I wish it were Easter…

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Let me be open: I don’t like Christmas at all. Ahww, I know, that sounds harsh. And I have the impression that it gets worse – with my feelings not with Christmas – every year. It has less to do with other people who are alienated to the true meaning of Christmas and mistake shopping and free time with the birth of Christ, which is the real reason why we actually are going to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas is my tender point and my Achilles heel. Normally you could say Dresden with its old buildings and different Christmas Markets like the popular Striezelmarkt with its long tradition is one of the best cities to celebrate Christmas. When you drive through the city you can see into a lot of windows which are richly and carefully decorated with Christmas asseccories. The people of Dresden care about Christmas traditions and build a whole safe world of Christmas memories around themselves.

Additional to this traditional overdose I guess another reason because I’m so depressed during the Christmas time may be the early darkness and the short days with its early darkness because of the winter. But surprise, surprise, I can prophesy for the 2nd January my mood will go up to nearly 100 % and the emotional spell of Christmas over me will be vanishing like a bad dream in the early morning.

If I liked and drank alcohol I certainly would drink alcohol until I become benumbed not to feel my emotions these days. A few years ago I fled to Turkey but nowadays I have neither time nor means to travel. In the lobby of the hotel I was welcomed by a richly decorated Christmas tree. But that wasn’t so bad because the environment was different. Another way to push away my Christmas sadness is to work. I keep myself busy to push aside the past of my safe childhood. A good remedy to deal with my Christmas mood you can see right here: I guess one of the best means is to get familiar with your feelings and to untangle them with words. To accept them and to accept yourself with patience. O.K. that’s the way it is. That’s the way I am. That’s my emotional structure. I overcame it the last years and I will certainly make it this year and in the hopefully following years in the future.

And Christmas is not about my emotional constitution, not about special Christmas feelings which we have cultivated in our western Christmas tradition. As we Mary and Joseph lived in their own daily reality. They were oppressed by the hard life then, dictated by the Roman empire and they were poor. Of course as a man I can’t understand how it is to be pregnant but I assume to travel by feet or on a donkey and to be pregnant certainly wasn’t easy and full of sorrows according to the future. But what at last counted weren’t the hard circumstances but the one who carried Mary in her womb. Looking at him gives me peace. Listening to Mary’s prayer I can find my peace too besides my broken emotional psychic structure according to Christmas.

“My soul magnifies the Lord.
47     My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
48     for he has looked at the humble state of his servant.
For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
49     For he who is mighty has done great things for me.
    Holy is his name.
50     His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
    He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down princes from their thrones.
    And has exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things.
    He has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy,
55     As he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

Meet me in Dresden!

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Hello guys, if you are planning to visit Dresden, I would be pleased to meet you personally to have a cup of coffee with you. I can recommend the Azimut-Hotel.

Dresden is always worth a visit! Contact me via godnzen@gmx.de.

I’m looking forward to meeting you!

All the best, Volker

2nd Advent: Yes, is it already Christmas?

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How the set phrase says: Everything is a question of perspective. The Christians look since 2000 years backwards in those dark night in which the ox baas, the donkey even a donkey is, the sheep bleat, the angels sing and a child cries. The child is hardly to recognize. Hidden in the dark history, kitschified by traditon or modern alienated as at the Striezelmarkt in Dresden, which is advertising with a life-size manger. The manger under the Christmas tree with its bowl heads and cubic forms reminds me rather of Playmobil in life-size than the Holy Night. But that is a matter of taste.

By the way I am wondering about myself, how seemingly synchronized, I start preaching the time around Christmas, or Good Friday and Easter. Although I get no money for it. To mention money and Christmas in one breath is not tasteless but realistic.

And when you hear the interviewed clergymen and clergywomen at Christmas time you could smirk if it weren’t so sad. How the church nowadays seems to limit its identity to the Christmas service, which is like an ice floe driven through the ice sea of climate change, when church is proud of full Christmas services as if everything were O.K. and their whistling in the dark were no shame offence!

Christmas is always the same old story like in the movie “Groundhog Day”. In the language of the church this is called ritual, something that takes place according to the same rules.

Like I said: Everything is a question of perspective. Past, presence and future. You can live only today. That’s clear. “Live here and now” knows every child. But we know how much our past influences our today. May it the bad influence of our wrong nutrition or other unhealthy habits like smoking or underexercising in the past which make us ill today. Or old documents surface today which charge us of a tax offence.

Our Christmas 2016 although we remember a 2000 year old event in the past, is in front of us in the future. Like I said, every year I get agitated at Christmas, Good Friday or Easter and start preaching. When I think of the baby in the manger, I already see the Stigmata on the little arms, which the man of the cross Jesus has 30 years later on his handpalms or wrists. Then I don’t expect only the birth of a child, but I remember that Christ as the Risen is past, presence and future.

