Thurs Mar 1
Today I flew from Dresden to Frankfurt, staying there overnight. Friday I catch the train to Heidelberg, & commence my ministry as Chaplain of the Anglican congregation in that famous university city. I will be there until Easter Day. They have a website, with pics: www.english-church-heidelberg.de
I arrived in Heidelberg at 1.20 pm on Fri & caught a taxi to the chaplain’s flat. Rosemary, the parish Reader who organises the worship, was there to welcome me & it was good to meet her after months of email communication. The flat is small, but comfortable. It has everything I need, except a TV……just like my flat in St K! After explaining things I needed to know she left, & I got on with settling in & exploring the place. I did a load of washing, then went shopping. After that I walked around the locality. l found a pharmacy where I enquired about contact lens solutions. They directed me to an optician which was closed. I checked the times, & found it opened at 9 am tomorrow. Came home, said EP with special intention for my new congregation, cooked dinner, then read the history of the parish before having an early night.
Saty I was up early. At 9 am I went to the optician’s. He was very cheerful & had the solutions I use. Then it was into the Bahnhof to get a monthly tram pass. I had an hour to wander around the old town before meeting Rosemary at the church at 12 noon. The church is delightful – tastefully modern, with a spacious sanctuary & the reserved sacrament. The church belongs to the Old Catholics & they were having a clean-up. Rosemary showed me things in the sacristy & guided me thru how the liturgy was celebrated. Nothing like High Mass at All Saints’, but not unlike St Catherine’s, Eliz Downs. I checked the lecturn to see if my sermon notes would fit….this can be a problem!
After showing me all that I thought I needed to know, Rosemary took me to lunch. We discussed many things over lunch, & I got to know her a bit. It is hard for me to preach to people I do not know, but at least I know her. I shall just be my usual self – but no jokes! Having also got the bulletin with the readings, I went home & spent a couple of hours preparing my sermon. Another early night…..tho I hear music in the flat above me 🙁
My 1st Sunday at the Heidelberg church. Because of the Old Catholic liturgy, the Anglican Service is not until 12 noon. I caught the tram at 10.52 am, which got me there at 11.15 am. The OC’s were just leaving & I was able to meet their priest. In due course Rosemary arrived, then the organist. I went thru things with him. He described himself as a High Church Lutheran, & knows his stuff.
The liturgy was the C of E modern rite & I did it without many blunders – tho movement in the sanctuary was a bit trial & error! The congregation was 31 adults & about 8 kids, which I was told was more than usual. Being my 1st Sunday, there wasn’t the sort of dynamic with the congregation that I am used to. I enjoyed the music: 3 hymns to good tunes, some modern verses sung at 3 appropriate points, & a Mass setting that was a simple version of Oldroyd (what we sing at All SS for festivals). I have no idea what anyone thought of my sermon – but it was about satan, so maybe they are still thinking about it!
Afterwards I managed to greet most people & find out where they were from. A German family had lived in Adelaide & Melbourne, & their son was really an Aussie. Nice morning tea. A Lenten study followed – not actually a bible study, but looking at a book about peace. I sat as an observer, offering to do a study on the Mass readings next Sunday. Afterwards I discussed music with the organist, esp having the Alleluia psalm at Easter. I left at 3 pm for home. Before it got dark I went for a walk around the locality. Down the street is the US Army hospital – a nice reminder of my SD home 🙂
The cold weather continues. But a good thing about it is that by the end of my time here I will have seen Spring arrive in Heidelberg. The cold, windy morning did not deter me & I went into the town. In the morning I walked over the river & along the famous Philosophers Way. This is a path that has wonderful views of the old town. I could see familiar churches & landmarks, as well as the castle, before walking across the old bridge & thru the Bridge Gate, both built in 1786. I spent an enjoyable a/noon exploring the old town – but I was glad to get home to some warmth & cook myself dinner.
