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Pastor Gen - Thoughts from a Sabbatical #6

Dear Veradale Friends,

As you hear this letter, it is 9-11. I remember with you the disaster of that day and pray with you for all the families that continue to struggle with deep grief and health issues.

Reflections and experience:

This week, I learn more about what other countries think about ours. A man from Nigeria asked me about what will happen to the US if Trump is voted back into office. I told him that while I cannot see the future, it is clear to me that it would be a disaster. Two more people joined our conversation as we waited in the lunch line, one I think was from Sweden, and the other from South Africa. They all seemed very up-to-date with concern for our country.

I left the World Council of Churches (WCC) on their last day, Thursday September 8 to come to Hamburg. Earlier in the week, I received and email from Venerable Jampa whom I know from Sravasti Abbey. She has returned to Hamburg and had seen my photos from Berlin on Instagram and invited me to visit the Tibetan Center in Hamburg to talk about interfaith connections. I stayed with the Buddhist nuns and students for September 8 and 9. I went to their book study where I was asked questions about what is similar and what is different between Christianity and Buddhism, visited their class where the questions were about how to build relationship across religions, and I created photos of the center and students for their community.

On September 9, I arrived in Tornesch, to visit Hana’s host Family’s farm. They have 6 horses, 4 chickens, one cat, and a beautiful vegetable garden. In just these couple of days I have heard about the concerns over the fuel shortages and the climate change. Hamburg, which is famous for rainy weather, had five weeks with no rain until the day I arrived. I learned that the corn harvest is smaller. The native trees are dying from the heat and drought and there are places in Germany that are heating up faster than others because of the geography of the land.

All along my journey, I have heard serval Germans talked about the Russian aggression in Ukraine. The German government has been very clear in their opposition to the efforts of Putin to take over Ukraine. In response, Putin has cut off all gas to Germany. Currently, the price of a gas bill for a one bedroom apartment is about $500 dollars in Hamburg. It will be worse in the winter months. People fear losing their businesses and homes.

In all of this, I think about the promise of our faith. Jesus is God with us. These are the times in which we live and God is with us. Many times at the World Council of Churches, people would talk about how Jesus was born, crucified, and raised from the dead. The part that was not spoken was that Jesus lived. He ate, drank, laughter and cried with his friends. He showed compassion and spoke truthfully about the actions of those who governed the land in his time. He lived in his time and is alive with us in our time to shine a light in the darkness. As one person said at the WCC, to live with the hope that is deep in our faith is not only counter cultural - it is courageous.

With blessings,

Pastor Gen

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