Candles, Gestures and the Unique Features in the Liturgical Celebrations of the Church of Sweden

At the first service I attended in the Church of Sweden, my eyes were captured by the numerous Candles (Ljus) lit inside the house of worship.

Back in my church, it was enough to light at least two candles during the Mass but here, candles can be seen around the altar and for some, spread throughout the church’s interior.

Based on several interviews made, I found the main reason behind this candle trend in the Church of Sweden. That is to make the people feel at home when they are inside the building to attend worship. This could be traced back to the olden times of Sweden when the homes were cold and dark especially during winter and people used candles to provide warmth and light inside their own abodes.

Mainly, candles are part and parcel of the Swedish life. In fact, the practice of lighting candles inside the home, restaurants, offices and churches is still evident up to the present time.

CoS Candles and Liturgy Blog 13

Aside from serving as the liturgical symbol of God’s presence, the Church has adopted such practice in a more meaningful way and that would lead to another unique feature of the Church of Sweden’s liturgy. It is when they offer prayers as they light candles during the Mass or in a service.

The next gesture which caught my attention was the clock ringing and the extreme Tystnad (Silence) that calls everyone into deep prayer before the service begins. Inside the Swedish liturgical service, there is also a point wherein complete silence is required as everyone is asked to pray for their individual intentions.

Apart from those, what I consider as the best feature of Svenska Kyrkan (Church of Sweden) is the shortened form of Mass. A sung Mass with at least four songs from the Psalmboken (Hymn Book) would run for a maximum time of an hour but the recited Mass would consume only half an hour.

Once more, the Church of Sweden can be seen in this example as a church answering the needs of the people. Long services could be as meaningful and lively as the shortened one. Even in schools, it is not advisable to conduct long lectures as it will not cause good effects on its students.

Looking back to Jesus’ days on earth, He adjusted to the needs of the people, went to places where people gathered; walked the streets and visited houses in order to preach the Gospel so that all may hear. That is what I also think churches should do, to answer the needs of the people.

This liturgical renewal of the Church of Sweden is worth replicating for many churches all over the world who are still conducting long Mass celebrations lasting up to two hours and more. Years from now, there could be a big possibility for people in other countries to be bored, lose concentration or may drop the choice of going to Mass on Sundays due to the length of the service.

Another observation about the Mass is the varied forms used in each church. This is due to the ongoing study and observation on the implementation of the new Mass form and new church handbook. Some parishes use a certain form with several prayers but some are a bit musically accented.

One may notice that in most parishes, music plays an important role in encouraging people to join in the corporate worship.

Over the weeks of attendance in the church services, the liturgical celebrations have been simple, less complicated yet meaningful. Apart from the hymns, the preludes and postludes speak of the celebration’s theme played by equally-talented musicians.

But of all the gestures, there is this one thing that personally struck me in all the Masses I have attended in the Church of Sweden. It is when the priest partakes of the communion after everyone has been given the bread and wine. This may sound simple for many but as I view it, the gesture symbolizes how the clergy should act – to be humble in serving the people. (In my church, the priest is first to partake of communion symbols before distributing to the congregation.)

Lastly, Svenska Kyrkan, pursuing the mission as a worldwide church, has the unique feature of having an open table to anyone, regardless of church denomination, who may want to partake of Christ’s meal during the Mass.

On the other hand, Church of Sweden’s liturgical life is a mix of everything beautiful from the Catholic and Protestant traditions. Described as the “bridge church,” it has remained faithful over the years to the Mass form similar to the Roman Catholic  Church (with slight revisions) but also holds fast to Protestantism’s flavor of giving more emphasis to preaching within the service – the mark of what is called the Evangelical Lutheran identity.

//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.

SHE SAID IT; TIME FLIES WHEN HAVING FUN!

HON SA DET; TIDEN FLYGER NÄR MAN HAR ROLIGT!

I remember when they told me I would be going to Sweden, I was so excited! Oh I needed this break, it came at the right time.