The sun came out today 🙂
This morning I met with the organist, Burkhard. It was a very enjoyable 90 mins as we discussed & sang music. He is very knowledgable & knew some contemporary hymns/settings that I like. We talked about Easter Day, which will be a musical treat (albeit for a modern rite). After Burkhard left I went into the town. It was the perfect day for me to go to the Schloss, which was a brief, steep climb in the sunshine. The Schloss is fascinating, having been built in various stages over 3 centuries from 1400. During this time it was also destroyed by wars & a lightning strike. So it is a mix of styles: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque & Romantic.
I had fun exploring the grounds & gardens, which included the largest wine vat in the world! I booked for the 2.15 pm tour of the castle interior (the only way you could see it) & to my delight, I was the only person. So I got an invidual tour from the very pleasant young guide. This included going to a part that usually groups don’t see. He had that typical German sense of humour & we chatted about many things. He had a good command of English – but I was able to tell him that the thing with holy water in the chapel was called a stoop! A very enjoyable a/noon….but I now wish I had brought my camera on this trip!
This morning I caught the tram to Mannheim, a pleasant 45 min journey. I visited the Schloss – the baroque palace erected for the Prince-Elector when he moved from Heidelberg in the 18th cent – & the baroque Jesuit church, which has been beautifully restored. After a walk around the town I caught the bus to Schwetzingen Schloss, 8 km south of Mannheim. The trip took 45 mins out thru industrial areas & eventually we arrived in the delightful little town. The Schloss was the Prince-Elector’s summer residence & was based on Versailles. The palace itself is not huge, but the grounds are magnificent. Being winter, there were no flowers or green trees. But winter has its advantages……it was cheaper to get in & hardy anyone was there! I really enjoyed exploring the grounds, which included an Orangery filled with all the shrubs/trees for summer, a large pond with ducks, geese & the obligatory peacocks, a patio decorated with mental suns, a set of buildings built like a mosque & a menagerie crowned with metal birds – & to my delight, it had cages for Aussie finches & canaries when the weather is better. After an enjoyable a/noon I caught the bus back to Heidelberg, a quick 30 min trip.
Today I caught the train to Frankfurt to attend the conference for Anglican/Episcopal clergy in Germany. Silly me, thought I had seen the end of attending meetings when I retired! There are 3 ECUSA parishes with their own American bishop alongside the 9 C of E parishes in Germany. The conference was held at the ECUSA church in Frankfurt. We met at 4 pm & there were 12 of us: 6 Brits, 4 Americans & 2 Aussies. Fr Matthew Jones is from Queensland, now at Hamburg. He preached for me at St M’s back in 2002, & it was good to see him again. I was made most welcome by the other clergy, who were interested in what I had done. It was good to chat with clergy & pray with them at the end. I had a very nice talk with the Archdeacon (who will be welcoming Prince Charles to his church in Copenhagen in 2 weeks!) & he wanted to know if I would be interested in working in the diocese 🙂
The clergy meeting continued this morning. The diocese is interesting, with many missions attached to the parishes that have full-time priests. The clergy are a little isolated & there is a wide variety, from anglocatholics to evangelical “ministers”. It is aso a growing diocese, with over 80 congregations. The parishes are very multi-national, & always contain a good % of Germans. Yet the problems discussed could be anywhere in the Anglican Communion: facilities, growth, outreach, conflict. After lunch laity arrived for the Deanery Synod, mostly young people. There was an energy & fun to the gathering. The meals were excellent, but the evening speaker (on communications) had me nodding off!
The Synod continues tomorrow morning & in the a/noon I catch the train back to Frankfurt (my sermon having been done on Tues).
My 2nd Sunday at Heidelberg. Mass was at 10.30 am, instead of 12 noon, as the Old Catholics do not have a Sunday Mass on the 2nd Sunday. Numbers were down about 10, incl one who came at 12 noon! I felt comfortable saying Mass today. I am even used to the songs they sing as part of their liturgy. Afterwards I led the study group in a bible study on the Mass readings. I left at 1.15 pm, which was better than 3 pm last week!
