Holy Week Pilgrimage in Sweden

Pilgrimage is described as “a journey to a holy, special and unusual place.” Some may name places like Jerusalem in Israel, Taize in France, Santiago de Compostela in Spain or Fatima in Portugal where pilgrims normally flock to enrich their faith.

My stay here in Sweden is a faith journey and experiencing how the Church of Sweden celebrates the Holy Week and Easter can, as well, be tantamount to what they define as a pilgrimage.

Holy Week experience here in this part of the globe is not so far from the practices of my church but I see the celebrations as somewhat less-complicated yet meaningful.

Palmsöndagen (Palm Sunday)

Kicking off the weeklong faith journey is Palm Sunday and their way of commemorating the triumphal entry to Jerusalem was special because kids from the Sunday school program marched with their (handcrafted paper) palms during the offertory procession.

What made it special? The kids were raising and waving the paper palms thus, it emitted a festive sound of welcome. The scenario helped me recall how the people of Israel welcomed Jesus riding on a humble donkey as He was on His way to save His people through death on the cross and to manifest His power by rising from the dead.

During that day, I was overjoyed as I also welcomed a fellow member of the Philippine Independent Church who accepted my invitation to attend the service in my host parish. Dr. Yul Quanico, a medical practitioner specializing in Urology, was here in Sweden to attend a conference.

While guiding him through the Mass, I then realized that I have been used to the service in the Swedish Church. He appreciated the hymns and the conduct of the Mass in my host parish (Sankt Mikaels Forsamling – Vårby Gård Kyrka) and I strongly agree with him. Their service is more congregational – a Mass highly-participated by the several people of all ages.

Skärstorsdag (Maundy Thursday)

Like in any journey, a traveler has to take some rest. There were no public services on Holy Monday until Holy Wednesday (for the church workers) so, the pilgrimage continued the next day on Maundy Thursday.

The Eucharistic celebration with slow paced hymns accompanied by organ music was short, plain and solemn.

But after the postlude was played, I was touched and felt emotional watching the altar being stripped and emptied. My longing for Christ even more ignited as candles were extinguished and when the crucifix was covered.

After the service, an empty altar and a covered crucifix were left with dim lights inside church. Such symbols made me realize how is it when Christ is absent in a person’s life. The absence of Christ would signify a life with no beauty and meaning.

Långfredag (Good Friday)

When I arrived in church before the service, I gazed at the wooden cross on the altar with a crown of thorns hanged on it. The surround was a bit dark and only a small candle was lit in front of the cross with some blood-colored roses on the side.

As the short service began, I felt the sad mood conveyed by the opening hymn and throughout the worship, there was an unexplainable grief. Commemorating Christ’s suffering and death on the cross is commonly a heartbreaking and gloomy event in the Liturgical life of any church following Catholic traditions.

Svart Lördag (Black Saturday)

As I came to the Easter Vigil Mass, I thought of how the service would be conducted and how many people would usually come to a midnight gathering, starting at half past eleven.

Soon before the service began, about sixty to seventy people were already inside the church. Near the entrance, people started to gather holding candles and psalm books.

The usual procession going to the church’s interior began the Mass with the Paschal Candle leading the way for the congregation. I recognized the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation), though in a different language, sung by two cantors, the most solemn way to commence the joyful service.

Like what my church does back home on this same day, only the Paschal Candle is lit during the reading of the lessons. There was also the renewal of baptismal vows and the whole congregation held candles until the end of the Mass. In addition to the rites, the priest blessed the congregation with water from the baptismal font.

What struck me most during the service? It was when the empty table was turned into a colorfully adorned altar with the crucifix, numerous tall candles and vividly colored flowers.

Scenes and rituals expressed the joy of Christ’s resurrection including the happy songs which were sung joyfully by the whole congregation, who also felt energized even if the celebration ended at early dawn.

Food is something essential in every journey and I also had the chance to taste what Swedish people usually eat after the Easter Vigil. My host parent was busy preparing the smoked lamb and some bread earlier that day.

Påskdag (Easter Sunday)

After the faith-renewing service, I slept for a few hours and went back to church for the Easter Sunday Mass, the most important of all Sundays in the whole of Christendom.

