Sunday, 12 September 2010

Preaching on the roesti graben!

Yesterday afternoon in perfect weather I took the train up to the "Jura bernois" near St Imier. I stayed overnight with Hansuli and Rose and preached this morning at the lovely Mennonite chapel in La Chaux D'Abel.
I realised how little I actually know Switzerland and particularly this part where German and French merge - often known as the Roestigraben - the fried potato ditch. However it's less of a ditch and more a sort of moveable feast as land and house prices mean that people move outside their linguistic areas. Most people over 40 in this religious community speak both languages. Gradually more services are being held in French in the Mennonite communities of the region. Very interesting to chart the linguistic changes for minority communities who have also suffered historic persecution.
Anyway, the service today - a celebration of Hansuli and Rose's commitment to one another and life together - gave me much to think about. We stood with them in a circle - praying for them and for the world. We celebrated love and joy and a sense of belonging in time and space. It was good for me to preach in French again rather than in English and fascinating to hear the beauty of Swiss German even if I don't always understand it. Plattdeutsch or dutch are easier for me, my ear just doesn't get the southern German dialects so well ... interesting that the Bible passages were mainly read in hochdeutsch.
Discovering this until now hidden away region made me realise just what riches Switzerland has - we ate beef, honey, butter, cheese and vegetables from the local villages. Local food is good, in fact it is utterly delicious!
More than a 100 people were fed in the garden this afternoon - there was the occasional queue for food or the toilet, but no sense of hectic. A sense of wider family, of village and local life, and a deep and real openness to a much bigger and wider world beyond, not simply as a place for tourism but as a place for engagement, commitment and challenge.
It was "wohltuend" to be with good people having a gentle and joyful time.
I preached on joy as being "imprenable et essetielle", probably I need to listen to and understand my own message at some point. For now I give thanks for a beautiful and memorable 24 hours in my life.


Helmut said...

Hello Jane
merci pour ton engagment de hier chez nous à La Chaux-d'Abel. Merci encore une fois pour le message de joie que tu nous as transmis. Je te souhait aussi pour l'avenir et ton travail que Dieu te benisse!
Le président de la Communauté mennonite La Chaux-d'Abel Helmut Eisinger

Jane said...

Danke Helmut - j'ai bcp aimé la découverte de votre communauté - tout de bon!