The Church of the Holy Sepulchre – What a waste!

This was the main sentiment that was communicated by the guys on my recent trip to Israel. I heard a few say, “I just don’t get it.” Others commented that if they were to come back, that they just wouldn’t even bother checking out this particular church – that it would be a waste of time.

If you have ever been, you might have the same sentiment about it. If you have never been, it is the venerated spot of the Golgotha – where the cross was that Jesus died on. We followed the Via Dolorosa. We stop at a few of the stations, and there were people that day stopping at each station – reading what happened at each station – worshipping and praying – and walking the way to the cross. It was a powerful sight to see.

We got to the church. Keep in mind, I was with about 20 youth pastors – Christians. Not one of them understood the icons, the altars, or the significance of any of the practice of kissing and rubbing different things in the church. I had an interesting interchange with one of my friends there who kept saying, “I just don’t get it.” As we walked around the church, I told him that they probably wouldn’t get our fasination with knowledge and knowing. They would probably walk into our churches and be just as lost and “not get” the way that we do church.

It might have been a waste. They might not ever go back to that particular church ever again. Technically, if they didn’t like it that much, then they probably wouldn’t read this post about it.

One thing that stood out to me was their passion. They were definitely passionate about their worship and their experience in that place. We were processing through their worship experience with our lenses. Their experience was a real worship experience. We didn’t get it. I’d love to see the same level of passion in our churches.

Here’s the lesson for me, and this is not an indictment of any of my friends that were there. Anytime you process someone else’s experiences with your own, it will probably lead to you “not getting it.” We can still learn from their experiences. Honestly, the only difference between their worship and ours is the fact that our “icons” are different. Instead of a painting or a gold altar or a rock or a tablet of stone, we have bulletins and powerpoint that we use as tools or icons to aid in our worship.

So should you visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – absolutely. Then decide whether it’s a waste or not. It tells me alot about you.

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4 Comments

  1. Lem, I totally agree that we all have icons, ours just happen to be different. We should all seek to rid ourselves of all the icons and distractions to true relationship with our Savior, to living out the gospel so that our mission each day is the mission field God allows us to be in, to be a blessing to the souls we meet along the way, and to point them to the Truth of the Savior. Truth be told, I would probably have been one of those people saying “I just don’t get it” when I saw people responding to icons that appear empty to me. Thanks for the reminder that I have too many icons in my own life that get in the way of worship and living out the gospel.

    1. Pam,
      Thanks for reading. Thanks for the insight.
      I wish I understood the icons better. I don’t really mind that we have icons – as long as they are tools to help us worship and not the thing that we worship. PowerPoint can be helpful in our church service, but we don’t worship that.
      I love what you said about getting rid of the distractions and really enjoying the true relationship with the Lord. That’s always so helpful. I know that there’s a lot that I don’t get. I’m glad that it doesn’t hinder my worship. Thanks again Pam.

  2. “We didn’t get it. I’d love to see the same level of passion in our churches.” Amen!

    “So should you visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – absolutely. Then decide whether it’s a waste or not. It tells me alot about you.” hahaha I think it sounds really cool!

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