I know I have talked about this before, but the new Pope continues to give me hope. After years of turning the back on the world the Catholic church, headed by the new Pope seems to open up to discussion. Most exciting of all, however, is that Francis is has shown the world that it is possible to hold a position of power while maintaining a humble attitude. In certain situations the Pope is seen as infallible – still Francis in an interview called himself naïve and worried that he’d been rash in the past. Instead of commanding people to follow him, he invited them to join him. When asked about gay priests he answered with a question of his own – “who am I to judge?” When did we last hear something like that from the leader of a church that in the past decades been so judgmental? Impressively, Pope Francis doesn’t only talk – his words are followed up by action – choosing simple dress over regal costumes, a Ford focus over a limousine and modest quarters over the presidential suit. Don’t get me wrong – I am not converting to the Catholic Church. I just think that Pope Francis is exactly the kind of world leader we need just now. We need more humble people in positions of power and more humility all over. The last couple of weeks we have seen lots of the opposite. In the USA the politicians held the country and the whole world hostage refusing to listen to the other side. In Sweden the process of electing a new Archbishop got really ugly – one sides accusing the other side of marginalizing Christ. In a whole range of scenarios it seems we are getting more polarized – unable to agree on anything – which is bad news for everyone. Because to solve the problems we are facing we need to be able to work together – inside the Church and outside the Church. That is why Pope Francis makes me optimistic – I just hope that others will follow his example. Maybe we should all begin by looking at ourselves – praying for the Holy Spirit to bestow us the gift of humility.
Today’s blog is not written by me, but is instead a letter written by Carina who has volunteered to be in charge of coordinating our cell groups – great job!
welcome to cell groups
The small groups are called ‘cell groups’. We call them ‘cells’ because cells are the basic unit of the human body. Without cells the human body would not exist. Just as the Church is called the ‘Body of Christ’ in the Bible, the cell or small group is the basic unit of the Church. Also, as with our human body, the health of the individual cell is vital to the health of the whole body! Cell groups can also be named home groups or prayer groups.
We will start with two cell groups in our congregation this fall. We meet in each other’s homes every two weeks. We meet at 19.00 and it will last 1-1 1/2 hours. We will pray together and have a short Bible study. Sometimes Jan will come to have a longer Bible study with us.
One of the groups meets on Mondays at weeks with even numbers and the other group on Tuesdays in the weeks with odd numbers. Except for the first time when both groups meet in week 44. You can choose which group you want to join. Tell me which group you want to be in and if it works with both days for you, please write that so I can place you in the appropriate group.
The Monday Group has its first meeting on Monday, 28 October at 19:00/7pm.
The Tuesday Group has its first meeting on Tuesday, 29 October at 19:00/7pm.
Both groups have their first meeting at my house at the address Hällestadsvägen 146 in Dalby. Take the yellow bus to the bus station (Busstorget) in Dalby. Let me know if you need help finding the way. My phone number is 0705 18 65 14.
After the first meeting, I will only be in the Monday group, and we will take turns to meet at each other’s homes. It’s fine to be in the group even if you do not want us to meet in your home because you live in a small apartment or room.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Please let me know if you like to be in the Monday or Tuesday group.
Well, there are several options! One close to my heart is to take a guided tour of the Cathedral. I do these for International Students in collaboration with the University, but they are of course open to every one attending our Services at 5 o´clock. The history of Lund and the history of the Cathedral are interlinked and there are many great stories to be told. This summer Trip Advisor named the Cathedral no 3, after the Castle and City hall in Stockholm, of things to see while in Sweden. This, of course, made us very proud. Adding to this, we already have three stars in the French guide “Guide Michelin”.
Another thing you can do is to walk the labyrinth in the square between the Cathedral and Domkyrkoforum. Labyrinths like this can be found in many Cathedrals in Europe. To walk in them is a spiritual exercise linked to contemplation. Before coming to the Holy Communion Service at 5 pm you will have the opportunity to try under the guidance of our minister in charge of pilgrimage – Anna Alebo.
If you like movies you will have the chance to see the film “Francis Ha” for free at Kino. The student chaplaincy is working together with the organization Folkets bio on this. This is an organization run by volunteers to show films from all other the world that otherwise wouldn’t be shown in a movie theater. Francis Ha is an independent movie from the USA about a 27 year old woman trying to find her place in life. For those of you who have seen Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” – this could be seen as a modern take on that story. Tickets are free and will be handed out at coffee after the HCS in the weeks before the showing. There might also be other movies coming up. Check our Facebook page for updates.
