20 April 2014

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

March 27, 2005

There aren't very many Easter hymns in our LDS hymnbook. We sing them so rarely that I have specific memories of singing all three. I love all three. I especially like to sing those Easter songs when I have my little green hymnbook on hand.

I took my hymnbook to Jerusalem with me twice. It went to Bethel, where we sang "Nearer, My God, To Thee." We sang "Redeemer of Israel" on top of Mt. Sinai and "Angels We Have Heard on High" in a field near Bethlehem. We would sing praise hymns while we were returning to Jerusalem. I can still hear "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" in Bethany in the tomb of Lazarus. Singing "More Holiness Give Me" always takes me back to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

I wrote in my hymnbook the names of the places where we sang those songs, and the names of my dear friends' favorite hymns. I remember one friend saying that "O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown" is her favorite hymn while we were at the Garden Tomb. Another loved "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy." And even "Love at Home," which I don't particularly like, takes on special meaning when I remember singing it with an Iraqi family in Jordan who had escaped Iraq and joined the Church in Irbid, Jordan.

I know I've been writing about Jerusalem a lot recently. Easter is the time I think about Jerusalem the most. I miss Jerusalem. I don't think I ever felt more alive than when I was there.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
They shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls,
and prosperity within thy palaces

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her cunning
If I do not remember thee,
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth;
If I do not prefer Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.

Happy Easter. Christ the Lord is risen today.

April 8, 2007

Happy Easter!

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

And one of my favorite Easter stories. I like to think of the two as being Mary and her husband Cleophas:

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?"

And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?"

And he said to them, "What things?"

And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

19 April 2014

Holy Saturday

Originally posted April 6, 2012

I've always regretted not going to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Orthodox Holy Saturday the spring I was in Jerusalem.  If I'd tried harder I'd probably have been able to go, but with the going-out-with-three-people rule that we had, sometimes you couldn't do everything you wanted to.  As I recall, the only person who was willing to go with me was my future husband which is quite possibly why I married him later.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre doesn't really have a good reputation among many Christians, especially Protestants and Mormons, although that of course is a generalization.  I've always thought it unfortunate that we so easily dismiss the church because its decoration is so different from ours; or because the people worship differently; or because it's dark and always under construction; or because of political, religious, cultural, and historical reasons, there is often conflict there. It's a complex building that you won't necessarily understand just by going inside once or twice, or if you've already decided it's not for you.  Give it a chance.

The traditional event in the church on Orthodox Holy Saturday is the Holy Fire.  Patriarchs and archbishops of various denominations sing, pray, and lead processions to the tomb of Christ, which the Greek Orthodox Patriarch enters and soon emerges with 33 candles which are said to have been miraculously lit.  The flames from those candles are shared and spread amongst the many people inside the church.

I don't really care where the flame comes from or if it doesn't burn people as some claim, or whatever.  I love the symbolism of that light being spread among so many different Christians from all over the world, a flame which represents the Resurrection.  That's one of the best symbols out there, I think.

18 April 2014

Holy Friday

Today we joined the Viacrusis at the Basilica of Zapopan.  And we discovered they do one at the park near our house too.  Maybe we'll try that next year.  There are so many places to go this week.

Mournful Friday

Originally posted March 25, 2005:

I prefer this name for this day. Good Friday has never sounded right to me. We asked a Christian in Jerusalem how they said the name of this day in Arabic, and he said al-Juma al-Haziin, which means Mournful Friday. So I call it that now.

We spent the morning walking along the Via Dolorosa (yes, I know it's far from accurate, but isn't this all symbolic anyway?) to visit the stations of the cross. The first 9 stations are in the city, and the last 5 are in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This was another day when it felt wonderful to walk along the streets of Jerusalem with such a large number of Christians from all over the world.

Many groups were carrying crosses. Others were led by priests. We didn't spend much time in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre this day, but the various sects all have rituals they perform in the Church this day.

