Beyond the Swedish Fika

Three weeks after I arrived here in Sweden, I’m starting to love one of its traditions relating to food.

“Fika” (fee-ka) is said to be a social institution for Swedes of all ages and it simply means “drinking coffee.”

fikaThe word is both a Swedish verb and noun. Fika takes place normally after the three major meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Coffee comes with pastries, cookies, biscuits, bread and cinnamon buns (“bullar” in Swedish). Like any tradition, it has evolved from drinking coffee to tea, juice or any kind of beverage.

While I was still in Manila for the program orientation, I was intrigued on the fact that Swedes love to eat in small amounts in between meals, during Fika.

My curiosity was answered upon arrival in Sigtuna during my firsthand experience of what they call “Fika.” It was when I first met my fellow program participants from Brazil and South Africa.

There in that single instance, I knew what Fika truly meant and that it was not purely a time for Swedes to take a coffee break or eat cookies but it is more of a time for fellowship. While drinking coffee and eating cookies, conversations between our Swedish facilitators and fellow program participants began to flourish. Fika was instrumental in getting to know our companions well in this exchange program.

Sweden’s tradition is deep in its meaning. Also, the occasion of Fika becomes a venue for relationships to be strengthened and nourished among family, friends, church members and work colleagues.

Aside from providing time for interaction, it can also be called a sweet and quick escape from the serious side of life. Fika always brings fun, laughter and smiles to everyone who would share in the meal with companions. It’s an occasion to be happy and to get away from the stress of daily work.

This Fika tradition speaks of how Swedes handle the hard and fast life in a developed country. They really make it a point that in the middle of working hours, it’s but fitting to breathe, drink coffee, take some snacks, sit and talk with somebody.

Traditions are but very nice to follow when you get to know the very essence of it. Three weeks has passed and I am still not certain about the whole meaning of Fika but at least, I’m writing some preliminary observations on why such tradition exists here in Sweden.

Fika can be synonymous with a cup of coffee paired with cinnamon buns but for me, I would define it as a way of fellowship for Swedes. It’s but an important time of the day to pause and get some coffee to cope with the cold weather and lastly, it’s a time to talk and share thoughts about life.

//Klein F. Emperado is one of the exchange students in the exchange programme ”Young in the World Wide Chuch” 2014. During three months he will be spending time in Sweden, sharing life, faith and every day life. Klein is a Mass Communications graduate from Silliman University, Dumaguete, Philippines and also he works as Editorial Assistant for the said university. In the exchange he represents the Philippine Independent Church/Iglesia Filipina Independiente. His line of ministry is focused mainly on Liturgy and Music for the Diocese of Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

// Klein F. Emperado är en av deltagarna i utbytesprogrammet Ung i den världsvida kyrkan 2014. Under tre månader delar han vardag, tro och liv med människor här i Sverige. Under sin första månad spenderar han tid i St Mikaels församling i Stockholms stift. Klein har tagit examen i masskommunikation vid Silliman University, Dumaguete, Filippinerna och han jobbar idag som redaktörsassistent för nämnda universitet. I utbytesprogrammet representerar han den Filippinska oberoende kyrkan (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). Hans stora intresse och inriktning innom kyrkan är främst liturgi och musik för stiftet i Negros Oriental och Siquijor.

Hope Springs from Kids in Church

On a snowy Wednesday afternoon at half past two, kids began to arrive for choir practice. Aside from the fact that it’s about the middle of the week and with a very unlikely weather, it was unusual for kids to spend time for church. They could have chosen to go home straight from school and spent some spare time doing childish stuff.

But they came to practice songs for the church service. These kids are unintentionally deviating from the trend of secularization in this country. According to the inputs from the orientation week, Sweden is the world’s most secularized country and proof of which is a very high percentage of people not attending church services as of the present. This indeed is posing a big problem for Svenska Kyrkan (Church of Sweden) in the near future.

But with this kind of practice in my host congregation at St. Mikael Parish in Vårby gård , I don’t see a bleak future a few years from now. These kids, who are given responsibilities in church while being nurtured in their faith through some creative Sunday school activities, will soon grow into mature individuals. It may be different in other parishes here in Sweden but their practice here in this specific parish is worth emulating.

Educating the teenagers and the matured members could be a hard task. But kids are easy to influence especially when they see older people who are setting the example. When kids come to church for church services, art-related activates and choir practices, comes an opportunity for church workers to share not just about religion, church involvement, fellowship with neighbors but more likely, about faith in God, the very basic thing that every Christian should bear.

This is an indication of hope. In a country where church attendance and participation is not common, there is still hope for the Church of Sweden few years from now because of the kids who are attending the service and the Sunday school almost every week in this parish.

Last Sunday, I was amazed and surprised to see kids attending the church service on their own. These kids are filled with the willingness to attend church and this normally springs from their responsibilities during the Sunday Mass. When kids would not serve as members of the choir, they assist in the liturgical processions, offertory, and the communion rites.

I felt like home seeing the children participate in the conduct of the service. Back home, I have a children’s choir singing for the Mass every Sunday. It feels so good that I share the same mission and passion with my host parish.

Engaging the kids into the service and giving them responsibilities could be one of the best ways to prepare for the future of the church.

Years from now, these kids who are willing to take responsibility in church services will soon mature. Surely, they will find a way to be in church on Sundays to bring their kids and let them experience what they used to do when they were young. And the cycle continues.

Hope lives as long as kids are willing to learn about God in Sunday school. Hope lives as long as you see kids participating actively in the services. Hope lives as long as you see several kids participate in song practices and other learning activities. Hope lives as long as you hear kids sing loudly the hymns during the service. Hope lives for the Church of Sweden as long as you see kids come on Sundays.  Hope springs from Kids in Church.

//Klein F. Emperado is one of the exchange students in the exchange programme ”Young in the World Wide Chuch” 2014. During three months he will be spending time in Sweden, sharing life, faith and every day life. Klein is a Mass Communications graduate from Silliman University, Dumaguete, Philippines and also he works as Editorial Assistant for the said university. In the exchange he represents the Philippine Independent Church/Iglesia Filipina Independiente. His line of ministry is focused mainly on Liturgy and Music for the Diocese of Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

// Klein F. Emperado är en av deltagarna i utbytesprogrammet Ung i den världsvida kyrkan 2014. Under tre månader delar han vardag, tro och liv med människor här i Sverige. Under sin första månad spenderar han tid i St Mikaels församling i Stockholms stift. Klein har tagit examen i masskommunikation vid Silliman University, Dumaguete, Filippinerna och han jobbar idag som redaktörsassistent för nämnda universitet. I utbytesprogrammet representerar han den Filippinska oberoende kyrkan (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). Hans stora intresse och inriktning innom kyrkan är främst liturgi och musik för stiftet i Negros Oriental och Siquijor.

 

Looking at Rainbows: A Grown-up’s Perspective

When I was a kid, I used to marvel at rainbows that normally appear in the sky. I thought this childish thought would have disappeared through time and maturity but as time gradually passes, I come to realize that my appreciation of the rainbow was just the beginning of my understanding and belief that when different things come together, there is beauty.

In coming to Sweden as a participant for this Youth Exchange Program, I saw how sixteen different souls get along easily and it brought me back to my younger years and my admiration on the rainbow has grown deeper. Coming from different cultures, traditions, continents and faith denominations, it was a bit hard for me to explain how the magic work for all us who are united in just a few hours of sharing thoughts and interests.

Thinking deeper, I pointed some similarities with the people from South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Swaziland, Brazil and the Philippines. In all of these countries, we were colonized by foreigners. It was common among us that once in our respective historical timelines, we fought for our right, for our freedom and for our identity.

Another powerful tool involved in this unity is Music and with this experience, I have proven that Music is a universal language. I was right with my expectations pertaining to our brothers and sisters from South Africa, Tanzania, Swaziland and Botswana that they loved music and are mostly musicians. Singing together the unity song, “Many Gifts, One Spirit” was a heartwarming phenomenon for me. It was normal for me to direct choirs in my church but this choir we have with my fellow participants, it was special. I never expected that once in my life, I would conduct a choir composed of people from different nations.Choir

Lastly, Faith in Jesus Christ has made us one. Though we come from different faith traditions, we were united in prayer, songs and we shared about our commonalities in our churches rather than discuss on how we differ from each other. The evening prayers remind all of us that at the end of a long day, it is fitting to thank the Lord, pray, pause awhile, be in silence and reflect on God’s word.

A week has passed and today, all of us will be assigned to Church of Sweden’s parishes and dioceses. As for me and my companions, we will be seeing more rainbows in the congregations but with the positive mindset that different things are good and beautiful.

Our common prayer is that God will open our hearts and minds for us to see differences as a blessing. We hope for the best in this journey with the Church of Sweden that we may share what we have and that we may learn from their church, as well.

//Klein F. Emperado, is a Mass Communications graduate from Silliman University, Dumaguete, Philippines and also he works as Editorial Assistant for the said university. He represents the Philippine Independent Church/Iglesia Filipina Independiente. His line of ministry is focused mainly on Liturgy and Music for the Diocese of Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

// Klein F. Emperado, har tagit examen i masskommunikation vid Silliman University, Dumaguete, Filippinerna och han jobbar idag som redaktörsassistent för nämnda universitet. Han representerar den filippinska oberoende kyrkan (Iglesia Filipina Independiente) i utbytesprogrammet Ung i den världsvida kyrkan. Hans stora intresse och inriktning innom kyrkan är främst liturgi och musik för stiftet i Negros Oriental och Siquijor.