In our province of Rhineland Palatinate, students are currently enjoying a two week Spring Break. Each province in Germany tries to take slightly different holiday breaks to minimize the traffic congestion that would take place if all the country’s students suddenly started travelling. Since many of our students at Friedenshaus also have children, we chose to take this week off as well. We will begin classes again on April 17th, Easter Monday.
During this past weekend, we visited the Lake Constance area of southern Germany. Many years ago I met two MCC trainees from Europe who were working in Winnipeg and attending our church. I had the opportunity to visit them when I studied in Germany for a summer back in the mid 80s. We lost touch for a long time until one of them, Dorothea Etzel, emailed me when she heard Marla and I would be in Germany this year. Dorothea and her husband Jan had invited us to visit them in Friedrichshafen so we took advantage of this time to bike and hike around this beautiful area of the country. We were blessed with gorgeous weather, lovely scenery and warm hospitality – thank you!
The Etzel family lives in a quiet suburb of Friedrichshafen and attend a local Protestant church very nearby. The Protestant and Catholic churches are within a few hundred metres of each other and combine their services a few times a year. Palm Sunday is one of these times where the two congregations worship together. The service began in the Protestant church with a short introduction and songs. We then stepped outside and joined in a Palm Sunday procession toward the Catholic church. We stopped along the way to sing songs accompanied by a small brass ensemble. The service ended in the Catholic church, followed by refreshments outside in the sunshine.
I found the service to be a wonderful celebration of what we have in common as Christians. Without denying our differences, this service respected both denominations yet invited all participants to honour the Easter season with praise and joy. Enjoying the procession in warm sunshine didn’t hurt either!
German Word of the Week: “der Zeppelin” (the Zeppelin) – for those of you interested, Friedrichshafen is the home of the Zeppelin. Friedrich von Zeppelin already had the idea of building these airships in the late 19th Century. They were used by the Germans in WW1 but became legendary after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. Today, they offer daily flights across the Bodensee, but I understand they are a bit pricey. Fun fact – British rock band Led Zeppelin got their name after their drummer Keith Moon thought the idea of starting a band would go over like “a lead balloon”. Guess he was wrong.
p.s. We also enjoyed meeting up with friends in Ulm on our way home. Cathy Hummelt and daughter Danica are currently in Munich, where Danica is studying German and Cathy is studying Munich culture!