Originally posted April 13, 2006:

And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him... John 19:17-18

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mark 15:34

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, gave up the ghost. Luke 23: 46-47

When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.Matthew 27:57-60

Arab Christians call this day Mournful Friday or Sad Friday instead of the more common Good Friday that we hear in the West. I prefer Mournful or Holy Friday. This day commemorates the crucifixion of the Lord, and his being laid in the tomb.

I remember the Church of the Holy Sepulchre today. There are many Protestant and LDS Christians who don't like this site (partly because they have no claim on the site like the Roman Catholics and many Eastern Orthodox sects), but I love the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They call it the Church of the Resurrection in Arabic. Again, I don't care if this church is the actual site of the crucifixion, but there is a lot of historical evidence and a long tradition that makes this site the most likely site in the area.

The history of the building is absolutely fascinating, but I just love to be in the building itself and see the remnants of the faith of so many Christians over almost 2,000 years. One of my favorite places in the church are the stairs leading down to St. Helena's Chapel where countless Christian pilgrims have carved crosses into the stone over many centuries. I love to see this visible symbol of the devotion of those faithful people.

The first time I was in Jerusalem, the dome over the traditional tomb of Christ was being repaired (and had been under construction for decades). The rotunda surrounding the tomb was rather dark. But when I went back a year later, the dome had been completed. The rotunda was filled with light. It's now one of my favorite places in the church.

There are many hymns that are appropriate today. "There Is a Green Hill Far Away" is one of our family's favorites now (the boys like it since it is short), but I'll always remember singing "There Is A Green Hill Near at Hand" instead. We also like "Upon the Cross of Calvary." But it is "O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown" that I remember singing at the Garden Tomb to commemorate this day.

O Savior, thou who wearest
A crown of piercing thorn,
The pain thou meekly bearest,
Weigh'd down by grief and scorn.

The soldiers mock and flail thee;
For drink they give thee gall;
Upon the cross they nail thee
To die, O King of all.

No creature is so lowly,
No sinner so depraved,
But feels thy presence holy,
And thru thy love is saved.

Tho craven friends betray thee,
They feel thy love's embrace;
The very foes who slay thee
Have access to thy grace.

Thy sacrifice transcended
The mortal law's demand;
Thy mercy is extended
To ev'ry time and land.

No more can Satan harm us.
Tho long the fight may be,
Nor fear of death alarm us;
We live, O Lord, thru thee.

What praises can we offer
To think thee, Lord most high?
In our place thou didst suffer;
In our place thou didst die,

By heaven's plan appointed,
To ransom us, our King.
O Jesus, the anointed,
To thee our love we bring.

17 April 2014

Holy Thursday

When we were asking around to find out what people do for Semana Santa, everyone kept mentioning visiting 7 churches, especially on Holy Thursday.  So we did that today.  You can go to any seven churches and there are various explanations for why it's done.  It does appear to be an extremely old tradition.  It obviously works best in a city so you'd have enough churches available to walk to.

We went to five that we hadn't been to yet, plus the central Cathedral and the Templo Expiatorio. It's always nice to go to the Expiatorio and especially to see the Stations of the Cross again this week.

Outside every church people had papers with each of the prayers you should say at the churches.  And there were many, many people selling empanadas which are common this week.  We tried strawberry and blackberry.  There were at least 15 other flavors out there.

Here are the first five church.  I don't have lots of photos, unfortunately, but I hope to go back when we can take more with a better camera.

Saint John the Baptist in Mexicaltzingo

San Sebastian de Analco

 San Jose de Analco

San Francisco de Asis

Our Lady of Aranzazu

Maundy Thursday

March 24, 2005

On Thursday morning of Holy Week, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which happens to be one of my favorite places in Jerusalem. We went to watch the Greek Patriarch performing the Ceremony of the Washing of the Feet. The Church was crowded with people so we climbed up on the roof to get a better view.

