News from St. Catherine’s

Back-to-school picnic – Sunday 10th September will take place in the Killesberg Park, on the meadow near the fairground. If you paste this dress into your browser, you’ll find quite a good map that has the Sommerblumenwiese on it:
There are toilets near by; just round the corner, by Elise’s Jahrmarkttheater, there is even a stall where you can buy drinks and ice creams. There is also the option for people to go on little excursions to the tower and the petting zoo.
We can hopefully have a picnic (bring your own and maybe a bit to share) and some games, at least football or other outdoor games that people have. Maybe someone with a car has the wooden “Sweden” or “Vikinger” Chess game?
There will be people to lead the way on public transport from Church. If you come under your own steam look out for Van, Heather and family.

Social Activities
After church on Sunday a group of us went to the Bopser Teehaus, perched on the hill just up the road from St. Catherine’s. Some of us went  part of the way by car (Heather and her family went on ahead and bagged a table for us) and others walked – quite a climb, past the beautiful Marmorsaal used for weddings and receptions, and on up to the Biergarten. There we enjoyed snacks, drinks, coffee and cakes before climbing up the few steps to the viewpoint with its spectacular view over Stuttgart. Looking out over the panorama gave us an idea for another outing, namely a ride on one of the Stuttgart “Hop on, hop off” tourist busses!  This would give newcomers a chance to get to know Stuttgart and also,  for those of us who have been here for some time, an opportunity to go on a sentimental  journey or discover areas of the town we didn’t even know existed. So watch this space  for a date, possibly in October,and join us for a bus ride on one of the double-decker tour busses.
If you’re interested please contact Alison

Women’s Group At our last meeting, after a cup of tea and a chat, we sorted out the booklets containing the carols and music we use at the Carol Service. For some reason there were two versions in circulation with a different index of carols which caused some confusion at the last Carol Service. So now we can get more copies made so that everybody is able to find the right page. Our next meeting will be on Thursday, 21st September from 10 until 12 in the Anglican Centre. Gary has now kindly given me a key so there is no problem about getting in. I look forward to seeing you there.

Here is the reading for today’s Bible study, which will be led by Solomon. Matthew 16:13-20 and for those who were away here is  a taste of last week’s sermon.

A Woman’s Faith (Matthew 15.21-28)

A woman comes to Jesus in the Gospel from last Sunday, a desperate woman, a mother whose child is ill. What do we expect? We expect that Jesus will be full of sympathy and love, that he’ll leap into action, healing the child with no further ado. But what actually happened was very different, and very puzzling. In the end he does heal the child, and affirms this woman’s faith in no uncertain terms, but only because she has refused to take no for an answer. She teaches him far more than he teaches her.

That message is that Jesus learns and changes through his encounter with others. Being human, really properly, fully human, means that we don’t always have perfect knowledge. We don’t always react in the right way first time off. That’s as true for Jesus as it is for us. We are shaped by the world we live in. We are shaped for ill by it, taking on prejudices without even knowing it. But we can also be shaped for good by it too, if we are prepared to listen and to learn as we go along. Jesus is just as embedded in his own context and time as we are, but he has the courage to consider that he might be wrong. He is prepared to open his ears, and his mind, to the voices of others, even if it is sometimes a struggle.

The woman who comes to him presents him with a perfect storm of disturbing factors. She is a Canaanite, which is no surprise since he is in Canaan. But she is also a woman, and in Jesus’ culture women weren’t expected to go out and about meeting unrelated men like this. Respectable women were always under the protection of men. Where is the man who should be looking after this woman? Even if she is a widow, it would have been expected that she would have a man to speak for her – a father, brother or uncle. She seems to be having to fight her own battle here, though, and whatever the reason, that would have looked very suspicious to a respectable Jew. Perhaps the father of her child was one of the sailors with a girl in every port, long gone on the tide now from Tyre and Sidon, leaving her to fend for herself and her daughter. She’s not quiet and respectful either. She is loud, persistent, embarrassing. The disciples are fed up with her trailing after them, and Jesus doesn’t at first seem to be able to summon any more patience and compassion than they do. But at least he gives her a hearing, has the conversation they have been avoiding, and it changes his mind completely. By the end he isn’t just giving her what she wants – the healing of her daughter – but praising her faith too. God really is at work beyond the pale, outside the comfortable confines of the respectable Jewish faith he has grown up with. This woman is just as much his child as Jesus’ own people are. God really can dwell wherever he wants to.

Jesus seems to have started out thinking that this woman’s concerns really aren’t his business. They are nothing to do with him. But now he sees that he is connected in love and compassion to a far wider community than he had first thought. He has preached about a God whose love is broad and limitless; now he learns what that really means in practice, and sees how much of a struggle it can be to live out that message of limitless love. There was no way he could learn this lesson except through this painful and disturbing encounter. He had to get it wrong in order to get it right.

“Doubts and loves dig up the world.” That’s what’s happened to Jesus. His world has been dug up by this strange, foreign woman, with her insistent demands. He has to think again about himself, his mission and his God as he learns to see her as his sister, someone who connected to him, whose concerns are his concerns too. And in doing so he begins to form a new sort of community which crosses lines of nationality, culture and gender. In the face of all that disconnects and divides people – greed, selfishness, fear, envy – faith is a declaration of hope for the future, a recognition that each one of us is indispensable to the whole, each one of us makes a difference to the world.

Ladies’ Evening Group – The next meeting of the St. Catherine’s LEGS will be on Monday 18th September at Flo Steak and Burger Bolzstr. 10, 70173 Stuttgart (they also have vegetarian and gluten free options)
They don’t take reservations so we will just have to chance it …  but assuming that the weather is good there will probably be space inside. Even if we can’t reserve please let me know if you plan to come so that we can bag enough seats.

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