The Ascension Service "Tell me about me!" marked the beginning of the 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag (ÕKT) in Frankfurt am Main. Owing to the pandemic, the service was celebrated on the roof of a multi-storey car park in the city of Frankfurt without any on-site participants, exclusively for television and the online community.
"We want to share a piece of heaven with you. Because a little bit of heaven can probably be used by each and every one of us in these times." With these words liturgist Sarah Vecera of the United Evangelical. Mission Wuppertal opened the service. With the difficult situation in Germany and the preparations for the 3rd ÕKT in mind, she added: "We have been pushing our own limits for over a year. It's good for me to hear stories of hope."
It was precisely these stories of hope that formed the central elements of the service, in which, in addition to Sarah Vecera, Bishop Emmanuel Sfiatkos (the assistant bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in Germany), and Rosemarie Wenner (a retired bishop of the Evangelical Methodist Church in Germany) shared the leadership of the liturgy.
During the service ÕKT Co-President Bettina Limperg emphasized a basic idea of the 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag : "Take a Look - that is the motto. We want to look where Jesus Christ would look. We also want to use your gaze: as sisters and brothers here, at home, in your neighbourhood and all over the world. God is there where people take a look, share comfort with one another and alleviate hardship."
ÕKT Co-President Thomas Sternberg was confident: "We believe and hope: God will be there in our celebrations and discussions during the next few days. We cordially invite you to be there!"
Brother Alois, Prior of the Community of Taizé, urged renewal and more togetherness. In his sermon Brother Alois began with words of warning about abuses in the churches. He linked his hope for change with a clear demand: "To that end a deep renewal is necessary in our churches. Structural changes are essential.".
"In order to make a new beginning in society and in our churches, deep spiritual renewal is also required." He granted ecumenism a special significance and urged more togetherness: "On no account must we accept the scandal of our divisions! Our churches cannot yet share all the treasures of faith with one another. But Christ is not divided. He is our unity." An emotional climax of the service was formed by three personal stories of hope, bearing testimony to special circumstances in a time of pandemic, lack of togetherness, and openness to a new togetherness. The Frankfurt online pastor Julia Piretzis reported how she accompanies young people through small everyday problems and major existential crises. Sandra Hofmann, a nurse on a Corona ward, remembered the laughter that gave strength in everyday clinical practice despite the enforced distancing. Ambote Luzolo from The French Reformed Congregation in Frankfurt am Main sent a strong signal when she looked back on her experiences in bridging alienness and distance.
The music for the service was organized by the Kassel ensemble SoulTrain. The musical director was Peter Hamburger.
An offering was requested for the association "Frauenrecht ist Menschenrecht e.V.", which provides Corona-related emergency aid for women forced into prostitution by poverty, in order to tide them over emergencies. Information at: oekt.de/kollekte.