On November 9, 1938 Jewish homes and businesses were attacked in Nazi Germany. 51 years later to the very day, the Berlin Wall fell.
Today at chapel, LSTC remembered the travesty of Kristallnacht, and honored the survivors and their loved ones in a commemorative worship service. I was only able to attend the service for a short while as a result of a work commitment, and it was hard to leave a service recognizing the impact of such a fateful day. Clearly my colleagues felt the same way, and as we opened our meeting one of our team members, Kurt, pointed out to us all that Kristallnacht and the Berlin wall are intimately connected by the impact of this powerful day in history.
It is poetic that a day of peace and restoration would occur on the same day of such horrible travesty. It is humbling that these two parallels relate to the turmoil with descendents of the same community. It is with God’s grace that a day of horror could also host a day of healing.
It is important for as Christians to acknowledge that many terrible crimes against humanity have happened under the misuse of God’s name. There is no excuse for distorting the message of Christ, salvation, and redemption in such a way that its mere presence could evoke fear and trepidation for others. We need to remember where people have not only failed to do God’s work, but have worked against God’s covenant for the sake of their own agenda. We need to remember and honor such moments because those choices all too easily could have been ours. Living in the safety of a majority status within a country such as the United States, it is hard for me to fathom how anyone could have lived through such an experience as Kristallnacht. I similarly cannot fathom what it would be like to have been in Berlin in 1989, having access for the first time to a part of the world that I had been oppressed from experiencing.
We must not forget the brokenness of humanity, the fragile balance of what it means to live in the same world with one another. The balance between oppression and freedom is perhaps a finer line then we’d like to acknowledge, and it in a hope of awareness of that line that we have remembrances like today.
But the Wall did come down on the Kristallnacht. It took a long time, 51 long years, for that day to share a memory of celebration alongside its memory of pain. Even in the midst of those years, God stirred within the people, helping them to take one step further from oppression and closer towards acceptance.
Today, as I remember the brokenness of humanity, as I morn on behalf of the Jewish community for the oppression they have experienced by people who claimed to carry the cross of Christ, I remember that God tears down the walls of separating us from the divine bit by bit, one brick at a time.
The following is a declaration for peace, written by a teenager by the name of Gabriele S. Chase:
Not in my name will you wage war on people I do not know, on men, women and children. Not in my name will you label our country a victim, and turn it into an aggressor. Not in my name will you drain my future by creating deficits and financial aid for the rich. Not in my name will you steal my children’s inheritance by drilling and killing and exploiting. Not in my name will you use my money to kill. Not in my name will you take my flag, my symbol, and soil it with blood. Not in my name will you justify violence with arrogance and oil. Not in my name will you claim holy sanction to kill God’s children. Not in God’s name, nor in mine.
Chase’s declaration is from “Daybook for New Voices: a Calendar of Reflections and Prayers by and for Youth”, edited by Maren C. Tirabassi and Maria I. Tirabassi, Pilgrim Press, 2004