A busy morning. Had to buy new cartridges for the church printer, then pay for my German rail pass at a Post Bank. Deutsche Bahn has a pass which gives 25% discount & with the trips I have planned, I would save more than it cost. I have had a Deutsche Bahn online a/c for several years, & applied for the pass before I left Australia. I was emailed back, given a new online a/c, & told it would be cheaper if I could provide evidence I was over 62. When I landed in Frankfurt I did this. By the time I got to Heidelberg a 3rd a/c had been opened. After several phone calls (I got used to saying, “Ich wunsche ein Englisch Sprecher, bitte”, to save time!) I was told how to get a temporary card at the Hauptbahnhof. Last Friday the paperwork arrived with instructions in German & a bill to pay. So I paid that today, + an extra charge because I do not have a bank a/c here! My Bahnpass card should arrive in a few days. In the meantime I can book trips online & get the discount.
The Germans are wonderful organisers….but it was so complicated & took over 6 weeks!!
The sun came out at lunch time, so I went into the town again, walked across the river & climbed Michaelsberg. This is a mountain near where I walked last Monday. There are some monastic ruins at the top, but the path was blocked just before the top & we were forbidden to pass. Still, it was a nice view & walk.
Off to Berlin for 2 days. Have some more history exploring to do from my visit last August. Train takes 5 hours.
I had a lovely day in Berlin yesterday. In the morning I caught the train to the German-Russian Museum. This is in Karlshorst, in East Berlin. The railway station & houses still have the feel of the communist era. The museum is in the building where the Germans signed their surrender before the British & Russians on May 8, 1845, having signed it before the Americans in Rheims the day before A feature is the room set out exactly as it was for the signing. The museum records the battles between Russia & the Nazis & their conquest of Berlin. There are also several tanks in the grounds. I spent 2 interesting hours there.
From there I caught the train to Tempelhof Airfield. This was the scene of the Berlin Airlift in the 40’s, & there is an impressive memorial to that. The feature is an impressive terminal built by the Nazis, still featuring the Reichs Eagle. The airfield was closed in 2008 & in 2010 became a public park. Where planes landed, now people jog, skate & cycle. I had wanted to visit it last August, but didn’t. So this time I did, walking right out onto the tarmac. It was a surreal experience!
Finally I did something else I was unable to do last August (because it wasn’t open yet) – I went to the so-called “Palace of Tears”. This is the building erected by the communists at Friedrich Str Station for processing people going from East to West Berlin. I am sure I would have gone thru it when I visited in 1974. It now houses an interesting display of the division of Berlin leading up to the eventual fall of the Wall.
2 sunny days. Yesterday was glorious, so after household chores & doing my sermon I went for a walk along the river & around the modern campus of the University. Here I discovered a small but excellent botanic garden. Lots of people were enjoying the sun in the parks & on the river bank. When I got back home I went for a walk in the area & discovered a huge shopping centre.
Saturday was not as warm, but still nice. In the morning I went to the Pfalz museum. I seemed to be the only visitor there, so enjoyed wandering thru at my leisure. Housed in an old royal townhouse, it covers artifacts from the Roman times up to the Electors. There was some nice furniture, glassware & porcelain. The highlight for me was a dining room set up with a true silver-service. There is also a respectable gallery of paintings from Germany, Holland & Italy, incl some by Canaletto & van Goyen, as well as an extensive private collection.
After that I walked up to the castle gardens. Being a sunny Saturday, there were a lot more people than on my visit 2 weeks ago. A lot of them were US military boys, which made me feel at home! One of the advantages of being here in March is that not only are there few tourists, but the museums are cheaper. Obviously they do not expect many visitors when it’s cold – but put prices up when the tourists come 🙂
Today we celebrated Mothering Sunday. I enjoyed this as it is not an ECUSA observance, & I have missed it since 2003. The kids made posies of tulips, which I blessed. These were then given to all the women in the congregation. The readings had a “woman” theme, incl John 19:25-27. My sermon began with childhood memories of Mothering Sunday at Salisbury & Sema4, then onto the readings, finishing with Our Lady. I am sure many, if not all, learnt a lot!
