What If?

Today is Pentecost Sunday.

And as we continue with the ‘report’ on our recent trip to the Holy Land, I’d like to take you now to the Upper Room.

Of course anyone within earshot of the Woods’ household can’t talk about that without recalling Tony’s latest discipleship course, Anagaion, which is Greek for “Upper Room” a word found in several verses in the Gospels and in the Book of Acts.

You’ll remember that’s where Jesus did some of His finest teaching, first during Passover and then, in the six weeks following the Resurrection and leading up to Pentecost.  What a significant place! Shared fellowship, shared worship, new teaching, culminating in one of the most unforgettable experiences ever: the coming of God’s Holy Spirit. It is in this place (also known as the Cynacle) that the personalities of many of the disciples were revealed: Peter’s denial, Thomas’ doubt, Judas’ betrayal.

So we had a chance to walk up to and through this holy place, and even though it’s gone through several “renovations” over the centuries, it’s impossible to enter without feeling the significance of the room. Christians are not alone, in fact, since the Cynacle is also considered sacred by both Muslims and Jews, but for different reasons.

As we gathered together in the somewhat smallish room, we realized at once that the acoustics are fantastic, making even a poor singer sound beautiful.  I wonder if that’s why the disciples were led to “sing a hymn” before they left the place that evening of the Last Supper. (Matthew 26:30)?

Then, in Acts, chapter 2, we see the disciples waiting as they had been commanded, when suddenly (verse 2), there was a sound like “the rush of a violent wind” followed by tongues of fire and a very audible time of worship that led those nearby to conclude that the guys were drunk (At 9:00 in the morning, no less)! But after an explanation by the Apostle Peter, many turned to Christ and more than three thousand were baptized as a result.

Standing in that room, remembering all that had happened there, we just couldn’t resist the temptation to sing, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost”. Immediately the whole room was filled with the sounds of the Doxology as everyone joined in. And apparently that’s okay with the caretakers of the Cynacle.

But there are two rules that are strictly enforced to all three religions who share the room.   No one is allowed to make any structural changes to the room, as that might give one religion a sense of more status.  The government of Israel is in charge of doing all maintenance.

We were told that breaking the second and even more important rule would result in our being evicted from the premise. That rule? While you can teach, sing or eat, no one, but No one, is allowed to pray.

We were not told exactly why this rule exists; only that it does.  I think it probably has something to do with the fact that the place is held in such reverence by all three World Religions, and somehow to pull in exhortations to a favored god might result in repercussions from the other two.

But I find the unspoken question most telling: What might happen if people prayed there?

Now, I’m not gathering support for an international prayer team to go storm the place, because in fact I have no doubt that a lot of silent prayers have gone up from the confines of that room, in spite of what the rules say. I know mine did.

But the question is relevant on this special Sunday, and it’s one I want to leave with you, wherever you happen to be today:

What might happen if people prayed here?  What might happen if people prayed anywhere?

Hoping ya’ll have a great and exciting Sunday!

Marsha

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