Every year, the kids in our village do a Lantern Parade. This parade is a re-enactment of the search for Saint Martin. The story (as I am trying to understand the German) goes that there was this soldier who was going through a town on a cold night in the 4th century. A beggar approaches him and asks for some money. The soldier, having no money, immediately cuts off half his cloak and gives it to the beggar to keep warm. Before the beggar can say “Thank you”, the soldier is gone. The soldier is rewarded by seeing Jesus Christ in the half cloak and realizing that he was now called to be in service to Jesus Christ. That soldier was Saint Martin. He spent the rest of his life in service to God and obviously was sainted by the Catholic church.
We start the whole event by meeting in the church and hearing about the story of Saint Martin. Then we split into groups and walk the streets of our town stopping at street corners and in front of houses where people are shut-ins (they are usually older people who can’t make it out of their house easily) and sing songs. Sometimes the people are able to make it to the window or family members will open up the windows so that they can hear the singing. Alex likes this event as he makes his own lantern for the parade, learns songs (in German) about Saint Martin and at the end of the parade, there’s a big party with kinderpunch (kid’s punch – adult punch has alcohol in Germany) and pretzels at the Grundschule (elementary school). For us, its a chance to hang out with Germans and to interact with them in something that means a lot to them.
Most Germans in our area view anyone that is not Catholic or Lutheran to be a part of a cult. Therefore, we have to be open to getting involved in their activities to be able to have the “right” to speak to them about a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We’re doing baby steps (like this Lantern Parade) in getting involved as we continue to increase our language abilities (our German is OK for every day life but not up to speed to have in depth conversations about different life subjects like politics, religion, science, etc. and Germans love to have in depth conversations just not about personal things). We’re very excited about the future relationships that will come.