Today I went to Worms – a 50 min train ride away. Worms claims to be the oldest city in Germany & is famous for its late Romanesque cathedral. It truly is magnificent. It is one of the 3 imperial cathedrals on the Rhine – the others being Speyer & Mainz (which I visited in ’92). Like Mainz, it has choirs at each end. It also has 4 circular towers & 2 domes. This design is replicated on a smaller scale in other churches in the city. As stunning as the exterior is, it is the interior which took my breath away. Height & length combine to give a sense of awe & simple grandeur. There is a really beautiful sanctuary with rich choir stalls, & 2 beautiful side chapels which afforded space for prayer. After spending some time in the Dom I visited other churches, incl one that has been restored for a Dominican community. All were impressive.
The other thing Worms is known for is its association with The Nibelungen. In fact Worms is the seat of the Burgundy kings & the site of the events in that gr8 German epic, & of Siegfried & Hagen in particular. The Dom’s north portal is where the Queens are supposed to have had their argument. So there are statues, fountains & representations convey the theme & streets are named after the characters. There is also a Nibelungen museum, but it was closed, being Monday. The other impressive thing about Worms is the gates & walls that still remain from 1200 AD. My stay concluded with a walk along the Rhine, past the famous Bridge Tower, then up to the Church of Our Lady. This was built from 1298 & became a place of pilgrimage. It is surrounded by vineyards, from which comes the famous Liebfrauenmilch wine. Another enlightening discovery!
I have just had a pleasant 2 days in Hamburg. It is just a 4.5 hour train trip away & I caught the train at 12 noon on Tues. That night I had dinner with Fr Matthew Jones, the Aussie priest at St Thomas’, Hamburg. This was a very pleasant evening of laughs & priest talk. Matthew referred to his visit to St M’s, Fitzroy 10 years ago, & said that it had a gr8 impact on his ministry & on his parish. It seems he decided to visit because he had heard of my ministry & thought it might give him some clues about his new ministry in Ipswich, Qld. He went back & told his parish that at St M’s we saw Christ in everyone. To my surprise, he recounted a conversation in which I had said that at St M’s “we attracted the wierd & the wonderful……….some were wierd & all were wonderful”! It was the sort of thing that I would have said – but I was stunned that he rememberd it so clearly. It was a humbling experience.
Wed I explored the city & in the a/noon went to the Hamburg Museum. This is in a stunning building built esp for it in 1922. At the top is an impressive model railway of Hamburg, which fascinated me. The museum has 8 different sections, all with wonderful artifacts, displays & models. I found the 20th cent section particularly interesting &, as usual, learnt a lot. I also enjoyed the Middle Ages & shipping sections.
This morning it was a beautiful sunny day, so I went for a walk along the large lake called Aussenalster. With the sun shining on the water, rowers on the lake & people walking/cycling it was a perfect Spring morning. I then went to the Station to catch my train back to Heidelberg.
The sun was poking thru the clouds, so after doing my sermon I caught the tram across the river, with a view to climbing to the top of Michaelsberg. This was the hill I didn’t get to 2 weeks ago. This time I made it – tho I don’t know how, as I had no map & only a sense of direction to help me. The mountain is actually called Heiligenberg (holy mountain) – I presume, because of the monastries that were built here in the 11th cent. It also turned out there were remains of a celtic wall from the 4th cent BC. The 1st thing I reached were the foundations of the 12th monastery of St Stephen. Adjacent is a 19th cent tower that gave marvellous views, & at the top were 2 American girls. I engaged them in conversation & discovered that one is playing basketball here. The other was her friend from Conn, who had arrived that day.
I walked on to the next highlight, which was the Thingstatte. This is a brick ampitheatre that holds 8,000, erected by the Nazis in 1935. It’s style is typical Nazi & was erected for youth rallies. I presume the location was chosen to connect the Nazis with German history – & also to claim their ideology as superior to christianity, which is associated with the mountain. Behind the ampitheatre are the ruins of the 11th cent St Michael’s Abbey. These are very impressive, tho some of it is reconstruction. It is well signed in German with little pics of monks doing what they would do in that particular section. The ablutions block pic was quite amusing!
Upon descending & catching the tram back it seemed that all the college kids in Heidelberg were going on Spring Break!
