Markus Stocker bio photo

Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

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I was walking to the office, earlier today. An experience, astonishing as exhausting, saw this walk to the office as the longest ever; 3 hours, instead of 20 minutes.

Farther from home than from the office, I was attracted. Attracted by a force that has been magnetic ever since in my life; music. While walking along the vibrating walls of the Scripture Cathedral, I decided to step into the church. I think it is entirely irrelevant, at least for the purpose of this post, so I’m not going to dwell on the religious details of the church and the people for whom it is a place of worship.

However, I’m going to tell you what I did recognize about the ceremony: The sermon, based on a reading, Genesis, Chapter 37; communion; the offering. The remaining, as variation upon the theme, was virgin soil, to me.

Beside of a woman, I was the only other white person. The space was filled with what I would expect at a rock concert; a singer with an eight head choir, accompanied by a group of musicians, one behind drums, one with a trumpet, two with a trombone, one at the piano, one with an electrical bass. Naturally, everyone amplified. Some of the people joined the singers and musicians on stage from between the ranks with own instruments. Everybody joined them with their voice, hands, bodies, energy.

The space was filled, for three consecutive hours, with human energy. So much human energy that if I would have to liberate what was radiated on average per capita during those three hours, I’d have nothing left for the rest of the day, or perhaps the next two days. To say it was astonishing is understated. I was exhausted just by what I saw. Have you ever seen fans at a heavy metal concert moving up and down their heads? Imagine just the same but with all your body parts, feet, legs, hands, arms, head, chest, abdomen, hips, and you get a sense on how, many, expressed their prayers. Some had to be held by one or more people, I suppose, to avoid to get hurt. Naturally, there is a reason for this. Starving for an explanation, a woman released part of my curiosity, though I feel way too incompetent to describe this comprehensively and faithfully.

The sermon was a moment of rest for the dancing, screaming, running, crying, shouting in unintelligible language and, I believe, I was the only one who truly needed it. (On a side note, I was almost certainly the less involved, my energy entirely consumed in absorbing what came through my senses.) Still, the sermon was by far more energetic than my own experience of mass. The sermon’s content was dysfunctional families, caused, according to the pastor, by a list of things that goes on and on and on: from divorce to pornography. He referred to Genesis, Chapter 37 for an example of dysfunctional family and elaborated on what, in his opinion, may save families. Among others, an image I enjoyed, is the family in its fullness, sitting at a table planning a holiday trip. Trivial? I don’t think so, for I experienced just recently again how people prefer to plan only according to their own agendas.

The communion. I haven’t been sitting in confession in years, and so, strictly speaking I believe I’m not worthy to take communion. I confess, I couldn’t resist. It starts with a queue and that’s where the commonalities with what I know from my experience end. Host and Christ’s blood are not served. A silver plate serves as holder for hundreds of small breadcrumbs. You serve yourself. The wine comes in a small cup, one for everybody. Then, you walk away and while taking your first steps you feel the touch of people on your head and chest; they bless you and pray for you.

Being a white male made me unique and so, after the ceremony found its end, people did greet, hug, bless, talk to me. I think it is safe to say, I have never experienced anything like that, not even close. It was incredibly interesting.