One of my friends told me he and his wife flew from Heathrow to Dresden on a small plane called a ‘Bombardier’. Not very tactful, I would have thought, given the destination.

the other thing I learned from the telly is that a group of atheists (not further defined) preceded the Kirchentag with a religion-free event for which they took the Kirchentag icon (a heart) and turned it into a brain. They also tried to change the theme (taken from Matthew 6:21 – ‘… there will your heart be also’). The point of the Christian thing is to compel people to think about what really drives them and roots it in Jesus’s tough statement in relation to money: “where your wallet/bank account/investments are will tell us where your heart really is.” It is a tough challenge – and pertinent not just to Christians, but to everyone. I haven’t been able to find out what the atheist equivalent was, but I heard from someone else that it was the tired old moan about replacing ‘faith’ with ‘rationality’ – as if they were opposites or alternatives. You’d think that after decades of the Marxist-Leninist (and decidedly atheist) German Democratic Republic they would be a little more coy about this sort of stuff.

And that isn’t a dig at atheists. It is a dig at the humourless, point-missing ones who couldn’t even run a decent party before the 120,000 intelligent and rational Christians arrived for a great four-day festival of thinking, debating, praying and entertaining. The hotel told me they are dealing with over 300,000 visitors for the Kirchentag this week. The guy seemed a little bit surprised.

My problem today is that I was doing stuff all day and, therefore, got to hear no one else. The Frauenkirche was full for my Bible Study on the Beatitudes. Then we got the tram to take part in a podium discussion of the Meissen Commission and related matters. We got a good audience for that, too. After a big sausage (that’s Bratwurst to you) I helped lead and preach for around 2,000 (mainly young) people in a great service arranged and led by Judy Bailey, a Caribbean musician who is wonderful. From there I went to the other side of town to take part in a Lima Liturgy service where I bumped into some old friends from the Diocese of Southwark. And now, after a dunkles Hefeweizen (look it up) I’m back in the hotel and knackered.

Walking back into the restored old town of Dresden the were musicians everywhere. A classical choir and orchestra were performing on the other river bank to a crowd of thousands and the glorious music rolled across the river. The whole event is uniquely wonderful – more Brits should come.

This place, for so long synonymous with dreadful destruction, is a place of beauty, life, culture, hope and celebration.

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