It was a fairly long ceremony because the Greek Patriarch had to have his heavily decorated robe removed; he wore a much simpler white robe for the ceremony. He washed the feet of 12 of his clerics while prayers were recited. I can still hear the sound in my mind. Afterwards, he sprayed the crowd with the leftover water from the ceremony.

We didn't see the Latin Patriarch celebrating the washing of the feet, but it is a much simpler process inside the Church (if the weather is decent, the Greeks do it outside). Afterwards, The Latins go to the traditional site of the Upper Room on Mount Zion.

The Armenians don't do their ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at all; they use the Cathedral of St. James in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. The Copts use the Church of St. Anthony in the Coptic Patriarchate. The Coptic Archbishop washes the feet of the entire Coptic congregation.

April 12, 2006

And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and knelt down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. ~Luke 22:39-44

Out of all the days of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday seems to be the most overlooked, but it is one of the most important days, possibly even more so than Easter Sunday because Thursday night was the time Jesus Christ suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane. Without that, the Resurrection wouldn't have been worth nearly so much.

I've spent a lot of time in the traditional Garden of Gethsemane. There are two separate sections, both filled with old olive trees. Neither sections are particularly big, and it doesn't really matter to me if the traditional sites are the actual places where Jesus actually stood. There is a large church on the site, the Church of all Nations. It's not my favorite church in Jerusalem (Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives is one I like much better), but it is a lovely building.

But my favorite place there is to the garden. Once when I was in the garden on a Saturday morning in October, one of my roommates introduced me to the hymn "Reverently and Meekly Now." These are the first and fourth verses. I also like to remember "How Great the Wisdom and the Love" today.

15 April 2014

Where Next?

There are so many things to think about when you're figuring out the next place you might live.  And when the list of potential next places includes pretty much the whole world, there are lots of choices.  So sometimes I come up with more unusual reasons to pick a place.  These ideas are based on the Olympics and eclipses.

It would be great to be in Rio for the Summer Olympics in 2016.  There will also be a partial solar eclipse 6 months after.

Pyeongchang hosts the Winter Olympics in 2018 and they have total lunar eclipses a few weeks before the Olympics and then 5 months later.

Tokyo will have partial solar eclipses before the 2020 Olympics.

Or we could try for annular and total eclipses.  Southern Africa would be great to go next since there are annular eclipses in September of 2016 and Feburary of 2017.  Maybe we could combine a safari with eclipse watching.

There's a total eclipse in March of 2016 in the Pacific and Indonesia.  I'd love to go there.

The total eclipse in 2017 will require a visit to the US since our parents all live very near the path of totality.

Or we could try for southern South America in 2019 and 2020.

You'll notice none of these include Central Asia.  They'll have two total lunar eclipses in 2018 and then a few partial solar eclipses.

14 April 2014

Four Total Lunar Eclipses

Even though I miss living on the other side of the planet, there one great reason to be in the Americas now is the series of lunar eclipses coming up in the next 18 months.

The first is tonight and early tomorrow morning.  The total eclipse lasts from about 2 AM to 3:30 AM in Guadalajara which is on CDT. Nearly 90 minutes of totality is a nice, long eclipse.

The next will be on October 8th.  The total eclipse will begin at about 5:30 AM in Guadalajara and go till 6:30 AM.  The moon will set during the partial phase.

Then there's one on April 4th.  Totality only lasts less than five minutes for this one and will be around 6 AM CST (the US will be on daylight savings time at this point, so it'll also be 6 AM MDT), so I'm not entirely sure if totality will be visible here or not, but I'm a partial phase fan, so it would be okay. ETA later that I checked where the moon was this morning and at 7:15 it was just over the houses in the neighborhood if I was looking out the back window. So next year we should be able to see totality from the upstairs windows (since it'll be 6:15 next year when the moon is at that position), and we'll have to get on the roof to see more.

The last is September 28. We might have left Guadalajara by then and will probably be in the US, but it won't matter where in the US because the continental US either see the moon rise during the penumbral phase or see the whole thing.  This timing on this one is the best in my opinion because I like to get my sleep.

