Letter from Archdeacon of Worcester

Published: 1st July 2019

View fromthe train

I am writing this travelling on a train backfrom the Kirchentag church convention in Germany. The Kirchentag meets everyother year in a different city in Germany and has done so since 1949. It is anamazing Christian event, drawing in 100,000 people from all over Germany,Europe and around the world. Every day there are Bible studies, lectures anddiscussions, surrounded by a whole host of organised and impromptu concerts andstreet theatre.There is a carnivalatmosphere with much laughter and fun as people both young and old meet up,finding old friends and making new.

There is a serious side. The Kirchentag startedas a lay movement, coming to terms with what happened during the Second WorldWar. Since then it has always engaged with the issues affecting society, and isall about how to live as Christians. The top politicians attend and you mighteven find a member of the government leading a Bible study.

I was involved in two particular acts ofworship. The first was the Meissen Eucharist, celebrating the partnershipbetween the Church of England and the German Protestant Church, which isexpressed in the links we have with Magdeburg. The second was a service aroundthe theme of Brexit, which concerns our German brothers and sisters as much asit does us. I preached a sermon in dialogue with a French pastor, in which weaffirmed the bonds of affection between us, our unity in Christ trumpingpolitical differences.

So my train journey continues. Weve justcrossed the border from Germany into Belgium. There is no sign, but you see thedifference in the look of the buildings and the different road signs. It occursto me that the Belgians are not any the less Belgian because of the EuropeanUnion, nor the Germans less German. They do not lose their national identity.And as I reflect on the experience of the Kirchentag, it is clear to me thatour identity as Christians comes before everything else as well.

The Kirchentag reminded me once again that thisidentity is expressed above all in how we live out the love of God in theworld, wherever we happen to be. We take the world seriously because God does -indeed He made it! In these troubled times perhaps we need to be even moreaware of that, courageous enough to speak truth to power, and hopeful enough tobuild up the bonds of affection between people and nations.

And now weve reached Brussels. It still amazesme that Ill get on another train here that will take me right through toLondon. Thankfully it is not only bonds of affection that will keep usconnected; we always will be part of Europe.

ArchdeaconRobert Jones

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