With a grand choir accompanied by the music of the trumpet, the Mass illustrated the joyful and festive atmosphere in celebration of Christ’s victory over death through His resurrection.

Around eighty people attended the said service and most of them sang the happy hymns by heart and the feel of Easter was all around when the Gloria (Glory) was sung by the church choir. Among the congregational favorites which make the celebration more festive and participative is Per Harling’s “Du är Helig,” used as Sanctus (Holy).

Journey’s End

Easter Sunday marked not just the end of my Holy Week Journey but it also signaled the closing stages of my stay here in my first host congregation.

While delivering a message of thanks to the congregation, my weakness in bidding goodbyes rose to life. I almost cried while recalling how the parish has provided me more than a church but a home where I could be a light to others through my songs and music for more than a month.

I share with the parish, the same goal of preparing for the church’s future by educating and involving the kids in church activities. Our churches are threatened by world’s materialism and through the kids; we can together combat the threat.

The parish has inspired me to continue my work in the music ministry and with the kid’s choir I have back home. With everything, Tack så mycket! I will never forget this journey with my first host parish.

For me, the forty days of stay was more than a scheduled exposure program but a pilgrimage of faith, a journey with Christ, a learning experience and a closer look at rainbows in church and in the society.

 

//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.

THE BEGINNING OF SPRING AND EASTER\ I BÖRJAN AV VÅREN OCH PÅSKEN

It’s becoming more colourful with flowers and trees oh what a beautiful nature.

I have never seen people so excited about spring but I guess they should because their winter is long and very cold. They say to know that when spring is here you will see by the blue little flowers. They take pictures of with their cameras of every little flower they come across because most people have missed them a lot.

Swedes have what we call holiday cottages, and Easter is the extended weekend of spring and for many means the first trip to their holiday cottages, which have been locked all winter.  And for other is walk, cycling and barbeque in the forest and picnic by the lake since they love nature.

At Easter the aim is to gather as many relatives as possible. In many countries Easter is celebrated at church but as for Sweden you will find a small number of people in church, many celebrate it their homes with family and relatives.Sunny

Practices associated with Easter are colourful feathers, Eggs, fish, Easter witches and candy.  Children dress up as witches and collects candies from house to house in the neighbourhood.  Other parents let children search for the eggs themselves as a treasure hunt. I actually enjoyed painting the eggs before lunch which was so many different dishes done by my host family which included: Pickled herring, salmon in different ways, Roast Lamb with potatoes, cheese and asparagus. I forgot the others but I will never forget the dessert – Tårta a la smaskens, mmmm mumsfilibabba (delicious) and lots and lots of candy.

When it comes to church services things are done differently as well, but we learn new things everyday, a great experience indeed.  Every moment is treasured.  I believe we have so much to teach when we go back home.

GLAD PÅSK TILL ER ALLA (HAPPY EASTER TO YOU ALL)THE BEGINNING OF SPRING AND EASTER\ I BÖRJAN AV VÅREN OCH PÅSKEN

//Tshegofatso Thipe is one of the 2014 Young in the world participant from South Africa representing ELCSA, Western Diocese, Moretele Circuit (Makgabetlwane Parish).  Tshego is an Office Management and Technology graduate from Tshwane University of Technology and She works as a CEO’s Secretary at Odi District Hospital, Mabopane. Her focus in church is mainly Sunday School, Youth and Music.

//Tshegofatso Thipe är en av deltagarna i 2014 års internationella utbytesgrupp. Hon representerar den Lutherska kyrkan i Södra Africa, ELCSAs västra stift. Hon kommer från Moretele Circuit (Makgabetlwane Parish). Tshego har en examen i kontorsledning och teknik från universitetet i Tshwane och hon arbetar som sekreterare på Odi-sjukhuset i Mabopane. Hennes främsta engagemang i kyrkan är för söndagsskolan, barn och unga och musik.

Sweden and Philippines Differ in Focus on a Common Christian Celebration

“Glad Påsk!”

