Ask anyone who was there and they will most likely say that the worship services were the greatest moments during the GIT/WCRC. Or at least some of the best ones. So here goes, my memories of the worship services… in chronological order (as best as I can)!
June 6th, 2010
The whole GIT went for the 9.30am Sunday Service at the Fourth Presbyterian Church. If I remember correctly, the church is one of the oldest in Chicago. It is located downtown, right next to all kinds of tall buildings. It’s easily the prettiest building there to my standards. The “traditional” designed church’s front walls was covered with leaves… I don’t know what they’re called in English. It’s some sort of plant that grows on walls and slowly fills up the wall 😛
When we walked in we were immediately amazed with the structure and beauty of the Church… very “classic” (and classy). I honestly thought we didn’t quite fit in, being such a loud, diverse group of people amongst these serious looking mostly white congregation. We were given some warnings (regarding bags) and were introduced to the congregation.
Things about the service that I remember enjoying very much were the orderliness of things (like how the elders formed this perfect line and moved with total preciseness as they distributed the communion) and the beautiful sound of the choir. Rev. Dr. John Buchanan was preaching although in all honesty I didn’t know who he was, nor did I remember what he was preaching about. I reckon I took some sermon notes unfortunately I can’t find it. What I do remember, however, and this is important, was the peace I felt while we were worshiping there. It was beautiful, the feeling of quiet, like there was nothing else in the world that mattered except being there in reverence to God.
June 7th, 2010
The morning devotion of the GITs was led by Honnah, and she led us in quiet meditation. I remembered feeling quite uneasy about this but nevertheless appreciated it. And the Cenacle Chapel was beautiful.
I can’t remember the vespers at the moment. Hopefully it will come back to me later.
June 8th, 2010
No clue. Oops.
June 9th, 2010
Morning Devotion was led by Endrei, who presented this extremely powerful mime called “HANDS”. I was grateful and honored to be able to take part in it as one of the actors. The mime is about how God created men and gave us hands to do wonderful things, but instead men use their hands to do awful things, including nailing Jesus to the cross. It was a beautiful script with really good movements (even if I say so myself)… you can tell people were deeply touched by it cause we ended up seeing the mime two more times during the WCRC.
Vespers was if I remember correctly, led by the South Africans. Roelof shared his experience of ministering in Zimbabwe. It was really touching. However, the part I loved most was when we sang Lord Bless Africa (Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika) together. The song was a prayer, and there we were, people from all over the world, praying for Africa. I was near to tears.
June 10th, 2010
Can’t remember either… sorry 😦
June 11th, 2010
Morning Devotion. The thing I remember: we sang an opening song called “Thank You Jesus”, but we sang it in different languages… in Igbo (from Nigeria), Mizo (from Myanmar), Moore (from Bokina Faso) and Chichewa (from Malawi). I think this was also the beginning of us having Bible Readings and Prayers in different languages. I wish I had noted down all the languages we used. It was amazing! We didn’t understand a word of what was read/said, but we were taking part in it. In a way, we “knew”.
Vespers… Indonesian! Hahah. To me, being part of the “serving team”, it felt good to be able to share our culture with the world, and to see and know that people enjoyed worshiping together with us (although we don’t usually sing the hallelujah while dancing in our weekly services :P). Also felt really touched singing The Lord’s Prayer in Indonesian after the intercessory prayer (yes, as I was singing)… it was for me really a moment of reverence. I was singing alone yet praying together with all these people I’ve come to love dearly. The silence, the sound of my own voice bouncing back against the walls of the chapel. As I hit one of the higher notes and it echoed clearly in the silence… it was just overwhelming.
June 13th, 2010
We went for Sunday worship at the Trinity UCC. Compared to last week, this was the exact opposite. We didn’t quite fit in yet again since the UCC is a mainly black congregation. And the service was everything but quiet! LOL. In total, the worship service lasted 3 hours. Yeps. No typo there. We were there for 3 whole hours. Unlike some other GITs, however, I didn’t realize the service was THAT long until we were done. I found the whole experience of being there as an adventure. An amazing one at that. Yes, the music was loud, and yes, people shouting “AMEN!” “Hallelujah!” “Preach it!” etc. and even jumping up and dancing in circles during the sermon was a bit distracting, but it was also inspiring. These people were actually immersed in the service, they were completely there, their spirit were uplifted.
Also of note, and the reason why the service took so long was that they had all kinds of celebrations/ceremonies going on. First there was confirmation. I found it interesting that they had a “test” before the confirmation where the students (?) had to answer all sorts of question about the Bible, Christianity, all the way to the history of the UCC. Then, they had a rites of passage ceremony for the girls. This is cool because it’s a year-long program of mentoring girls to become women and this was the conclusion of the program, where the mentors “return” the girls to their families, and the families then “give” them to the church, no longer as girls but as women with all their responsibilities. Also, there was a Father and Son choir performance (was it Father’s Day? I can’t really remember). Oh, speaking of the choir… the church was so packed that the pastor invited those who didn’t get any seats to sit with the choir in front.
Next, and this was perhaps the most interesting part, the church was celebrating higher education on that day, therefore everyone in the congregation (including the pastor and the elders) were wearing their university jerseys. Yes, we did not recognize the pastor until he started preaching. LOL. The sermon was appropriately mostly about education and how the soon-to-be college students are to deal with their studies. Also interesting was the time of dedication where the pastor directed everyone to hold hands and then as he prayed he asked people to squeeze the hands of their neighbors if they answer YES to the questions he posed. I can’t remember what exactly the questions were, but I think they were about accepting Christ, becoming part of a church and commitment to serve in a ministry at the church. What happened next was that the members of the congregation who felt their hands squeezed brought the person who squeezed their hands in front to receive a special blessing for their commitment. It was a touching moment.
June 14th, 2010
Morning Devotion was led by the Latin Americans… and I loved the songs we sang! Also, it was closed with a communal blessing where we all stood in a huge circle and then blessed each other: touching each other’s heads saying “God bless you”, the put our hands around the shoulders saying “God protects you”, and the held our hands together to say “give you peace”… then say “Amen” and give the hands a tight squeeze. You can tell I loved this blessing cause I “forced” Izett to lead us in the same blessing again during our farewell party 🙂
Vespers was led by the girls from Kenya and Malawi with lots of help from around the world ;). Loved the songs, again… AND loved being part of the dance troupe for one of the songs, although I would’ve loved it even more if we had asked the whole congregation to dance with us instead of performing for them. The dance troupe was especially cool because we represented all the continents in the GIT, and the song was a call to dance with thanksgiving and joy… fill the streets with love and shake this world alive with singing! Beautiful, I tell ya.
Morning Devotions. Umm… Err… No idea?
Vespers. INDIA! Loved the use of poetry as prayers, and most of all loved the Bhajan song we sang. Whoa, it was… indescribable. So exotic, so meditative, so… spiritual? It one-of-a-kind.
Now I can’t remember when… was it June 16th when we had the vespers in remembrance of those who didn’t make it to the GIT? This was touching because there were seats reserved for them and we heard their struggle to get the visa but still didn’t get it… It was especially touching for me because I had to go to a similar process. I had been anxious as well. But I made it through. It made me ever so thankful, yet at the same time it made me ever so angry at the injustice of this world.
Next time… the experience in Grand Rapids… and if you GITs are reading this and actually remember those moments I can’t seem to remember… do kindly leave a comment/e-mail/message me on facebook to let me know about those services?