There is the good and there is the fallen, but there is also redemption.
The hot desert sun was relentless. The concrete sidewalk where we chose to perform reflected it’s rays so that we were blasted from above and below. My trumpet bell was hot to the touch and the poor vocalists stood with sweat dripping down their faces.
But the heat was secondary as we took notice of the small crowd that was forming.
Despite the heat and the sweat that it pulled from our bodies, this crowd was devoted. Not to us, necessarily, but to one piece that we performed:
“Prayer for Peace”.
As a girl who grew up in a quiet American suburb, I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to live in this city — a city so divided that the differences often drew blood and stole life. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to see military men and women with assault rifles walking in my neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to know that the next terrorist attack would likely include a distant acquaintance at best and myself or a loved one at worst.
What I couldn’t imagine — these people knew intimately.
Every Friday in Jerusalem, flowers are sold in order to adorn family dinner tables on Shabbat the following day. Towards the end of our performance, we started to notice that one by one, the crowd was leaving — but not for good.
As they each returned, they carried bouquets of Shabbat flowers cradled in their arms to present to us.
Our tiny flower-bearing crowd stood under the sun and requested their beloved song be played again… and again.
This experience was real, authentic and life-giving for all involved. The lines between the ones serving and being served blurred beyond recognition as something eternal arose from the interplay.
This memory stands out so vividly to me, in part, because of what it stood in contrast to that week. The performance I just described wasn’t our main purpose for being there — in fact we chose to perform outside that downtown Jerusalem department store on a whim.
Our purpose in traveling the long distance to Israel was to participate in a celebration for the 3000th anniversary of the “City of David” with Christian music stars whose names you’d most likely recognize—if you’re into that scene. And while we did participate in performances at the Citadel of David and the Mount Scopus Amphitheater, much of the actuality of these “big shows” felt overly contrived.
This highlighted a dichotomy within Christianity that I’d come to witness over and over in the following years: the beauty of selfless God-filled moments, and the ego masquerading as holy in a multitude of manifestations.
I have often asked myself, “How can I participate in the life-giving parts of Christianity while disengaging from the false and contrived?”
I’ve struggled with this. My heart has broken over this.
Then during one quiet morning reflection, I gazed deeply and recognized something familiar—the same, exact dichotomy of true and false, staring back…
Originally published at www.faith-unboxed.com.