This had to be a special day - starting at 8 a.m. to go to Christ Church for their 9.30 Holy Communion. I know that sounds a bit early but I needed to be certain of getting there in time and expected a big congregation - so better to have too much time than be late! In fact I arrived in time to have breakfast in the Christ Church guest house, and be in church in plenty of time. This was good because as the beginning of the service got nearer, and in fact the start
time passed without worship beginning, more chairs were being brought in - it was definitely a full house! And why? Canon Andrew White, Vicar of Baghdad, was the preacher - and what a preacher! He took us back 150 years ago this week, when a group from the congregation of Christ Church set out for Baghdad to found the church which is now Andrew's church. He talked about the risks they took, and the risks he and his team take, and the risks we all need to take when God calls. He preached with enormous energy and with episodes of humour - here is a man who is suffering from multiple sclerosis but is being empowered to overcome it. Absolutely amazing! He will be back in May when the church is hosting an event with many coming other areas of the Middle East - praise the Lord I shall be back in time for that. To find out more about Andrew and his ministry, just Google him and you'll be surprised at all that he and his congregation of 6.500 accomplish!
Andrew is in Jerusalem to prepare for a meeting next week between faith leaders from Rabbis, Ayatollahs and Priests. With God in their midst, only good can come out of this, but he was prayed for that all will be well. Besides his parish ministry, he also works in reconciliation and interfaith areas. When we were leaving, Andrew asked where I was from, and of course immediately I said WSM he reminded me of his work with Bishop Peter Price and I recall Bishop Peter talking about the work they had done together in Baghdad.
It was an altogether beautiful service. Because today was the celebration of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, we used a specially chosen liturgy starting with the Psalms of Ascent which Mary and Joseph, as faithful Jews, would have sung or said as they journeyed to the Temple. The music was great - some in Hebrew but mostly in English - some of my favourites: Purify my heart, The Communion Song, To God by the glory, You are beautiful, so many other familiar worship songs. .
Then it was out to the courtyard for coffee, where I spent time with a number of different people
hearing their stories, some were on short visits, others were 'called', others were regular local congregation members. Two of the latter were Ava and her stepdaughter, Beatrice.. They invited me to have lunch with them at Christ Church and then we went to a large market area and finally to the Clal Building in Jaffa Road. This is the building where the King of Kings church meets at 5 p.m. on Sunday, and during the week for other events also.
The Clal building is a huge complex of small shops and eating places, lots of offices and a church called King of Kings which meets in a large theatre. The songs were modern Hebrew ones. We also sang the Shema.
The preacher, who was also the founder of the church,preached on this weeks Parashat portion.
The Lord's Supper had no liturgy but was passed around by various stewards after the sermon, using already broken matzos and small individual cups of wine.
Their calling is:
To be a compelling, Messiah centered
disciple making community,
revealing the true face of Yeshua
to Israel and the nations.
Core values are:
Centrality in Yeshua, the Lord of our faith,
lives and ministry.
We left before the end of the service because Ava wanted to attend the Christ Church 7 p.m. service. I got dropped off at the turning for the Ratisbonne.
An amazing day filled with worship and fellowship.