Saty was a nice sunny day – but I spent the morning doing chores & then glued to the computer for the 1st game of the AFL season, from Sydney. Having got my priorities right I then went for a long walk along the river.
A glorious sunny day today & Mass went well. The German family who have lived in Adelaide & Melb invited me to lunch next Sunday – my 1st invitation to a meal. Over coffee hour I discussed doing things with the kids for Easter Day. I had invited people to a House Mass at my flat on Maundy Thurs, but no response yet. Bible study followed, on today’s readings. I invited one of the group to finish with prayer, & she referred to our reflection on “these documents” – by which she meant the 3 readings. So much for the Word of God! Eventually got home at 3 pm….too late to do anything interesting, but went for a walk up the hills nearby.
Another sunny day. I caught the S-bahn to Speyer (just 45 mins) – the S-bahn station is 12 mins walk from the flat. Speyer goes back to celtic times & was a Roman market town. Its main attraction is the Cathedral – the 3rd of the 3 Kaiserdom – but unlike Mainz & Worms, it only has a choir at the east end. Nevertheless, it makes up for that by having a huge choir & sanctuary, which keep going up & up. Erected in the 11th cent, it is a wonderful Romanesque building. The interior does not have much in the way of colourful decor – but the height & length together with the red & white stone, are a beauty in themselves. Being an imperial Dom, the crypt has tombs of several Holy Roman Emporers. There is also a tasteful relics chapel, even if the idea of relics is a bit off-putting!
After spending time in the Dom I then walked around this marvellous old town, finishing at the huge 12th cent city gate. I then walked to the Dominican convent of St Mary Magdalene, a contemporary building on the site of a convent founded in 1228. Here there is a shrine to Blessed Edith Stein. Edith Stein was born a Jew in Silesia. As a teenager she became an atheist, but became a christian & was baptised at age 30. In 1923 she taught here at the Convent School for 11 years – hence the devotion to her in Speyer. In 1934 she became a Carmelite nun, later going to Holland to escape Nazi persecution as a Jew. But she was caught & taken to Auschwitz, where she was killed in 1942, aged 50. She was beatified in 1987.
I concluded my time here by walking down to the Rhein, then catching the S-bahn home. Today was kept as the feast of the Annunciation & I discovered there was an evening Mass at St Vitus’ Church, across the river. St Vitus is an interesting building – a contemporary square church was added to the north side of an 11th cent church in 1933. From the outside it looks like an old church, whilst inside it is a modern church, with the old church as a lovely chapel on the side. It is on the tram route from the flat, near an old Schloss called Tiefburg. I arrived at 6 pm to discover, to my delight that we had 30 mins of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament before Mass. We began with a hymn, prayers & the Angelus, led by a young woman. There were 15 of us, incl 4 nuns. It concluded with simple Benediction – the 1st time I have sung Tantum Ergo in German! By the time Mass started there were 50 present & it was a lovely celebration. I enjoyed singing the hymns – & am sure everyone assumed I was German 🙂
I have just had a lovely 2 days in the Bavarian Alps. Caught the train on Tues to Berchtesgaden, where I have stayed twice before. The weather was brilliant sunshine & I remembered why I have visited here previously: From the hotel you have a stunning view of the snow-capped capped mountains & down to the villages below. There was hardly a sound, except for birds. After I checked in I went for a walk, then returned to watch the sunset over the mountains.
On Wednesday I walked up to 2 nearby villages. These had been built by the Nazis to house the administrators & SS guards when Hitler’s retreat was built here. Even by today’s standards, the housing is quite luxurious. Again there was hardly a sound except for birds. I then caught the bus down to Berchtesgaden & visited the 3 beautiful churches. Realising I had not visited the royal Schloss before, I decided to go on the tour at 2 pm. You can only visit on a guided tour because the Schloss is still owned by the Wittelsbach family. Because it is the off-season, I was the only visitor – so got a personal tour with a young woman who spoke a little English. Originally built in 1102 as an Augustinian monastery, it adjoins the church & you enter thru the beautiful romanesque cloister. As the royals live here twice a year it was a tour with a difference. There were the usual pieces of old furniture & furnishings, along with the obligatory swords, spears & armour – but you were aware that this was still a royal home. We finished at the upper patio, with stunning views of the mountains. I then walked around the town before catching the bus back up to the hotel. I then walked up to the larger of the 2 villages up the mountain, Buchenhohe, to have supper in the bistro there. Thursday morning I wandered around the area where the Nazis had their complex, discovering an old sentry guardhouse. I left at 11.30 am to catch the train back to Heidelberg. It was a lovely relaxing 2 days away.
