Sunday Service and community meal

After a three hour service with a vibrant youth choir, the baptism of the pastors child, my preaching and Holy Commumion the whole congregation of the Protestant Christians in Srinagar eat together.

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In my sermon I spoke about the welcoming of refugees in Germany and the challenges of the interreligious dialogue. Some sentences from the sermon:

… Maybe you are aware that in Europe we have a big refugee movement. Far more than one million people have arrived in Germany since the summer of 2015 after fleeing wars and conflicts, many of them from Syria and Afghanistan. The vast majority of the German population holds a positive attitude towards them and the task of providing a secure haven for these displaced persons, and for opening a new home for many of the arrivals. All the churches in Germany dedicate themselves to those seeking help, often combining their efforts with other political and social initiatives. My own church appeals to our congregations in many ways, and asks that they continue to help the refugees. Many refugee activities are sponsored by EKHN’s community service deanery, the “Diakonie Hessen.” According to Church President Volker Jung, the main challenge this spring of 2016 is to make sure that the refugees in the country are treated humanely and with respect. As Christians we affirm our position and our faith through our commitment towards the refugees. The Bible says: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (3rd book of Moses – Leviticus 19:33-34)

Often the refugees from the Middle and Near East, from Asia and Africa bring their own believe and religion along with them. Many of them are Muslims. You brothers and sisters in India now what it means to live in an interreligious environment and here in Kashmir you know what it means to live under a Muslim majority. …

… The Pope teaches that an attitude of openness in truth and in love must characterize the dialogue with the followers of non-Christian religions, in spite of various obstacles and difficulties, especially forms of fundamentalism on both sides. Interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world, and so it is a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. This dialogue is in first place a conversation about human existence or simply, as the bishops of India have put it, a matter of “being open to them, sharing their joys and sorrows”. In this way we learn to accept others and their different ways of living, thinking and speaking. … In this dialogue attention must always be paid to the essential bond between dialogue and proclamation, which leads the Church to maintain and intensify her relationship with non-Christians. … Evangelization and interreligious dialogue, far from being opposed, mutually support and nourish one another. …

Flashlights from the service and the community meal:

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