Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day Six: Sunday (Free Day)

Christ's Church - just ahead to the left. (Within the Old City)
Okay, so I'm a couple days behind in making posts. This is a very intense class! Breakfast is at six in the morning and then leaving on the bus down by Jaffa Gate at seven. We are travelling around the countryside all day until close to six. By the time supper is over we have roughly three to four hours to finish homework, make phone calls home, take showers, do laundry, and get in bed for another early morning! Talk about a packed schedule. Nevertheless, it has been absolutely amazing! There is no way we could be seeing everything we are seeing on any regular tour group. It's intense but worth it! … Today is our Christian Sabbath / Sunday. As much as I would like to go to a few museums or even the Dome of the Rock, I have decided to keep today special … a restful day in the Lord. I may see about getting the last two days of posts and pictures up and perhaps taking a nap before finding another church to attend this evening.

Christ's Church
This morning I attended Christ's Church. It was completed in 1849, making it oldest protestant church in the Middle East. The church is Anglican, and thereby fairly liturgical. However, I was surprised that most of their music was modern hymns and chorus. I knew every song except one or two toward the end. The church is shaped somewhat like a cross with two small wings to either side. I ended up sitting in the back of the left wing with a couple other students from JUC. Church began with a worship followed by the singing of the Shema; then a mixture of liturgy and worship. There were three "pastors" of sorts. Although our roots in the Holiness/Methodist movement are from the Anglican Church, I am not too familiar with the Anglican hierarchy. The preacher had a green collar / scarf and a white robe. Another elderly gentleman who did a few minor things throughout the service had a white robe with a green sash, and the third who read the Scripture and had a "Sunday School" with the children, had black robe with the clerical collar. The message this morning was from Psalm 32 and Luke 7:36-8:3 – the sinful women who anointed Jesus' feet. In a nutshell, the pastor made many excellent points: the chief among them being the "small" but deadly sins of the Pharisee's heart and the grateful heart of the those who have been forgiven. Following the message, we took communion. I have never taken in this fashion … everyone filed though the front alters. While kneeling, the pastor broke the bread (matzo) by pushing it into one's hand. Then everyone drank out of the same cup … and it was NOT grape juice! I had wondered as I approached, but when I felt the sting all the way down, my suspicions were confirmed. I have never tasted wine before,  but I did feel there was some significance in the burning. As my hand was "pierced" with the bread and my insides "scourged" with the wine. It brought to mind the painfulness of Calvary, and brought me to a place of thanksgiving for the price that my Lord paid HERE in Jerusalem for ME! Praise the Lord! Following a few final songs of praise, liturgy, and benediction; a couple from Germany sang, "I saw the Light" using a harmonica, bass violin, and keyboard … a wonderful reminder that the Lord has taken us from darkness into the light of His glorious presence! Our group stuck around for a moment to enjoy tea and cookies in the courtyard before heading out in our various directions. While at the reception table, I was able to talk to a couple who came from New Zealand to stay in the Holy Land for a season. Upon telling her I was with JUC, she joked, "Everyone should be required to come to the Israel! It adds so much insight into the text of the Bible." Amen! Already in this first week, I have found our touring thought the land quite insightful into many biblical passages.

Well, I will have to figure out my plans for the evening, but in the mean time, I will be reviewing my many notes these past couple of days!

Shot of the ceiling from my seat.
Singing the Shema at Christ's Church (only caught the latter half). 
The Shema is from Deut. 6:4-6

Preaching on Psalms 32 and Luke 7:36-8:3

Communion at the Altar 

Front of the Church

The back of the Church ... 

That's me leaving Christ's Church ... What a beautiful Sunday Morning!

Walking back toward Jaffa Gate

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