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Rhineland Bible Weekend

The attendees at the Rhineland Bible Weekend

In 1983 the members in the Rhineland, i.e. the area to the north of Bonn, proposed a Bible Weekend in order to have a look together at Revelation and to create a greater sense of belonging and fellowship. A few brothers and sisters came up from Esslingen, the largest German ecclesia, about 400 km to the south, so that our weekend had the added effect of strengthening links between the two groups. What began as a one-off has become a tradition: this year’s gathering, 27-29 October, was the 24th, and we are looking forward to the Silver Jubilee next year, God willing.

We met at a small, privately run hostel, the Wilhelm-Klieve-Heim, in the woods on the edge of Mönchengladbach. Our numbers were higher this year than ever before. It is part of the tradition that we gather on Friday evening for a meal in a Kneipe (pub/restaurant) near our base. This year about 48 of us from the Rhineland, from the north, from the Esslingen area and from Luxembourg, met there not just to eat but to talk, exchange news, renew friendships and make new ones – in short, all the things that happen when those who see each other only occasionally are able to get together.

Saturday consisted mainly of Bible study. There were three sessions in the morning, followed after lunch by a trip out for a short walk, followed by the familiar German ritual of Kaffee und Kuchen in a café. Then we went back for more study, the evening meal and the day’s final study session, after which some retired to enjoy the comfort of the new beds while others sat up to enjoy for a little longer the all too infrequent pleasure and encouragement of being together.

Our subject this year was ‘Christus und Israel’. This was an attempt to understand the nature of that relationship – why did Israel reject the expected saviour and what were the consequences of that rejection? – and to get Christ’s ministry into sharper focus by setting him more precisely in the context of Israel’s assumptions, values and expectations. The latter part of our study was guided by Paul’s repeated grappling with the seeming enigma of Israel’s destiny and its final outcome.

The Memorial Service is always quite an emotional, even tearful time after the intense activity of the weekend and with the parting of the ways after lunch already imminent, when everyone would embark on sometimes difficult journeys home. But before we did so there was the inevitable photo-call, the result of which you see here – a reminder of an intensive but very enjoyable and encouraging weekend of fellowship and shared study which strengthened the bonds of love between us and made us think again about our own relationships with the Lord who was wounded for our transgressions too.

Graham Jackman
From The Bible Missionary no. 183 October 2006

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