Whether walking by one or driving past one, we try to stop for a look-see. What is a kyrkan? It's a church or cathedral. And they are beautiful here in Sweden! There's often an element of surprise awaiting the visitor whether the doors are open orlocked. I want to tell you now about some of these surprises.
First, let's go to the Betlehemskyrkan which is within the denomination we belong to back home. We didn't attend a service here, but peeked in after a service had concluded this past Sunday. The surprise element inside was a cave-like opening
at the sanctuary front.
What is this opening all about? Is it functional or decorative?
We probably won't know unless someone fills us in on the
It was hard to get a picture of the cathedral as a whole.
Once inside there were
many surprises to be found such as the
candle tree, the gilded balconies and the
sanctuary itself. The pipe organ was magnificent and played by a student visiting from Lindsborg,
Kansas attending the conference with the group from the US. Not only were many Americans at the
service but the governor of Varmland was also
in attendance and had a conversation with Wes!
Their picture is shown below at the end of interior
But the biggest surprise of something I'd never seen before in a church or cathedral.
Two hanging ships were suspended from the ceiling over the congregation to the left and right near the altar. I was told these ships are memorials or "good luck" vessels to those who sail the seas. Norway, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, Denmark and other Western European countries have these ships in their churches, but I had never seen one in Sweden before!
Yesterday we drove through the countryside surrounding Jonkoping and came to another church.
The Alseda Kyrkan. The doors were locked, but we walked through the gates to the cemetery.
Seeing the gravestones marked with names of our heritage was poignant: Solander, Carlsson,
Fredrikson, Johanson, Nilsson, Lindstom;; Sven, Hedvig, Oskar, Nils, Lars. And more. But the
biggest surprise was finding a runsten - a runestone - back by the old stone church on the end
of the property. Runestones began being seen in the 4th century, lasting until the 16th century.
These are raised stones with runic inscriptions to memorialize a deceased man. And one was
in this cemetery!
Life is full of surprises. Sometimes you just have to search them out a little bit. Even if it means coming to a "dead end" in the process. In a country that is, yet isn't, home to us.