Kris and I just got back (late last night) from a week of ministry and teaching in Odder, Denmark. Odder is a small village south of Aarhus, which leads me to an observation: the Danes have the coolest r’s in the world. I speak German and like that guttural r, but when the Danes say Aarhus, at first you think they are saying “Oh-hoos” but if you listen carefully between that Oh and the hoos is a wonderful back-throated, soft r. (And we took the train up and wandered around Aarhus one afternoon, with its beautiful cathedral, and I practiced saying “Aarhus” the whole time.) And I can barely describe about the sound the Danes can produce when they combine an f with an r. This my tongue cannot produce!
Anyway, SommerOase is part of Dansk Oase, a renewal movement in Denmark — State church Lutheran, free church Lutheran, charismatics, Baptists, and others too. For a full generation or more this Danish renewal fellowship has been influencing the Danish church. I want to pay honor here to Anna Mie Skak Johanson, who has been the passion behind Oase, and to Morten Munk, who has been Oase’s theologian, for their devotion; God has used them mightily in Denmark. Both are now moving on and have less direct involvement in Dansk Oase as they pursue other callings.
Another Morten, Morten Høning [combine o and e and you get ø but it’s not quite the same as the German umlaut], a NT professor and Galilee expert, has become a new friend and guided me through my teaching sessions all week. My assignment was to teach/preach at the morning worship session — and this leads me to explain something: SommerOase is a gathering of the renewal movement. There were about 5000 folks who attended sessions at SommerOase, but what is unique to Denmark’s movement is that almost everyone brings a camper and then they all cook out — walking around one evening seeing everyone cooking out and eating together is a thing of beauty — and wash dishes at common places — and everything else at common places. (Kris and I were in the school’s dormitory along with the other softies.) The Danes get more vacation than most Americans, and these good folks have chosen to use one whole week for worship, learning, fellowship, and fun.
My sessions were devoted to the Mission of God in this world (and for me that meant through the local church). I was able to adjust and update and reconfigure a few ideas but also was able to develop some new ideas, but I’ve included in a soon-to-be-posted outline of the Mission of God that formed for me the theology at work in all my sessions — though this was not used as an outline for a whole session.
Teaching in Danish? Nope. Everyone can speak English, or most everyone can, but I had a splendid translator, Jakob Swartz, and everyone told me he was really good at translating — and I’m not so sure I’m easy to translate. He did not know what I was going to say, other than general ideas, so he was on his toes. All of this event was administrated by Helle Paarhus (I think it sounds like Aarhus, but be careful, Danish can surprise you) and she helped us from Day One. On top of this, we met and engaged so many new faces … including Peter Høst, who was our host — looking after us and getting us from and to the train stop at Skanderborg. (By the way, we were proud to hear so many had been influenced by the ministries of Willow Creek.)
Two afternoons I had 3:30 seminars, one on the gospel — and this one was challenging because my King Jesus Gospel reframes some of the cherished frameworks of Lutheran theology, but the session went amazingly well. I want to thank Morten Høning for guiding the session. Another afternoon session was on learning to use prayer books, and we were assigned to meet in the bike shed — and the whole place filled up, and for me this was not just exciting but an illustration that God’s good people want to pray but find it difficult. Which leads me to…
… two of my books “appeared” in Danish for this event, King Jesus Gospel and Praying with the Church. I did not meet the translator or publisher of King Jesus Gospel, but the translator, Kim Thinggaard [don’t ask me how to deal with two g’s and two a’s], was present and I was so honored to see both books available. As soon as we got home, we put them both on our special bookshelf.
A fun late evening (for us) was at Morten’s camper where we sat for a couple hours chatting theology with a dozen or so theological students. I was impressed with their knowledge of the American theological scene, and they helped me comprehend the Danish discussions. One or two expressed interest in studying some theology in America, and of course we’d love to host them at Northern Seminary. One of these students assisted in the translation of my prayer book.
I could go on, but it would not be fair not to mention the talented musical worship teams SommerOase provides, and Kris and I had one of their Danish songs jingling around in our head the entire flight home and I awoke this morning with it still on my mind… it was about God’s voice being heard but I can’t tell you much more. We often went to the evening worship session for the musical worship time — and for us it sings volumes of the fellowship we all have across languages: music lifts us together before our great God.