We had been in Israel for some time and I was getting a little tired of visiting all the cathedrals and churches our tour guide led us too, but on this particular day he stopped at the entrance of St. Anne’s Cathedral and turned to us.
“If you like to sing,” he said, “this is the place to do it. The acoustics in this church are remarkable.”
I stepped over the stone threshold of the building and immediately my eyes lifted to the vaulted ceiling. The architect and builders had done their work well. The dome above seemed to float, every beam and arch leading the eye up toward heaven.
Then I heard the singing and for a moment I thought I was there. The sound seemed to come from everywhere at once. I could not understand the words but I recognized the hymn. As our tour group crowded in behind me I stepped forward and saw that the source of the beautiful sound was a quartet – four Korean men standing in the centre of the sanctuary, directly below that magnificent dome.
Almost as though we had been directed by a choir master, we all began to sing. “When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, and there proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”
We had just begun the chorus when another group, from South America stepped in and joined us, singing in Portuguese. Then another group, this time singing in Spanish. My heart and soul swelled as I envisioned that day when we will all stand before our Messiah.
To see His face; Oh, to see His face! To be in heaven in the presence of this kind of pure and powerful unity – the longing was overwhelming, and I began to weep.
As we quietly left that place, the scripture I had read that morning, Hebrews 12: 22 -29, sang in my mind – “But you have come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”