Run between Tensta, Rinkeby, and Spanga

I love to experience everyday stuff in exotic places: grocery stores… coffee shops… nature preserves… churches… There’s something delightful about noticing the similarities and differences. So, it felt really special for our team from Kent to be able to spend start its first full day in Sweden at a church in Husby. Ethan and I walked there with our host, Stefan. And when we arrived, just before the start of the 11:00 AM worship gathering, we were warmly greeted and quickly ushered to our seats.

Palm Sunday at Husbykyrkan

The congregation started with singing the Swedish version of “Bless the Lord, O My Soul,” which is a song that happens to be regularly featured in our own worship in Ohio. After that, there were some announcements about Palm Sunday, the children’s program we were about to see, a used clothing drive (with remarkably explicit instructions about how to get to the appropriate room in the church building and pull up on the latch of the door), and a special recognition of people who were celebrating their birthdays this week (complete with singing, clapping, and a grab-bag gift).

Palm Sunday at Husbykyrkan

All of the spoken words were translated into earpieces that our American team were given. And the woman who translated for us was obviously proud when her son-in-law gave a brief presentation about his work with an organization that seems to be primarily concerned with free speech in the developing world. After his update, we sang a hymn, or “psalm,” with a chorus that repeated the word “Halleluja.” And then it was time for the children’s program to begin.

Palm Sunday at Husbykyrkan

A girl recited Hebrews 13:8, and then the acting troupe played out Jesus’s travels through the countryside towards Jerusalem, healing a blind person along the way and pausing to sing a song about people needing each other. One of my favorite moments was when the congregation was instructed to sing along “Här kommer Jesus” (“Here comes Jesus”), with motions to go along with the words. And I also loved the way that the projector regularly featured children’s artwork illustrating the Easter story, in addition to continued acting out of key events.

Palm Sunday at Husbykyrkan

The atmosphere of the room was lively and interactive. I honestly feel like I learned a lot about Palm Sunday from experiencing the worship gathering with the Husbykyrkan.

Palm Sunday at Husbykyrkan

At the end of the program, everyone was invited to have fika (coffee and pastries) together: free for first-time visitors like us, but for a contribution if one happened to be a regular. I sat with Frederik (who has been helping to host our team) and two older Swedish women: Solveig and Evastina. One of them was from Gothenburg, and when Frederik heard that he made a joke alluding to the fact that “everyone” from Gothenburg is named Glenn — and that got me to wondering if my Dad’s middle name is actually another connection to Sweden (though I’d always assumed it was just a normal American name). Talking about my Dad’s middle name got Solveig excited to tell me about a Swedish reality show called Allt För Sverige (basically a Swedish version of the genealogy shows that have become popular in the USA as well). It seems to be largely centered around Upper-Midwestern Americans learning about their Swedish roots. She insists that I must check it out. And I sincerely hope to, when I get some downtime.

More than anything, though, I just appreciated the opportunity to see how God is working in Sweden, just as He is working in so many other parts of the world. Somehow, it makes the world seem simultaneously bigger and smaller. And I look forward to seeing how the coming week in Sweden will continue to stretch my own heart.

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