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Pr. Dan Forsgren Pastor Dan Forsgren

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Pr. Forsgren

From the Desk of Pastor Dan Forsgren

September 2018

Paris 2018

Fresh back from our trip to Paris, France! It was a wonderful experience; Sarah and I were able to immerse into another culture, connect with the city and with each other. I counted about 110 miles we walked as we saw the sights and learned some of the rich history and experienced the art and architecture of a truly amazing place. The picture is the view from our hotel window, we were in a quiet neighborhood, away from the busyness that could be found pretty much anytime we wanted. It is called Invalides, the area is a combination of the military museums of France, a Veteran’s home and hospital, a large church and under the dome you can find Napoleon's final resting place, inside six different coffins/sarcophagus’. Not sure who needs that many burial containers but fascinating none-the-less!

I will admit I was a little nervous about heading overseas. It had been about 12 years since I had last been to Europe, (Germany with Seminary) and so much has changed in the world since then I wasn’t sure what to expect. Americans are not always looked upon favorably...at least that is the hype, and perhaps some of that is deserved as we struggled to communicate in French but most of whom we met were able to hold a conversation in English. I did not expect to be able to communicate in English but was certainly happy when we could! We met a couple out at dinner one night who happily engaged us in English...they had just gotten back from visiting their daughter in Vancouver British Columbia. He told us that English is the language of business these days, and that it is taught in the schools there.

I could go on and on about the trip and will be glad to share with you if you really want to know, but what I wanted to talk about in this article is how kind the people we met were. We’ve all heard the stories about the rude French waiters or waitresses, how they can have bad attitudes, or be perceived as rude. The same has been said for shop owners, that the French seem to have an attitude towards Americans. That was not our experience at all. We found there to be some cultural differences and based on those differences how actions could be taken as affront, but by and large we found the people to be kind and warm, welcoming and willing to take the time to overcome the language barrier.

Our hotel was a short 10-minute walk from the American Protestant Church in Paris, went to services there the last Sunday of our trip. I had the opportunity to speak with the Senior Pastor, both before and after service...keep in mind that this is an ecumenical protestant congregation. Most of the staff currently has their roots in the Presbyterian Church, but they serve any and all who walk through their doors. Pastors being pastors we talked shop of course, and Pastor Scott Herr and I agreed that despite our denominational differences, despite our cultural differences, despite the differences in our traditions that go back centuries; We, that is mean to be capitalized, We, have much more that binds us together than separates us.

The same is true when we look at humanity, as a whole, European, or American; Asian, or Middle Eastern; Republican, or Democrat; if we can see beyond those things that separate us, of we can find the common ground that serves to bind us together, if we can truly love our neighbor, I see a world full of hope. For me that is what Jesus tried to teach us with his life, that the neighbor is that Samaritan, it is the Syrophoenician Woman, it is looking at one another and seeing the face of Christ looking back at us. That is the hope I want to instill in my children, that is the hope and the light God calls us to bear into the world.

In Christ,
Pastor Dan

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