Sun April 1 Palm Sunday
Today’s liturgy was combined with the Old Catholics, & it was quite a wonderful experience. It was my 1st “bilingual” Service – we alternated between German & English in the prayers, hymns & readings, tho some were said only in 1 language (with a translation in the bulletin). The congregations were used to this & it had a feeling of unity & joy. We had 2 homilies, & I was delighted when one of the German congregation afterwards thanked me for my sermon, quoting my text (Luke 23:43) & what I had said. Fr Bernd & I concelebrated the Eucharistic Prayer in our languages – I said the Preface & Epiclesis, he said the Words of Institution & Anamnesis & I joined in the manual acts. It was a gr8 experience.
Afterwards I went to the home of one of the congregation for lunch. The Fink family live in a small village about an hour’s drive from Heidelberg. It was a sunny day & the drive along the Neckar was lovely. Rainer, Nina & Timothy live in a large 200 year-old house – formerly a brewery, it seems. There is also a barn & yard containing 5 goats, & I agreed with Rainer that goats milk yoghurt & cheese were simply the best. Nina cooked a wonderful German meal for us, which necessitated a walk around the village with Rainer afterwards! When we returned we had the gr8 German a/noon tradition of Kaffee & Kuchen.
I connected with the Finks on my 1st Sunday because they had lived in Australia. In fact, Nina & Timothy (who wears RM Williams boots!) have Australian passports. Rainer is a scientist & in the 80’s he went to Melbourne to be on the staff of Latrobe Uni. After a few years there he was offered a position at Adelaide Uni, & lived in Ashton in the Adel Hills. There they encountered an Anglican priest, & worshipped at St John’s, Norton Summit (where my grandmother was baptised!). So we had much in common & lots to talk about. There is another son still in Sydney. In fact, they might all be still there if it wasn’t for Rainer being offered a position at Heidelberg Uni. At 5.30 pm Rainer & I caught the S-bahn from a nearby town back to Heidelberg.
When I got back to the flat I turned on the computer & found out that Port Adelaide had won their 1st game by just 4 points in a thriller. It was a wonderful conclusion to a delightful day 🙂
Today I catch the train to Zurich. This is to attend the Bishop’s Chrism Mass on Tuesday. Chrism Mass in Zurich……….sounds like an exotic aspect to Holy Week!
I arrived at 3 pm. After checking in to my hotel I walked to St Andrew’s Anglican Church, to see how long it would take to walk – just 45 mins. It was a lovely sunny day, so I explored the city centre. Zurich is nice, esp its setting on the lake.
I set off in plenty of time for the church – we were asked to be there by 11.30 am for the 12 noon Mass. Upon arrival I introduced myself to Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, with whom I have corresponded. To my surprise, there was a priest whom I knew in Melb, now in a Swiss church. The Mass was nice – Bp Rowell has a presence you don’t often find in bishops these days. After the Mass I collected the holy oils for Heidelberg, then joined in the lunch. I got talking with 2 Americans (as I do!) & we had interesting conversations. I always introduce myself by saying: “I’m an Episcopalian priest, tho I don’t sound like it” 🙂
I caught the train back at 1.10 pm, arriving at 5.30 pm. 1st class for the Holy Oils, of course!
No splendid Mass of the Last Supper & Procession to the Altar of Repose tonight. Instead a simple House Mass in the flat with 7 parishioners, followed by supper. In the morning I visited the local barber to get a hair-cut & wrote tomorrow’s sermon. In the a/noon I cooked my usual casserole for the guests, then cleaned the flat. Must have it looking nice for the parishioners 🙂
The House Mass was nice, with 10 present. Afterwards we had an excellent supper & lots of conversation. They are interested in getting to know me just as I am about to leave!