But it’s 3 months! Ok, it’s not long… then I said, 13 weeks, it’s not that bad, but 88 days, it is so long! I didn’t think I woul survive this!20140507_150757

Arrival was exciting and meeting everyone was super fun, going to different congregations – even more fun.  Many activities the Church of Sweden has no time, no time to rest. Activities one did, Visiting different schools, Universities, Different youth Groups, Baby Concerts, The BEAT (Disco in Church) beng with the Children, old age homes, Municipality centre, visisting hospitals, Cremation centre  no resting at all.DSC00827

Cooking for for the old people, Choir practices. the presentation we made about our Church and our country.  The interviews we have been doing for our Project. Vadstena the Pilgrim Centre, who can forget The South African evening celebrating freedom day. DSC00865

Meeting our fellow participants sharing our different experiences and having fun together through singing, dancing and playing games.  Moving to new congregations no rest again and no time to be sick, new people to meet, Interviews to do, companies to visit and presentations to make, all this and still  having lots and lots of fun.  Horse riding, baby cafe, camping with the youth, Children´s Groups, cooking food from South Africa for the old people in the Church, Big and small companies, Liseberg, the Caves that no one new exsists.DSC00866

All people we come across they are nice, ready to listen and help.  Right now i cant wait for Karlstad – Världens Fest. DSC00794

So hey, Inno was right, time really flies when having fun!

//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.

Swedish Morality can be at Par with Christian Values

“Refrain from prejudice” was the focus of a priest’s enlightening reflection for the exchange program participants at the middle gathering. The phrase was a profound reminder on how a participant for this exchange program should perceive matters or else, the experience will all be put to vain.

Statistics says that the Swedish society has gone far from being a Christian nation since it embraced the religion in the 11th century. Proof of the said trend is the current label it bears as “the most secularized country in the world.”

But as days come to pass in this three-month exposure walk, I have gained some interesting reflections about the Swedish morality and its resemblance on how Christ has called His followers to be.

Humble. Jesus always wanted His followers to act humbly and brag not of their own achievements. This is one of the interesting points I always admire about Swedes.

If you happen to bump with one, an introduction would just mean the first name and don’t expect to hear about degree, work or previous occupation, unless you will ask. Titles are not often used in the society and I truly appreciate the practice.

Kind.  Several experiences led me to conclude that Swedes are kind, even to strangers. For several times, I have asked people on the streets about directions but I never experienced being rejected. Halting a moment from a walk to help someone is a very kind act that Swedes normally do when asked about information.

Humanitarian. Sweden’s government and citizens possess a humanitarian heart for the world to avail. The presence of thousands of migrants and refugees from war-infested countries from around the world attests to how they welcome people or should we say, strangers who are actually living in the country now.

For years, Sweden has become a safe space for millions of people who were affected by war and military conflicts.

Environment Conscious. Developed countries normally lose a good and clean environment but not for Sweden. The country has maintained its vast forest lands which one can see in most parts of the country.

Love for nature and all of creation is one of the aspects that most countries, even those who call themselves Christian nations, have strongly neglected.  Like for most of the said Christian nations have exploited their natural resources and caused loads of destruction to the environment through mining, deforestation and water pollution.

Swedes have the sublime love and respect for nature because they know their necessities especially water, come from it. On this part of the world, water is still abundant from a natural source and every household can avail of fresh potable water from the faucet.

Swedes express their love for nature goes beyond adoring the sun and appreciating flowers and trees. It is more shown on their way of caring for the world that God made, an indirect way of worshipping the Maker of all things.

Resemblance of Christian Values and Swedish Morality

There maybe a big percentage of the country’s population claiming about unbelief in God, a big bunch also are said to be practicing a private religion and a high number of people not attending church services and thus would lead to the common conclusion that Sweden is a highly-secularized country.

But this would not mean, they are not of high morality and this morality I am talking about has a big resemblance to how Jesus Christ, who walked on earth two thousand years ago, wanted people to live according to His Father’s will – to be humble, humane to anyone regardless of color, creed and race, kind and respectful to nature – His own handiwork.

I am not conforming to the secularized movement in the society but the purpose of this blog is to clarify and correct wrong assumptions, prejudice and exaggerations about the Swedish society and that the inactive attitude towards church does not define these people of goodwill.

Because beyond the towers, big belfries, and huge churches all over Sweden is a larger church called earth where one worships daily through actions, in helping neighbors and in respecting fellow human beings regardless color, race or creed.  Scale Edited

//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.

Time really flys when you having fun!

