Born to a middle-class family of Christian dissidents in Königsberg, East Prussia, Käthe Ida Schmidt was fortunate to have a liberal-minded father who encouraged her talent. Although women were barred from studying at the Academy, Schmidt began private art lessons with a copper engraver in 1881. Her education continued at the Schools for Women Artists in Berlin and Munich, from 1885 to 1889. Two years after completing her training in Munich, Schmidt married Dr. Karl Kollwitz and moved to Berlin, where her husband built a practice chiefly serving the poor. In her art, Käthe Kollwitz, too, occupied herself with the plight of those less fortunate.
Kollwitz’s work was grounded in the physical, spiritual, and social realities of life. Such symbols as she used (most notably the skeleton to represent death) served to underscore her understanding of human existence as it is. She recorded moments as small as a child learning to walk and as momentous as war or revolution. Even when picturing the incarnation, that most heavenly of earthly events, she showed the miracle taking place in a tangible human setting. Käthe Kollwitz’s imagery is more politically engaged. The daughter of a trained lawyer who chose to work as a builder rather than practice within the Prussian legal system, she spent her life depicting the plight of the poor and protesting the ravages of war. In her first great print series, A Weavers’ Rebellion (1897–98), she chronicled the causes, progression, and bloody aftermath of the 1844 revolt of Silesian home weavers against their employers. The series begins with Poverty (1894), where a family of weavers gathers around the deathbed of an infant, and concludes with The End (1897), where the bodies of slain revolutionaries are being laid out on the floor of a weaver’s cabin. In both of these dimly lit interiors, the looms and other apparatus of the weavers’ trade stand as ominous reminders of the weavers’ plight.
The artist’s haunting images from the interwar period chronicle the hunger and misery then seen in Germany and elsewhere. The 1919 woodcut Memorial to Karl Liebknecht honors the murdered Spartacist leader (whom Kollwitz admired, despite differing political views), the 1921 poster Help Russia, created for the Internationale Arbeiterhilfe, highlights Russian strife, and the War cycle of 1921-22 examines war’s civilian cost. Overtly anti-war works, such as the iconic poster Never Again War!, spur their viewers to action.1
I am the bread of life, says the Lord;
whoever comes to me will not hunger
and whoever believes in me will not thirst. John 6
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires, known,
and from whom no secrets are hid:
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare your praise.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
HYMN: Frances Wheeler Davis ©
Tune: Concord https://tinyurl.com/c5stbs7e
1 Let there be light,
let there be understanding,
let all the nations gather,
let them be face to face.
2 Open our lips,
open our minds to ponder,
open the door of concord
opening into grace.
3 Perish the sword,
perish the angry judgment,
perish the bombs and hunger,
perish the fight for gain.
4 Let there be light,
open our hearts to wonder,
perish the way of terror,
hallow the world God made.
Psalm 104 (Anglican Chant: https://tinyurl.com/uaqp2t4)
1 Praise the Lord, O my soul *
O Lord my God, thou art become exceeding glorious;
thou art clothed with majesty and honour.
2 Thou deckest thyself with light as it were with a garment *
and spreadest out the heavens like a curtain.
3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters *
and maketh the clouds his chariot,
and walketh upon the wings of the wind.
4 He maketh his angels spirits *
and his ministers a flaming fire.
5 He laid the foundations of the earth *
that it never should move at any time.
6 Thou coveredst it with the deep like as with a garment *
the waters stand in the hills.
7 At thy rebuke they flee *
at the voice of thy thunder they are afraid.
8 They go up as high as the hills, and down to the valleys beneath *
even unto the place which thou hast appointed for them.
9 Thou hast set them their bounds which they shall not pass *
neither turn again to cover the earth.
10 He sendeth the springs into the rivers *
which run among the hills.
11 All beasts of the field drink thereof *
and the wild asses quench their thirst.
12 Beside them shall the fowls of the air have their habitation *
and sing among the branches.
13 He watereth the hills from above *
the earth is filled with the fruit of thy works.
14 He bringeth forth grass for the cattle *
and green herb for the service of men;
15 That he may bring food out of the earth,
and wine that maketh glad the heart of man *
and oil to make him a cheerful countenance,
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
16 The trees of the Lord also are full of sap *
even the cedars of Libanus which he hath planted;
17 Wherein the birds make their nests *
and the fir-trees are a dwelling for the stork.
18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats *
and so are the stony rocks for the conies.
19 He appointed the moon for certain seasons *
and the sun knoweth his going down.
20 Thou makest darkness that it may be night *
wherein all the beasts of the forest do move.
21 The lions roaring after their prey *
do seek their meat from God.
22 The sun ariseth, and they get them away together *
and lay them down in their dens.
23 Man goeth forth to his work, and to his labour *
until the evening.
24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works *
in wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches.
25 So is the great and wide sea also *
wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
26 There go the ships, and there is that Leviathan *
whom thou hast made to take his pastime therein.
27 These wait all upon thee *
that thou mayest give them meat in due season.
28 When thou givest it them they gather it *
and when thou openest thy hand they are filled with good.
29 When thou hidest thy face they are troubled *
when thou takest away their breath they die,
and are turned again to their dust.
30 When thou lettest thy breath go forth they shall be made *
and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
31 The glorious Majesty of the Lord shall endure for ever *
the Lord shall rejoice in his works.
32 The earth shall tremble at the look of him *
if he do but touch the hills, they shall smoke.
33 I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live *
I will praise my God while I have my being.
34 And so shall my words please him *
my joy shall be in the Lord.
35 As for sinners, they shall be consumed out of the earth,
and the ungodly shall come to an end *
praise thou the Lord, O my soul, praise the Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.
Psalm 104 (LSB Tone J: http://oremus.org/chant/Psalm-104-LSB.mp3)
1Bless the LORD, O my soul!*
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,*
2 covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
3 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;*
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;
4 he makes his messengers winds,*
his ministers a flaming fire.
5He set the earth on its foundations,*
so that it should never be moved.
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;*
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they fled;*
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
8The mountains rose, the valleys sank down*
to the place that you appointed for them.
9 You set a boundary that they may not pass,*
so that they might not again cover the earth.
10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;*
they flow between the hills;
11 they give drink to every beast of the field;*
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;*
they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;*
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,*
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15 and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine*
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
16The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,*
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;*
the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;*
the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;*
the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,*
when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,*
seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they steal away*
and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work*
and to his labor until the evening.
24 O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;*
the earth is full of your creatures.
25Here is the sea, great and wide,*
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,*
and Leviathan, which you formed to | play in it.
27 These all | look to you,*
to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;*
when you open your hand,
they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;*
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,
they are created,*
and you renew the face | of the ground.
31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever;*
may the LORD rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,*
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;*
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,*
for I rejoice | in the LORD.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more!*
Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son* and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the be ginning,* is now, and will be forever. Amen.
God of everlasting love,
through your Word you made all things
in heaven and on earth;
you have opened to us the path from death to life.
Listen to the song of the universe,
the hymn of resurrection sung by your church,
and give us your blessing;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCW
THE WORD OF GOD
Reading: Ezekiel 2:6 – 3:9
And as for you, human one, don’t be afraid of them or their words. Don’t be afraid! You possess thistles and thorns that subdue scorpions. Don’t be afraid of their words or shrink from their presence, because they are a household of rebels. You’ll speak my words to them whether they listen or whether they refuse. They are just a household of rebels!
As for you, human one, listen to what I say to you. Don’t become rebellious like that household of rebels. Open your mouth and eat what I give you. Then I looked, and there in a hand stretched out to me was a scroll. He spread it open in front of me, and it was filled with writing on both sides, songs of mourning, lamentation, and doom.
Then he said to me: Human one, eat this thing that you’ve found. Eat this scroll and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. He said to me: Human one, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you. So I ate it, and in my mouth it became as sweet as honey.
Then he said to me: Human one, go! Go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. You aren’t being sent to a people whose language and speech are difficult and obscure but to the house of Israel. No, not to many peoples who speak difficult and obscure languages, whose words you wouldn’t understand. If I did send you to them, they would listen to you. But the house of Israel—they will refuse to listen to you because they refuse to listen to me. The whole house of Israel is hardheaded and hard-hearted too. I’ve now hardened your face so that you can meet them head-on. I’ve made your forehead like a diamond, harder than stone. Don’t be afraid of them or shrink away from them, because they are a household of rebels.
HYMN: John L Bell & Graham Maule ©
Tune: Salley Gardens https://tinyurl.com/msxn2rva
1 Inspired by love and anger,
disturbed by need and pain,
informed of God’s own bias,
we ponder once again:
‘How long must some folk suffer?
How long can few folk mind?
How long dare vain self-interest
turn prayer and pity blind?’
2 From those forever victims
of heartless human greed,
their cruel plight composes
a litany of need:
‘Where are the fruits of justice?
Where are the signs of peace?
When is the day when prisoners
and dreams find their release?’
3 From those forever shackled
to what their wealth can buy,
the fear of lost advantage
provokes the bitter cry,
‘Don’t query our position!
Don’t criticize our wealth!
Don’t mention those exploited
by politics and stealth!’
4 To God, who through the prophets
proclaimed a different age,
we offer earth’s indifference,
its agony and rage:
‘When will the wrongs be righted?
When will the kingdom come?
When will the world be generous
to all instead of some?’
5 God asks, ‘Who will go for me?
Who will extend my reach?
And who, when few will listen,
will prophesy and preach?
And who, when few bid welcome,
will offer all they know?
And who, when few dare follow,
will walk the road I show?’
6 Amused in someone’s kitchen,
asleep in someone’s boat,
attuned to what the ancients
exposed, proclaimed and wrote,
a saviour without safety,
a tradesman without tools
has come to tip the balance
with fishermen and fools.
Reading: 1 Peter 2:11-25
Dear friends, since you are immigrants and strangers in the world, I urge that you avoid worldly desires that wage war against your lives. Live honorably among the unbelievers. Today, they defame you, as if you were doing evil. But in the day when God visits to judge they will glorify him, because they have observed your honorable deeds.
