Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Friday, March 21, 2008

Maundy Thursday

All that we Christians of today do throughout Holy Week and Easter began here, in Jerusalem.

From the triumphal journey into Jerusalem from Bethphage to Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the last meal with his disciples, his denial by Peter, his death on the cross and ultimately his resurrection, a Christian’s understanding of salvation began here. Each year through our worship we enact the story that we know and love. It’s a story of betrayal, denial and loss but also a story of hope, life and love. This story of redemption began in Jerusalem and it continues on in the Jerusalem of today.

I am deeply moved to be in Jerusalem during this very special time in the life of a Christian. As we walk in and out of the Old City, up the Mount of Olives and down into the Kidron Valley, I am reminded of all of the pilgrims who have gone before me, praying and singing and keeping vigil during this holy week. I am united and reconciled with the one who loves me because Christ has layed down his life in this place, at that time.

The following photos are of the worship service from the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem. We began at the church for worship; scripture, prayers, a message. We celebrated the Lord's supper in which Jesus commanded us to do in remembrance of him. The service was in English, Arabic and German representing the different Lutheran congregations that worship at Redeemer.

After prayers and thanksgiving, the altar was stripped of its paraments to remind us of the stark reality of this night. We gathered outside of the church in our own language groups to begin our way to the Mount of Olives
. We began the walk through the narrow stone streets of the Old City.
The service began at 4:30 pm. When the service had finished it was dusk.
We followed the cross and sang hymns the entire time...O Sacred Head, Now Wounded, Go to Dark Gethsemane, There is a Green Hill Far Away, Amazing Grace, What a Friend We Have In Jesus. Simultaneously you could hear the Germans and the Arabs singing their hymns.
The moon, almost full, was rising in the darkening sky.

We are in the Kidron Valley approaching the Mount of Olives.

When we reached the Mount of Olives we processed to the Garden of Gethsemane where we held a candlelight service.

The clergy leading prayers and singing.

The darkness had come. This is a view looking behind us. Our service concluded for the night. A friend and I walked further to the Church of All Nations where the Maundy Thursday mass was ending. We joined their procession that went from the Mount of Olives, down again through the Kidron Valley to the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. It is here that Peter denies Jesus.
Church of the All Nations.

Walking in candlelight and moon light through the Kidron Valley.

The Jerusalem Cross. This flag lead the group. There was singing the entire way; this processional and service was in traditional Arabic hymns and praying.

It was a beautiful night, not hot nor cold. The candlelight warmed us as the increasing sadness loomed.

Inside of the Church gardens we were greeted by the Monks who had prepared a service. There were votive candles throughout the garden. By now it was about 11:30 pm.

A blurry photo of the sculpture of Peter and the woman who asked if he knew Jesus. As you can see the lights of Jerusalem are in the background. Imagine in Jesus' time it was dark...just the light from the torches and lanterns and the ever so bright moon were visible.

The gardens of St. Peter in Gallicantu. At midnight it was finally quiet on the hillside of Jerusalem. There was peace but the energy of the evening and the events of the Gospel filled the air.


hoppy said...

"Holy Smokes"! Wish I could be there with you. God is Great, God is good, and we thank him for our mood.

Dina said...

Your candlelight images are awesome.