Monday, 15 September 2008

Back from the promised land ...

Returning home from the Promised Land Conference in Bern where I was interpretting is quite strange. I feel as if something important and special took place in the theological and political discussions at the meeting, it was an enormous privilege to be there and listen in on animated, passionate and erudite debate of this kind. Much was also said about language, finding a new language and appropriate terminology for the discussion to be able to be taken forwards - though I admit my own language problems were rather more prosaic - trying to get the speakers to slow down enough for us to have half a chance of interpretting their thoughts into another language! Anyway, I have come away proud of my colleagues at the World Council of Churches who put so much effort and thought into preparing the conference.
It was also an eyeopener for me - as I know so little of the churches in Switzerland outside Geneva - to see the commitment of the local Reformed churches in Bern Jura Solothurn to the issue of a just peace in the Middle East. This is long term theological commitment and their involvement not just in the issues but with the people in Palestine and Israel really spoke to me of a spirituality of resistance and a faith that believes in painful engagement.
I have come away from the conference having learnt a great deal, had extraordinary conversations and my mind stretched. I also feel personally challenged. More of that as my thinking develops and some other catch up thoughts on the conference as the week progresses.