Come December we will be baking Swedish Christmas cakes with our expert baker – Carina. For those of you who have tasted the things she has baked for coffee after the HCS – this is an event not to be missed. We’ll be baking Swedish “pepparkakor” and “Lussekatter”.
Speaking of Carina, we will try to get a cell group going this fall. Lots of people have expressed interest in this. If you are interested talk to Carina, who have said that she be willing to coordinate this. If you are interested, but haven’t met Carina, send me an e-mail and I will forward it to her.
Also in December – two traditional Events – first, when it comes to Services, the Christmas carol Service in Helgeand Church and of course, apart from our regular HCS on Sundays, our Christmas service on Christmas day at 5 pm. Also, our traditional Swedish Christmas party – a crash course in celebrating Christmas in Sweden!
If you want to add to this list of things to do – you are more than welcome to do so. If you have an idea , starting a group, doing something together or what ever – tell me about it and we might be able to make it happen.
6/10 14.45 Guided Tour of the Cathedral
21/10 19.00 Movie night at Kino “Francis Ha”
27/10 16.00 Walk the Labyrinth.
17/11 16.00 Walk the Labyrinth.
24/11 14.00 Guided Tour of Cathedral
2/12 19.00 Christmas bake-off.
15/12 18.00 Swedish Christmas party
Ps. Christian Sturesson, a talented musician who played a one of our Service this spring,
will give an concert in the Cathedral in November. More details on our Facebook site. Ds
A couple of weeks ago our cathedral had its 868th birthday. It is of course a privilege to work in a church that old. Just thinking about all the people who have worshipped there before us makes the head spin. Anyway, on this particular day a Korean couple who has been with us almost every Sunday for the past two years were there for the very last time. They were going back home the following week. This is the one thing that I don’t like about my job. Working with students, you often get to know people, and before you know it, they are leaving. It always fills me with sadness. I could fill this entire page with names of people I have gotten to know in our church, that have now gone home, and that I still miss. Anyhow, after the service the couple came up to me and gave me, or rather the Cathedral, a gift – I like to think of it as a birthday gift. It was a beautiful Korean bible. Following this I have been thinking:
1. In our Cathedral we sometimes have a ceremony to send pilgrims on their way. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a ceremony like that for members of our congregation that are leaving? – A short prayer wishing them good luck and thanking them for their presence among us? It should of course be voluntary to participate, but we could have it as an offer. It would also give the congregation a chance to say goodbye.
2. What if we could build a library with Bibles from all over the world that people have donated to us? Besides the map, that would really be a symbol of how international our congregation is.
So what do you think?
That is probably the most common question I get as a minister in the Cathedral. The simple answer is that the Church of Sweden is a Protestant Lutheran Church. But even knowing this you might get confused when you visit the Cathedral and the Holy Communion Service in English. If you are a Methodist you might for example recognize the first part of our order of worship as taken from the Methodist church. If you are a Catholic you might notice the statue of Mary in the corner. If you are an Orthodox you immediately see the Icons in the middle of the Church. If you are an Anglican you are probably familiar with the way ministers dress. Visiting the Cathedral you might even come across the smell incense and see service that follow the Liturgy of the hours the same way it is done in convents. So what is going on here? There are several answers. First; when the reformation came the Swedish king decided that the whole of Sweden would follow the teachings of Luther. There was no Catholic opposition. In other places, like Germany and Holland, the Lutheran church met constant opposition from the catholic church and therefore felt the need to distance itself from everything Catholic. In Sweden, and the same goes for England, there was no such need, so the Church of Sweden keep certain things that Lutherans in for example Germany associate with the Catholic church. That is why protestants from mainland Europe often find the Church of Sweden and the Anglican church to be slightly “Catholic” when it comes to how ministers dress and other things. Another part of the answer is that our Church is a Cathedral – a building that by definition is “All-Christian” or ecumenical if you will. We like to bring in many different parts of our Christian heritage into our church to point out our connection with all of Christianity. That is also why last summer I had a wedding together with a Catholic priest and this summer together with an orthodox priest. So the best answer to the question – what kind of Church is this – is probably; We are a open church welcoming everyone!
