This coming Sunday I’m going to be talking about a form of Prayer which is connected to our breathing. Breathing in we are receiving life. Breathing out we give our life back to God. This form of prayer is sometimes called Contemplation. It has been practised by Christians for centuries – especially in monasteries. My favourite place in Lund , beside the Cathedral of course, is Liberiet – the 15th century building next to the Cathedral. On the second floor you are invited to silent contemplation four times every week. (Mondays 12.30 – 13.30, Thursdays 17 – 18, Fridays 7 – 8 and 8.45 – 9.45) For me it is a place of inner peace. Whenever I climb the stairs I find my self relaxing. Sadly, few people have discovered this opportunity to find peace in the middle of town. If you would like to try it out you are welcome on Mondays 12.15 for a short introduction.
Last Summer was my first as minister for the English-speaking congregation in the Cathedral. As Summer drew close I realized with horror that lots of people were leaving the congregation for good. Students who had finished their courses were returning home. Others left because their Visas had run out or they had been employed somewhere else. Only a handful of people would still be there come autumn. In August I was filled with dread as only a couple of people attended our Services. But then it happened. Every Sunday new people would turn up, until in September the congregation had grown to be bigger than ever. Our congregation is special – it goes away in June but return to life in September. A few remain from year to year (Thank God!), but there is always a majority of “new” people in our congregation. The hardest part with being a minister is to say goodbye to all the wonderful people one has gotten to know during the year. The best part is welcoming new people all the time. As Summer draws near this year I am not filled with dread, but with hope. People will leave and we will miss them, but this time I also know that our congregation, by the grace of God, will return to life in the fall. It is like watching autumn leaves falling and knowing that they will be back when Spring is here. Or to see the migrating birds leave and welcome them back early next year. Now, a few weeks after celebrating Easter, we are also reminded of the Gospel – that in Christ, death is not the end, but a new beginning. Knowing this in our heart we can approach life’s changes with hope in our heart.This year the Holy Communion Services will also continue all through Summer. I will write more about this later.
This Sunday at 5 pm we are visited by a congregation from England. The Holy Communion Service will be held at the High Altar. Our guest John Toy will hold the sermon. Readings: Genesis 18:26-32, Ephesians 3:14-21, Luke 18:1-8. Welcome!
One of the best parts of being a minister is meeting lots of interesting people. Being a minister in an international congregation I am especially blessed when it comes to this. Every week I get to meet people from different parts of the world and hear about their life and experiences. I can’t tell you how much this means for me. However, I would also like others to have the same opportunity. When we were planning, the Student Chaplaincy thought it would be interesting to try to have discussion where people from all over the world meet to talk around a topic of faith. Invitations would go out to both Swedish students and International Students. We were inspired by the Convent in Taizé were people from all over the world meet to worship together and study the bible together. So three evenings this fall we will try something similar – an exchange of ideas and experiences when it come to faith with people from different origins and backgrounds. I’m really looking forward to this.
When preparing for the coming Sunday I remembered something Martin Luther once said – “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree today”. For me this quote perfectly captures the eternal hope present in the Christian faith. This hope has nothing to do with expressions like “you get pie in the sky when you die” or Karl Marx assertion that religion was an opiate for the people. Our hope for the future has nothing to do with being passive in this life. Instead, in my view, it is an incentive to be active in our everyday life to make this world a better world. Our eternal help us to press on under difficult circumstances, knowing that we are not alone. It helps us to keep despair at bay. A perfect example of this is the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer – a German theologian who became a leading spokesman for the confessing Church, the centre of Protestant resistance to the Nazis. You will hear more about him and his work this coming Sunday – so please join us for Holy Communion Service in the Cathedral at 5 pm. Readings: Isaiah 54:7-10, Hebrews 13:12-16, John 16:16-22. Welcome!
Using a hymnal other than the Swedish has been a new experience for me. After working as a minister for almost 20 years I know the Swedish hymnal almost by heart. To start using a new English hymnal was to begin again – from scratch. This was actually one of my biggest fears when taking on this job– how was I going to be able to pick out hymns for our Holy Communion Service when I didn’t know any of them? Now more than a year has passed and little by little I have discovered a new treasure of hymns. I have learned new hymns, some of which are now among my favourites. I have also discovered that we as Christians share common ground when it comes to hymns. Many of the hymns in the English hymnal I knew from before since they are also in the Swedish hymnal. There are even a handful of Swedish hymnals in the English hymnal – it is a strange experience to sing a hymn by Lina Sandell in English! Also, lots of people have been helpful and shared their favourite hymns with me – thank you! Using a new hymnal has taught me that we as Christians have lots in common. It doesn’t really matter where we come from or which background we have when it comes to our faith – we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Please join us this coming Sunday at 5 pm in the Cathedral as we welcome Lund’s International Student’s Choir. Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 1 Peter 2: 22-25, John 10: 1-10.