For a week now, I have heard for a couple of times people greeting each other: ““Glad Påsk!” (“Happy Easter!”) I was a bit surprised with the exchange of greetings when for me it was yet too early because before the Resurrection day, Christ’s death will still be commemorated on Good Friday.

Minolta DSCIn comparison to my home country (Philippines), people don’t say “Happy Easter” when it is not yet Easter but instead, I would hear them exchange the greeting:  “Have a blessed Holy Week!”

Through the exchange of greetings, I have made some reflections on why the two nations differ in focus on this same Christian celebration.

It is a given fact that Filipinos rejoice in Christ’s resurrection but most of the populace gives more emphasis on Christ’s passion because they can relate about His suffering and death.

As of the present, the Philippines suffers from the pains of poverty with a huge gap between the poor and the rich, held captive by foreign influences especially in the government along with the injustices and corruption thriving in every corner of the society.

In what way did I prove that Filipinos are more focused on Christ’s passion? Over the past years since I started working voluntarily in church, I have seen the unusual bulk of the crowd attending the Good Friday procession and services in my home parish and that is also true in most Catholic tradition churches all over the Philippines.Blog photo2

On the other hand, it is not surprising why Swedes focus on Easter because, compared to Filipinos; they live a quite comfortable, free and happy life.

In Sweden, every citizen is given due benefits, taken from their taxes, from womb to tomb. These benefits include: free education from age one until a person is six feet under and free medical treatment covered by the government with a certain annual budget for each person.

Blog photoThe Swedish society can feel more the joy of the resurrection than relate to His passion because most of them do not live in poverty or experience catastrophes like earthquakes and killer typhoons unlike most Filipinos.

Equality is seen in the Swedish society and those who earn less are given importance by the government by providing opportunities and financial assistance if needed. People, especially children, are valued from the day they are born and education is free in all levels. (Tuition fee in universities is free but books are to be bought. But each student is given allowance by the government and there are student loans often offered.)

Added to that, parents need not to worry about their kids when they are in school because food if provided. In this society, I can really see the abundance which often some young people take for granted.

In the Philippines, many children cannot attend school because they don’t have food to eat for lunch and they don’t have resources to buy materials. In far-flung areas, children walk several miles barefooted in order to reach the nearest school not to mention the hills and rivers they need to pass through along the way.

So, the Filipinos’ focus on Christ’s suffering and death might contradict to what the church teaches that Easter is the central feast during the Holy Week. But I could not blame my fellow countrymen who focus on the Christ scourged, beaten, crowned with thorns, carrying a heavy cross, forced to drink a bitter drink, mocked and put to death like a criminal, because most of them feel like what Christ had been through everyday.Blog Photo 3

During this festive event, I see Swedes celebrate Easter with symbols such as: Påsklilja (Easter Lily), Påskägget (Easter egg) and Påskris (Easter twigs with colorful feathers) with parties serving lamb meat, meatballs and food in line with tradition while Filipinos on the contrary, celebrate the feast of Christ’s resurrection in their everyday life.

Yes, Filipinos celebrate Easter in an unintentional and unnoticed way, every time they rise from a calamity with a beaming hope coming from the Risen Christ. Every time they succumb to earthquakes and typhoons, they celebrate new life given by Christ. Through the priceless smiles and the remarkable courage, they continue to walk and strive for a better life despite the tragic incidents that come their way.

Although there are differences in focus, I still see Christ as the common ground of the celebrations here in Sweden and in the Philippines. During this Holy Week, I am glad to see how Christianity’s central feast is held on this side of the world.

“Glad Påsk Sverige!” (Happy Easter Sweden!) and “Maligayang Pasko ng Pagkabuhay mahal kong Pilipinas!” (Happy Easter my dear Philippines!)

//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.

ADJUSTING TO THE SWEDISH CULTURE/ MY EXPERIENCE

Oh my God it’s a month now in Sweden, where do I start? Coming here was a bit scary since it is my first time away from home and the first time I have gone so far. Asking myself so may questions; how will I cope, but hey, guess what? All is perfect from the first day we met the coordinators and all participants, we clicked like one big happy family.