About two weeks ago I stood in front of 2000 International students during GIM – the General Information Meeting that Lund University arranges for the newly arrived. Afterwards I got to hear the usual reactions – most where surprised, some even chocked, that a religious representative was present at this event. What does the Church and the University have in common? But from experience I also know that for a number of students my presence at this event was very important. Out of those 2000 students hundreds come from backgrounds where faith is an important part of everyday life. For some of them finding a community to belong to and a place to worship is very high on their list of priorities. As a student chaplain it is my job to help those students to find a spiritual home away from home regardless of their faith. Most are Christians from different denominations but I also get e-mails from Buddhists, Hindus and Jews looking for places to worship. I help everyone to find a place. Some of the students wind up at the Holy Communion Service I have every Sunday at 5 pm and that is of course very rewarding, but when it comes to my work at the University that is not my first priority. Working with the University it is necessary for me to be multi- faith, even though I myself am a Christian. Recently the Student chaplaincy in another town here in Sweden was thrown off Campus because the University was supposed to be independent from all religions and political ideas. My colleagues there hadn’t misbehaved in any way – the University had just decided that they didn’t want to have anything to do with religion – any religion. I am extremely pleased that Lund University has taken a different approach – they invite all religions not favoring anyone. That’s why, at my presentation during GIM, there is contact information to all denominations and religious bodies that can be found in the region. At a meeting the Vice Chancellor of Lund University has said that the University wishes to help students with every aspect of their life during their stay here, and since many students have a faith, the University want s to help those students to find a place to worship – regardless of faith. To me that is the best possible way to handle religion in a secular context – favor no one, but let everyone in. It is not a question of churches or religions doing missionary work. The students in question already have a faith when they come here. Helping them with information so that they can continue their spiritual life in Lund is not evangelizing, it is just providing them with a service, just like telling them how to contact the hospital if they need to is a service. Like the Vice Chancellor said in an interview – “Lunds universitet står heller för mångfald än för enfald”. It is hard to translate this into English – but he is basically saying that it is studip to ignore the fact that for many people religion is a part of life . I agree!
Last week before my vacation starts and I’m preparing for the arrival of 2000 International Students in August. In cooperation with Lund University all Students are invited to a free guided tour of our Cathedral. These guided tours have proved to be very popular. Last year about 1000 students took us up on the offer. At one occasion about 200 students came at once so this year we’re introducing a system with free tickets.
This will be my last blog post for a while and I saved the best for last. My favorite part of Sweden during summer is without a doubt Österlen – the southeastern part of Skåne. The scenery is amazing and the atmosphere relaxed – it has been compared to the South of France because lots of artist have chosen to set up shop here. If you go by car you will see lots of signs where artist invite you to visit their studio. This part of Skåne is perhaps best explored with a car (or a bike), but as always the summer jojo card will get you there. Here are some of the highlights.
1. Kåseberga and Ale stenar. A small fishing village on the eastcoast which is invaded every summer by tourists. The reason for this can be found on a hill nearby – Ale stenar – the Swedish equivalent of Stonehenge. Also the view from up there is gorgeous. Go on a weekday to avoid crowds and bring a pick-nick or buy smoked fish in the village.
2. Ystad, small town on the South coast. Nice atmosphere and home of Kurt Wallander – the antihero cop in Henning Mankell crime Novels.
3. Stens huvud and Café Annorlunda. Nice nature and great views AND an all-you-can-eat cookie smorgasbord!
4. Kivik – a town filled with apples! In September they have a harvest feast. Also during summer home of Kiviks marknad – an outdoor festival that attracts a lot of people.
5. Brösarps backar and Haväng. Spectacular scenary! This is for those of you who like to walk. Also nearby there is a old fashion Stem engine that takes passenger during summer.
Extra: For those of you who prefer to spend your summer in a chair with a mystery book. Check out the following Swedish crime writers:
Sjövall&wallöö – these books are classics. Set in the 60`s and heavily influence by the thinking of that timeperiod they are nevertheless very readable.
Leif GW Persson – professor of criminology that writes really good novels. He really knows what he is writing about – my favorite.
Henning Mankell – Kurt Wallander!
Steig Larsson – Lisabeth Salander!
Have a great summer!
Next week should be the last week in Lund filled with activity before everything settles down for summer. If you hear a lot of ruckus – loud music, car horns, singing – it will be graduates from Lund’s “gymnasieskolor” celebrating. Like I said in my last blog, after this week Lund will be a ghost town (except for the Cathedral which will be completely taken over by tourists!).This is not necessarily a bad thing. For once there will be plenty of room in restaurants and you won’t have to book in advance if you want to see a movie. For those who like to relax – Stadsparken and Botan are calm oases during summer. Sunday the 16th of June we will start to use our shorter order for the Holy Communion Service. The communion part is intact, but homily will be much shorter. There is two reasons for this: 1. During my absences people from the congregation will do the homily and they are not suppose to spend too much time working on a sermon. 2. During summer I will be working much more in the Cathedral filling in for colleagues on vacation. Because of this I won’t have much time to work on my Sermon in English. In the middle of August things will be back to normal.
