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tv   Faith Matters - Death is Part of Life - A Lutherans Quest for Meaning  Deutsche Welle  February 3, 2019 9:30pm-10:01pm CET

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painful. and on demand. casts language courses. video and audio. anytime. w. me etc. such. a love. because faith is powerful it makes a stronger than the feeling i'm winning and i'm drawing strength from without with my because the power of faith comes from the certainty that this life is the most important thing. is author. and nikolaus schneider are both theologians she was a religious teacher he was a protestant pastor who was chairman of the council of the evangelical church in
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germany when tragedy struck their family they witnessed first hand what it means when death is a part of life. nicholas schneider is now retired and currently lives with his wife anna in berlin. the laws of one or daily watchwords of the moravian church are always on the couple's breakfast table ever since they were theology students together in the one nine hundred sixty s. the snyders have started their day with newspapers and a reading from the daily watchwords. yet now is the time of grace now is the day of salvation just wonderful. because you sleep how can we live well live what makes like. how can we live in peace. how can we support people who have problems with these questions come up time and
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again. so to help us not lose ourselves in day to day troubles and difficulty the city feels good to help us keep perspective and balance is i find it useful to recall our convictions. and that's why we read each verse of each day in the text to give us a firm footing in god's word so we feel steadier nonparty every day out of. god's word didn't always play such an important role in nickel. early life he was born in one thousand nine hundred forty seven in the industrial rhineland his father was a steel worker in the house nicholas schneider grew up in social democracy and unions were more important than religion. the former steelworkers district and still exists. of there wasn't any traffic so
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we could play soccer in the street. this is my route. on the street has stayed just as schneider remembers that except for one new stretch of grass. together with his family he lived in the house number thirty one. thank. you once but you were two rooms one sitting room and bedroom that was through the back there was the kitchen where did you sleep shaft in my parents' bedroom where my father worked rotating shifts when he had night shift so i could sleep in his bed. the father wasn't happy that his son wanted to study theology and become a pastor but it may have been some consolation that the young nicholas schneider's first ministry was to working men minus in steel workers it was the world he knew
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and he challenge the bosses when they decided to close pits he joins the minus protests a typical working man's past stuff like that. of the truth. i discovered that the people who came to see me but almost immediately begin telling me. the most intimate aspects of their lives. they all share things with me they didn't even talk to their husbands or wives about. these are the great privilege to be within that space of trust and confidentiality if. it really was really amazed and it made me feel grateful and happy this time i have as a pastor. who i've always viewed myself in the past as a pastor. in. food.
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yes this was larger and. this was nikolaus schneider's first parish he hasn't been here in decades behind ultra decoration made from sheet metal also under the organ. constancy is valued here. nicholas schneider's first steps as a pastor in the shadow of their blast furnace have had a lasting influence on him he and his wife remember the parish well. if you have the feeling in those days that you could stay here forever i remember your misgivings when you were called to the regional church office and the college. i was very happy had. came out of the irish got involved in politics got acquainted with journalists the corporate offices were just there which helped to publicize things. like the parish. well the parish didn't have much at the time but
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i oversaw social work under the dia could mean. you know. kind of relations with the. beaches was just there you know we got on very well and the parish work was wonderful. but. it was cold to greater things he soon became church superintendent in charge of the district then senior church counsellor and head of the evangelical church in the rhineland. he assumed management responsibility for an organization with nearly three million members and an annual budget of one billion euros. finally in twenty ten he was elected chairman of the council of the german evangelical church the most senior protestant pastor in germany the election was not anticipated this popular preacher says a moderate casement had unexpectedly resigned after being convicted of driving
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under the influence. the son of working class parents now represented more than twenty million protestants in germany as the leader of his church he dialogue with the country's politicians and business leaders he himself had become a kind of spiritual top manager but schneider was. careful to never lose sight of his core beliefs. or i try to hold this office while keeping my background as a pastor in mind as someone who is focused on jesus christ and pasta and on the god who turns to was in love of being god because he would soon leave with whoever and that was a very important thing the three thought and i hope that i was successful in doing that who lived on credit. cards these things. there is no situation in which god would abandon you.
