107: A Letter (and Some Photos) from Germany … To You …

    Today’s “Letter from Germany” is a personal note — to all of us — from
someone we’ve never met, but who feels like he’s part of our emerging
community. He simply wants to share a slice of his spiritual life — PLUS,
some absolutely gorgeous photographs of his hometown that illustrate our story today.
    (Note: You can click on any of Michael’s photos to see them enlarged a little more.)

    I’ll tell you Michael’s story and share his letter in just
a moment. But consider why this note from Michael in Germany is so very
important to us, right now:

    It is another sign of spiritual hope in a sea
of change.


    How fast is our world changing? Just 46 years ago this week, in
1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth — a
stunning feat of science, at the time, worked out by guys (and, yeah,
they were guys in that era) fingering slide rules to check the math on
which Glenn’s life depended. Not sure what a “slide rule” is? Well, it
was a cleverly designed stick with sliding elements that performed
what, at the time, was mind-boggling math.

    Today? An orbit around the earth? Ho hum!
    We’ve seen video from
Mars! We’ve glimpsed galaxies light years away! I’ve got more computing
power in my wrist-watch than a 1962 NASA engineer could have produced
in a morning of sizzling slide rules! And, as stunning as this may
sound, there was no original video of John Glenn in orbit. The existing
video equipment wouldn’t have fit inside his capsule. TV-network news still
depended on film — essentially the same technology Thomas Edison featured in nickelodeon loops a century ago. The legendary Walter Cronkite wouldn’t even land
in the CBS News anchor chair for his two-decade run as “the most
trusted man in America” until 2 months after Glenn’s feat!


    NOW — less than half-a-century later — have we got any “most trusted” figures like Cronkite anymore? We’re in the era of
online news networks reported entirely by thousands of “citizen journalists,” reporting via videos they shoot on their cell phones! (And each citizen journalist’s tiny cell phone packs more computing power than John Glenn’s entire capsule and the rocket ship that flung it into orbit!) A cutting-edge example
of a cell-phone reported news network is Singapore’s Stomp, a red-hot news outlet in that rapidly
developing island nation.


    On Tuesday, this week, I crisscrossed much of southern Michigan
for a series of meetings — all of which focused on this rapid pace of
change in our lives. I had breakfast with the pastor of a large church,
lunch with a university-based scholar exploring new ways of relating to people just like
you in his own cutting-edge research — and supper with families from
Christ (Episcopal) Church in Grosse Pointe, one of Michigan’s historic
congregations just east of Detroit. After dinner, I talked with the
crowd in Grosse Pointe for 90 minutes about ReadTheSpirit, Our Lent and the pace of
change. They were full of questions about their own
spiritual lives — and those of their children.

    It was the pastor at breakfast who captured the theme of the day in a single line: “What we’re working on really is the future of the global church, isn’t it?”

    I would only adjust his line slightly: We’re working on the
future of spiritual community. For Christians among us, that’s the
future of the church. Followers of other faiths would use different terms to describe spiritual community.


    THAT’S WHY Michael’s letter from Germany is so important, and so heart-warming, this week.
    Until his note came through last week, I never knew Michael existed — and had never heard of the town where he and his wife live. It’s called Oy-Mittelberg and
is situated in Southern Germany, close to the Austrian border.
    But, Michael listens to Peter Wallace’s weekly broadcasts for “Day1,” he reads Peter’s inspirational books — and Michael was moved by our in-depth Conversation With Peter Wallace about “Day1” last week.

    MICHAEL simply wanted to share with us how much Peter’s voice, books and online presence has meant to him — and how glad he was to see Peter’s presence here at ReadTheSpirit last week.
    Michael’s letter said:
    Enjoying sermons in English, I
started appreciating the Internet some years ago. So many good things!
  And it must have been the first months of 2006 when I accidentally
surfed into “Day1.” There I found a wonderful offering of interesting themes and a
variety of preachers — men and women — from various churches and
backgrounds! In the following months, I downloaded dozens of sermons
and listened to them all while driving to work in the morning.
    What a cool feeling — driving through the hills of southern Germany while the sun is rising and listening to a well-done, Christ-centered message. That’s how I became a “Day1” fan.
    But what I enjoyed most — and still do — are the little interviews Peter does to introduce and complete the programs. I had never heard Peter Wallace’s name before, since I live in a totally different world here, but I got to know him through these programs and he seems extraordinary to me.
    There’s never even a slight tone of aggression in his voice. Instead, I her clear and friendly remarks. He’s got a feeling for the crucial questions that interest me and he has a constantly positive attitude toward the people with whom he’s talking each week.
    That’s not really the average stuff in today’s media, is it?

    TO THAT, I say: No, Michael, it’s not the average stuff in today’s media.
    Michael also recommends Peter’s earlier book “Out of the Quiet.” Peter’s new 90-day book of devotional messages is “Living Loved,” which we recommended to you last week. I’ll take Peter’s word for it that “Quiet” is a great choice, too.
    After all, half way around the world, a graceful, respectful approach to faith has become a daily part of this family’s life in southern Germany.
    We welcome Michael and his wife into this larger family of Day1 and ReadTheSpirit and other like-minded hubs forming across the worldwide Web — to try to usher in a whole new era in spiritual community.

     Toward the end of his letter, Michael added words of praise for Peter’s books. The photograph, above, of Michael’s breakfast table was taken during a trip to Italy while he was reading Peter’s earlier 90-day devotional (the new devotional continues in this tone for another 90 days — and you can click on the book cover to read our review and even order a copy via Amazon, if you wish).
    Here’s what Michael said he likes about Peter’s writing:

    He shares with us God’s invitation to come closer, to live abundantly and to reach out. He writes with sensitivity and quiet wisdom.
    I have worked as a counselor in a clinic for men with alcohol problems for 18 years now and I highly esteem his ability to live life in the real world where there is so much sadness and lack of hope — and, at the same time, to be able to remain sensitive towards people and full of hope.
    He shows us that the love of Christ is still active and can be felt in spite of all we are going through. To me, this is the right way to preach the Gospel!

    AND, TO THAT, I can only say: Amen, Michael.

    You also can visit Michael Seufer’s homepage, which features some more examples of his beautiful photography.

    COME BACK TOMORROW for cool news on an “extra” we’re going to be adding to the Our Lent landing page in response to your suggestions, as readers.
    PLEASE, our readers would love to hear from you, too. Click on “Comment” at the end of the online version of this story — or you can do as Michael did and Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm.

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