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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Mennonite service about Sodom and Gomorroh, a little girl named Salome, and a big barbeque in the garden.

Sunday morning, sitting in the living room at our Mennonite home, awaiting the Sunday service. It’s a small congregation. I am trying to catch up here in the blog while we await the service.  Although I’m not much for prayer, as I told the pastor when he invited me to pray with them ( hope I didn’t offend him, he’s a young and hip seeming person).

Today’s agenda -the service (I will attend that,  it was just the pre service prayer I felt a bit uneasy about) after the service a barbeque, prepared by our group, with the parish. Later, continuation of a workshop/presentation with Leo, who did a workshop with us about prejudices and preconceptions, yesterday. He’s only 21, German but just recently moved to Berlin. 

An hour later, the service is over. I am sorry to say I kept falling asleep. Hope I didn’t snore, nobody elbowed me anyway.  The pastor did a good job of alternating between German and English, song and sermon and prayer.  Some of the hymns were in both languages in the book, and people sang in their respective languages. The sermon was about Lot, and what the story of Sodom and Gommorah told us about hatred, hospitality, etc.  That part would have interested me,  but that’s where I kept dozing off. It does intrigue me how people take bible stories and interpret them to fit their own values.  I gather there was some part about homosexuality, and about Lot offering his daughters for sex to the strangers. Guess I'd better look that up.

The best part of the service was the music at the end. The pianist played Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which has been haunting me recently anyway. I heard him playing it before the service, but wasn't sure it would actually be in the service. Many people, at least those in our group, seemed to know it.

There was a young woman with an infant and a small girl at the service.  At the end of the service the girl announced something loudly, and everyone laughed.  I later asked and found out she'd said  it was "the service is over."  

 I talked quite a bit with the woman, and learned that were the daughters and wife of the pastor, Joel. She told me that Salome, the little girl, likes to have her father's attention, even during the service. When she was smaller, she'd go up to the pulpit, and he'd hold her while he spoke. It's a pretty liberal congregation, Judith said. 

  Judith speaks excellent English, which actually many people, in my group and here in general, do. Turns out they traveled in the US before the kids were born,  and she’d also been an exchange student there when in high school. She’s a doctor, now on maternity leave, and her husband will succeed her  shortly.  Family leave in Germany is very generous, she told me, more so than even in Sweden, on a par with Norway and, I think, Finland. They get ample leave at full salary, plus another 14 months at 2/3 salary which can be shared by mother and father, taken simultaneously by both, or, or taken in different stages, several different options.

Saskia has just been finishing up a presentation for the congregation, in German, about our project.  The congregation here is mostly my age and older. Judith said it is usually more mixed, but in the summer, a lot of the younger families are on vacation. There are actually four pastors who rotate, so each of them does the service once a month.

Everyone is heading out to the garden for a big barbeque that our group prepared for all of us, so I’ll stop here and join them. Better get some more coffee, too. 


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