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now he still enjoys fulfilling the tasks of a perfectly ordinary pastor in his old stomping ground. of home. whenever nicholas schneider is asked to jump in he's happy to oblige. he's convinced that human relationships are the glue of life not feel logical doctrine he doesn't like the idea of pastors belonging to a social a church and sees the church as a grassroots movement i. a stark a different view to pope benedict who in two thousand and seven reaffirmed the primacy of the catholic faith and questioned whether other christian denominations were true churches schneider felt much more comfortable with benedict's successor pope francis both men view advocacy for the poor and questions of social justice as
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core issues at the heart of the christian gospel. the lutheran church is open to everybody and attitude which is taken to heart in the past as residence weather induced or in berlin. the schneiders have always kept open house. to the tribe to somehow maintain this atmosphere of a pastor's residence on every level at which i've worked we always invited people into our home or people i worked with in the parish got together in our home. so did the women serving circle and the president of germany also came to visit more. towards the house nicola schneider takes a stand on political issues publicly but never uncompromisingly never as a tactic but always from personal conviction and he doesn't seem self as
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a politician. to join the political discourse you have to enjoy exaggerating is what she says i do. and we also have to enjoy arguing to the point of actually quarrelling of you must have a visceral grain the traction to power. and you have to want to. and to carry out the ideas you must also want to argue against other people those are all aspects that don't appeal to me. typical power games don't interest nikolaus schneider and he refuses to get involved in any political party. and schneider was her husband's main theological assistant they worked together on his public statements and very often on his sermons then suddenly their faith was put to the test in the most devastating way the schneiders and their three daughters faced an existential
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crisis. this is their daughter monica when she was twenty two in two thousand and four she was diagnosed with leukemia for a year the family staggered between hope and despair at first. chemotherapy seemed effective then the cancer returned finally she needed a marrow transplant they waited weeks for a donor to avoid infection micah had to be quarantined nikolaus schneider continued working as best he could but the family was virtually living at the hospital. hello darling i have to go and get that talk now to come around afterwards he tired do you want to sleep ok. by eleven at the latest then i'll stay here then me to buy. a marrow transplant was michael's last
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hope finally a donor was found. but the treatment failed and my question i'd have passed away. your for the means she continues to warm my heart and open my mind. when i remember the life we shared i don't draw a line and say that was all wrong it's over and done with now. with remains a part of my present existence this. is one of the people who helped me in my life and she's part of my hopes and part of my dreams. i dream of her. and i hope. we'll see each other again.
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the death of their daughter was a watershed in the life of the schneider together they wrote a book as they struggled to come to terms with michael's death. in the years that followed they wrote move books not the typical self-help book with instructions on how to succeed in feel good the schneiders reflects on the fundamental questions what constitutes the fullness of life how can we reach a point where death doesn't make everything meaningless. they speak openly about the burden of growing old and about how hard it is to bear grief. i don't want to think what it would be like. i simply hope i die before i live if it happens the other way around it would be a huge challenge. i would have to rethink everything before which reminds me of how glad i am to have my family children and my grandchildren friends before you notice
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that family is indispensable or it's a big source of joy and also provide support and look. and grandchildren really knock the edge off things with their candor. with. a very instance i have compression stockings because i have their coast sayings and when i was in a bathing suit recently they said what's that granny i said it's something that happens when you get all ten of the three year old said to me but i'm very new i still have new skin. and that helps me cope much better than if i was just locked with in my own view it's been. ten years after the death of their daughter the schneiders faced another crisis in summer twenty fourteen and was diagnosed with breast cancer at the time her husband was leader of the evangelical church in
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germany he made a radical decision. when i heard that the treatment would involve twenty four chemotherapy surgery and then radiation and that it would take a year it was evident to me that i should resign. there are four that the chairman of the council of the evangelical church in germany nicholas snyder will resign to be with his wife who is suffering from cancer somewhat perplexed how can somebody give up the highest office in the evangelical church for personal reasons with dogs it i want to have more time for my wife. and my family for me to be. no scandal no professional misjudgment a resignation from the highest post in the church to be available for his wife it was a remarkable decision and true admiration from the general public to his life was
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more important than his korea from this point on he accompanied his wife to every therapy appointment it was always there for her then and there schneider. sparked a hated public debate she spoke openly about her wish for an assisted suicide if chemotherapy and surgery were unsuccessful her husband held a different view. individuals are going mind you did i as an individual feel that my earthly life has got this such a negative quality that the relationship to my fellow humans and to god is destroyed and pulled and i'm at the point when my mother so consumed with pain or with a feeling that i have no dignity. and then i don't agree one one says god is a god of life and he wants you to fight to live to for death live in cannes. i would rather fight for life with god by saying god in that's enough i'm returning
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message if now it's just so work to have it you have a different view and to think. that's right so i have a different view. i connect god with life. and when i speak of god and when i think about the relationship between god and humans the life view that this is a fundamental patient in light of the here and the fundamental questioning of another fundamental protest. with her announcement that she would travel to switzerland if necessary for assistance and a schneider challenge the official teaching of the evangelical church which is opposed to assisted suicide many lutherans was shocked when nicola schneider supported his wife's right to make this decision. i'm.
