WESTMONT IN NORTHERN EUROPE

Dresden

". . . . Both were destroyed in the February 1945 Allied bombing of Dresden. The Frauenkirche was left destroyed, with its heap of rubble where it lay, for some 50 years before being rebuilt to its former splendor. The Kreuzkirche (photo) was rebuilt as quickly as funds would allow, in the early 50s—and it's a very different place. It's a big beautiful baroque church, but the interior is shocking—almost entirely plain beige stucco. The congregation was eager to worship in their church again, and in the early 50s in East Germany that's what funds allowed. And it's a good thing they did. That congregation played a major role in the East German 'Peaceful Revolution' sparked by the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig. Today the interior of the Kreuzkirche is left plain stucco as a kind of memorial to what it took in the 50s to get back to worshipping in the church.

A week and a half ago, we took part in our second Coventry Litany of Reconciliation. The first was in the ruins of the Coventry Cathedral in England; the second in the Chapel of Reconciliation, which lies in the former death strip of the Berlin Wall. You may know that after the Coventry Cathedral was destroyed by the 1940 German air raid on Coventry; the Provost of the Cathedral wrote the words "Father forgive" behind what had been the altar. Shortly thereafter he gave a very unpopular radio address committing himself and the Cathedral community to reconciliation with the German people. That was the start of the Cross of Nails Community, a worldwide network of churches that have suffered from conflict and are committed to supporting peacemaking and reconciliation in areas of conflict.

ReconciiationBoth the Frauenkirche and Kreuzkirche in Dresden are Cross of Nails churches, as is this Chapel of Reconciliation in the former path of the Berlin Wall. Its story is remarkable. When the Allies drew up the four administrative zones of Berlin, the border between the Soviet and British zones ran along the street directly in front of a big Lutheran church, the Church of Reconciliation. When the Berlin Wall went up, it passed directly in front of the church. As the Wall developed into two parallel walls with a closely guarded strip between, the church found itself in that so-called death strip. It stood there, unused, for 24 years. Finally the East German government decided to have it demolished. Four years later, the wall was gone. About ten years ago, this architecturally fantastic little chapel (photo) was built on the site of the former church.

The pastor was very kind when he discovered that he had 25 Americans there for the Litany of Reconciliation. He did everything he could to offer the service in both German and English. Here are the words of the Litany:

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, Father Forgive.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own, Father Forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth, Father Forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others, Father Forgive.
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee, Father Forgive.
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children, Father Forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God, Father Forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."