Where the manger really stands in the stable

Where the manger really stands in the stable

"These are our stars, says master farmer philipp schierling, turns around and looks the brown young bulls in the eye. The 27-year-old takes care of the family farm in oberschwappach and feeds alongside the "franken" day in and day out from the rhon more than 180 other four-legged friends stand with him in the stable. This is everyday life for the schierling family, which has been in the process of converting from conventional to organic farming for several months now. Everyday life, which on 24. December will be a break: because then the bulls offer maria and josef with their child jesus shelter in their stable.

After several years, this year the children’s mass on the afternoon of christmas eve in oberschwappach will not take place in the church, but again in the cowshed. It is an authentic place to experience the christmas story and to trace what christmas is really about. Martina schierling, the mother of young farmer philipp schierling, and traudi oppelt from wohnau took care of the "spiritual" aspects of this service. We are a well-coordinated team. We dare a lot and also try out", says martina schierling, a few days before christmas eve.

The nativity play will follow the traditions including the search for a new home, but will also explore a very special question: "where do i actually find christmas??" Besides maria, josef and the shepherds, a "christmas freak" will be appearing, draped in fairy lights, a box of placemats and a flashing deer antler. "But there must be more", says martina schierling not only in the christmas play but also in real life. "Christmas is a longing, a mystery within us", spurts the mother, who still mysteriously rings the bell for her grown-up children on christmas eve.

Philipp schierling does not have a rough go of it with the preparations. "We will lay out some straw bales so that people can sit down", says farmer. A star should also shine in the stable to show the way to the shepherds, angels and all the others. Martina schierling and traudi oppelt have already shared their experiences with the communion children from ober- and unterschwappach, wohnau and reinhardswinden, who will slip into the roles of the christmas figures this afternoon. "But without stress", emphasizes the leader of the service and takes the wind out of the sails of high expectations "it doesn’t have to be perfect. That is not the point."

Philipp schierling is pleased to be able to "give the children a nice christmas party". He expects to make contact with people "who no longer have much to do with agriculture", says the young farmer. Visitors often pass by his pasture fences and he takes the time to explain everything about the cattle. With the "walk-in customers, the cowshed is suddenly full", the farmer from oberschwappach, who can no longer imagine doing anything else, says enthusiastically, "that’s the beauty of people taking an interest in it."

Musicians of the brass band oberschwappach will perform the children’s mass on the 24th. December accompany. "Silent night will not be missing at the end. The texts will hit the pulse of time, because no one, not even the angel or the emperor, is perfect and "in life there are always highs and lows", woman martina hemlock. For them, "faith is a treasure". Christmas is a "fact that jesus has come alive. Whether in bethlehem, nazareth or anywhere else, it makes no difference to me. I don’t need that all around me".

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