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at the end of the day it's an expression of love that i am prepared to walk down power which i don't agree with. the have because i'm not just thinking about ethical norms i live in a real relationship. to say you have to appear all of it living in fear and face your fate i can't live life with nor can i die her death and in the end all i can do. is get. here then was a former leader of the evangelical church in germany who was prepared to accompany his wife to switzerland to seek an assisted death. reactions were hated some catholic theologians viewed it as a challenge to into church relations but the critical moment passed anna schneider survived chemotherapy and surgery after more than a year she was declared out of danger. at church conferences like this one in
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braman the shot is attract large audiences when they speak about their experiences . presents the ideas he has developed with his wife on the fundamental questions of life and death. and love loss stronger than death that faith hope and love remain at the center and in spite of all the transience of this world there are some of you may have heard this read a joe wedding it's the first corinthians chapter thirteen verse thirteen and now these three remain faith hope and love but the greatest of these is love. for me the key word is remain. everything passes but this remains pass away but this remains and preserves us and shelters us i think that's a wonderful thought in twenty ten germany was shocked by
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a crowd disaster at the love parade in two spoke twenty one people were killed in a panic stampede. was asked to give an address at the memorial service he stood by the mourners confessed his own feelings of helplessness and refused to hide behind theological cliches. all of us struggle with our feelings and look for comfort to understand and be understood in its death can be whitewashed schneider the father who knows what it means to lose a daughter office comfort in the form of trust was once lawful we can be certain that in all circumstances of life when we celebrate but also when we are crushed god does not abandon us when there is nobody who can help he holds us. whenever the schneiders returned to do spoke they visit mike his grave.
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this time they have brought their other two daughters children. as pastors and in their private lives anna and nicholas schneider have always viewed death as a part of life their daughter was just twenty two when she died. what do. you manage her. through. your heart your gob stamp shows a gravestone that on the one hand expresses how hard it is to part from michael.
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devlin it's hard for me to talk to the airing it is hot dogs the stone is very heavy but the stone also contains a message it's split in the middle where the blue glasses so the light of heaven is literally helping to bear it it's a place of remember it's also a place of life. and leaves what they owned of this and for torres said it's great that it's so colorful option on the gravestone and the engines on top of the hard disk which have all been added. it makes me very happy to come here also with the grandchildren leaned the big ones from berlin or who tend to grade klein and the little ones who like to water the plants that's made and enough of it's like being connected past present and future that's on. the way we can still be together combine for free. in. spite of their faith they have unanswered questions why did
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they daughter have to suffer so much and why did she have to die before her parents . i still feel it's not ok that the order in which she died is not ok. this is the one remaining us some bitterness remains and that still has to be explained. so clearly we expect we'll see. this outrage that we feel makes us more sensitive to the outrage we should feel in the face of all the suffering and violence in the world which is unacceptable because of these of it. is supposed to serve life personally and in society when demonstrating for justice and peace past takes to the streets in his preaching down here he's protesting the greed of investors he thinks inflated profits are threatening society. that violence no world has
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not been overcome war rages and that business has become a cold war which sometimes becomes. our message is that this violence must be overcome. and a nickel a currently still in berlin they plan to return to the ryan land where they studied theology and with the roots of their faith lie. i'm national leader doesn't think it naive to talk of angels as part of their reality. that's me it's an overall i'm also feeling at home with all these angels in our home i started with micah and i'm sure we bought a large guardian angel a christmas together with micah that's wrong when it wasn't yet clear that she was going to die. because we were feeling the comfort of angels. i don't mean that i feel a creature striking me or taking my hand i said. i just feel
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a certainty that i'm held and sheltered beside us. i feel somehow touched by god's spirit god's power through me. from which angel somehow symbolise us and in the importance of good thought. faith remains in spite of doubt this deep feeling sorry for me there are many signs that make me get really very oriented. but i don't relinquish this fundamental attitude all the good comes from faith that in the end of the hard crazy people like drama won't decide about this world and far more than that this world is in god's hands at present that's the strongest factor that influences my attitude to life otherwise in many ways i could despair or in the words of the poet holding a link where danger is also grows the same thing power this is under threat.
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