So far everything has been great, from meeting our supervisors to host families (amazing people), the church as a whole in Linköping, Skäggetorp and FIKA (first word we learned from day 1) of course everyone has been good to me. I am learning a lot and teaching as well.  A new person in the country everyone wants to know them. Although, I am still trying to adjust to the unpredictable weather, they say its spring but it’s very cold and it can snow. But the first experience of snow was awesome and I believe everyone enjoyed that too.

Tshegofatso Sunny ThipeThings I have learned about the Swedes is that they like the nature. I actually enjoyed the walk in the forests (they have peace of mind) but one thing I found strange, its spring the flowers are coming out, you will see them with their cameras taking pictures of flowers and actually picking them (that’s weird).One of their first topics is weather, they just love to talk about it. They love animals especially dogs. Some love the saying “You don’t have to if you don’t want to” like really…

Church of Sweden is the biggest church in Sweden, has many people employed by the church, their challenge is the declining membership but that does not break them, they still continue with their duties/commitments – like helping people from other countries, the elderly and children, not only those who belong to the church but everyone. They have many different programs within the church and the community. Through so many different projects they do, they never forget to worship the Lord (Devine Mass) and the FIKA after – I should introduce this when go back home!  They also open their church for the other churches to use.

Meeting up with confirmation groups and the youth of different parishes (Skäggetorp, Linghem and etc.) was really inspiring, especially the activities they do from having a movie night, to playing games, cooking  and baking, and who can forget the creative arts. The choir, they sing like angels, so soft and I am so glad to be a part of it.

So far it has been a great experience for me, I am still getting to know people making friends everywhere I go. I have also learned to live the Swedish way, being on Swedish time, the food and FIKA, taking of the shoes when getting in to the house and wearing many clothes protecting me against the cold. Before I forget, – they keep feeding, feeding and feeding us! Now we gaining weight and the clothes don’t fit anymore (but its ok).

I also love the times we are spending with 2013 participants who were in the Philippines (Lilly Mattsson and Bella Ohtonen).

Loving Sweden…..

By: Tshegofatso Thipe Young in the world wide church 2014 From South Africa (ELCSA)

Inspired by Lilly Mattsson

//Tshegofatso Thipe is one of the 2014 Young in the world participant from South Africa representing ELCSA, Western Diocese, Moretele Circuit (Makgabetlwane Parish).  Tshego is an Office Management and Technology graduate from Tshwane University of Technology and She works as a CEO’s Secretary at Odi District Hospital, Mabopane. Her focus in church is mainly Sunday School, Youth and Music.

//Tshegofatso Thipe är en av deltagarna i 2014 års internationella utbytesgrupp. Hon representerar den Lutherska kyrkan i Södra Africa, ELCSAs västra stift. Hon kommer från Moretele Circuit (Makgabetlwane Parish). Tshego har en examen i kontorsledning och teknik från universitetet i Tshwane och hon arbetar som sekreterare på Odi-sjukhuset i Mabopane. Hennes främsta engagemang i kyrkan är för söndagsskolan, barn och unga och musik.

 

Church Goes Deviant, Grooves with the Youth yet Abides with Christ’s Mission

I arrived in a castle-like church to attend a gathering of young people from Stockholm Stift (Diocese). Upon entering the majestic Sofia Kyrka, located on a hilltop, I began to hear an unusual sound from the church’s interior. The sound was familiar and it was the type of music played in party houses back in my home country.

As I drew nearer, all the more I have proved that it was party music played in church on loud speakers. Not only that, I saw a Disc-Jockey (DJ) standing on the pulpit – where the priest usually says the sermon.

Coming from a very conservative background, I could have reacted negatively on what I have just witnessed. For conservative people, they may view it as something sacrilegious. (Sacrilegious means committing sacrilege; unholy, disrespectful or blasphemous act)

Gladly, I reminded myself to be open-minded on what I see, hear and witness here in Sweden. Then, I came to appreciate the symbolism brought about by the scene that unfolded right before my very eyes and ears. With this, I arrived to a realization that a deep meaning lies behind that scene which showed how the Church of Sweden strives to draw more young people to Christ, who seems to be unknown to many in the society.

