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"Last help" in the community. Worship and course to alleviate suffering

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Author: Joel Driedger

Some activities of Joel Driedger, Pastor of the Berlin Mennonite community and Conflict Advisor and Mediator
Is there meaningful suffering? Was the question that Bernhard Thiessen asked in the church service on January 13, 2019. We are rightfully happy that thanks to the palliative care no one has to suffer anymore. There are many remedies for the treatment of pain that make illness easier, even dying. And yet the question remains, especially in the light of the coming Passion-time, that is, the time in which we remember the suffering of Jesus: When is suffering meaningful?
"As long as something remains open between how the world is and how the ible describes the kingdom of God, there will be suffering and pain. Maybe not all, but these sufferings and pain make sense, because they protect us From being too quickly satisfied and too fast to agree to injustice and violence, to become so to speak insensitive to the pain and distress of others, "Bernhard said in his sermon.
After a short coffee break Dorothee Sperber continued with the so-called "Last Help"-course. Until 16:30 we have been intensively busy with information, our own experiences and practical applications during the last phase of life. This course, which is “for everybody" is divided in four sections. They ranged from recognition of symptoms to medical procedures during the dying process: How do I know if a person is entering the last part of his earthly journey? (Part 1), what are the necessary regulations and patient statements regarding the own will (2nd part), what are the palliatives of pain and in the last hours (part 3), what are the possibilties of rituals and mourning work (4th part).
In lively discussions encouraged by Dorothee, the 24 participants shared a lot of personal information.
Great approval found the practical part in which was dealt with the question: How do I comfort a sick and troubled person (Kangaroo position)? How can I help a person moisten the dry mouth, who can no longer swallow frozen fruit or diced frozen favorite drinks?
In addition there were two weddings outside the church and a sermon in the Mennonite church Regensburg. There were also some special events:
The Ecumenical Bible Evenings for the “Song of Solomon” in September took place at Menno Heim. That evening Helga Köppe represented the community and was well in charge. I delivered the content impulse. On the first day of Advent we blessed the little Artur Ludwig and his parents Maria and Christopher. During the service and afterwards we baked cookies with the families - many thanks to Melissa Klumb and Judith Driedger for taking care of the children, as well as those who brought delicious food! Shortly before Christmas we organized the "Kiezinitiative Marienplatz" with the annual Christmas song singing on Marienplatz with punch.
If we had not set up large umbrellas there and distributed warm drinks, the event would probably have been canceled because of constant rain. Many thanks in particular to Dieter Engelhardt, Kerstin Flex and Bärbel Sczesny.
I am still active in the various ecumenical bodies. After the departure of Horst Krüger, our "ecumenical veteran", I also took on a number of appointments in the Berliner Ökumene. National Mennonite relations also take some time. Not only did I travel to meetings in Hanover and Hamburg, in September I co-organized the VDM preacher course on rhetoric in the Menno-Heim together with Martin Schmitz-Bethge (Neuwied). We had a great speaker from Wittenberg, from whom we could learn a lot. I was also responsible for the physical well-being of the participants this weekend.
In addition to church work, I was able to travel to Friborg (Switzerland) in November to give a lecture at the university ("Theology of Peace: Systematic Theological Aspects"). A text by me, a review of Ben Goossen's Chosen Nation, appeared in the 2018 Mennonite History Gazette. The Berlin Mennonite community has become a home for me and my family. I thank you all for your trust and your openness and I look forward to the next year with you!
Best regards, your Joel.

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