Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday in Germany

It has truly been an amazing two days here in Berlin.  So much has happened and I do not even know how to put it in words. 

On Thursday I participated  in the Church and Society discussion in preparation for legislation.  There were several legislations on genocide and extrajudicial killings, but the discussion centered around the idea of giving Pastor's the right to perform same sex marriages in states and countries where it is legal for such things to happen.  After a lively debate, the legislation was recommended for affirmation by the general legislative body.

I am a little concerned about the three legislations about gay and lesbian marriage.  First I need to say that I struggle with the issue of Christianity and homosexuality.  The Biblical witness is pretty clear on its stance that it is a sin.  But there are many things in the Biblical witness that we have faithfully struggled with and decided through reason, experience and tradition that we would not follow the scripture literally.  Is homosexuality like women in the church?  It is the racism of our day?  These are faithful questions we have to struggle with if we want to be followers of Christ.  No one said it would be easy to be a follower of Christ.

I think, however that this legislation is not the step that is needed to change the stance of the Church.  It gives the pastors the right/responsibility to perform weddings (among other things) for gay and lesbian couples. They have the option to choose whether or not to perform the weddings were they are legal.  If this legislation passes it will put pastor's in the position of faithfully saying they don't agree with that lifestyle but possibly brought up on charges of sexual discrimination. 

Just a thought.  We will be struggling with this question for a long time.  As of the time of writing this, the legislation failed to pass in our GYPC but it still may be brought up an General Conference 2012.

On Friday we began our excursions to different parts of Berlin.  The unfortunate problem that I had was that I wanted to go on all of the different excursions!  I chose aspects of historical Berlin because it seemed to take me to the most places that I wanted to see.   We started out at the historical Berlin dome for an amazing multicultural and ecuminical worship gathering.  It was amazing to share that experience with my brothers and sisters around the world!  Of the experiences at the excursion that day, there were 2 that were the most poignant to me was an old Jewish graveyard and the Berlin Wall Memorial.

The graveyard was destroyed in WWII by the Nazi's.  They they turned it into a mass grave for soldiers who died in the war.  It was chilling to walk through this once holy place (I had to also cover my head) that had been desecrated.  It was a strange feeling to say the least.

The Berlin Wall is beyond description.  The fall of the wall was one of the most significant events of my life time and to walk through the area where is used to be impacted my life.  I will remark more on this later.

I will also blog about my experience at the concentration camp.

God bless!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Welcome to Germany

I finished my trek across the Atlantic at about 11am (4am central standard time) when I arrived at the Estrella in Berlin. Nothing too exciting from the flights, except for being extremely cold while flying across the ocean and getting maybe one hour of sleep.  That's ok because I don't feel jet-lagged at all even after my 4 hour nap.

After checking in and registering I decided to do some unguided sight seeing.  Without a map. Not a word of German in my vocab.  (OK well danke does count!)  It wasn't a total failure as I enjoyed walking around seeing the differences in the way this city is laid out compared to cities in the US.  I really wanted to enjoy some good German food (this was our only meal not taken care of) but I could not even read the signs to see what I was ordering and I was shy about jumping up and asking the person.  So that was a fail and I was a little disapointed in myself that I ended up eating at McDonalds.  Fly across the ocean to eat at McDonalds. I don't even like McDonalds!

All in all it was still fun walking around the city.  I look forward to tackling that again and using some of the great public transportation here.

I did get to meet two interesting new people, Molly King from Virginia/Nebraska and Sarah Cissy Kunya from the East Africa Annual Conference.  My roommate is also an Africa from the DRC so I am looking for some good cultural exchange!  I hope my natural shyness does not get in the way.

We ended the night with worship and that was pretty good. It was neat that I could put on my headsets and hear people worshiping in different languages. 

Keep us in your prayers that we can share our cultures and diversity but yet keep in mind that we are all children of God.  I will try to blog as much as I can about my experience and look for pics on facebook!

God bless from Germany!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bahamas Arrival

We made it safe and sound and are staying at St. Micheal's United Methodist Church at the grace of the congregation and Rev. Stubbs. We met the staff of BMH, Matt, Abe, Sarah and KP. We are looking forward to a great week of fun and hard work. Tomorrow is our excursion day that includes a trip to Fincastle Fort, the Straw Market, lunch at a local restaurant and wait for it...Paradise island. Look for updates each day!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

An end to my sermon but not the end...

From Ellissa Slape:

As I pulled into the HEB on 620, the rain was coming down in sheets. An elderly lady loaded down with bags, barely covered with a rain poncho made her way towards O’Connor. I quickly exited the parking lot, drove up beside her and asked if I could give her a ride home. She simply replied, “No English” and kept walking. Although I don’t speak Spanish, I was able to communicate that I would like to give her a ride home. Cautiously, she agreed. I drove her home and we said our good-byes.

I didn’t even go back to the store. I kept thinking about your sermon last Sunday. This was my freedom. I was able to help someone from another culture that spoke another language without wondering if I “should’ or even “could”. The more I thought about it, not only was it my “Freedom”, but also my “Responsibility” as a Christian. We often get so caught up in our own lives and take our own freedom for granted we forget our responsibility to others.

What is your story of Freedom and Responsibility

Rev. McMinn

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Free at Last, Free at Last!

Martin Luther King Jr. was free to lead a violent rebellion against an oppressive state.  He was free, and many of us, if we lived in a society that treated us like the way the US treated the African American community would respond with violence.  But King was a Christian.  And he had finer understanding of that than I think just about anyone else had in the 20th century.

King was free to live out violently.  Instead he listened to Christ's words and chose a path of active non violence that changed a country.

That was King's story.  What is your story of living responsibly free? How are you making a difference? How are you writing the end of my sermon?