The National Cathedral

I have had a privilege of visiting our Nation's Capitol three different times.  The first time was in June of 2007, then in July of 2008, then again in July of 2012.

During my second visit was the first time I was able to experience the National Cathedral.  I don't think you just visit cathedrals....you experience them.

I was in D.C. for a conference for my job.  I had arrived on Saturday, and didn't have anything to be at until Sunday evening, so I took advantage of some sight seeing on Sunday.  I hopped on the Trolley and headed up to The National Cathedral for a service and to tour the cathedral.

Below are some excerpts from the blog post I wrote right after I had my first experience at the 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 shared 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 transforms 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.

After the message, I joined in taking communion, which was quite moving sharing "The Lord's Supper" with brothers and sister in Christ from all over the world.  Then it seemed especially moving to recite the Nicene Creed with all those other Christians in that room.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen. 
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end. 
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

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 Bush 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.

The next time I visited Washington D.C., Paul accompanied me.  It was again for a work-related conference that he also attended.  That Sunday morning we also decided to attended services at the National Cathedral.

This time the small service in the basement was not being held at the time we were there, so we attended the service in the nave. 

It was wonderful being a part of this type of service as well.  Not quite as intimate as my first experience, but beautiful in a different way. 

The Cathedral Singers sang beautiful songs, and The Reverend Dr. Francis S. Wade shared the sermon that morning.  Again, we were partakers in communion, The Lord's Supper, the Eucharist, however you want to describe it.  And again, I enjoy the sense of community you feel sharing in this experience with worshipers from all over the world.

As an extra, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite moments from the show "The West Wing".  This is a monologue President Jed Bartlett shares in the National Cathedral after his dear friend and secretary Mrs. Landingham dies in a car accident after she has just purchased her first brand new car.  The depth of his emotions in this still gives me goosebumps today.  And you know, because of previous episodes, that this man has a very close relationship with God, and that is what makes this even more powerful.  And, as you are watching, you can get a glimpse of inside the Cathedral.

A little National Catherdral trivia.....The Cathedral is so big, you could lay the Washington Monument down inside it and still have 55 feet to spare.....The Washington Monument is 555 feet, 5 1/8 inches tall.

No comments: