged as participants in an epic time when world changing

Today:  remember another epic time when, indeed, world was forever changed:

It was a typical Wednesday, that Nov. 9, throughout Germany and Austria

kids home from school were working on homework

workers had come home from long day in shops, factories, hospitals

-Lutheran ladies were preparing streudl for Bible study

(Luther’s birthday)

choir members hurried to synagogue and churches to prepare for Shabbat and Sunday services

Then all hell broke loose….


Nazi Storm Troopers ran through towns and cities throughout Germ and Austria

Smashing windowsdestroying buildings…arresting citizens

Fires raged and many caught in the crossfire were killed.

When it was over…streets were covered with broken glass

7500 stores owned by Jews were destroyed

200 synagogues were reduced to rubble

30,000 Jews were rounded up and sent to a

concentration camp

2000-2500 were killed


<<Nancy’s father-in-law was one of those arrested that night in Vienna—taken to Dachau Prison Camp


And who was to clean up this mess?

To add insult to injury, government actually taxed Jewish community

In that night of chaos (“Kristallnacht”=night of broken glass), everything changed:

-It was now apparent to Jews that this was not just a passing political season that they would get through:

Now they knew that the anti-semitism

of the culture and increasingly in laws

could turn violent, even in this great Western culture


-It also became apparent to Jews that they could not look to

the government, their neighbors or other countries for protection


–Herta Adler remembers, as a child, running out to see her

beloved synagogue burning…and being relieved to see the fire

trucks come.  But the hoses were directed to the trees and buildings around the synagogue…which was allowed to burn


-The sea changed for the Nazis as well:

they learned that while the world might condemn their pogroms (attacks) against the Jews, it would not intervene.


They learned that their own people would allow them to

Carry out violence against Jews….


And so, there was no looking back

After Kristallnacht, the stage was set for the Final Solution…when it was over, 6 million Jews would be dead..



III.  This begs the question for us:  Where was the Church?

Not academic question…one we—living in our own epic time–need to understand  ‘

–For 5 years (since 1933)—struggle in Protestant churches

A) Many had actively embraced Nazism and allowed it to take over

the structures of the whole church

German Church (as called)==seized on Martin Luther’s tract “Ag Jews & Lies”

“A Mighty Fortress” rung out in church processions as nationalist hymn

Boundary bet church and state dissolved

-put in place own bishops…took over seminaries and congregations

B) Others resisted the takeover of the church and fought for independence

Confessing Church” (Karl Barth, Martin Niemoller, Bonhoeffer)

These “years of struggle” (33-38, particularly) were intense—

The battleground was in local congregations


But finally issue was over control of the church…not, for the most part, escalating violence against Jews…and all who were different: disabled, gays, political opponents, Roma, Adventists)


Kristallnact was an epic moment for Jews, Nazi govt –for 2 streams of Prot Ch, locked in struggle:

A.  German Church had been working to “deJudaize” Christianity—to rid it of any trace of its Jewish rootedness

eliminating the OT/Hebrew scriptures and even NT references to them

After Kristallnacht, emboldened:

Excluded all non-Aryans from congregations (including spouses of members)

-baptisms, weddings, funerals became weapons

            Even: eliminated “Hallelujah”=too Jewish

Began plans for theological institute which directed research of scholars (Gerhard Kittel)

To establishing that Jesus was, in fact, Aryan

Mission: The Christian faith is the unbridgeable religious opposite of Judaism

B.  as horrific…and alien as the German Church sounds to our 21st century Lib. Religious ears

Consider the response of the Confessing Church to Kristallnacht:

Overwhelmingly Silent

            Their struggle with the German Church=largely theological about indep of Church

critical that the Germ Ch would collaborate with the Catholic Church,

but not that they excluded Jews

passionate in opposition:  State’s intrusion into church structures…

but not about German Church’s virulent anti-Jewish ideology and support of Nazi policies on purification

So on Kristallnacht…

The Confessing church, was unprepared,

Shocked by the violence of it, but for the most part, silent

[One pastor (Julius von Jan in Wurttemburg)

In his sermon that week… did condemn Kristallnacht

…beaten, arrested, imprisoned

(there was an big incentive not to notice or speak up)

Historian Kyle Janzten found:  local Confessing Church clergy were just too

Preoccupied, conflicted or afraid to defend the Jews


Dietrich Bonhoeffer—whose own consciousness and culture had been evolving

Was disillusioned by the silence of the Confessing Church after


–In the days after Kristallnacht, DB traveled to Berlin to meet with


==>asked whether  Kristallnacht had resulted from “the curse which had haunted the Jews since Jesus’ death on the cross.”  REJECTED

==>Instead, Bonhoeffer called the pogrom

an example of the “sheer violence” of Nazism’s “godless face.”

==>“If the synagogues burn today, the churches will be on fire tomorrow….”


C.  How could Christians have so betrayed their Jewish neighbors?


            How could the Church—especially the Confessing Church—forgotten who they were?


How could Church have betrayed themselves so deeply….


Today’s readings—lectionary/portion—from Deut. and from Mark

(two texts I’m sure cut out of German Christian Bible)

-Mark: Comes from small community within the Jesus movement (Marcan community)

-This community concerned esp. with Jewish identity—

What does it mean to be Jewish?


-Jesus, the young rabbi, is being grilled by senior theologians….(can relate to)

èwhich commandment is first?

Which is most central teaching of tradition?

What is core to who we are as people of God?


Jesus echoes the Shema from Deut

Hear O Israel…

Love God with heart/soul/mind/strength

(from Lev 19): Love neighbor as selves


***Love of God and love of neighbor=inseparable


            Cannot have one without the other


As Bonhoeffer reflected on this in his epic context—Kristallnacht—


Only those who cry out on behalf of the Jews can sing the Gregorian Chant…”


Cannot love God and not our neighbor…very core of who we are




***another identification going on:

Jesus is affirming and reasserting the core commandment of Jewish tradition

–this is what the realm of God looks like

Scribe concurs:  You are right!  Much more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices


èto come together in loving God and loving neighbor

Much more deeply defines us

Than the differences in our liturgical practices—


èthere is more that Jews and Christians share in religious traditions than divides us


So:  incredibly appropriate and moving that together we sing the SHMA


This is not just a nice interfaith thing to do


It is radical act in itself if we let those words move through us/among us


We could not have sung the SHMA together 74 years ago in Germany


<<BTW:  Chris Jacob’s father did get out of Dachau…and Germany

..married a Christian woman and Chris was raised as a Christian

–after she died

Chris converted back to Judaism…on Kristallnacht

So it is epic

For him to be here today as Christians and Jews together sing SHMA>>



How much differently things might have gone in epic moment of Kristallnact

            If German Christians had returned to the very core of the faith:


            ==to love God is to love neighbor….a belief we have received through

                        Jewish tradition




Hard to sustain energy, attentiveness of living in/through epic moment


            –after the election night confetti is swept up

–the flooded areas cleaned up

–and the glass swept away


…we go back to ordinariness of every day life

-we focus on getting food on the table,

-getting our papers in on time and our lectures done,

-if we should take our cat to the vet….


And in that, we can forget who we are.


We cannot.


We need to sing the SHMA every day


Breathe in the call to love God and neighbor in times epic or not


Open our hearts to receiving and reflecting God’s love

In our love of one another.
















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