More things to do if you are stuck in Lund during Summer:
1. Västra hamnen in Malmö. Take the train to Malmö central and then take buss number 2 to Västra hamnen. When you see Turning Torso jump of the bus. If you haven’t seen Turning Torso up close this might be worth the trip in itself. However if you go here during warm summer days there be lots of people and a nice atmosphere. The architecture in the area is also really cool. If you have kids – Swedish television will produce its most popular children’s show here between 9-11 every morning. Lots of families with children will pick-nick nearby to watch this. Every Friday famous Swedish artists will visit the show.
2. Lilla Torg in Malmö. Take the train to Malmö central. From there it’s a short walk to Lilla torg where lots of people hang out during warm Summer evenings. In the middle of August Malmö festivalen is worth visiting – lots of food and music. Really crowded though, especially in the evening when popular artists are playing.
3. Copenhagen – obviously! Lots of things to do all the time and a beautiful City. As an alternative to Tivoli, consider Bakken. An old amusement park just outside of Copenhagen accessible by train.
In a couple of weeks Lund will be a ghost town. Most students will have left and when school is out lots of people living in Lund on a permanent basis will go off on vacation. But fear not! The Holy Communion Service in the Cathedral will continue all through summer and so will fellowship afterwards. During my vacation time some members from the congregation will step in to deliver a short homily and colleges from the Cathedral will do the Holy Communion part. I’m very grateful for this! Having members of the congregation fill in for me is an absolute dream and something you just don’t see in the Church of Sweden. If I don’t watch out they will probably take over completely! Any way, what to do when you are stuck in Lund over summer? Actually there are lots of things to do! First thing you should do is to get the Summer Jojo card which will give you access to public transportation in all of Skåne from June 15 until August 15 for just under 600 Skr. You can get the card in all the usual places. The next couple of weeks I will write about some of my favorite destinations in the region. Feel free to add to the list on our Facebook page.
1. Ven, an small island between Sweden and Denmark. Go to Landkrona by train and take the bus to the harbor. There you will find the ferry to Ven. On Ven rent a bike and bike around the island. There is lots to see and the scenery is stunning! Avoid sunny weekends – then everybody will go there!
2. Sofiero Castle. Take the train to Helsingborg and ask about a bus to Sofiero. This is for everyone who loves beautiful gardens. It was once the Summer resident of the King. Best time to go – early in June when everything is in bloom.
3. Helsingör – take the train to Helsingborg and the ferry to Denmark. Helsingör is a charming Danish town where lots of Swedes go to buy beer (as you will surely notice). There is a beautiful castle worth visiting (Hamlet was set here) and you can buy a special ice cream with whipped cream, jam and “flödeboll” in an alley leading away from the square just outside the train station. If you want to you can also stay on the boat and go back and forth between Sweden and Denmark while dining in the restaurang on board – this is known among locals as “tura”.
4. The museum of Modern Art – Louisiana. Take the train from Helsingör south and get off in Humlebaek. It is a short way to the museum and signs to show the way. Another way to go here is to buy a Öresund –runt ticket that will allow you to go in one direction on both the Swedish and Danish side of Öresund. You can get off and on whenever you like.
The term is coming to an end and as usual I’m feeling a little sad because people are leaving. Our congregation is special because many of our visitors come and go. Exchange students might stay for one or two terms, Master students for one or two years and people working on their doctorate for several years, but still it is a fact of life that most people coming to our services will eventually leave to go back home. I could fill this blog with names of people I miss and who have contributed a lot to our congregation while they been here. Because it is also a fact that even though some of you only stay here a short while each one of you contribute to our congregation with your presences. As a congregation we also rely on people to volunteer to help out with different thing. Without our volunteers we wouldn’t have any coffee after the Service or Sunday school. I worked for 16 years in a congregation in Malmö before I came here and finding volunteers was always a problem in that congregation – since coming here it hasn’t been a problem at all. In the beginning, when the first term was coming to an end, I was filled with sadness, but also with dread, because it seemed to me that everybody was leaving. Back then it was only a dozen or so people coming to our Services and at least half of them were leaving! Would there even be a congregation after summer? Since then I have learned to trust in God when it comes to the future of our congregation. People leave, but somehow (by the Grace of God) new people seem to find their way into our congregation. So as the term draws to a close I would like to thank all of you – thank you for sharing your faith and your experiences with us! Thank you for all you have done and for being who you are! And come back and visit us sometime – our doors are always open.
Last, but not least, a special thank you to all you who come back year after year because Lund or Malmö or Kävlinge is now your home. Without you I would indeed feel very sad and lonely right now. At least now I know that there are others out there who share my feelings of sadness because the ones leaving are also your friends. And, I know that will be people from the congregation there with me this fall when we get ready to welcome new members – and makes all the difference for me. Thank you!