All opinions expressed are those of the writer.
I’ve had a deep passion for music since I was a small child. I began playing the clarinet in a third-grade music class and took music lessons from my music teacher for several years from then on. I could hear music in everyday tasks, such as the rhythm from the tapping of a hammer as my father did housework, and I could hear beautiful songs from the early morning birds chirping. As I grew older, I began to play several other instruments, including the oboe, and earned a partial music scholarship for college. My love for music grew deeper upon becoming a Christian, and I used my musical talent and passion for worshiping God.
Moments of worship have been a source of joy, peace, healing, and ever-growing love for the presence of God. While traveling with Passages on my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I encountered God through worship at several Biblical sites and during moments of alone time. In those instances, the songs of praise echoed more powerfully in my spirit than ever before. Israel’s unique story and beauty acted as catalysts to strengthen my yearning for worship and praise.
While at St. Anne’s Church in Jerusalem, my group and I began softly singing “Hallelujah” as our voices echoed through the historic church building. The tears started flowing down my face as my ears and heart captured the harmonious words flowing from our lips toward heaven. At that moment, I felt an intense closeness with God’s Holy Spirit and a deep connection with my fellow pilgrims to this Holy Land. I gained even more reverence for the moment of worship when I thought of the significance of the St. Anne Church, as it is attributed to being the location of the former home of Jesus’ maternal grandparents, Anne and Joachim. As I heard my voice reverberate throughout the church, the tranquility allowed any sense of the bustling world outside its doors to have little significance compared to the feeling of God’s peace. All I desired was to worship God and enjoy His presence in the Holy Land.
On another day of travel through Israel, we went to the Jordan River, and I prayed over those being baptized. As I stood on the edge of the river and prayed, a song came to mind that I was compelled to sing. As I sang, several others sang along. Listening to all of our voices joining together to worship God, I reflected on our unity. Though we were all from different nations, we were united in a moment of awe there at the Jordan River, the place where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Worshiping Jesus with fellow believers was like a beautiful mosaic that came together as a gift to Jesus for His sacrifice. We had a worshipful expression that united us regardless of our races, ages, social statuses, or Christian denomination. True worship unites believers with the shared experience of reverence of God.
Having the opportunity to sing songs of praise while in the Jordan River was a transformative experience that will last a lifetime. It gave me the fuel needed to journey throughout Israel to explore the biblical sites, and it inspired me to go back home to the United States to continue leading worship and fulfilling my calling to preach and teach with conviction and gratitude.
Throughout my time in the Holy Land, I found myself singing praises to God, even in my times alone in the hotel room, as I reflected on all that I learned in lectures and through tours of Biblical sites. These songs filled my heart with joy. In moments of quiet reflection, while riding to the hotel at night, my soul was overwhelmed thinking of the psalmist David writing songs of praise to God after experiencing the joys and trials of his life in the Holy Land. Israel evoked spontaneous worship that I could barely contain, and I can only imagine what the Psalmist David encountered as he penned the Psalms.
During our closing night of worship, I was filled with appreciation and sheer joy for the opportunity to lift my hands to the sky in Israel, the land that God has loved for centuries. To sing songs of praise that David wrote in the very land that I was worshiping in was an invaluable experience.
Church of St Anne, by See The Holy Land: https://www.seetheholyland.net/church-of-st-anne/
Jordan River, by See The Holy Land: https://www.seetheholyland.net/jordan-river/