Hannah and Je together

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Sunday after Christmas

This is a story couple or several years ago.

There is a small town of N, in the rural Canada.  The small town has an old church–about or over 150 years–named K Presbyterian Church.  A new pastor was installed and began to serve there.

First year, she noticed that the church does not have a Sunday service on the Sunday after Christmas.

Second year, she asked the session–the elders’ meeting, in other word, the congress of the church–to have the Sunday worship service.  The elders opposed and refused that request.  They said that no Sunday service after Christmas is their century old tradition, and nobody would come to the service.  The pastor said that she would worship God by herself in that case.  The elders allowed the service unwillingly, and they did not forget to warn her that there will be nobody on that day.

The pastor was quite worried.  During the service, she noticed that more people came on that Sunday than usual.  Actually all the members came to the church, even those who don’t come to church regularly.  But none of the elders came.

I don’t know what to say, but I think it is quite funny (in sarcastic way).

여러해 전에 있었던 일이다.

캐나다의 한 시골 지역에 N이라는 마을이 있는데, 그 곳에는 아주 오래된, 150년 된 K 장로교회가 있다. 새로운 목사님이 그 곳에 부임을 하셨다.

첫 해에, 목사님은 성탄절 지난 다음 주일에 주일 예배가 없다는 것을 발견하게 되었다.

다음 해에, 목사님은 장로회에 주일 예배를 갖자고 제안을 했다.  장로회는 말하자면 교회를 다스리는 국회 같은 것이다.  장로들이 그 제안을 거부했다.  장로들이 말하길, 성탄절 다음 주일에 예배가 없는 것이 100년 넘은 교회의 전통이고, 예배를 해도 아무도 오지 않을 것이라고 했다.  목사님은, 그런 경우엔 혼자서라도 예배를 드리겠다고 했고, 장로들은 마지못해 허락을 하면서 아무도 오지 않을 거라고 경고하는 것을 잊지 않았다.

목사님은 사실 심히 걱정이 되었다.  예배 중에, 목사님이 보니 평소보다 성도들이 더 많이 왔다는 것을 알게 되었다. 사실 평소 잘 안나오던 성도들도 대거 나와서, 전 성도가 예배에 참여를 했다.  그런데 장로들은 아무도 예배에 오지 않았다.

무슨 말을 해야 하는지 모르겠는데, (반어법적으로) 참 웃긴 얘기다.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Third Day – Baraka Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem

The first day I came here, I found the sign of Presbyterian Church in front of the house where I am staying.  But my hosting family told me that they have not seen them worship on Sundays.

Church Entrance

Church Entrance

My hosting family told me that they heard of bigger Presbyterian church in Bethlehem, not do not know the exact location.  As a favour to me, the father of the family called his neighbour this morning who is in the Beit Sahour Presbyterian Church (the official name is Shepherds’ Field Presbyterian Church), and asked the location.  It was on the Hebron street, and he gave me ride there.

Church Building

Church Building

The church was on the down-side of the road (everywhere here is hill).  So the ground floor from my side (west) is underground level 1 from the other side (east).

Common Room in the church with pingpong table

Common Room in the church with ping-pong table

When you go in, you get to the back of the sanctuary.  And on the right, there is a door to the common room for after service refreshments.  There is a ping-pong table for the youth activities.

Simultaneous Translator Receiver

Simultaneous Translator Receiver

From the common room, you can enter the tech room where they control the overhead projector and computer, sound mixer and everything.  Even they have simultaneous translator equipment.  Today, a guy was translating in the tech room only for me.

Christmas Year Round

Christmas Year Round

In Bethlehem, it is Christmas year round.

Childrens' Story Time

Children’s Story Time

The service was much like ours in Canada or America (I mean PCC or PCUSA).  And there were about or little more than fifty people including children.  There was a Children’s story time, and then they went for Sunday School.  Though the service was much like ours, the demographic was quite different.  They are mostly young parents, probably around 20s and 30s.  I think that is good sign because even here, the church goers are mostly seniors for Greek Orthodox.  And the service was about hour and half (thank God it is not three hours like Greek Orthodox).

Back to School Gift

Back to School Gift

All the children were given a gift package at the Sunday school because the school begins tomorrow.

Playground at Church

Playground at Church

I know the churches in North America usually have yards and some rich Churches (like my church which is Knox Presbyterian Church in Naperville) have even its own playground.  That is not true for churches in Korea.  I also haven’t seen any playground at Greek Orthodox Churches.  But this Presbyterian church has its own small playground.  I love it!

Olive Everywhere

Olive Everywhere

And it is kind of law in Palestine and Israel that where there is yard, there are olive trees.

I found that the Presbyterian church in Beit Sahour comes here to join the Sunday service because they do not have a lot of people, and it is the daughter church of Baraka Bethlehem Presbyterian Church.  They also have a day-care and education centre in Beit Sahour.  So instead of walking back hour and twenty minutes, I got a ride back home.  And thank God that the Beit Sahour Presbyterian church is literally right next door!

