Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gettin Prayed Up...kinda

So I'm going to take a blog post to address the congregants of the Victoriagemeinde Swedish Lutheran Church in Berlin:


So occasionally when I've seen Stephan's roomie, J., a Swede if ever there was one, I've had something to say in Swedish, like one word or so, and I'll mention that I go to Swedish church. The other night I was over there for a marathon (well, do 4 episodes count?) of The Office--best of Michael Scott, and I mentioned it again. This time, in the spirit of evangelizing (we are the E-LCA after all), I asked him if he wanted to come. I mean, it is his language and whatnot, and his girlfriend, N., a German, also spoke Svensk, so why not?

J responded that he wasn't religious, but he'd like to try, and from the way he phrased it I could tell he had the Lutheran Guilt thing WELL EMBEDDED in his little blonde-haired, square-jawed system. We agreed that he and N would meet me that Sunday. At about the same time A got in touch with me to tell me that she was in town from Tuebs to visit her boyfriend (A of being-awesome fame), and since I've mentioned church to her, could she come along. I thought "This is GREAT! Field trip of insanely attractive blondes to church y'all!!" and arranged that we would all meet each other in front of the dual Swedish and Norwegian flags before service started.
errrr...not really

The night before there was a little more Sturm und Drang (or vansinne if you're Swedish [well, actually they say "sturm und drang" too, but that's less fun]) than I was expecting.
and N didn't know if they were going to go, but then they were clocked out, and then A was going to be late or maybe she wouldn't make it and where would we all meet and it was this big THING, so the excitement was building!

Then finally we're all outside the church: cold, relatively pale and well meaning yet awkward. I was hoping that this Sunday would be like most: a fair number of over 60s, some lost Swedes in town (let's say 4), a family or two (bringing in 6 or so) and then the 3 under 30-s I know to usually show up. This would mean there would be a small but decent crowd. Not too much to ask for, Victorians!

It actually kind of was.

We were sitting in the rows of the rather sparse room (Protestant, you'll recall), and J takes the opportunity to read the prayers, at which point he turns to me and in a well-meaning yet perturbed voice that most Lutherans have known (especially since this whole paperback hymnal fiasco) says
"Dey have changed de prayers...dey've modernized dem."
Lutherans aren't that down with change. We sort of spent out all of our gumption getting ourselves away from Rome, and now we're saving our strength. It turned out that under 20 people showed up, prompting me to recall that the Sunday before had been a rather large service, and most Lutherans are on a strict one-on-one-off policy when it comes to getting churched up. Oops. We sat in a row together though, which freaked the pastor out to no end. I guess Pastor thought that I was such a hopeless mess, and now "Whad is she doing wid people here?" I also kind of messed up the image that the youth director had of me, and if I've told you anything about her, you'll know IT'S GOOD TO MESS WITH HER BRAIN!

So the service starts, all well and good, the voices are a bit more anemic than usual (thanks, guys!) but the sermon was about OBAMA! Well, he only mentioned him once. Actually, it was about faith, and he started off saying "I'm an atheist and I don't believe in anything...I'm an agnostic, and--" as he was saying this I was secretly cringing. The one Sunday I bring real Europeans, and he has to make a point THIS Sunday about the school of thought they probably all come from?! Oh well. Turns out he didn't knock the agnostics that much, and when he said "Obama" I kind of totally smiled. After the service J and N split to go study, but they kind of left in what I saw as a hurry, which I attribute either to FU being rather brutal (very possible) or the service being hugely mortifying (also possible considering we all sort of stuck out).

A. stuck around though for coffee afterwards, and while we ate cinnamon roles (anyone want to help me out on the Swedish name for them? I don't remember now, but it's a special name and it's yumm-tastic!) she chatted with the music director and I with a girl close to my age, a Norwegian pastor-in-training...who was pretty much what you'd expect when you hear "pastor-in-training." Very nice, very enthused, very understanding that I always forget her name (it's T). A had a good time, saying how nice it was, which is what I experience every Sunday, and what I hope J and N took away from it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but Victoria, you guys are NOT helping me out here. Let's step it up, Scandihoovians!

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