Surprised by the huge brunch feast the hotel provided, most pilgrims took full advantage prior to our assembling in the Jerusalem hotel lobby at 9am for the short walk to St. George’s Cathedral. It is literally across the street from us.
The original plan was to attend both the Arabic and English services, but since the 9:30am service turned out to be a combined Arabic and English service, we opted to participate fully in it, enjoy the coffee hour and meet some of the locals, and then move on for a short walking tour led by Rimon prior to returning for lunch.
The service was done in both languages for the most part, with some of the more common elements recited in one’s language of choice at the same time. One of the priests on staff at the Cathedral preached in both languages, and delivered an eloquent sermon on the need for us not to consider ourselves as God’s chosen people, but to live as people who choose God. There was a mixture of organ hymns from the Church of England hymnal, as well as some Taize chants we all knew during Communion.
It was extremely cold inside the church. There were approximately 125 people worshipping there. There was another pilgrim group present who were from Durham Cathedral in the UK, and we asked them to send greetings back to our friend Lillian there from our previous Celtic pilgrimage visits to Durham.
He is very careful to find out what is going on in the city that particular day before he recommends what area of the city that the pilgrims should visit. Today the climate is peaceful both in weather and politics, so most of the group plans on venturing into the Old City or New City after lunch, after they received instructions from Rimon on where to go and where not to go. The pilgrims gathered in the garden courtyard back at St. George’s as the lunch was prepared.
St. George’s served a wonderful buffet lunch, and afterwards the pilgrims ended up forming small groups who were venturing out into varying areas of the city for their free time. It is uncertain how many will actually make it back in time for the Skype session with St. Joseph’s, but since this is their only free time on the entire pilgrimage, Fr. Marty left them free to decide whether or not they would come back to the hotel for the Skype session.
Twenty of the pilgrims attended the Skype with St. Joseph’s during the 9:30am service, and there were many stories and laughter shared before and after the session regarding the exploits experienced by each of the groups that had ventured into the Old and New City of Jerusalem. (It’s something about “how many Episcopalians does it take to buy a tram ticket,” but you can get the rest of the story from those who were there.) After a social time and dinner, everyone made their way to their rooms to bed, as we embark on a full day of pilgrimage tomorrow at 8:30am.