Prophets are intense. No doubt about it. Sr. Joela is a prophet
We met Sr. Joela in Ottmaring, Germany, at the first gathering of Wittenberg 2017. At that time it was more of an idea than an initiative. The purpose of our gathering was to present the proposal of a prayer gathering on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation to German spiritual leaders, both Lutheran and Catholic. I am not sure how Sr. Joela heard about the gathering. I do not recall her being on the list of expected guests. Somehow she caught wind of the meeting and decided to come. When news of her imminent arrival spread through the room, we could feel the buzz. Clearly she was a woman of influence.
Thomas was assigned the honor of meeting Sr. Joela at the train station. In her simple tan habit, she was not hard to spot. Cutting through all introductory pleasantries, she looked up into Thomas’ eyes and asked, “Are there any Messianic Jews here?”
Thomas was thankful he could answer truthfully, “Yes, there are a couple of Jews here.”
“Good,” she responded. “Otherwise I would have to get back on the train and go home.”
She was looking for a significant spiritual response to the anniversary of the Reformation, she explained. She was not interested in ceremonies. Our inclusion of the Jewish voice was a sign to her that this was the group where she belonged.
Sr. Joela is a member of the Marienschwestern, a Lutheran religious order founded by Basilea Schlink on the heels of WWII. Even before the war, Schlink dared to speak out against Hitler. In Nazi eyes, perhaps, the young woman was not enough of a threat to bother. In reality, I believe, God shielded her, hiding her away in His great love for a time and purpose close to His heart. After the war Sr. Basilea would lead Germany in repentance. She would preach and write books which the Spirit used to open many eyes to the Father’s love for His people Israel. Over the course of her life, hundreds of thousands would travel to the little convent In Darmstadt to receive teaching and blessing. Mother Basilea carried a deep love for the cross. She understood the necessity for the Bride to stay close to Jesus in His suffering, through repentance and intercession. Mother Basilea was a prophet. Sr. Joela is her true daughter.
Our Wittenberg gatherings were shaped by Sr. Joela’s prophetic voice. As a faithful Lutheran she brought forward the travesty Luther’s anti-Semitic rhetoric. She spoke fearlessly of Lutheran cooperation with the Nazis, with the hope of cleansing and renewal, never division. She challenged all of us Gentile Christians to honor Jesus as King of the Jews, a title which He loves and will return to fulfill in all its glory. And in our last gathering she insisted on the centrality of the cross. Jesus crucified is our hope for healing, purification and unity.
Of all the characters in the scripture, the one Sr. Joela most envies is the donkey which carried Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. “I want to be Yeshua’s donkey,” she says. She wants to hear His people say, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD.” I believe the Father has heard her. Today Sr. Joela is in her latter 70’s. She suffers constantly with back pain. She has carried the burdens of our Lord for many years, weeping over His sorrows, grieving over her own sins and those of the world. But she carries more than our Messiah’s burdens; she carries His glory as well.
Prophets are intense. Their Father loves them for it.