Taizé is an ecumenical convent in France that attracts a lot of young people from all other the world. There special, much-loved, form of worship involves a lot of songs where you repeat the same words over and over again – sort of like a mantra. The music is very beautiful and the setting is very peaceful. It also involves an introduction or a sermon followed by a section where the participants are divided in to small groups sharing thoughts with each other. A pot-luck meal is also part of the concept. If you haven’t been at a Taizé meeting before this is a great way to experience what it is all about. The meeting will be at St Thomas Catholic church here in Lund. The meeting starts at 3pm and ends around 9 in the evening. If you don’t want to stay the whole time you are welcome to just drop in for a while.
It gets dark in Sweden in November – I’m sure most of you have noticed this by now. When we turn the clocks back when summertime ends, all of a sudden it gets dark already at 4.30 pm. November is a difficult month for a lot of people and a feeling of melancholy affect lots of people. Summer is definitely over, the leaves are falling and it is starting to get really cold. Christmas is still a long way away and so are all the Christmas lights that make the dark a little more bearable. To compensate for all of this lots of Swedes start lighting candles inside their houses. Candles are sold by the box at IKEA and other places and you can practically see these boxes flying of the shelves now in November.
Right in the middle of this comes All Souls Day – the day when we remember and honor the loved ones who are no longer with us. Here in Sweden almost everyone will visit the graves of loved ones this weekend to light candles. Even if Sweden is a very secularized country this religious tradition is still a strong one. If you walk by a cemetery you will see hundreds of candles flickering in the dark. All of them symbolizing the life of someone who is now dead. So why not take a walk through the cemetery this weekend? See the lights flickering on the graves and remember the words of Jesus: ““I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Tuesday the 6th of November at 7 pm we will have our very first international pot-luck. Since the people attending the Holy Communion service in the Cathedral come from over 40 different nations, each with a different culture when it comes to food – this could turn out to be an interesting experience. The idea is that all of us bring something with us – an entre, a main course or a dessert enough for several people. When we put all of these trays on a table we should get a really interesting international buffet with lots of opportunities to sample food we haven’t tried before. We will start organizing this coming Sunday when you will be able to sign up and tell us what you plan to bring to the table. Ideally it should be something typical from your country, but of course you are welcome to bring whatever you like – even Swedish meatballs!
The life of Oscar Romero has always inspired me as a Christian. This is what Wikipedia writes about him. Oscar Romero was bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador. On 23 February 1977, he was appointed Archbishop of El Salvador. His appointment was met with surprise, dismay, and even incredulity. While this appointment was welcomed by the government, many priests were disappointed. On 12 March 1977, Rutilio Grande, a progressive Jesuit priest and personal friend of Romero who had been creating self-reliance groups among the poor campesinos, was assassinated. His death had a profound impact on Romero, who later stated, “When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, ‘If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path’”. In response to Fr. Rutilio’s murder, Romero revealed a radicalism that had not been evident earlier. Traditionally, the church had been complicit in the aims of the state and military to privilege the wealthy and powerful while the majority of the population remained in abject poverty. He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. Romero was shot on 24 March 1980, while celebrating Mass at a small chapel located in a hospital called “La Divina Providencia”, one day after a sermon where he had called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s repression and violations of basic human rights. According to an audio-recording of the Mass, he was shot while elevating the chalice at the end of the Eucharistic rite.
After his assassination a cause for beatification and canonization into sainthood was opened for Romero, and Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God. The canonization process continues. He is considered by some the unofficial patron saint of the Americas and El Salvador and is often referred to as “San Romero” by Catholics in El Salvador. Outside of Catholicism, Romero is honored by other religious denominations of Christendom, including the Church of England through the Calendar in Common Worship. He is one of the ten 20th century martyrs who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London, a testament to his wide respect even beyond the Catholic Church. In 2008, he was chosen as one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy by the Europe-based magazine A Different View.
This coming Tuesday (23/10) we will se the film “Romero” followed by coffee and a discussion. You are most welcome.
As a minister I spend a lot of time talking to people. The circumstances can be very different. Sometimes it is over coffee after the Holy Communion Service on Sundays. It is a great time to get to know people from different countries and background. At other times the circumstances are more serious. Sometimes I called to the hospital to talk to someone who has just gotten some very bad news. I also spend some nights every month working for the pastoral care hotline connected to the emergency number 112. There I sometimes talk to people who don’t want to live anymore. I also spend several hours every week talking to Swedish and International student who come to me for counselling. No matter the circumstances, I always find talking to people very rewarding. I feel very privileged when people share their life stories with me. At the same time it is a great responsibility which I take very seriously. To be able to do this, I myself, regularly visit a college to talk about my own life. For me to be able to be a good listener, it is important to sometimes be the one who is listened to. The first time I went to someone to talk about myself, I was very nervous. It is not easy to let your defences down and share your innermost thoughts with someone on the outside. Because I have been there myself I know what it is like for the people who come to talk to me. This is valuable knowledge. Nowadays I don’t feel nervous anymore, but instead look forward to my sessions with my college. It is a luxury to be able to talk about your life and get feedback from someone with experience who listens.
