Reflections From A Wittenberg Coffee House: Thoughts Regarding Peaceful Days and the Quest for Peace


It has been a good weekend.  Diane Greve, deaconess/pastor/colleague/friend, came down from Berlin on Saturday to see Wittenberg.  We had a nice day of walking around, eating, talking and enjoying ice cream.  It is always good to have visitors.

We went to the Castle Church Gospel Choir concert at 3:00 p.m. (I didn’t sing this time because I had to miss the rehearsal that morning.)  It was an excellent concert.  Cantor Thomas Herzer is a wonderful director and the choir has a great sound.  They just got back from a tour in the United States so had a great deal of enthusiasm.

Diane was able to join us, and read Scripture, for the 5:00 p.m. English Worship Service at the Castle Church.  We had a strong attendance with visitors from the United States, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Canada, Germany and Finland.  Pastor Jim Kniseley, our pastor for these two weeks, did an excellent job of preaching on the Good Samaritan.

Diane and I had just enough time to put away signs and have ice cream before she left on the 7:30 train.  After the train left, I went to have dinner.  I was hungry for some pizza so went to a place that I wanted to try out.  Very good pizza.  The waiter told me that this was the only pizza place with a stone oven in a 43 kilometer radius.  I enjoyed the time there and then went on home to make some phone calls, and do some writing.

Today I went to the German service at the Castle Church where the Gospel Choir was singing for the last time until the fall.  I could follow the liturgy and one of the Scripture lessons but got way lost in the sermon.  I keep finding the need to expand my vocabulary.  The language skills are improving but I have a long way to go.

After Church I fixed some lunch, did some reading and then did some Skype connecting and then took a nap.  Had dinner with the pastor serving these two weeks.  A nice low-keyed day.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to go on a cross country trip with a retired teacher from Wittenberg who is also an artist.  We will take our bicycles and go by train and ferry to a huge park that was at one time a hunting preserve for the Duke.  From what I hear it is a beautiful English garden style.  Many restaurants there so we will have lunch, ride around the park and then ride our bikes the 13 kilometers back to Wittenberg.  I am especially looking forward to the conversation because he grew up in the GDR and was a high school teacher in the GDR.  He has many interesting stories. I have heard some already and I look forward to more.  I hope to have some pictures from this experience as well.

I am rejoicing because I am beginning to feel a part of the Wittenberg community.  When I go to the grocery store, I run into people that I have met, and walking across the Market Platz yesterday I saw someone that I knew.  It gets to be fun.  The other day I stopped at a brat stand to get some lunch and the guy  who was working there was a young adult who spoke good English.  We got into a nice conversation and plan to have more.

The point being, cross cultural living is possible.  Yes, there are tensions but if people have a heart to live together in peace they can.  I know it is cheesy (at least I have been told that it is) but I love the old song that says, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”  Today the Gospel choir sang a piece that said with faith we can move mountains and bring love into the world.

The Gospel lesson for today raises the great question, “Who is my neighbor?”  I continue to learn that all of life (including rocks and grass as well as people) is my neighbor.  How do we learn to live in harmony with one another?  I have been reading in Sirach/Eccliasticus and in chapter 6 it is written:  “Reflect on the statutes of the Lord, and meditate at all times on his commandments.  It is he who will give insight to your mind, and your desire for wisdom will be granted.”  If we are truly seeking the Truth we will find it in meditating on the Word of God and when listening to the voice of God through that Word.  It is then that we will understand the concept of neighbor and live accordingly.

More to come……….

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