From God's fullness we have all received, grace upon grace
Jetzt ist die Zeit!

Jetzt ist die Zeit!

Now is the time! Or, as the NRSV translates Mark 1.15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near”. That was the motto of this year’s edition of Kirchentag, the festival of faith, culture and political discussion organised on alternate years by the Evangelical Church and Catholic Church in Germany.

From 7th-11th June, I and 99,999 or so other people descended on Nuremberg. That was not the only big number. The events programme was 522 pages long! So I was very grateful for the app to help me navigate. And I also had a strategy. Usually at Greenbelt I look for unfamiliar content, but I decided almost full-immersion in German was sufficiently different, focused on the rich Spirituality theme (prayer, community and pilgrimage) and largely ignored the rest.

It also helped that for an hour each morning everything else stopped for a Bible study. Although here also was a choice between leaders from theologians to child psychologists to Jewish-Muslim-Christian dialogue to President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. (Chancellor Olaf Scholz put in an appearance later, speaking on shaping the future. Kirchentag is a significant event.) Here I was guided by proximity and whether I could get in.

This was the first downside for me: queues and full venues. Inevitable, really. The other was the formality and lack of audience participation. Ironically, the only Q&A I experienced was at “Kosten die Stille”, taste the silence, an intro to Centring Prayer that also featured impressive rolls of thunder.

But I realised that Kirchentag for me was less about talks and lectures than about conversations and praying with others. So I observed many of the round of daily prayers, and haunted the Spirituality centre, in the church of St. Klara and the garden behind it, simply watching the sparrows and talking to people. It was good to see so many religious communities there, and to witness the strong desire for teaching and practice in spirituality and prayer.

Some highlights: two wonderful “Walk and Talks”, encounters with one or two others, guided by suggested questions relating to faith and community; “Kraft der Bäume” a workshop on the power of trees providing spiritual metaphors through the year; and the giant church of St. Lorenz packed to the colourfully-lit vaulting for choral evensong in English.

I also learnt a new word: ‘Impuls’, which depending on the context is an idea, inspiration, stimulation, or prompt to conversation, action or prayer. Jetzt ist die Zeit…