Preparing a Christmas Sermon for Members of the German Military and Their Families

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I could write a lot tonight but I won’t because I am busy preparing to preach at the German NATO contingent Christmas service at my chapel. For me it is an honor as I have been serving alongside and friends of the men and women of the German Bundeswehr since I was a young Army lieutenant in 1984. After the service tomorrow, Judy and I will attend their Christmas party at one of the hotels on our beachfront. It is an honor to get the chance to do this.

As such I have been going back to my German liturgy as well as the writings of men like Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hans Kung, Martin Niemoller, and Jurgen Moltmann. I do find that reading the Biblical, liturgical, and theological texts in German, or for that matter singing the Mass or prayers in German seems to bring more of a sense of mystery and meaning than what I do in english.

Honestly, I can’t say why that is, as I have no German DNA in me, and I am for all purposes an American with mostly Irish DNA, despite my Scottish last name. Maybe it is because when I was a non-denominational Christian going to a Southern Baptist seminary I discovered Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross in his own writings, as well as those of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jurgen Moltmann, and Hans Kung. Those writing brought me to the Catholic, but not Roman side of Christianity. I now serve as a Priest in an Old Catholic denomination. When I was a relatively new priest serving as a mobilized Army Reserve Chaplain in German I learned and memorized the Mass, the Our Father, and the Hail Mary in German better than I ever could in English. I have no idea why, for English is my first language and I didn’t begin learning German until my sophomore year in college; but for some reason that I don’t know, God seems to speak to me in German far more than English.

My German friends say that I am fluent, though I know that I am not, but when I travel in Germany I have to tell people that I am American. My German is good enough, and my accent, a blend of Bavarian and Hessian German confuses people for I don’t speak German like even a well spoken American fluent in school book German. I speak like Germans with different German dialects.

So anyway, I am going to get back to work on my sermon, which I may post in English here tomorrow night.

So until then,


Padre Steve+



Filed under christian life, culture, faith, Loose thoughts and musings, Religion

3 responses to “Preparing a Christmas Sermon for Members of the German Military and Their Families

  1. Your language skills are outstanding! I lived in Germany for 2 years. I was a 75D stationed in Augsburg, Germany, 569 PSC around 1978 to 1979. I cannot speak a lick of German. The language eludes me. Fortunately at the time most Germans especially young Germans spoke English.

    I’m much better with Spanish even though I need to perfect my Speech still I can understand and read Spanish. I get my Hispanic Co-workers to help me.

  2. My great-grandmother “Nana” used to recite the Lord’s Prayer in German. I have several years of college German; I long to go to Germany. I was raised Roman Catholic but I am now interested in the “Old Catholic” church you speak of.

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