Just now in the time of Advent it seems to me as if Christ came up to us with open arms. It is strange. It seems to me as if I looked in a mirror, when I see Jesus coming up to me. As if in the future the image of the crucified melted into my own human being. As if a vision came to me, which God has of my own life as human. Yes, and that’s what makes me look for words every year. That I am as I am and God comes to me as human.

The vain weatherman in the movie “Groundhog Day” must stay as long in the endless loop of his always returning nightmare, not until his fellow men change, but until he changes himself. And so it seems to me to be with the annual ritual of Christmas: We must remain as long in the ritual endless loop, until we look away from our selves and realize God in our next. That’s also called love.

 

1. Advent: Weihnachten?

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Striezelmarkt, Dresden

Kann man überhaupt darüber schreiben? Muss nicht alles himmelhoch jauchzen, wenn das Fest der Feste, wenn die Ankunft des Messias kurz vor der Tür steht? 30 Jahre später wird er diesen Anspruch für sich geltend machen, indem er wie ein König mit Don-Quichote-hafter Attitude auf einem Esel in Jerusalem einzieht. Aber so weit sind wir noch nicht. Das Kind. Hilflos an der Mutterbrust, schreiend den Menschen ausgeliefert. In Windeln. Die Wissenschaft sagt, Kleinkinder hätten Allmachtsfantasien, würden sich für das Zentrum des Universums halten. Bei ihm würde es ja tatsächlich stimmen!

Ich war heute auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt auf dem Neumarkt. Ein schöner Weihnachtsmarkt im Stil der 1920er Jahre. Eine lebensgroße Krippe, die umzäunt war, deren lebensgroßen Figuren aus Pappmache bestehen. Viele haben sich davor fotografieren lassen. “Füttern verboten!” stand auf einem Schild am Zaun. Irgendwie versucht man witzig zu sein in diesen Tagen, nur ja keine religiösen Gefühle aufkommen lassen.

Mir kommt es so vor, als versuchte ich mir diese königlichen Feiertage  – Weihnachten! – schön zu schreiben. Als ob ich mir extra sagen müsste, das ist es: Weihnachten! Das Fest der Feste, Grund zur grundlosen Freude. Aber es ist anders. Ich spreche mit vielen, denen es ähnlich geht. Die Krippe ist für mich wie ein Kartenhaus zusammengebrochen. Zu viel, was sich Leben nennt, trennt mich von dem Weihnachtsgefühl meiner Kindheit.

Es ist für mich nichts Neues, dass ich in der Zeit vor Weihnachten schwer wie ein alter Mann durch die Tage gehe, gelähmt von etwas, was ich gar nicht näher beschreiben kann – und hier nicht will. Wie ein Schatten aus Emotionen, der mich in dieser Zeit verletzlicher macht als sonst. Es sind gar keine besonderen Gedanken, die sich rückwärtsgewandt im Licht der Vergangenheit sonnen. So wie das Gefühl, als ob da jemand hinter einem stünde. Man dreht sich um und da ist niemand. Phantomschmerz.

Aber dann, ich hoffe darauf, dass es in diesem Jahr wieder so sein wird wie in den letzten Jahren, entweder durch einen Text, den ich selber schreibe, oder durch einen kurzen Augenblick, der an den Feiertagen wie aus heiterem Himmel über mich kommen wird, öffnet sich mein Herz. Ich werde innerlich angerührt und Weihnachten bekommt für mich Sinn.

1st Advent: Christmas?

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Striezelmarkt, Dresden

Can one at all write about it? Have not everything to jubilate, when the feast of the feasts, when the arrival of the Messiah is just around the corner? 30 years later he will put this in a claim, by moving like a king on a donkey with a Don-Quichote-like attitude to Jerusalem. But we are not there yet. The child. Helpless on mother’s breast, crying, extradited to the humans. In swaddling clothes. Science says, an infant would have fantasies of omnipotence, would believe himself as the center of the universe. With him it would actually be right!

Today I was at the Christmas market on the Neumarkt. A beautiful Christmas market in the style of the Twenties. A life-size manger, fenced, their life-size figures were made of papier mache. Many poses for photographs in front of it. “Do not feed!” hangs at the fence. Somehow they try to be funny these days. Anything else but raising religious feelings.

It seems to me that I would try to write these royal days – Christmas! – nice to me. That’s it: Christmas! Feast of the feasts, cause of causeless joy. But it is different. I talk to a lot of people, to whom it is the same. For me the manger is broken down like a house of cards. To much that calls itself life separates me from the Christmas feeling of my childhood.

It’s nothing new to me, that in the time before Christmas I go like an old man through the days, paralyzed by something, what I cannot describe in more details – and here I don’t want. Like a shadow of emotions, which makes me more vulnerable than usual. That aren’t specifically backwards thoughts, which bathe in the sun of the past. It’s like the feeling as somebody would stand behind you. You turn around and there is nobody. Phantom pain.

But then, I hope it will be the same this year like in the years before, either by a text which I write by myself or by a short moment, which comes out of the blue sky on the holidays, my heart opens up. I become touched inside and Christmas makes sense to me.