Instead of the church bells, the party music and the DJ signified the call of the Svenska Kyrkan to invite young people to come and learn deeper about Christ not only through worship but also in caring and loving other people – as an actual response to the Gospel. (During the afternoon, the youngsters were asked to walk around Stockholm City to help collect funds for the Global Mission of the Church of Sweden.)

blog 7Talking about the DJ and the party music played inside Sofia Kyrka, I see a church doing away with the conservative norms in order to meet its goal of bringing young people back to God’s fold. The party music was a symbol depicting how the church was willing to groove with the youth in order to draw them back to Christ’s flock through their interests like: sports, music, arts and dance.

As I recall days before the event, I was able to visit Fryshuset (Frozen House) where priests from the Swedish Church are also working for the formation of young people. Fryshuset offers social projects and educational programs and serves as an activity center purposely made by Anders Carlberg in the 1980s.

Within the program are four areas of interests for the youth namely: music, skating, basketball and dance. All of these are aimed at bringing young people to the right path and to form useful citizens in the society.

During the visit, I came to know about the Dance Confirmation class, one of Fryshuset’s programs tied up with the Church of Sweden. In fact, one of its outputs was presented during the event in Sofia Kyrka and the dance connotes how the Church of Sweden gives freedom to young people by allowing them to offer modern groovy moves during the worship.

Added to this, I was told that FryshusKyrkan (a church inside Fryshuset) often hold Dance Masses. During the service, modern dances with contemporary beats are performed instead of hymns, by the dance confirmation class.

In some ways, this could appear to be a deviant yet a more meaningful action, because the goal is still to bring God’s Word to the young. (In Sociology, the term deviant means “departing from usual or accepted standards.”)

The Church, in this situation, permits young people to do freely their interests and within the worship, an encounter happens. Thus, providing the clergy assigned a chance to talk more about God and how it is to live as a Christian. So, what I see is a mutual relationship because the Mass has become an encounter between the modern dance and God’s Word. It is a meeting point between the youth’s interest and the Church in mission.

In this kind of project which appears deviant to how a church works, I see Jesus in the modern times. When Jesus walked into this world more than two thousand years ago, he was called deviant by the Jewish leaders because He did not conform to the conventional traditions of their society.

He preached anywhere, touched, healed the sick, mingled with those tagged as “unclean people” and brought the dead to life. All the more, Jesus did not stay most of the time inside the temple nor built a house of worship for people to visit but instead, he went out and walked, talked, struggled with the people and more so, he immersed into their daily life.

As I view it in a more Biblical perspective, the struggle of the Church of Sweden to bring back the young people to God abides with Christ’s mission “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

In contrary to Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep, the Church of Sweden dwells in a society where more than one sheep has wandered far from the Great Shepherd. The church as Christ, the Good Shepherd’s representative, must take a great leap of faith in order to lead the greater fold back to His flock. Though for some, they see the church’s actions as somewhat experimental but it is a fact that behind great inventions were several experiments and attempts.

Yes, Church of Sweden’s work may not lead all of the young people back to God but it deserves to be given recognition due the enormous efforts exerted in order to abide with Christ’s mission. It would sound so unreal or surreal if the Church says that it aims to bring the whole flock back to God’s fold because Jesus himself predicted that several individuals would reject His Gospel when He said, “Many are called but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

Lastly in this mission to the young, I see success in the eyes of several young priests pursuing the work in the Church of Sweden. They are the best and profound tools in promoting Christ to the younger generation.
“Cool priests,” as I tag them, are also what young people would like their friends to be. Cool means to understand the young and to support them with their interests.

Young priests play a vital role in transforming young people in the society as they are willing to step down from being “the priest” as someone who can be a friend, playmate and at the same time, a spiritual adviser in an unnoticed manner.

The event I witnessed was an eye-opener for me as a representative of a church coming from the other side of the world. It was a call to respond to the changing times and to think deeper about the needs of the young generation.

This suggests that it’s about time to do away with the conservatives and to think more ways of serving the young people’s interests if the church’s goal is to bring the Gospel of Christ to them.