Oh my word were do I start…?

We have been in Sweden for about  8 weeks now and it has been an exprience of a life time.

Adapting to the culture has both been challanging and easy. My head is buzzing with so many thoughts and idea one thing that strucks me about  the Church of Sweden is thier open hearts and how they can look beyond a persons skin colour, nationality and religion and help everyone who needs help regardless of our differances we are all human.

Yeseterday we visited the Stads missionen which is an organisation that works with the homeless and people who are addicted to drugs this made me reflect on the situation back at home and how drugs and alcahol rob people of thier lives and it has inspired me to start a drug ministery when I get back home!

My goodness, i still cant believe that we have been here for 2 months! Time really flys when you having fun!

inno 2//Innocentia is a praticipant in the young in the world wide church 2014 representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southeran Africa. A graduate of Small business management from the university of Johannesburg, currently unemployed she spends most of her time at church volunteering. A young inquisitive, outgoing person who is ready to take the world by storm!

//Innocentia är en av deltagarna i årets internationella grupp i utbytet Ung i den världsvida kyrkan. Hon representerar den Evangelisk-lutherska kyrkan i Södra Afrika. Hon har studerat Små-företagsledning på universitetet i Johannesburg men då hon för närvarande inte har ett jobb så spenderar hon mycket av sin tid i kyrkan, som volontär. Innocentia är en ung nyfiken, utåtriktad person som är redo att ta världen med storm!

11 Interesting Things for the Second Month

There was a bit of hesitation when I was about to write this blog. In the process of choosing a preferred title, I was about to point out a dozen of interesting things but in the end, I only got 11.

Then, I realized that I’m coming up with my eleventh blog which is a round write-up of the second month of stay here in Sweden. Sound like a good coincidence with this 11 interesting things featured in my 11th blog.

Cruise Ship to Finland

1 Cruise Experience Blog 11For typical Swedish families and individuals, riding on a cruise is somewhat a way to unwind and literally, getaway from the professional matters. While staying in Stockholm, experiencing the quite luxurious treat of riding a cruise ship to Finland was something new to me. It was actually my first time.

Going on a cruise can be associated to how Swedes are trained to be more focused even at a young age. So, it is normal that when they grow up, they do not mix up things. Work is work and fun is fun.

With mostly adult Swedes on the ship heading to Mariehamn in Finland, I was an eye witness to how they get away with their busy life.

Food was overwhelming. There were different kinds of dishes and fun would mean watching shows, drinking, dancing, singing in a karaoke and buying tax free products.

Castle Visits

2 Castle Visits Blog 11

Growing up, I was made to watch several movies of monarchs, royal families, about legends, battles and of course, castles. Seeing one which looks like the castle shown in most movies brought out the kid in me.

As I gazed upon the towers of Gripsholm in Mariefred, I wandered far from the real world. Entering its wooden bridge with the defense gate, gave me some historical feel of how it was in the olden times in Europe. Most castles are built around bodies of water and that was for defense purposes.

Mariefred was a small city yet, it provided a display of how the old Swedish city looked like. Its panoramic view of the lake paired with the castle gave me lasting impressions that small cities are beautiful and cozy.

Aside from the Royal Palace near the Stor Kyrka (Big Church) in Stockholm City, my first foster family also brought me to Drottningholm, the Royal Residence, the majestic edifice with a huge garden and the scenic view of the lake and the surrounding landscape.

Solo Concert

“Songs of Faith Amidst Struggles” was the title of my short concert focused on the unwavering faith of the Filipinos to the Almighty. It was a celebration of the revolutionary heritage of my church, Iglesia Filipina Independiente through the nationalistic songs and it also featured some of Filipino liturgical composers’ work expressing the faith of my country’s people.

Given the privilege to sing in a solo concert was rather monumental for me because back home, I normally perform during church services. All the more, I felt blessed seeing the people cry to tears during my finale song matched with the pictures from the recent earthquakes and typhoons.

Easter Play, Easter Celebration and the Symbols

4 Easter Play for Blog 11Played the role of a Roman soldier with no speaking parts on the first day, gave goodies for the kids on the second day and became an alternate musician for the third day. These were the roles I played during the Easter play in my first congregation.