For me, the highlight of every year is the Midnight Holy Communion service held in the Cathedral on Easter. It is my absolute favorite because one quite literally gets to walk in the footsteps of Jesus’ disciples. First, when the Cathedral is dark, we walk together to the grave down in the Crypt carrying with us incense to symbolize the spices the women carried with them to the grave. Down there we discover that the grave is empty and we shout together – Christ has risen. The Easter candle is lit and carried from the Crypt to the High Alter – now the Cathedral is filled with flowers and light. With the risen Christ we get to confirm our faith and our baptism and also partake in the Holy Communion – share bread with the risen Christ like the disciples did. At the end we walk out into the night holding candles while the Cathedral bells ring sending the message that Christ is alive. The candles we carry with us out into the night symbolizes our mission. We are to spread the light – bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ with us to the world.
Ok, so now we are standing there in the night with our candle. It is dark all around us and the wind makes the candle flame flicker. How does one bear witness to Christ? How does one go about telling people about everything we have just witnessed? This is the subject for the sermon this coming Sunday. Readings: Isaiah 43:10-13, 1Cor 15:1-11, John 21:1-14. Welcome!
Easter is coming up and I want to tell you about some of the things going on in Lund. On Good Friday there will be an ecumenical pilgrimage to different churches in Lund. This is my favourite way to observe Good Friday. The walk starts at Västerkyrkan, Byggmästaregatan 21, at 11.45. It is usually a large group of Christians from different denominations that walk through Lund behind the cross singing hymns as they walk. Among the Churches visited are the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church and the Pentecostal Church. This is a great way to manifest our unity in Christ while at the same time learn a little about each other. The walk ends at the Cathedral at 3 pm.
On Saturday at 23.30 their will be a midnight Holy Communion Service in the Cathedral. It is in Swedish, but is well worth visiting anyway. The bishop leads the liturgy which is very rich. We get to remember our baptism as the Bishop sprinkle us with water. We get to follow Christ into the grave and witness his resurrection in the Cathedral Crypt. Down there candles are lit and carried up into the Cathedral were we celebrate Jesus victory over Sin and Death. Finally we get to carry our candle out from church to show the whole world that Christ has risen. At the same time the Cathedral mighty bells are ringing. It is an amazing experience.
On Easter Sunday there will be Holy Communion Service in the Cathedral at 5 pm as usual. So please celebrate Easter with us.
As some of you know, I have started to ask people who come to our services to write down their name and home country. It is important for me to know how many are interested in our services. At the communion it sometimes feels like the whole world is represented and it was really interesting to see where people actually came from. I have been thinking of putting up a map of the world with needles representing the home country of people who attend our services. So far I have met people from – Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, the U.K, Northern Ireland, Germany, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, The Netherlands, France, Hungary, Portugal, Iran, Syria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, China, South Korea, Japan, Peru, U.S.A and Canada. I have had several “wow moments” talking to people from different parts of the world – sharing their experiences and getting their perspective. I feel really blessed! Please join us this Sunday for Holy Communion Service at 5 pm in the Cathedral.
As a minister, I ’m frequently asked about the miracles Jesus performed. I guess most of us, at one time or another; have had to answer questions about this. Do you really believe that Jesus turned water into wine- that he could walk on water? How is it possible for you, as a modern, rational person, to believe in things like that? As a theologian it is also easy to get into different interpretations. If you know, for example, that water symbolised chaos and the forces of evil back in biblical times, the fact that Jesus walked on water takes on a different meaning. In my view, that doesn’t mean that all miracles should be interpreted symbolically. I still believe in the miracles as they stand even if interpreting gives them added meaning. What people who ask about miracles often forget is that we as Christens see our entire life as a miracle. Isn’t it a miracle that we are alive? That we can see, hear and speak? God has done everything for us – given us life, our daily bread, people to be with and to love. It is a miracle to be alive; it is a miracle to be a human being. The gospel that – although written down long ago, still sheds light on my life, today and until my last breath – is in itself a miracle. If you view life in this light, you also view the miracles in the bible differently. To the believer the miracles in the bible aren’t problems that needs to be solved, but instead speaks of God’s love – a love that is also part of our everyday life.
Please join us for Holy Communion Service this coming Sunday at 5 pm in the Cathedral. Readings: 2 King 4:42-44, 2 Cor 9: 8-10, John 6: 1-15.
I spend a lot of time every week trying to reach out with information about our Services. I visit with International Coordinators at the University, talk to Companies with international employees, send out information through Facebook, put up posters, write this blog etc etc. It’s a lot of work and I don’t always see any result right away. From time to time I have a break-through – finding the right person to work with, discovering new information – it’s like being a detective and a salesperson rolled into one. This is where you come in. The most effective way, in my opinion, to reach people is when somebody who comes to our Services tells his or her friends about them. So please spread the word! Please join us this coming Sunday for Holy Communion Service. 5 pm in the Cathedral.