Hungary…To Know More
May 5-6, 2017
You may have noticed that the world seems to be coming apart at the edges – frayed and afraid for all kinds of reasons. So it might seem strange that a small group of people from a local church in Ohio (David’s United Church of Christ in Canal Winchester) would go to Budapest as some kind of pilgrimage of discovery. Those who have been to Budapest or know of its beauty might think, “Why not go to Budapest?” It has been called one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Indeed the architecture is grand with a parliament building that is the first choice of many travel brochures.
But that is not really why our group has come to Budapest. We have come to be changed and reminded that as the world around us becomes frayed and afraid, there is a strong work of weaving love that God is at work doing in the life of the world despite the evidence. We know it because we have come to be with our partners, the Reformed Church of Hungary and to witness to their work and that of one of our own members, Kearstin Bailey, who serves here as a Global Mission Intern in partnership with them.
But there is more. One of our group, Frank, has come in search of his Jewish family history and all the tragedy that may carry as a result of the Holocaust. We journey together because we recognize that such searches are really a pilgrimage that connects us to each other and to God whose very life of love is made real by making the walk together.
So on our first day, Kearstin led the walk (over 17,000 steps to be exact). We walked through the city with its markets and marvels and the pulse of the people. She took us to places grand and places poignant like the memorial called Shoes on the Danube. Here artists have frozen in time the terrible memory of Jews and others being killed toward the end of World War II by Hungarian Nazi sympathizers. Forced to take off their shoes at on the banks of the Danube they were then shot, their bodies falling into the depths of the Danube only to be raised again years later as a testimony against all that would diminish, deny and degrade the precious humanity of any person. Kearstin took us here so that we could know and remember our common connection not only with those who died so long ago, but also those who cling onto life even now as war forces people in fear to flee from their homes, many having landed here in Hungary.
Kearstin led us by the National Academy of Sciences building where the officials of naming do their work to be sure that each child born in Hungary has a name that faithfully reflects their Hungarian heritage. It seems a strange thing to us Americans who are used to hearing children called by all kinds of names, often made up and hard to spell. But an Academy like this also can give one pause to consider that there is in the cosmos an academy of naming. And truthfully there is really only one name for any of us. It is Beloved. How often in this frayed and afraid world this name is forgotten – the result being a torn human family fabric.
But we understand there is a weaving and a stitching going on and with it a mending of life. It is why we have decided to make this pilgrimage. Our hearts long to see the slow, persistent work of love in a land where the frayed lives of those torn apart by war are beginning to get a glimpse of a world made new. Some days this can be hard to see. But this week, we dare to trust that empowered by God’s relentless spirit we may encounter people on the edges stepping into shoes and discovering a path by which they may walk into a whole new future.
We have come to bear witness to this work and we thank God for the privilege of this opportunity to share with others that God is not finished. The work of mending the world continues and each of us in some small way are part of the work. Thanks be to God!
– Rev. Dave Long-Higgins, Sr. Pastor
David’s United Church of Christ in Canal Winchester, Ohio.