Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gelato for Jesus

We woke up and went downstairs where we were greeted with a table laden with breads, cheeses, meats, every type of spread known to man, coffee, juice, etc. Also this morning, there were soft boiled eggs. After Walter said the prayer, he explained to us how to eat the soft boiled egg. I picked up my egg and my knife, ready to give it a good whack. This caused Walter to laugh a little bit, and I took a moment to regain my composure and got ready to try this. I whacked the egg and popped the top off of it. It did not look like the egg Walter had opened moments before. With twinkle of laughter dancing in his eye, he said with a big smile, “It’s not perfect, but not bad for a beginner.” Needless to say, he was quite gracious in his comment, because the egg looked pretty goofy. It was delicious though. After a nice long 45 minute breakfast, we piled in the car to go to Gross Oesingen, being in the Northern part of Germnay in the Liederburg Heide. Well actually, we went to the “Suburb” of Gross Oesingen…. A teeny tiny little village full of earth suitable for growing potatoes. Despite the fact that this was quite a ways from Hannover, we made it in record time, clipping along at a brisk 180 Kilometers per hour on the autobahn. Translated, we were going fast. If you wish, you may google the conversion to miles per hour. Once we arrived at the festival, we were thrilled to see that all the SELK churches had come together for this festival. Being good Lutherans, they did not skip Sunday service, but decided to have the service outside. Row after row of lawn chairs had been placed in this yard which in former times had been a farm. The farm is now owned by the church, so they had set up the chairs along with an altar etc. for an open air worship service. Now, seeing that this was an outdoor worship service, I thought a little about Walcamp and recalled outdoor worship services there, consisting of guitars, drums, and a million cords and loud speakers. I expected a similar thing here, figuring there would be no way to get the organ out side. Oh how foolish and na├»ve I am when it comes to these good stout Lutherans in the motherland. While they did not bring the organ outside, I immediately noticed that there were no amplifiers or speakers. So how did these Lutherans sing you may be wondering. Well, sing they did. Loudly and with fervent gusto. Due to the lack of organ, they simply hauled the brass. And I am not referring to a brass quartet or even an 8 part brass like the US churches may use on some festival day. No, here in Germany instead of loudspeakers and keyboards, etc. They simply assembled over 100 brass players plus an enthusiastic timpanist (who was also clergy) to accompany the hymns and the rest (Psalm, etc.) was done unaccompanied. I’m telling you, these Germans are genius in their worship practice. Who would have thought a service could be held out of doors with sturdy hymns, loud singing, and 100 brass players? For serious. I died a little bit. With happiness, of course. After the service was done, I learned that Lutherans here have something in common with Lutherans in America. After the service, there was coffee and a meal served with pot luck dessert. Lots of dessert. Also, there was some ice cream. Not just any ice cream, but holy ice cream. This gelatto was made from the milk of the cows belonging to a church member. They make it themselves and for this event, ALL profits from the ice cream went to mission work. Of course because I am a huge supporter of mission work and spreading the Gospel, I felt it was my duty to support this mission, I ate not 1, but 2 scoops of ice cream to further the Gospel.

Then we took a walk around the town, which was lovely. Then at 14:00 the Brass festival began. This was pretty sweet. All these brass players, ranging in age from high school through retired old people, played a whole assortment of music. Everything from Bach to Michael Jackson. I naturally enjoyed the Bach the most. There were also several Bible readings, a youth choir, and a children’s choir with Orff instruments, recorders, and some boys who were being a bit silly and got a good laugh out of the 500+ people sitting in the audience. When this was done, we visited the actual of Gross Oesingen to see their newly installed organ. It was new, but it was a mechanical action with straight pedal board and a loud mixture. They know how to do it right over here. I think I need to move here. For really real. I played that organ and that made me happy.

After this, we took a slight detour on the way home through Celle, a VERY old and quaint town. It was so cool. There were buildings there that were built before Luther died. The buildings were tall and not always even, all made of wood and so old you could not even believe it. See for yourself in this picture. If you look, you can see the date it was built painted on the front….. 1540!!! It is quite rare for so many old buildings to still be standing, especially as fire was common and the buildings were so close together.

The whole town was just row after row of old houses from the 1500s and 1600s. It was quite a place to take pictures, and I took pictures of many many houses.
After this, we walked around the castle (no mud this time) and then Walter treated us to a second round of gelato since we found a shop that he said made very high quality gelato. He was right, and I didn’t need to think twice about a second round of the good stuff.

We also saw the town church, which was from the 1200’s. Of course it was not completed that early, and the organ was not installed until much later. I did not get to play the organ, but it was fun to see such an old church.

After this we went home and shared one last dinner… outside by candle light. We stayed out there till 11:00 just talking. The others enjoyed a nice bottle of wine from the Rhein region. Walter and Heidi told me to try it, but I still decided that I don’t want to drink, so I just had some apfelschorle instead. We had a lovely time talking Lutheran connections, stories, and conversing in a combination of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French with a Portuguese accent, as Walter said you can speak anything with a Portuguese accent and still be understood. They told us stories from when they were younger and we compared cultures and stories. It was a very lovely time and I know I will remember these very kind and generous people forever. It was really a wonderful time, and I am so thankful for the big happy Lutheran family that I belong to that extends far beyond the borders of America. Lutherans are like a great big huge family. I love it, and feel so blessed to be a part of it. I only hope that one day when I am older that I will be able to share my Lutheran experiences with someone else and pass on the kindess and graciousness that was so freely extended to us here.

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