Call: Monday, December 24, 2007 11:34 AM|
Subject: Christmas Traditions
My friends and I will be going to the Dormition Abbey on Mt Zion for the Christmas Midnight Mass. Afterwards we will walk with the crowd from the Abbey to Bethlehem, about 5 miles to the south ...
Call: Tuesday, December 25, 2007 early AM
Subject: Midnight Mass
Call: Tuesday, December 25, 2007 later AM
On Christmas Eve a large group of us gathered at a friend's apartment and sang Christmas carols. Afterwards, we took taxis to the Old City and walked to the Dormition Abbey for the Midnight Mass service. The Dormition Abbey is located on Mt Zion just outside the Old City walls on the south. We arrived early and waited for the opening of the gates with a sizable crowd of people. We were let in by increments of around fifty. A number of us had seats in the Abbey in the second row on the left side. I could only see part of what was going on because a Christmas tree was blocking my view of the altar. Hearing wasn't a problem, except that I couldn't understand most of what was said. The mass was conducted in German with some Hebrew and English. The songs were in Latin and German. A large organ acccompanied the singing. We heard the mass that lasted around two hours, then had warm drinks in the courtyard before starting the walk through the night ... we are walking with many people with a few of the monks leading us from Mt Zion to Bethlehem for this Christmas tradition. It is cold but we are keeping warm. I got to listen to some theological conversation between a Christian and a semi-religious Jew part of the way.
Subject: Walk to Bethlehem
The walk to Bethlehem took about 2 hours and 45 minutes. We arrived at the border crossing around 4:00 am and went to the courtyard of the Church of the Nativity. We entered the Church of the Nativity around 5:00 am and went to the room that is supposed to have been where Yeshua (Jesus) was born. Then there was a service held nearby in Jerome's Grotto. During the service I kept nodding off because I was sitting. When we got moving again I woke back up. We left about 6:00 am, just before sunrise. We took a taxi back to the border crossing and then I had to take two buses to get back to the dorms. It was tiring but a good experience.