This morning, similar to a few weekends ago, I woke up rather early, and figured that it would be neat again to go check out another church. I am Roman Catholic, and don't recal ever being to a Lutheran service, but the very famous Ludwigskirche here in Saarbrücken has interested me since I have arrived.
The church is a Protestant church in Saarbrücken that is in the Baroque style and it is considered one of the most important Protestant churches in Germany in many information guides. In fact, as a cultural landmark, the church is special this year, since it represents the entire nation of Germany on the commemorative 2 Euro coin for this year for the nation.
I got myself ready and headed down the street for only about a 15 minute walk [ the closeness of everything here in the city still amazes me] which was very enjoyable hearing the church bells in the distance. When I arrived at the church, I was actually 5 minutes late, and there was a little yellow plaque on the door, which from what I could translate essentially said that the current time was for worship and not for tourism.
The huge door was intimidating, because I didn't want to make a big noise and have everyone in the church look back at me. Well, I entered as quietly as I could and I was actually shocked for a different reason - It was virtually empty. I counted - the mass was taking place and I was the 17th person in the church... this includes the priest!
I was so surprised. I think I had higher expectations after hearing so much history about this church, how important it is for Germany, and even seeing it on special Euro coins, and to then enter the only Sunday mass to so few people was almost a let down for myself. [ and everyone definitely had their senior citizen cards, lets put it that way] I was handed a song book when I entered with the pages already bookmarked [ I guess it can't be that difficult to mark the books when you only have to do about twenty...] I was aware that church attendence in Germany was extremely low, but this was on the verge of a private bible study over a mass. Even so, the service was pretty with the huge organs filling the church with beautiful songs.
Compared to the Roman Catholic mass that was very recognizable for me, the Lutheran service was different, and actually a bit dry [ I think that is due to the large amounts of readings the priest did and my lack of understanding, however]. Apart from the order of the service, the only other major difference I know about the Lutheran mass is that they do not practice Transubstantiation [ the Catholic belief that the bread and wine actually becoming the blood and body of Jesus Christ during the mass ]. Even with those differences asside, as I watched the Communion take place from my pew, I do not know if it is the practice of the church, or just the fact that no one was really there, that the church parisioners went up to the alter and held hands, much like the last supper, before sharing the Eucharist.
The service was interesting for me, and I am glad that I went to experience what it was like in such a well known and beautiful church here in my host city.
Now a funny story when I arrived back at home.
Today I did not leave a note for my host family that I was leaving the house to go to church. I have noticed that they all get up pretty late on Sundays, and that I am generally back when everyone is getting up anyways. I had my cell phone with me, but I turned it off in the church. When I arrived back home, it was a little after 11, and I was unlocking the front door.
Sitting at the table was the whole family getting ready for breakfast, as well as the aunt of the family, and the weekly house cleaner. Everyone was snickering because they all had assumed that I had some wild night out and was coming back completely plastered at 11 the next morning. I had told them the night before that I was going to meet the kids from the school that I met, but they didn't know that I got back rather early that night, woke up early the next morning, and went to church of all places.
Eva told me that they called the number in the cell phone listed under Chris [ which ended up being a different Chris ] and the connection was very bad, so from what they heard, they assumed the mumbling was me hung over and completely drunk somewhere in the city. The way Eva put it, we imagined you sleeping on the bridge.
I think it was a complete surprise to them for me to come walking in through the door, looking sharp with my sport coat and my black dress shoes on when they were anticipating me coming in disheveled because of my absence from my room in the morning. I found it ironic that the two times that I go to church, being a good Catholic boy, I run into the most odd situations, like passing prostitutes trying to pick me up in the street, or my host family all thinking that I am somewhere laying in the street hugging a wine bottle. I just thought that the situation was humorous and worth mentioning.