Characters like the upper room host at the Last Supper, Judas the traitor, Peter who denied Jesus three times, Mary Magdalene and the Angel inside the empty tomb were portrayed by two priests and church workers. I really admire the church workers who themselves became theater actors and singers within the three days.

Retelling the Easter story was an indirect way of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to the kids who are living in a highly-secularized society and they are compelled by the system that prayer of any kind is not allowed in school. It was an accomplishment to expose the real meaning of Easter – Christ’s resurrection which goes beyond what they have known through symbols as Easter eggs, bunnies and feathers.

But one unforgettable thing about Easter celebrations here was when I received Easter gifts from my foster mother’s daughter. At least I’ve experienced how nice it is to be a kid in this part of the world for it’s not only in Christmas that you get to have presents.

Cherry Blossoms and the Different Colors of Spring

5 Colors of Spring for Blog 11It was the second day of spring when I set foot in this land of the Vikings and each passing day would mean, new colors have been added to the surround. Spring brings new life to every creature in this land especially the plants and the trees. Wild flowers of all sorts come sprouting everywhere, Easter lilies bloom in time for the celebration and tulips of different kinds grow in the home gardens and parks.

Trees also grow their leaves and flowers from the long winter cold and one of the most beautiful trees I saw were the cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden) Park in Stockholm City.

Middle Gathering’s Food Festival  

6 Food Fest for Blog 11Aside from the sharing of learning experiences from the first congregation, it was an awesome experience dining with my fellow participants with dishes from the participating countries.

The food Festival was a convergence of food traditions in one’s plate and of course, it was a pride for the Filipino group to feature “Sinigang” (Tamarind Soup) using salmon.

Västervik, A Walk through Sweden’s History

7 Vastervik for Blog 11My new journey began in the 28th of April in Västervik. Transferring to a new congregation brings new challenges, adjustments and new experiences but the feel of being in a small city, made me appreciate more of its ambiance.  Cozy and beautiful, that’s how I described the city which could be a perfect hub for a writer scribbling his thoughts every now and then.

The place also serves as a window to the history of Sweden. In Sta. Gertrude Church alone, one can find stories about the culture, traditions, church life and way of living centuries back. As I see it, even the chairs inside the church have their stories to tell, the chandeliers, the altar and the church organ, one of Sweden’s oldest and finest.

As I recalled, the group of exchange program participants was brought to Skansen’s open air museum. The experience has given me an idea of what the city looked like centuries back and in this second congregation, it’s as if I’m walking through Swedish history everyday as I drove the bike around the town.

Swedish Holidays and Traditions

8 Swedish Traditions for Blog 11Traditions come from history.

On the 30th of April, I witnessed how people value the spring and their celebration of the eve before St. Valborg’s Day meant lighting a big bonfire and singing of spring secular tunes. Despite the cold and rainy weather that time, there were several people of all ages who attended the event which was graced by a male choir singing songs of admiration for the spring.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden turned 68 on that same day and to show their respect to the monarch, Swedish flags were unfurled around the public places.

Labor Day came next day and May 1 was filled with demonstrations. There were at least two groups who held their rally at the City Park. People came to witness and take part in the demonstrations as well.

Meeting Last Year’s Swedish Exchange Program Participants to the Philippines

9 Swedish Participants to Phils2013 for Blog 11Last year, there were four exchange program participants sent to the Philippines but I never met them because they were assigned mostly in the areas of Luzon. But I was glad to finally meet three of them here in Sweden.

Lilly (Linkoping Diocese), Agneta (Stockholm Diocese) and Bella (Västervik, my second host congregation) shared their own experiences from my home country and most of them conveyed that they loved the country especially its people. It was the family spirit of the Filipinos that they get to love and miss about their short stay and I get to tease them about my fondness of the “balut” (developing duck embryo).

Bikes and Kites

10 Bikes and Kites for Blog 11With this second congregation, I was rekindling my childhood years through bikes and kites. Though the words may rhyme but I’m not doing a poem either. These are the two things I used to do almost everyday in the yesteryears.

Riding a bike around Västervik is the easiest way of transportation from one point to the other. Added joys to biking around town would be panoramic view of the sea, colorful trees and plants scattered in its vicinity and the cozy feel that the place wishes to offer.