But even though I like my sleep, I'm planning on getting up for a few minutes tonight.

International Reading List

I asked an online group of expats for good books about places they've been, and I'm keeping the list here. This is in no particular order, except that I've read the second section, and the third section are what I'd add to the list. The links to my own post if I've already read it (and have a post about it).

Lost on Planet China
Our Man in Belize
The Sweet Life in Paris
The Seamstress
Breakfast with the Infidels
Brick Lane
White Man's Grave
Imperial Life in the Emerald City
Piano Tuner
The River of Doubt
Red China Blues
My Life in France
Mastering the Art of French Eating
The Paris Wife
The Power of One
Brasilia Kubitschek de Oliveira
The Blue Notebook
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
The Beautiful and The Damned
Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight
The Poisonwood Bible
The Caliph's House
Holy Cow
First Stop in the New World
Swiss Watching
Jambo Mama
The Sex Lives of Cannibals
The Accidental President
Diplomatic Baggage
Dreaming In Chinese
El Narco
The Devil's Highway: A True Story
City of Djinns
Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of a Forgetfulness
Scribbling the Cat
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun
The Fear
The Last Resort
Rules of the Wild
First Comes Love Then Comes Malaria
This House Has Fallen
Distant Neighbors
The Lacuna
The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire
The White Tiger
Toss of a Lemon
French Lessons in Africa
Paris to the Moon
The Balkan Trilogy
The Levant Trilogy
Balkan Ghosts
The Last Train to Zona Verde
Havana Nocturne
French or Foe 
King Leopold's Ghost
It's Our Turn to Eat
The King Never Smiles
Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind
The Dream of a Thousand Lives

Cutting for Stone
The Great Game
Things Fall Apart
West With The Night (loved it)
A Long Way Gone
Cry, the Beloved Country
Life and Death in Shanghai (loved it)
Factory Girls
Wild Swans

13 April 2014

Domingo de Ramos

This morning before church we went to the Basilica of Zapopan to see their Palm Sunday procession.  We happened to get there at just the right time.

All Glory, Laud, and Honor

I have more to post about Palm Sunday later, but I wanted to get this up now.

Originally posted April 9, 2006

And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered, and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. ~Luke 19: 36-40

Palm Sunday is one of my favorite Sundays out of the entire year, and one that is sadly ignored by many members of the LDS Church. I started celebrating it 9 years ago [now 14 years] when I was in Jerusalem and celebrated all of Holy Week with the Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem. I prefer Orthodox Easter because it is usually less touristy and there are a lot more locals participating. (See here for more on the celebration of Palm Sunday in Jerusalem.)

We met at Bethphage on top of the Mount of Olives then walked down the Mount of Olives through Lion's Gate to the Church of St. Anne where we sang and shouted hosanna. A somewhat familiar experience since I had been at the dedication of the Mount Timpanogos Temple the year before.

I always remember that particular Sunday on Palm Sunday now, but I also like to have an official beginning to this Holy Week when the most important event in history took place. So much that was good and bad happened this week, and I like to commemorate the entire week instead of just Easter Sunday. It's nice to begin and end the week with happy events.

And don't forget Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday, when Mary annointed Jesus (John 12:1-9). Unless it was on Tuesday (Mark 14:3-9).

So many of the praise hymns like "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" and "Come, O Thou King of Kings" are beautiful songs to sing today. "All Glory, Laud and Honor" is one of my favorites:

All glory, laud, and honor
To thee, Redeemer, King
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring

Thou art the King of Israel
Thou David's royal Son
Who in the Lord's name comest
The King and Blessed One

The company of angels
Are praising thee on high
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply

The people of the Hebrews
With palms before thee went
Our praise and love and anthems
Before thee we present

To thee, before thy passion
They sang their hymns of praise
To thee, now high exalted
Our melody we raise

Thou didst accept accept their praises
Accept the love we bring
Who in all good delightest
Thou good and gracious king.