If you need someone to talk to my door is open for you! It is free of charge and totally confidential. You can talk about anything between heaven and earth. Welcome!
People from more than 50 different countries visit our Holy Communion service – every continent is represented! Christians from a variety of backgrounds meet and worship together. There must be a lot of stories to be told! That was the idea behind “Meeting without borders”. One of the things that drive me as a person is curiosity. I’m always intrigued by others and want to know more about them. So when I was offered the job as minister for the English-speaking work in the Cathedral I jumped at the opportunity. Here was a chance to get to know and talk to people from all over the world. I haven’t been disappointed. One of my absolute favourite moments of the week is fellowship after the Holy Communion Service when I get the chance to sit down and talk to people. I feel very privileged, because during my two years as an English-speaking minister I have met fantastic people and listened to some truly amazing life stories. Now I want to give the rest of you the same opportunity. Meeting without borders can be seen as an extension of fellowship on Sundays. We meet, sit down and drink tea or coffee and get to know each other. The only difference is that sharing one’s experience and life story as a Christian is more pronounced. The first time we meet I think it would be a good idea to divide us into groups of 4-5 persons and get to know each other. Where are we from? Why are we in Sweden? How is it to be a Christian in our home country? How is it to be a Christian in Sweden? It is my hope that there are others out there who are just as curious as I am. If so I look forward to seeing you next Wednesday (10/10) at 7.15 pm at Domkyrkoforum.
The 7th of October is going to be a busy Sunday. We will start already at 3 pm with a pilgrimage through in Lund. We start in front of the Cathedral and will then walk to different sacred places here in Lund. During the Middle ages there were more than 27 different Churches and Convents here in Lund. All monastic orders were represented. During the Reformation 25 of these Churches and monasteries were torn down. During our walk we will visit the sites of these holy places and learn about their history. So, the walk is a pilgrimage through the historical Lund, but it is also a spiritual exercise. During we walk we will stop and pray and also walk a short stretch in silence. The two ministers working with pilgrim walks in the Cathedral, Anna and Agneta, will guide us through the pilgrimage. If you are interested in doing more pilgrimages they will tell you about other opportunities to do so.
At 5 pm we will return to the Cathedral for our Holy Communion Service. We will be visited by the International Student’s Choir of Lund so there will be lots of music and singing. The sermon will be much shorter though since the pilgrimage is the sermon for this Sunday. Afterwards we will all be ready for coffee.
Sounds like a date doesn’t it? On Sunday at 14.45 I will do a guided tour of the Cathedral. It was completed in 1145 and has a very rich history. There are lots of interesting stories to be told – find out how the Danes got their flag, meet the bishop who was buried in the wall against his will and learn about the traitor who founded the University of Lund. Also, the real reason why all lectures at Lund University start 15 minutes after the hour is finally revealed! If you can’t go this Sunday there will be other opportunities.
On Tuesday at 7 pm we will show the movie “Of Gods and men” at Domkyrkoforum. The movie, which won awards and got glowing reviews, is based on a true story. In 1996, in Algeria, eight French monks of The Monastery Notre-Dame de l’Atlas of Tibhirine had a simple life serving the poor community that was raised around the monastery. During the Algerian Civil War, they were threatened by fundamentalist terrorists and must decide whether to leave or stay. After the movie there will be coffee and a discussion. Hope to see you on both Sunday and Tuesday!
My new hobby is to collect countries. It has been a while since I last checked, but I would guess that about 50 different countries are represented at our Holy Communion Service. The newest additions to our collection include Vietnam, Bosnia and Egypt. In the coming weeks I plan to go out and get a map of the world. The idea is to get an overview of how many nationalities are present at our services. The map will be at display when we drink coffee after the service. I’m also thinking we should get a guestbook going. It is a great way to remind ourselves that we are part of something much bigger – a community of Christians that world wide. Please join us this coming Sunday at 5 pm in the Cathedral. Gunilla Aquilon Elmqvist will lead the service.
Last week I needed help. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough people to help with the different things that needed doing – preparing coffee, greeting people, reading, taking up collection. Because of this I sent out an e-mail asking people if they could help. One of the people wrote back that she could help, but also added the words “The Lord will provide”. And the Lord did provide – ALL the people I e-mailed wrote back saying they could help out. In the end my biggest problem wasn’t finding people willing to help – it was finding things for all of them to do. At the General Information Meeting I also remember that I spoke briefly to a student that wanted find an organ so he could practice playing. I remembered directing him to the musician working in the Cathedral. Last week Stefan, who together with Tomas have been playing at our services, came to me and said that he had found an international student, an accomplished organist, who wanted to volunteer playing at our services. This is a dream come true! And not only that, he will also help me finding new hymns – something I’ve struggled with. I have also found that information about our Services at 5 pm in the Cathedral have started to spread by itself. People tell other people who in turn tell other people. In the beginning getting out with information was a big problem – not so anymore. So yes – the Lord will provide!