It has reminded me so much of my childhood and the funny way on how I learned biking when I was in the fourth grade. Because I did not know how to bike and I envied on my classmates enjoying the ride, I was a bit pressured to learn it on my own by stealing the bike owned by one of our bakers (we used to have bakeshop).

So later in the day, I learned a little of biking but I came home with wounded knees and feet. And I got reprimanded but at the back of my mind, I was happy because I learned to ride the bike.

Also, I felt nostalgic while flying a kite on my own during my first days in Västervik. Years ago, it was my father who taught me to fly kites and all these years, I have not done it on my own. But I was glad that once in a mature man’s life; I flew a kite on my own.

Faith Renewing Experience in Vadstena

My day started in a seemingly stressful way because I had to wake up at five in the morning to ride the bus to Linkoping. Days before the trip and when I arrived in Linkoping Diocesan Center, I had a heavy heart with me.

But when I was in Vadstena and while coming inside the Abbey Church where St. Bridget of Sweden’s remains is laid, I felt calm and had goose bumps. The burdened heart of mine felt an ease while inside the church and the song a women’s choir sing chants before the noon prayer added to the mystic and reflective ambiance of the place.

Peace and calm was all over me and I started to pray and light candles for the intentions of my family, relatives, friends, workmates and fellow members of my church.

11 Vadstena for Blog 11Two months passed quickly and home is a month away from now. But what I do now is cherish every single experience here in Sweden.

It’s been fun scribbling thoughts all these weeks and I keep doing it because the experiences are motivating and the environment is very conducive for a working mind, a sensitive heart and a reflective soul.

 

//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 MOVE

During the move i experienced so  many feelings at once.  Moving from the first host congregation was a Little sad because when we arrived there they said that I am part of the family not just a visitor.  When coming to my host family really felt like their child, it was great being part of the family and the supervisors great people they also cared so much and everyone in the congregation.  We made friends and we not sure if we will see them again. Linköping,  Skäggetorp you will be dearly missed.20140505_141314

The excitement of seeing other participants, our coodinators said every year one or two participants miss the stop in Marsta because it is not so big, and this year me and my co-partner missed it because we was at the last wagon of the train so could not get off but hey we survived and arrived safely.

I love this group so much they get along so well everyone was so excited to see one another, shared so many experiences about our first congregation. The singing when we together, the laughs, the LOVE they have for one another is extremely awesome. The cooking we did thanks to our coordinators we cooked our country dishes and it was great to eat the food from other countries as well. The dancing and games wow!!20140504_182448

Time to go now!

Another mixed emotions when we went our separate ways again to different congregation, wondering how will things be when i get there.  But its a week today and all i can say is that the welcome was wow both to host families and church. Made new friends and everyone is nice! Tried things i never thought i would do like horse riding. I was scared for nothing everything is perfect!!

1385212_10203472403118272_1496234113487052673_n//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.

Of Hellos, Getting to Knows and Goodbyes

Hej!

A common greeting for people of all ages in Sweden and it reminds me of how I was introduced to my first congregation in Vårby Gård Kyrka of Sankt Mikaels Forsamling in Stockholm Diocese.

Greeting Swedes would be normally done with a handshake but apart from the gestures, there is a must do. While uttering your name and giving a handshake, eye contact is very important and for me it is meant to show sincerity enclosed in the greeting.

Home was what I felt when I attended my first service and the congregation members were very glad to have us being the first exchange program participants to immerse in their parish.blog10d

Hej Hej!

After being introduced to the congregation, church workers and priests, it was like easy to move around and I began to help in my most simple way in the conduct of services and in some outreach programs by playing the recorder and they have given me opportunities to sing my heart out with the aim to inspire people and to praise God.

Every time I attended the service, it was lively and inspiring though I did not understand so much about the hymns but the tunes were enough to explain the messages conveyed. Good thing, I could read music sheets so I learned the melody in a quite easy way but I had to take an extra effort in practicing the pronunciation of the Swedish words.

There were services with no choir but the church musician was quite powerful in encouraging the faithful to praise God through the hymns. I always loved congregational worship and this parish has been very good in showing me such type of service.Blog10c

Apart from the congregational worship, the presence of kids in church signaled the growth that soon the parish would be faced. The kids are not only educated through Sunday school but they are also engaged to assist in the Mass by serving as choir members, symbol bearers during the offertory and closing processions and most of them take part in distributing communion with the priest.

