For two years, little in Hamburg's churches at Christmas was the same as it used to be. This year, for the first time since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, all believers and those for whom going to church is part of the Holy Feast can come to church services without restrictions. "It's getting full in our churches," says Pastor Josephine Teske from the Evangelical parish of Meiendorf-Oldenfelde, the second largest parish in the Hanseatic city.
And yet Christmas will be different than other years, the pastor believes. "This year has moved us a lot and also scared us," she says, citing the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and the concerns that inflation and energy prices cause for many. Especially now, at Christmas, that would move many parishioners.
For this reason, too, Teske expects many people to attend the services. She alone will lead three services. "It's important to take your fears and needs seriously," she says. For example, not answering worries, it won't be that bad. From the pastor's point of view, this is also one of the central messages of Christmas. "There comes someone who comforts us. He brings us light in these dark times.” That touches people – if they allow it. “People want to hope for something. And that can be Jesus.” Teske believes that faith is an important resilience factor.
For all those who do not want to or cannot attend the services despite the churches being open again, Josephine Teske offers something that she has practiced over the past two years - and also maintains throughout the year. The pastor has almost 39,000 followers on Instagram, with whom she regularly shares events from her life or prayers, but above all celebrates devotions.
She called her channel Blissful Things. She has been a member of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany since 2021 to promote the church's digital offerings. She only moved to Hamburg from Büdelsdorf near Rendsburg in May and found a new home with her children in the community in Rahlstedt. Even if she has a full-time job there and doesn't devote a quarter of her time to the Digital Church as before, maintaining the Instagram channel is important to her.
The 36-year-old prepared a prayer for Christmas. It's about the festival as children experience it and the question of how adults can manage to recapture a piece of this childishness with their amazement. "It's about letting go and being forgiving. Something we should also wish for at Christmas.”