Lens-Artists Challenge #23: CELEBRATIONS
“If there is no celebration, there is no real worship.”
The world is full of colorful celebrations, many of which I’m sure will be featured in this week’s responses to Amy’s Celebrations Challenge. I’ve decided instead to focus on a celebration that has become a part of everyday life for people all over the world – the celebration of worship.
“Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.”
Paul David Tripp
In our recent visit to Israel, we were amazed to see the number and variety of houses of worship. Our pre-conceived notion was that we would predominantly see synagogues and examples of Jewish culture – how very wrong we were. One of the things that most impressed us was the incredible denominational variety. There were as many Christian and Muslim churches, mosques, worshipers and pilgrims as there were synagogues.
“The purest worship is to simply love — without demand, without condition, without fear.”
Mankind has worshipped since the beginning of time. There is evidence of spirituality dating back 300,000 years to the paleolithic era. Many of the ruins we visited in Israel included evidence of religious worship. For example, the altar above is from Avdat in the Negev Desert, which dates back to the third century BC.
“Worship is not what we do with our lips; it is what we do with our lives.”
The celebrations we observed along the way included everything from a small gathering of Catholics observing mass among the trees to services in majestic churches and mosques (such as the Dome of the Rock below) that would rival the world’s most beautiful architecture.
“Worship can be defined as celebrating the availability of God.”
“Service is the highest form of worship.”
For me, one of the most impressive examples of worship came from our visit to Petra in Jordan. To quote National Geographic “A worthwhile hike from the Royal Tombs leads up to the numerous places of worship on the flattened High Place of Jebel Khubtha.” As usual, if you look closely you can see many tiny figures, all of whom are tourists visiting the enormous structure. Originally built as a tomb, archaeological evidence points to its later adoption as a place of worship. Of course, National Geographic was correct – it was a VERY worthwhile hike!
“Churches would be empty ruins without the sinners who transform them into places of life, love and worship.”
Rev. Kellen Roggenbuck
I’ll close with the image above, which shows a section of Jerusalem I captured from a rooftop overlooking the city. I was drawn to the mix of religious symbol, including the Muslim minaret in the foreground and the Christian crosses in the distance. There is a certain joy one experiences during a visit to such an historic and spiritual place. For me it was a celebration of mankind’s better instincts – to worship freely, with respect for others’ beliefs, in recognition of the greater good. Would that we could all remember it more often.
Thanks to Amy for her thoughtful post – looking forward to seeing your responses.