The regular attendance of kids is a big contributor to the growth of the church attendance. Kids have become used to attend church on Sundays and it was the parents who followed the children in this aspect.blog 10b Varby Gard Kyrka

I was not able to attend Sunday service with only a few kids. One thing remarkable with kids in the parish, they would really come to church on their own, if their parents were busy.

Why is this happening? I could share a few reasons and first of which was the relationship that the kids had with the Sunday school teacher and also with the other children. They almost didn’t want to go home after choir practice on Wednesdays.blog 10a

Yes, you’ve heard it right – relationships. More compact and genuine people to people relationships are the best way to increase church attendance.

People who feel at home with each other will find a way to meet their church friends or shall I say church family on a weekly basis and that would be during the Sunday Mass. Their ministry to the kids has extended to the parents as they are having their annual family camp.blog 10

Hej då!

Bidding goodbye to the church family where I stayed for more than forty days was difficult and I almost shed tears while talking to the congregation during my last Sunday Mass in the parish.

I really am sick with goodbyes. In fact, while writing this blog, tears just fell from my eyes thinking about those nice people I met and the fruitful experience I had with them.

But I need to move on with life and embark on a new journey in a different setting. Memories will always linger in my mind whenever I see pictures, watch videos and hear the hymns reminding me of the wonderful time I had in my first host congregation.

What I would miss would be playing the recorder during the Mass, singing, attending the kid’s choir practices, and lastly, sharing faith, life and music with the congregation.

Hej! Hej Hej! Hej då Vårby Gård Kyrka! Tack så mycket!

 

//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.

Intertwined Web of Experiences (Mid-Gathering Blog)

Upon arrival in Sigtuna folkhögskola, I suddenly felt like I’m home seeing the program coordinators and my companions in this exchange program. The gathering signaled the end of my stay at the first congregation in Stockholm Diocese.

Mixed emotions, was the phrase that best described how I felt throughout the day. As expected, the feeling of sadness was over me because I had to end the five weeks of stay in my first host congregation but on the other hand, my heart jumped in happiness seeing my fellow participants and lastly, excitement started to sink into my consciousness slowly, thinking about the start of a new journey in a new parish.

Mid-gathering

But before embarking on a new journey, the mid-gathering gave opportunities for participants to unload concerns and thoughts, to recharge batteries and to share insights with the group.

During the sharing of diverse experiences from several settings, I could imagine an artist working on a canvas with the goal of creating a masterpiece from materials like brushes of varied sizes and paints of different colors. Indeed, the unique experiences comprised the whole image of what is called the youth exchange program.

Hearing my fellow participants express their different experiences, thoughts, reactions, opinions and reflections, made me revisit my first blog’s title: “Looking at Rainbows.”

But now, I get to realize how intertwined are such occurrences like a spider web or with this context, I will be calling it the web of experiences. One experience may differ from the other but certainly, each thread of learning is connected in order to come up with a support system and a unified impact for the Swedish society and the Church of Sweden.

Within the days of the middle gathering, simple questions about the Swedish society triggered the thinking minds of the participants resulting to the unending brilliant discussions. Talking about the societal issues in comparison to participating nation’s contexts caused the outbreak of numerous learning insights.

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On the other hand, the gathering was not only meant to give clarifications but it has also enlightened the faith of the participants through the inspiring message of a priest during the Sunday Mass at the lake’s view deck and the moving Bible study experience in the afternoon.

There was that reminder to be at the fulcrum – a person in the middle and to set aside the background where one comes from, when meeting new people in the congregations.

Doing away with prejudice was also a very profound suggestion which encouraged me to delve deeper on people’s lives and actions towards church and society.

With all the intertwined web of experiences, I concur with what the Bible study facilitator shared that it could be dangerous to leave our own Jerusalem (comfort zones) like Jesus in order to set foot in Samaria. But as he said, leaving the comfort zones (countries and contexts) can also be exciting because it is only where one could listen to different kinds of people with a rainbow of views.

But in the end, I see the meetings and conversations as a venue to elicit more personal realizations about faith and life in an international context.

//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.