Doing away with the conservative norms would not mean converting churches into party halls and all the more, I am not suggesting that party music should be played inside our sanctuaries. I think it’s time for other churches to answer the greater call of becoming a refuge for the young people where they can be themselves and free from prejudice. In this way, the young people would feel they are welcome in God’s kingdom and to His big house party prepared for them.

Yes, it was a call to be more open-minded and to act like the deviant Jesus who stepped into this earth two thousand years ago. In fact, Christianity was formed because he was successful in doing away with the conventional traditions with His words and act of salvation.

Now it’s also time for his followers (churches) to take the deviant path and to groove with the youth if the goal is really to pursue the mission of proclaiming Christ’s Gospel to the present generation who are often lured by the new and worldly trinity of materialism, secularization and individualism, matters which are now slowly corrupting and conquering the minds of man- who is supposed to be God’s best handiwork.

//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.

 

Walking in the Land of the Vikings (A Round-up Blog for my First Month in Sweden)

The cold weather woke me up one rainy morning and as I looked on my schedule for the day, I realized that it’s been a month since I stepped in this land where the Vikings originated.  It was in high school when I first heard about the Vikings through my World History class. They were known to be fierce and they traveled through ships and gained an identity as one of the first to conquer territories.

But I never expected that once in my life, I could live where they came from and this called for some adjustments to the culture and the life of the Swedes.

Viking BoatJust within a month’s time, I have learned to live the Swedish way like dealing with the unpredictable weather in this time of year, eating the kind of cuisine which not any Filipino could easily adjust, using the fast transportation system trough the subway and buses, wearing at least two jackets and other warmers if I’m going outdoors and most of all, appreciating the discipline of the Swedish time.Snow Experience 1

Like the Swedes, talking about the weather would be the first topic that comes out of my mouth when I get up from sleep everyday. When it’s cold, I’d love to be at home but at part of the program, I should cope with the weather, go out and experience life in Sweden.

Snow Experience 2The first snow experience was awesome but later; it was more of a hassle on my part, like the native folks also feel. All the more, it would be colder when snow is melting. Just in one day, I get to experience two seasons like winter and sunny weather but as I gaze outside the window, I admire the kids in the preparatory school nearby. Whether it was snowy, rainy or sunny, they are to go out and play. This speaks of how Swedes educate their kids for them to go on with life not thinking about the weather.

Clothing here would be far different in a way that I can’t go out of my foster home not wearing at least two jackets as the temperature may reach the negative at times. It means, I can’t go out without a scarf, a pair hand gloves or perhaps, not wearing a warmer.

On the other hand, food is the lightest feather among the challenges I get to meet in this foreign country. Thanks to my father who taught me to eat salad and sandwiches. Swedish food is simple and nothing much complicated in terms of preparation. In the absence of rice, I learned to love potatoes, bread, couscous and beans.

Food 2

Food 1

During my first dinner, I was welcomed by a steamed salmon. It was a sign that I’m in a cold country, the only place where such fishes thrive. Within this time I could point some favorites like Swedish meatballs, beef stew, wok (Swedish version of the Filipino “pancit”) sausages, apple pie, blueberry pie and raspberry pie.

Fish Meal

Food 3

Food 4

Of course, I learned to love Fika and the Swedish eating schedules. In fact, I wrote about Fika during my previous article weeks ago.

TrainOn the other hand, I am amazed by the public transport system which makes the travels very convenient and the places, easy to access. It also shows how organized and time conscious are the Swedes. When the prompter says the bus will arrive at exactly 8:29, it will really arrive on the dot and this is also the same with the train. There are slim possibilities that I’ll be lost in the big city or in any place because there are maps and signs everywhere showing the directions.

Most of all, the most beneficial of all experiences is the Swedish time itself. Getting to the place on the dot, is somewhat hard for me all these years, but here, I need to come on time or else, I’ll be missing the trip on the bus or on the train. Missing the trip would mean, I may forfeit an opportunity and experience which is part of the program.

Discipline can be seen in most Swedes as they really follow time especially when it comes to appointments. This shows that they value time so much and a minute of waste is like a mortal sin.

