Celebrating, learning and sharing as a church of possibility

Christine Shander, front, and fellow young reformers. Of Workshop Wittenberg, she says: We have gone from being strangers to sharing our personal faith journeys. Photo: GYRN
Christine Shander, front, and fellow young reformers. Of Workshop Wittenberg, she says: We have gone from being strangers to sharing our personal faith journeys. Photo: GYRN

Christine Shander reflects on Workshop Wittenberg experiences and perspectives that have helped to enrich the faith of fellow youth from Lutheran churches across the world and encouraged them to grow together in unity.

 

It has been a blessing to join the 140 young reformers gathered for Workshop Wittenberg. We are gathered to celebrate the fact we are a church of possibility and to share our experiences, struggles and hopes through our various languages and cultural backgrounds.

Together we are experiencing the Pentecost. In the past week, we have talked, laughed, danced, prayed, worshiped, and shared meals and traditions with one another. We speak with broken second languages, translators and universal hand gestures. We are very different from one another but we are united as Lutherans “freed by God’s love to change the world”. We have gone from being strangers to sharing our personal faith journeys, discussing what it means for us to be young adult Lutherans, and sharing the burdens our communities face back home.

It has been fun to meet new friends and experience cultural exchange but it has also been a time in which we are learning to be patient and understanding of our differences. Having to slow down for language barriers helps us to think about listening to one another more. Through that listening, our concept of the world, of our faith and of our church has become bigger.

When we first started the conference, Rev. Dr Martin Junge shared some wisdom from an African bishop. He told us, “You need to listen in order to understand, not in order to respond…Try to understand the shoes they are walking in, the pain in their hearts or the love that is moving them. Listen to understand.”

Junge also spoke about the “Gospel of God being big: “There is no single culture that can capture it and reflect it. We need each other to get it right so that we do not get bound into situations where we don’t see, recognize or realize what the Word is about.” This has been particularly meaningful as we reflect together on the daily themes. I have learned so much from my international sisters and brothers, not only about the experiences and perspectives they bring, but also about the process of sharing together so that our faith may be enriched and that we may grow together in unity and proclamation of the Gospel.

 

Christine Shander is a young reformer from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She serves as the Christian Growth Coordinator at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Delafield, Wisconsin, United States.

Follow events live at Workshop Wittenberg

 

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.