The mindful observer would have noticed the picture of a church in the last post. Yesterdays destination.
I grew up in a non-religious family. My brother and I are not christened or baptised, just given a name. This does not mean that we do not have a relationship with the church, though I would probably have challenged that before yesterday. Yesterday was the christening of my friends little girl and I was thrilled that I was able to make it to the event. Christenings are always happy events but it surprised me was how moved I was by the whole deal. Not in a particular religious way, but in a ‘recognition of culture’ kind of way. As a teenager I sang in the church choir, mainly because I liked to sing and it was the only option I had (I grew up in a very small village in rural Denmark). I therefore know half the psalms in the book, plus all the ritual answers. So there I was, sitting in the church, recognising both the rituals and the surroundings as a deeply engrained part of my cultural belonging. There is no doubt that the feeling was enhanced by being together with people I love, have missed and am thrilled to see again, but I have learned something about myself that was deeper than that. Not that I will be throwing myself into the baptismal font any day soon.
This is Birkerød Kirke. It was built in the beginning of the 16th century; the first priest started work some time before 1532. I haven’t looked up any information about this particular church, but from my knowledge of Danish history I’m pretty sure of the following: Denmark was catholic at the time the church was built, which lead to heavy decoration on the inside. In this case (as in many others) it was with chalk painting. When Denmark became Lutheran protestant (which is our state religion, written into the constitution) austerity became the norm and the church covered all the decorations with white paint. My guess is, that Birkerød kirke has uncovered the old paintings in half the church and left the protestant ways in the other. You wouldn’t otherwise see this much colour in a Danish church.
Yesterday was the third Sunday after Easter, which of course means something in the protestant calendar. They remind you as you walk in; just in case you forgot. Another funny feature in the Danish protestant church is that ALL churches have a ship hanging from the ceiling. Seafaring nation and all.
In case you have no clue what’s going on and what you are supposed to do, there are instructions left at every seat. The asterisk is for when you are supposed to stand.
As you can see, we had quite a program to cover. It included singing 11 psalms. Can’t say we aren’t thorough.