At 10.30 am we had our liturgy, which was a simple version of the Good Friday Liturgy without HC. The Passion was read in 3 sections by 3 different readers, interspersed with 2 verses of the lovely hymn, “My Song is Love Unknown” – a new experience for me. I read the last section: “And Jesus went out carrying his cross…..” A small choir sang the Reproaches & an anthem. I was the only person who actually kissed the cross – everyone else placed votive lights around the crucifix. Afterwards we enjoyed home-made hot cross buns….yummy!
In the a/noon I went to the local RC church for their liturgy. I have not been into this church as it does not have a Daily Mass & has never been open when I have called by. It is a pleasant modern building & was half full, with several families & young people. The celebrant was accompanied by 14 acolytes – more girls than boys. Very impressive. The liturgy was exactly the same as at All SS & St M’s. In the gallery was a nice choir, but we only had 1 hymn. The Passion was said by 3 readers & interspersed with that hymn half-way. Must be the German custom.
I spent the day at home. In the evening I attended the Old Catholic Easter Vigil & was made very welcome. The sacristan robed me in a lovely stole & the priest, Fr Bernd, involved me as much as possible. I stood next to him for the Eucharistic Prayer & distributed HC. It was all in German, of course, but I understood most of it & enthusiastically joined in the hymns. It is much easier to sing a foreign language than speak it! The Service was almost the same as at All SS & St M’s, but without the grand ceremonies & spectacular music. One difference was that after the blessing of the font the congregation all came forward & made the sign of the cross with the water, rather than the priest sprinkling them. As parishioners of mine know, I get very enthusiastic with the sprinkling!
During the Greeting of Peace several spoke to me in English, despite my attempts to say, “Friede mit euch”! Afterwards there was a lovely party. Many people spoke to me & were interested in knowing about me. I always like to tell the story of the Germans who migrated to South Australia in the 1830’s, established German towns & are responsible for Australia’s best wines. Conversation varied between English & German! It was a lovely evening & I went home full of the joy of the Resurrection.
I arrived at the church as the old Catholics were finishing their Mass, & many spoke to me warmly. The sacristan gave me a bottle of wine & Fr Bernd a special Easter candle, urging me to return. Such kindness. Our Anglican Mass was packed with over 60, many of them Americans who all engaged this Episcopal priest with an Aussie accent in conversation. You can expect Heidelberg visitors people of All SS, San Diego! I began the Mass by involving the children in making a cross of flowers & lighting candles from the Paschal Candle. We all then processed down the aisle. The music was good & our little choir sang well. I sang the responsorial psalm, as I have done at the Easter Vigil every year – a new experience for them. At the sermon I had to encourage them twice with the response to “Christ is risen”…..shades of my previous parishes!
Afterwards so many people thanked me for my ministry & said how much they appreciated my sermons & the liturgies for Holy Week, accompanied by gifts of chocolate, of course! One woman said it was just like the Angllcan Church she remembered back home. I caught the tram home, with just an hour to clean up the flat & do a final pack – most of it having been done yesterday. At 4.45 pm I caught the train to Frankfurt. As I left I realised that Heidelberg had become my home & I had made new friends. Germany is now the 5th country I have lived & worked in.
Tonight I am staying in the Fankfurt Intercontinental. I was warmly welcomed back by Josefine, the Guest Relations Manager, & I gave her some choccies. I am now enjoying German food & beer in the Club Lounge – a real Easter treat after Lent. Tomorrow my flight leaves at 12.30 pm. I get to SD late Mon night. On Tues I have a million practical things to do, incl moving 7 boxes of my things from the church office. Can’t have the new Rector confronted with reminders of his illustrious predecessor, even if I am Rector Emeritus!
On Wed I fly back to Melbourne, arriving there on Friday 13th. Unlucky for some…..but for christans it is Easter Friday & all is glorious. Alleluia!