Worshiping at the National Cathedral

Sunday was explore day. I didn't have to do anything until about 6 p.m., so I hopped on the trolley that drives you around D.C., and my first stop was the Washington National Cathedral.

It was breathtaking. I had never been to a cathedral before, and it was unbelievable.

When I went inside, the formal Holy Eucharist was just finishing in the nave. The Cathedral is an Episcopal cathedral, but the bulletin says it is a church for national purposes called to embody God's love and to welcome people of all faiths and none.

At 10 a.m., in St. Joseph's Chapel in the lower level or Crypt level of the cathedral, I attended the Contemporary Folk Eucharist. When I arrived, there was a man playing a guitar, and going over the songs that would be sung during the service. From this moment on, I knew I would be blessed.

The service opened up with the Presider saying, Blessed be the one, holy, and living God.

We responded with, Glory to God for ever and ever.

The opening hymn was "We Gather Together", a song my mother likes to sing as we gather together for Thanksgiving dinner.

An Episcopalian service is liturgical, and everything that is said and responded to is written down in a bulletin. The lesson was from Romans 8:12-25. The Reverand Canon Preston Hannibal, who presided over the service that morning, based The Discussion on this passage of scripture, particularly the verses that say:

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

He share some thoughts on hope, then posed some questions about hope to those of us sitting there in that small chapel, and we listened as people shared about hope to a group of total strangers, but strangers who were part of a family of Believers in Christ.

One lady talked about living in Egypt a few years ago, and found she grew up and her hope and faith in Christ became stronger as she learned to live her Christianity in the mid east.

The man leading songs on the guitar shared about his journey with cancer and one of the ladies he met during his chemo treatments who reached out to other patients with her positive and hopeful outlook.

Another lady shared about her hope was in how Christ tranforms her life each day.

After everyone finished sharing who wanted to share, the Reverend challenged us to go out and share hope with those who have no hope. The homeless person asking for money. The unlovable person. He said it is easy to be a Christian inside the walls of the church, but when we really give hope to others is when we share that hope with those in the world around us.

I think God is really trying to tell me something. Because my pastor shared almost the exact same thing last weekend at our church.

After the message, I joined in taking communion, and it seemed especially moving to recite the Nicene Creed with all those other Christians in that room.

It was a joy to pray for the community, the church and the world with these other Believers. It was a joy to pray for George our President, and the leaders of other nations with these people.

The Communion Hymn seemed very appropriate after the message we heard on hope.

It is called "Breath of Life", and the first verse goes like this:

Breathe on me, Breath of God,

fill me with life anew,

that I may love what thou dost love,

and do what thou wouldst do.

Then we prayed together...

God of abundance, you have fed us with the bread of life and cup of salvation; you have united us with Christ and one another; and you have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth. Now send us forth in the power of your Spirit, that we may proclaim your redeeming love to the world and continue for ever in the risen life of Christ. Amen

Then we closed with they hymn "Just A Closer Walk With Thee."

I love worshiping with people from other churches, places and faiths. I always get such a bigger picture of God's Kingdom here on earth, and what He is doing throughout the world.

What a blessing.

A side note, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan are buried near this chapel in the cathedral.


Nita Jo said...

Oh... that was moving just reading about it. I can only imagine what it was like to be a part of such a service.

I love that God's message was the same at your home church and at our nation's Capitol. I believe God is bringing all of us a message of sharing hope with those who may have lost all hope.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pictures.

raymond pert said...

Be careful...you don't want to find liturgy and prayers of the people and so on too inviting and become...OMG....an Episcopalian!!

I didn't know you'd never been to a cathedral. Wow..what a great one to go to first...I hope you'll go to St. John's in Spokane one day...it's the cathedral for the Diocese of Spokane, which includes the Silver Valley..and it's a wonderful structure.

Inland Empire Girl said...

The cathedral looks magnificent, but I thought you were most fortunate to visit where Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan were buried.

Nita Jo said...

Okay.... I think one of my other personalities posted a comment here... and she sounds a touch "preachy". It could be that she had John Lennon's "Let It Be" zooming through her brain with visions of world peace and happiness...

Kendra said...

I found that to be a really touching post, SVG. Especially since, although I lived in the DC area for a time, I never did get around to going to the cathedral you mentioned, although of course it is a fairly prominent landmark. Perhaps one of the reasons I never quite fit it in to my many tours was the fact that I had not yet come to Christ at that time, and therefore found the Smithsonians and whatnot far more interesting. Hope you made it to the Holocaust Museum- now that's an amazing, heartwrenching experience.
Here's something totally unrelated, but something I've been asking everyone on my blogroll:The Shack. Have you read it yet? I don't know if you've read any of my rave reviews/ synopses (is that the correct plural form of synopsis? hope so) but if not, please do. I posted one on HBO's Sunday Wild Card which I really think sums up the story quite well. I suppose the writing isn't really all that spectacular (although IMO quite good), but the author gets major bonus points for originality, and although shockingly outside the norm in its descriptions of the Trinity and whatnot, it truly does seem to be scripturally sound.
All in all, I can't recommend it highly enough. Please go read it, if you haven't already... and if you have, participate in the Missy Project, as I'm trying to. They offer bulk discounts to private buyers- I bought four copies at cut-rate to donate to my church's library, as well as another copy for myself. And both are loaned out right now! Believers and nonbelievers alike, everybody is deeply affected by this book.
Anyway, God bless and keep on bloggin'!