By Carla Long, Eurasia Mission Field
Re-blogged from: Connect-Engage-Inspire
Ich bin ein Berliner!” These words, spoken in 1963 by US President John F. Kennedy in Berlin, Germany, have been rumored to be the source of a lot of laughter. At the time, Kennedy was supporting West Berlin after the erection of the Berlin Wall, and these words, “I am a citizen of Berlin,” or “I am a Berliner,” were meant to boost confidence and morale.
With Kennedy’s Boston accent, however, some people claim it came out more like, “I am a jelly doughnut!” (A Berliner is also a delicious type of pastry filled with jelly.)
When I heard this story, I laughed with everyone else, but to be truthful, it filled me with terror. I easily could imagine myself standing in front of a group of our German church members and calling myself a jelly doughnut…or worse!
So, I found myself walking into my first event as a guest minister in Germany—Pentecost Conference in Sensenstein, giving myself a pep talk, “Carla, you are not a jelly doughnut, you are not a jelly doughnut.”
The weekend started as many church weekends do, with friends and family greeting each other with hugs, kisses, and warm words of welcome. I was introduced and immediately felt part of the group. I practiced a few German words in my greeting, “Guten tag, it is wunderbar to meet you!”
Sooner than I wanted, it was time to teach two classes. This could be my (gulp!) jelly doughnut moment. We spent time writing poetry about ourselves and telling each other what we appreciate about each other. We practiced not taking each other for granted, and we blessed each other with words and actions. Care and love filled the class. I felt my jelly doughnut fears melting away.
It reminded me that we are a community. We may be a community with hurts, pain, fears, and doubts, but we are a community of people who care for each other. We are a community of people who forgive and love each other.
We are a community of people who would smile (maybe giggle kindly) at someone who accidentally calls herself a jelly doughnut and then gently help her to say it correctly. That is who we are. That is who we are called to be—jelly doughnuts and all.