Initially we were going to go to the Scottish Church in Jerusalem, a Presbyterian church where the service was in english, and there would be caroling throughout the evening. We began there, but at some point, a smaller group of us decided to make the trek to the Old City and see what was happening there! We arrived in the old City around 10:30pm, and began to figure out a plan. we tried the Chuch of the Holy Sepluchre, but it was closed, not their Christmas. Our next stop was the Dormition Abbey, a wonderful German Catholic (?) church in the old city. We had heard much about the church, the wardrobe of the priests, the monks, the beautiful chapel, i could go on. We found our way as we followed the masses of others going to Mass! =). We arrived and were lucky to be some of the first to be let into the Abbey, so we were able to get a space standing behind the last row of chairs. In our wait for the mass to begin (at midnight!) we took in the sights and talked with others who came to Mass. Mass began at midnight, with a beautiful ceremony, the monks walked in with the various instruments, books and ornaments for the service. The service because with a ritual involving incense which smelled divine, and much German. The service was set to go for 2 hours, and after about 45 minutes and an hour and a half of standing, we needed to go! I had school today!
So, my impressions. First of all, I felt as though it might be rude to invade or observe another religion’s holy day. I’m not sure how I would feel if a large group of non-Jews came to watch/take up space during our holy days. But, I was assured earlier in the evening that Mass in Jerusalem is actualyl a mostly Jewish/Israeli event. That is to say that only 2% of Israel’s population is Christian, and so, the majority of hte people who go to Mass are Jews or others who are there to observe and learn. The Churches open their doors to us, and welcome the opporutnity for an educational experience. The music, liturgy (although i didn’t understand it) and mood were very moving. The sermon, which was handed out in English focused on peace, and the need to live together in harmony, respecting each other.
For my first Midnight Mass, I was impressed, moved and welcomed! Merry Christmas to All, and to All a GOOD NIGHT!!