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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Unexpected meeting

On Wednesday, after we had traversed the Via Dolorosa, and wandered the streets, we were preparing to attend a Reformation Day worship service at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lutheran in the late afternoon.  We had gone to the church to meet one of the pastors, and found is life and pacing not to be unlike that of a pastor in the United States.  We gave him the space and time to go prepare for worship and went in search of coffee.  As we were walking down one of the many walk ways in the Old City, I looked up and said to my friends, "I think that's Nadia Bolz-Weber."  Now, if you know Nadia at all, you know what a ridiculous statement that is!  Of course it was Nadia.  While I am generally a pretty bold person, I tend to shy away from more public figures by thinking they are too busy, too popular or too famous to want to be troubled with an intrusion, but my friends urged and Wendy said "Let's go after her."  So, we called after her and she turned around.  We stood in front of the doors to the church and briefly introduced ourselves.  Before long, she was telling us of the sad story of being without bags for several days, being separated from her traveling group and the general road weariness that occurs in international travel.  It felt a bit like a provision.  We took her to one of our favorite coffee shops, exchanged stories about ministry and women and the church and went back to the church to partake in one of the most glorious times of worship I have had in a long time.

First off, the Lutherans just really know how to do worship!  This is always evident from the very beginning.  They process!!!  Bible, processional cross and lots of pastors in liturgical finery.  This particular service was in Arabic, English and German (the church has worship in all three languages every single Sunday).  There was a lovely balance between the three and they had printed the entire liturgy in all three languages so there was a sense of unification even in the parts that were spoken in languages unfamiliar to me.   There was a limited amount of translation required.  It was also one of the first places we went where as women and Protestants we could actually participate in the worship service and even partake of the Eucharist.  The sermon was about freedom.  The children's choir from Ramallah was unable to come to sing in the service because they could not get the permission to travel across the boundaries, borders and checkpoints.  Their absence was heartbreaking.  I am actually not entirely sure why this service held such meaning and depth for me, but perhaps it was the fact that I felt I was welcome, I was a participant and I was at home.

To finish my opening story, Nadia accompanied us to a couple of sites on Thursday and crashed in our room, and used our hotel as home base for the delivery of her bags.  We discovered today that her bags did come and the hotel helped her sort out the final hand off and transportation to join up with her tour group.  I am grateful for the unexpected meeting and grateful that the detour on her path has ended for this time.  I also pray that my own life would be filled with more of these encounters and the ability to meet the unexpected with acceptance and grace.

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