Sunday morning took us to church. And whereas Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ and Bat Yam--Temple of the Islands worship in a building less than forty years old, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem worships in a building which has sections dating back hundreds of years.
It is a fascinating church--not the building, though that is fascinating too--but rather the people. It has four congregations within its family rooted in four different languages. Arabic, Danish, English and German. We worshipped with the English speaking congregation. The pastor of that congregation is the Rev. Carrie Ballenger, an American. She has served there for five years. She offered a powerful sermon based on John 21.
Many of our folks--Christians and Jews--mentioned being especially moved by the closing hymn. It can be found, apparently, in the Presbyterian hymnal, and included a verse or two added by Pastor Ballenger. The closing stanza offers a vision of the world that can motivate all people of faith:
For everyone born, a place at the table,
to live without fear, and simply to be,
to work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
for everyone born, the right to be free.
For me personally, the opportunity to share at the communion table, there in the middle of Jerusalem, was especially moving. As a Christian I find it to be a powerful symbol of freedom. The whole experience served as a lovely counterpoint to our time at Har-El, the Reform Jewish synagogue where we worshipped on Friday night. We do not need to be the same! For the Holy One we worship loves us all, and treasures each act of worship that is motivated by desire to honor the Source of Life Itself, each act of worship that brings us closer to that table where there is no fear and all are truly free.