Living in this land of the Vikings makes me more realize why these people have become so progressive especially in their economy. The big reason behind such development is their attitude towards life. Despite any weather within the day, they still go out to work, school or play. They really don’t mind so much about the factors that surround. After all, as they say, “There’s no bad weather in Sweden but only bad clothes.”

Food 5Their food and cuisine also symbolizes their simplicity towards life. Making all things simple and not so complicated would really make life easier, literally.

But most of all, what I appreciate most with the country and its people is on how they value time. Here I can see the Vikings in them, being quite fierce with time. And that’s something worth emulating.

 

Cherry Blosoom Trees//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.

A Church Breaking the Bread for the World to Share

image  from poster of Svenska KyrkanDespite the challenges of a declining membership along with countless problems arising due to its existence in a highly individualistic society, the Church of Sweden has become stronger in its commitment to share the bounty of resources to people from other nations.

Through the work, it has realized the real purpose of being the Church of Sweden, not exclusively meant for the Swedes and to the people from other countries living along its borders but, as a church for the whole world, especially to those are in dire need for the most basic commodities of food and water.

I have seen that most parishes of the Church of Sweden follow different formats in their Mass celebrations but they are still united in their worship life and in the breaking of the bread. The latter act continues to remind them about Christ’s commandment to break the bread and share the wine to everyone who is hungry and thirsty.

Projects do not remain in paper and all the more, it does not stay in their national office in Uppsala but it has reached the parish levels. As an eye witness to how a certain parish makes the people know about Church of Sweden’s programs in other countries, I was touched on how a dominant and powerful church humbled down and went outside its boundaries on a cold afternoon.

Armed with cinnamon buns, coffee, tea and grape juice, the priest and his staff stayed near the Tunnelbana (subway). The team brought with them a tarpauline and some materials bearing the message to end hunger in the world and this was one way of raising funds for the said project.

From that day on, the scene has left a mark on my subconcious and it flashed like lightning as I heard hundreds of kids chanting,”Kärlekens väg” (Way to Love) during the service at Stockholm Cathedral a week ago.

Indeed, it has reminded me that love is about humility and sacrifice. I have seen that it was love  for others that moved the powerful Church of Sweden to step down a bit and go to the streets to campaign for the end of hunger in the world. As I see it, this has been the main reason why several development projects are going on across countries which are bound to help people, save lives and organize communities.

photo breaking of bread (I took this)Just recently, the Church of Sweden sent millions to the Philippines for the rehabilitation and humanitarian relief for those affected by the Super Typhoon Haiyan last November. Aside from that, more projects have been centered on the eradication of hunger in the African countries serving like ”streams of living water” in a hopeless desert situation.

Through such illustrations, the Church of Sweden has transformed into a serving church from a normal worshipping church. It appears to be more like an organization for humanitarian causes for the benefit of people from different beliefs and origins. It has gained an identity of a church beyond borders and has widened its reach across nations and continents with a purpose of uplifting lives.

While writing this, I came to realize that the things I was faced with everyday summed up to how Church of Sweden imparts Christ’s teachings, more specifically on sharing the blessings. I can still remember the candidates for confirmation who were made to bake cookies and buns to be sold and the proceeds of which would be given to the Philippines for ongoing humanitarian efforts.

Within a few weeks, Church of Sweden’s identity has changed from being a powerful church to a very powerful (because of its bounty of resources) yet selfless – a church mindful of those who don’t have anything to place in their tables and for people who can’t even access potable water to quench their thirst.

Being wealthy is not bad. Wealth can be used in the most noble ways especially in helping others and by sharing the resources to those in need. That is what the Church of Sweden does.

It was the celebration last Saturday afternoon at the Cathedral of Stockholm which triggered this personal reflection. During the service, Church of Sweden’s deep commitment in helping people from other countries was pointed out as a  concrete response to Christ’s command of breaking the bread for the world to share.

Seeing the cover of the program, I asked what the title ”Dela Ditt Bröd – Mätta Många” meant. I then found out that these were very significant phrases that could best wrap up Church of Sweden’s work in the world to ”Share Your Bread” and to ”Feed the Many.”

//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.