For the sake of the Lord submit to every human institution. Do this whether it means submitting to the emperor as supreme ruler, or to governors as those sent by the emperor. They are sent to punish those doing evil and to praise those doing good. Submit to them because it’s God’s will that by doing good you will silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Do this as God’s slaves, and yet also as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Have respectful fear of God. Honor the emperor.
Household slaves, submit by accepting the authority of your masters with all respect. Do this not only to good and kind masters but also to those who are harsh. Now, it is commendable if, because of one’s understanding of God, someone should endure pain through suffering unjustly. But what praise comes from enduring patiently when you have sinned and are beaten for it? But if you endure steadfastly when you’ve done good and suffer for it, this is commendable before God.
You were called to this kind of endurance, because Christ suffered on your behalf. He left you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, nor did he ever speak in ways meant to deceive. When he was insulted, he did not reply with insults. When he suffered, he did not threaten revenge. Instead, he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed. He did this so that we might live in righteousness, having nothing to do with sin. By his wounds you were healed. Though you were like straying sheep, you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your lives.
HYMN: Edward Denny
Tune: St Bernard https://tinyurl.com/3p5ekhv9
1 What grace, O Lord, and beauty shone
Around Thy steps below;
What patient love was seen in all
Thy life and death of woe.
2 For ever on Thy burdened heart
A weight of sorrow hung;
Yet no ungentle, murmuring word
Escaped Thy silent tongue.
3 Thy foes might hate, despise, revile,
Thy friends unfaithful prove;
Unwearied in forgiveness still,
Thy heart could only love.
4 One with Thyself may every eye
In us, Thy brethren, see
That gentleness and grace that spring
From union, Lord, with Thee.
Reading: Matthew 4:18-25
As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” Right away, they left their nets and followed him. Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Jesus traveled throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues. He announced the good news of the kingdom and healed every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread throughout Syria. People brought to him all those who had various kinds of diseases, those in pain, those possessed by demons, those with epilepsy, and those who were paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from the areas beyond the Jordan River.
CANTICLE Revelation 5:12-14 (LBW)
(John Ylsivaker ELW Setting 8: https://tinyurl.com/r4t5bzze)
This is the feast of victory for our God,
for the Lamb who was slain has begun his reign. Alleluia.
1 Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain,
whose blood set us free to be people of God.
Power, riches, wisdom, and strength,
and honor, blessing, and glory are his. [Refrain]
2 Sing with all the people of God,
and join in the hymn of all creation.
Blessing, honor, glory, and might
be to God and the Lamb forever. Amen. [Refrain]
THE PRAYERS BCW
O Christ, in your resurrection,
the heavens and the earth rejoice.
By your resurrection you broke open the gates of hell,
and destroyed sin and death.
Keep us victorious over sin.
By your resurrection you raised the dead,
and brought us from death to life.
Guide us in the way of eternal life.
By your resurrection you confounded your guards and executioners,
and filled the disciples with joy.
Give us joy in your service.
By your resurrection you proclaimed good news to the women and apostles,
and brought salvation to the whole world.
Direct our lives as your new creation.
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;
and 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 for ever. Amen.
Gentle mothering God,
help us to look at life with the eyes of a child,
that, like Käthe Kollwitz,
we may voices the sufferings of people,
the sufferings that never end
and are as big as mountains,
and then place our hope in Jesus,
who has shown us the new life to be found in love. Amen.2
Go in peace, alleluia, alleluia!
Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia!
Glory to God whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine:
Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church,
and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20,21
Donation to Support This Ministry
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BCW Book of Common Worship, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., 1993.
RCLP Revised Common Lectionary Prayers. © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress.
ELW The Lord’s Prayer is from Setting Five in Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
1 Adapted from a blog post by Victoria Emily Jones https://artandtheology.org/tag/kathe-kollwitz/ and a biographical sketch at https://kallirresearch.org/bio-kathe-kollwitz/
2 Stephen T. Benner, 2022; using two quotations by Kollwitz.
The three main scripture readings are © 2011 Common English Bible.
The traditional-language psalms are from The Book of Common Prayer (1662). The modern versions of Psalms 100 and 101 are from The Book of Common Prayer (1979) and are chanted by Ryland Angel. The modern versions of Psalms 98 and 99 are from Lutheran Service Book and are from the Next to the Word of God YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkVRYL-MRebncw584Ql2xfg.
Musical links are usually either to artists’ albums posted on Spotify or to recordings made available at smallchurchmusic.com. Audio stripped from YouTube videos is footnoted accordingly above.
Compilation © 2023 Stephen T. Benner. All links worked at the time they were created, but I cannot accept responsibility for their content or any damage resulting from their use. The linked content is under the control of the respective content creators and is subject to change at any time. Any copyright texts included in this compilation are provided for non-commercial purposes related to study or worship. Please contact the respective copyright holders for permission to use the texts in other contexts.