Will you join me?
My third time participating in a Kirchentag and I can thoroughly recommend it as a mini-holiday every two years. Like any holiday you can see the sights, soak up the atmosphere, relax and recharge your batteries ready for returning to your 'Alltag'. So it was that I viewed the city of Dresden from high up in the dome of the 'Frauenkirche', feasted my eyes on the Old Masters collection in the 'Zwinger' and enjoyed a leisurely meal on the beer terrace of one of the 'Elbschloesser' on the north bank, again with lovely views of the 'Altstadt'.
More than the usual touristic activities, you are absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to events (open-air stage & indoor concerts, talks, Bible studies, publicity stands etc, etc …) organised by Christians right across the Protestant spectrum. What makes it special – and not like events of similar content you may attend back at home – is the sheer number of participants of all ages, from babes in arms to octogenarians. Over a hundred thousand people attend for the whole five days - we were just a sprinkling of 200 from the UK. You don't even have to be particularly 'religious' to enjoy sampling what's on offer and come away with the impression that the Christian faith as practised in Europe is alive and well in its diversity.
My selection included a Bohemian evening – Czech/German communion service (with gospel choir singing in English!), followed by supper of Czech specialities and a concert of folk music. I also gained a lot of new knowledge and understanding from a study session on the Beatitudes which was jointly led by a Reformed Jewish and a Lutheran scholar. We can so easily fail to appreciate that the books of our New Testament (as well as the Old) were individual Jewish writings in origin before being collected together much later in Christian history.
Normally with a holiday there are highlights to remember. With 'Kirchentag' it's different. The whole experience stays with you for days, weeks, months afterwards. And if you are a regular church attender, you view your experience in the 'Gemeinde' with new eyes – and ears, which is refreshing. Last but not least, the music which is present wherever you go – in services, in the city's squares, on the banks of the river – reaches and blesses you in the depth of your being. How healthy is that in this troubled world?
So roll on 34th Kirchentag, 2013 in Hamburg. Will you join me?