Note: In January 2011 my wife and I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This post is part of a series of blogs I have written to convey what I learned while on this life changing trip. You can read about the entire trip in the devotional book Touching the Footprints of Jesus.
As I walked through the garden thinking of my own relationship with Jesus, I must admit that I have often been spiritually asleep when I should have been watching and praying. I wonder how often Jesus has checked up on me only to find that I failed Him when it mattered most. After 2000 years, those of us who endeavor to follow Jesus with our whole lives still find that our spirits are willing but our flesh is often weak. Lord, help us learn the importance of watching and praying with greater faithfulness than we have had in the past.
While visiting the Garden, we stepped inside one of the churches located on the site. There was a Catholic Mass in progress when we slipped in the back door. Our tour guide attempted to whisper certain pieces of information to us about the building, but a priest appeared from a corner and insisted that he remain quiet during the Mass. To be honest, I was glad the priest said something because I thought the tour guide was being disrespectful anyway. We stayed for a while in the rear of the church while the Mass progressed. The Mass was in Polish and we could not understand the words. I am not Catholic, so I am only vaguely familiar with the liturgy of the Mass. But I could sense that the Spirit was present and that those gathered at the front of the church were in a true attitude of worship. As I reflect back on that experience, it was the attitude of worship and the presence of the Spirit that mattered most. It did not matter that I never got to hear the tour guide offer mundane details about the history of the building or the mosaics on the walls and floors. It did not matter that I could not understand the words being said or grasp of all the symbolism of the liturgy being used. What mattered was the people had gathered in that place, as they have for centuries, and remembered with great reverence the anguish our Lord suffered in that garden as He prayed for God’s will to be done. The Lord honored the worship of those Christians with His Holy Presence. What more could anyone ask for in a worship service? As we prepare for worship today in our own church, perhaps we should ask ourselves if someone came into our church service this morning and did not understand the language we were speaking, would they still sense the Spirit?