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Staunen 2018 (Germany)

Staunen (Amazing) 2018

Have you ever met someone called Jedediah (2 Samuel 12.25)? Jed (as he prefers to be called) is a Texan living in Hamburg and was one of the interpreters at Staunen, a four day involving some 850 Methodists (from small children to older folk with limited mobility) from across Europe (from Bulgaria to Ireland and Portugal to Norway). It happened over what for many in Europe is the long Ascensiontide weekend at Dunenhof in Cuxhaven on the German North Sea coast. Plenary sessions were in German and English with headsets for those whose preferred language was Russian and small groups around interpreters into other languages. Bible studies and workshops were mostly in a single language. We were encouraged to meet others each day in small multinational groups each of which also used a single language; mine used English but I was the the only native English speaker amongst them, others including a Danish Methodist bishop.

People had come to Cuxhaven by plane and train and car. Two minibuses had brought Methodists including a trainee interpreter on a two day journey from FYR Macedonia. In plenary sessions we heard a German performance poet, Marco Michalzik (with English versions on screens); tomorrow, he said, today is already yesterday. Each day we also saw short performances by Play it by ear (two young Christians from Belfast playitbyeardrama.com) illuminating the daily theme.

We sang hymns and worship songs many of which were familiar to British Methodists, often sung in English. We learned the tune which German Methodists (and most Christians in North America) sing to ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’ which is neither Richmond, nor Lydia nor Lyngham!

Daily themes included wrestling (Genesis 32.23-32), step by step (Mark 8.22-26) and seeing things differently (Acts 16.6-10). On Saturday afternoon we worshipped (at low tide) on Sahlenburg beach and listened to the story of Peter attempting to walk on water. We were invited to reflect on the question: When should each of us leave the boat? Do we trust enough to do so?

Each day began with informal worship and the telling of stories. Music was led by a number of groups ranging from a robed choir to a youth band. At a workshop we were told that the composition of the youth band kept changing and that the youngest member was now younger than the group itself. On Saturday a wonderful children’s choir from eastern Germany (Schmetterlinge - butterflies) entertained us both on the beach and later in the main Festival Tent.

On Sunday the Festival ended with a Communion Service at which we were invited to reflect on the story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17.1-13). The story was read by an invisible voice as theatrical smoke filled the stage. The preacher (who leads a big church in the Netherlands) challenged us to listen to Jesus and to live as Christ’s new creation here and now, today and tomorrow and the next day. Do not build tents but instead take the journey of faith.

Dudley Coates