by Rev. Andreas van Breda
Autumn in Germany emerges gradually: the Sun rises that bit later every day, the air is fresh and somewhat cool and the leaves on the tree’s burst into bright colours of red, orange and gold, a last flourish before the winter comes.
In this festive mood two-thousand-three-hundred-and-fifty-six people descended upon the Logos Conference in Dortmund from thirty-eight countries, in celebration of The Christian Community’s Centenary and with a hopeful glance towards the future. Both young and old were to share five intense and joyful days together, having travelled from all corners of the world.
The Conference took place on the sprawling grounds of the George Waldorf School & Pedagogical Centre, surrounded by leafy woods. Several tents were erected to house the large gatherings and provide a place to meet and eat.
We were welcomed with festive cheer and heard an inspiring talk from a young Dutch priest, Mathijs van Alstein, who described how in 1922, the word found a completely new expression in the world. It was in this year that the BBC launched a news service and suddenly, through speaking into a microphone, people were reached in their homes and could listen to the news on a radio - a ground-breaking experience, no doubt.
Of course in the same year, a different Word began to speak and shine into the world also, in the form of the renewed Mass, the Act of Consecration of Man. For the first time, a very different language came into being, a new kind of religious activity, beginning a new relationship to the spiritual world in the founding of The Christian community.
Mathijs went on to describe two pillars of our Movement for Religious Renewal: on the one hand we may experience how essential is the need for form: The physical structures of the churches, the vestments and their changing colours in the festival year, the forms of the Sacraments themselves. And on the other hand, equally as essential is the continual need for movement: the conscious celebration of the festivals anew, the striving to develop new thoughts, new impulses, welcoming original ideas, and being authentic in our changing relating.
And with a view to the future, he warned against becoming a closed, isolationist community, but rather, like the Honey-Bee who, yes, is working in the hive for its health and vitality, but then goes out into the world, pollinating flowers and tree’s so that new life may emerge. With this inspiring picture, the Conference began.
By far the most difficult decision to make in these days was what not to participate in. There were more workshops and talks to choose from than was possible to attend, with a great variety of themes, one more interesting than the next. And each was rich and inspiring, filled with thought and conversation, working with a myriad of questions of our time, of the Human Being and of the Earth.
The ‘free-time’ between the organised events was filled with dancing circles, singing youth groups from different parts of the world and lots and lots of human encounters.
Everywhere people were in conversation; some for the first time, somehow having found one another in a crowd, and many warm reunions of old friends. The warmth and joy of these encounters were palpable and are surely the creative substance that can radiate into the many parts of the world where each person has now returned.
A further hallmark of the Conference was the celebrating of the Act of Consecration of Man each morning. Several altars were erected in different rooms on the School grounds to accommodate the large number of participants. Each day the Eucharist sounded from the altar, celebrated in nine different languages over these days. In addition four candidates who had been prepared to take up the task of priesthood, were Ordained, one on each day. Every Conference participant had an opportunity to take part in one of these Ordinations, which took place in the large School Hall. These events were filled with reverence, with joy and with great hope. Our founding began with Ordinations, perhaps marking the Centenary milestone with Ordinations was most fitting.
And as we said farewell at the closing ceremony on the last morning, with singing, a riveting mime act and parting words, each person began to think of the next part of their journey perhaps with new questions.
What will the next one-hundred years bring? How are we to be in the new world? What do I need to access it, and what is my contribution?
The Christian Community is indeed a being. A being which spans the continents of the world, which we may feel a part of. And a spiritual being, which takes great interest in our work as a congregation. In the cool autumn air in Dortmund, (but also experienced in all the congregations around the world), The Christian Community’s Centenary was worthily celebrated. A look back at our beginning, remembering the Founders who formed the vehicle for this being to draw near; a sense of where and who we are today and a hopeful glance into the future.
In directing our souls-eye with what radiates forth from our altars, then and now, we may in a true Michaelic sense, each individually feel the earnestness of our own responsibility in cultivating a relationship with the being of Christ, for the development of Man on the Earth and into the future.
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