Back in September, I was elected into the parish council in Gellerup, a parish in a suburb to Aarhus. This is the parish I live in when I’m here (which happens to be most of the time). The inauguration of the new council was on Advent Sunday.
In this weekend, the parish councils of Aarhus’ Western Deanery have gathered to attend a weekend course put together to suit us to do what we do as a parish council. We checked in today and had the first speakers on, including a hospital chaplain.
One of the things she said had me convinced once again that my faith is different from the average Dane. Her suggestion of people’s first question when they hear about one being elected into a parish council was: “So, do you believe in God?”
Why would that be their first question? Since when has one’s faith been so personal that nobody has heard of it before? And why would you be in a parish council if you don’t believe in God? Am I the only one wondering about this, and is that because I’m eucumenical and clear about my views? I don’t wear a sign telling everybody that I’m a Christian since that is not what it’s about. But it’s no secret either. Most people have heard me talk about my gospel choir, the Iraqis, looking at a room in the Latin Quarter of Aarhus, and some international initiatives in a multicultural area. And by mentioning those things, I – of course – mean to mention Jerusalemskirken, Brorson’s Church, pastor Anni Albæk/the Street Church, and Gellerup Church, and with those covering both the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark.
People do occasionally come to me with questions about (my) faith, and in most cases, I’m happy to answer them. Some are happy with the answers, others are impressed with what I can tell them, and yet others deliver questions or ponderings to which I have no answer or explanation and can only wonder and ponder with them.
And even others tell me stories that leave me pondering.
This happened at the devotion ending the program tonight. A Reverend told the story of an angel landing in Tilst, another suburb of Aarhus. The angel landed in a garden of a couple. The couple heard it from the house, and the wife sent the husband out to see what it was. He found the angel, but had no idea what to do with it. He put it in the hen house. It made sense to him to do so. He fed the angel who had survived both landing and living in the hen house. With time, the angel grew new white feathers under its otherwise black and brown feathers, and one day in spring, he flew away. The couple didn’t notice – they were drinking coffee.
The Reverend didn’t elaborate, but proceeded to silence and prayer.
Something in that story does make sense to me, but I don’t understand it on a level of logic explanation. I don’t want to pick it to pieces to try to understand or explain it, but if you think I missed something, you’re welcome to explain.
I do have a take on it, though. Common kindness/caring for other beings set aside, faith is something that isn’t necessarily understood or explainable – not even to or by believers. Perhaps it’s not meant to be; it can break apart if you try to hard. Not to worry if you don’t understand. I don’t understand everything, either.