9 November 2009

Breaking bread on the morning of 9 November

Jane: On the morning of 9th November 1989 I was one of the twenty or so ministry students at the Predigerseminar in Wittenberg. We had 10 day modules allowing for a four day weekend beginning after lunch on the Thursday. The Thursday mornings were for our "Auswertungsrunde". Believe me you cannot really understand the groan that this even now inspires in me unless you have been through this kind of evaluation with German theologians who are all direct and critical of the methodologies and content of what and how they are learning ... it is quite indescribable. Of the 25 of us sitting around the evaluation table that morning four people were founding members of three of the different new political parties in the GDR, several had taken part in the big Berlin demonstration on October 7th, one of our lecturers had been a speaker at the huge demonstration in Berlin on November 4th. These were some of the biggish fish in the small GDR pond.
Everyone around the table knew someone who had been imprisoned, several had seen the violence first hand. Together we had begun the prayers for renewal in Wittenberg, experienced and led Reformation Day and Buss und Bettag, learned about liturgy and preaching.
We were young but adults, full of hope, getting ready to have that hope dashed, cynicism was there under the surface. During the previous week we had begun to receive reports of the police brutality towards thos imprisoned in Berlin and Halle at the beginning of October. We had read some of those reports out at our morning prayers and wept and raged. Our emotions were elemental, we were living through a revolution yet everyone was away from home and would rather have been at home with their own peace and church groups, going on the demonstrations with their friends and family - apart from me ...
I had suggested - ever the liturgist - that we should end each 10 day module with a communion service. So after two hours of telling each other what we thought of one another in no uncertain terms, we moved from the painful evaluation table not to the upper but to the lower room where a simple round table is set with bread and wine.
I clearly remember Friedrich Schorlemmer bringing flowers to the table at the last moment and my being deeply moved by that. In my memory they were pinkish snapdragons, but perhaps my memory fails me - surely they could not have survived so far into the season, that must have been on a previous occasion, one eucharist speaks of and reminds one of another. I remember the flowers though, from one of those eucharists and I remember Friedrich's face and body as he place this offering of beauty on the table. (Dr B has my diary and we will see whether my memory was wrong.)
I presided at our round table eucharist and I spoke of remembrance, of my Grandfather being arrested in the Kristallnacht raids and taken away to Sachsenhausen concentration camp 61 years earlier. And so with stories of brokenness, pain and hope all around us, having shared hard and gentler words with each other, we broke bread and drank wine in memory of the one who was broken and shed for us.
Next to me as we prayed and felt the bread and wine in our mouths, my friend U began to sob, tears rolling down his face. He is not ashamed of his grief and emotion. As I think back to that morning my hand remembers the feel of his jeans as I placed my hand on his leg in an attempt not to quiet him but simply to offer comfort and in some strange way to say yes this is what it has been like.
Twelve hours later U and many of the others were spending the night at the impromptu street party on both sides of the wall. The feast of memory became the party of liberation.

Crosspost from the StranzBlog


Post a Comment