The two brothers greeting the Seattle church at Christmastime are Normen Rhode and Andreas Webber. Both serve in lay leadership in the Berlin church, a congregation of about 150 Christians. This resilient, visionary congregation is about to enter a season in which no one will be serving in the full time ministry, a fact the lay leaders hope will be short-lived. Many tremendous ministers have served in the history of the Berlin church, including, among others, Dean and Kim Farmer, Christian Herbst, Mirko Russo, and Mathis Wosegien.
Because of this new season, the lay leaders of the church have asked Christian Herbst (now in Zurich, Switzerland), Valdur Koha (Boston) and me—AND our wives—to serve as “coaches” for their church. This first trip for Lynne and me (thank you, Ron and Linda for accompanying us and for teaching the families in Berlin on parenting!) helped us build relationships with the lay leaders, gave us time with them individually to understand their leadership experiences and hopes, and allowed us to attend various meetings with other leaders to attend them on their new journey.
Berlin is a wonderful city, but there simply wasn’t time on this trip to show much more than this clip from the Weinmarkt Christmas market, not far from Humboldt University and the Brandenburg Gate of Frederick the Great. It seemed to us that no one decorates for Christmas quite like the Germans.
On Sunday I was able to share a Christmas-tinged lesson that emphasized Memory, Awareness, and Calling for the disciples. Lynne and I were able to share in abundance about all of you in the Seattle church; our Berlin brothers and sisters were keenly interested in all of you, and in how we’ve navigated maturity issues in our church. I also had opportunity to share on Sunday how poignant it was for me, the son of a US military officer, to be where the Berlin Wall once was—a symbol of conflict, confusion, and longing. The wall is finally gone, but not theses spiritual themes, which still, 20 years later, find their fulfillment no where else as they do in the kingdom of God.