This quote of Martin Luther is posted alongside the remnant of the pulpit where Luther once preached on a regular basis in the City Church (St. Mary's) of Wittenberg: "The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God." Those of us traveling in Romania and Germany, representing West Linn Lutheran Church are experiencing something of that glory and grace in this unique experience. We surely miss our friends and family in Oregon and the USA, but we have connected with sisters and brothers here in a way we can all treasure.
Pastor Laszlo and Tunde, his wife, were our gracious and tireless hosts for the 3 days/4 nights we were in Sacele. Here they are under the replica wood carving of Jesus in the "West Linn Lutheran Church Room" of the community house (L to R): Bobbi (Tunde's cousin), Lorant (son), Monika (friend), Tunde, Henrietta (daughter), Laszlo
They made sure we had all we needed. They served meals. They translated our words. They laughed with us. They eagerly told us stories of their congregation. In all ways we were welcomed and included to the best of their ability.
And we did our best to respectfully participate and strive to understand their situation, their faith, and their community life. We knew we did not always understand - Hungarian is not a language to be picked up by ear! But we all smiled when music familiar to both of us was heard, even if the words were different. And the rhythm of the Lord's Prayer is not so different!
But the depth of the faithful giving came out most dramatically in the afternoon we visited 3 homes. At the first, an older couple welcomed us. He had recently had surgery. They both laughed as we worked to understand one another. When we started leaving small gifts on the table for them, and Irene heard that some of them were handmade, she quickly left the room and came back with a large bag of crocheted items. As she removed them, and our translators worked to tell us what she was saying, we were amazed - all crocheted leaves, vines, and grapes. Of her own design! And each grape was stuffed with a cotton ball that she would remove whenever she washed the item. There were 2 larger table pieces, several runners and a lot of small clusters. Suddenly she was handing us the whole bag - for you! We quickly wanted to say, "thank you, but no - certainly your family wants this", and our hosts looked at us and made sure we understood that we must say "thank you" and take what she gives. With gasps of amazement at this generosity and tears of gratitude we received. She gave us all she had of her hands and her heart.
The people we met were glad to have us visit, to be in their homes, to laugh and sing together, to worship alongside one another. This is the treasure of God's grace alive in the world - glory shining through the love for one another. Your travelers are in awe of this truth! Glory be to God!