In the refreshments, people asked me a few questions such as if I am alone.  I guess they meant if I am single because they also told me that they have good Christian girls.  So I told them “Ana mit-jawiz,” which means I am married.  Another lady asked me how long I’ve been here.  I asked her back, “in Palestine?”  Then she said, “Thank you for saying Palestine.”  To give you an advice who wants to travel West Bank later, it is not safe to call there “Israel,” and they do not really like to be called “West Bank” either.  They are happy when they hear “Palestine.”

Who knows this?

Who remembers this?

They sell some souvenirs in the church along with some Christian music.  Some of them are in cassette tape.  I cannot really remember when was the last time that I listened to the cassette tape.  And I don’t have a cassette tape player, so I could not buy this one even though it was cheaper.  But does not the sales mean people actually listens to it?

Arabic Gospel CD

Arabic Gospel CD

Instead of the cassette tape, I bought a gospel music CD in Arabic.  I can borrow this CD if you are my neighbour and you want it.  The church was selling it for 30 shekels.  And I found later that it is cheaper if you buy it at Amazon.  But that is OK, it is just 5 shekels (which is about $2), and I may think I helped the church.

It is not related to today’s topic, but: the father of this hosting family installed an alarm app from the Israeli government that warns the location and sounds the siren when the missile launch was detected from Gaza so that people can run to the shelter. And it sounds the siren twice every minute, literally.  But the location is mostly southern Israel, so we don’t have to run.  Well, actually we don’t have a shelter to run in Beit Sahour or any Palestinian area in West Bank.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Forty Sixth Day – Sunday Service at Palestinian Greek Orthodox Church

Today I went to Greek Orthodox Church in Beit Sahour with my hostess lady.  The service was from 7am, but we left home at 7:05.  And we went there less than 10 minutes, mostly because Beit Sahour is very small town.

Paintings in Narthex

Paintings in Narthex

In the narthex, there were four pictures.  I recognised the two which are Jesus Christ and St. Mary.  And almost everybody stopped at those pictures and bowed and kissed them.

Candle Light

Candle Light

And at the corner of Narthex, there is a place where you can light the candle.  I also did one.

Blessing, blessing

Blessing, blessing

Throughout the service, people went to the front of the right corner by family.  And they bend their back and bowed before the priest.  And women must cover their heads with scarves.  Then the priest cover everybody with a clothe like towel.  And he crossed over their heads, and blessed them.  Then he finished with another making cross over their heads.  He uncovered the towel, and fed them with wine and bread.  It looks like a small communion but it is not a communion.  And not everybody goes there.

Kissing the Bible

Kissing the Bible

The actual service begins about 8:15.  Then what we were doing until then?  I was told that it was preparing the service by asking God the permission of service, and blessing.

The priest took the golden Bible, and the guys went to the front and kissed the Bible.  Then the priest came to the middle of the hallway.  And the ladies went and kissed.

Light up the Church!

Light up the Church!

Then the all lights were turned on even Christmas decorations (in the back side door).

Choir seat

Choir seat

The choir was upstairs.

First Procession

First Procession

And there was a procession.  The boys carry two candles, and two symbols, and a cross.  Then the priests carry the Bible.  I heard that the two symbols which go before the cross means John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord.

Men and Women should not seat together

Men and Women should not seat together

Most Jewish synagogues in Israel have separate rooms for men and women.  The churches do not have such things.  All men and women worship God together.  But if you look at the picture, all men are sitting on the front pews, while all ladies sitting behind them.  Because I went with my hosting lady, I was at the back, and almost everybody looked at me and their eyes were like saying what the hack is wrong with me.

Second Procession

Second Procession

Almost at the end of the service, there was another procession.  And during the procession, people kissed the relics, bible or kissed their finger and stretched their finger towards the relics.

Offering is Universal

Offering is Universal

The offering system is not much different from the Presbyterian or any other Protestant churches in North America.

Sharing the bread, but not communion

Sharing the bread, but not communion

Then a guy was distributing chunk of bread to the people, and also many (aged) ladies brought their own breads and distributed to the nearby people.  I thought this is the communion, but again, it was not.  They said this is the “holiness of bread.”  They said it is for blessing, because not everybody can join the communion.

This is communion

This is communion

Then the real communion was at the very end of the service.  People lined up, and went to the front.  The priests blessed the wine and bread, and distributed one by one.  Just as I was told a minute ago, not everybody went up.  I don’t know what is the rule of the communion, but I did not go up as well because I did not want to break any possible rule there.

The service lasted three hours.  It was very different from typical Presbyterian or any other Protestant worship service.  If I had understood Arabic, it would have been better and exciting.  there was lots of singing by the cantors.  And the cantors were on both sides of the holy place (or stage), because they said someone in the Bible or in their legend saw heaven, and saw the angels singing in the left and right of the throne.

It was very interesting experience.

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