Sleep is a wonderful thing. Sleeping for fourteen hours after not sleeping for about three days on top of jet-lag is an even more wonderful and beautiful thing. I finally emerged from my deep slumber around 2:00 PM. I had already decided I was going to attend one of the Hillsong churches that happened to be right down the street from my hotel at Dominion Theater. The good thing about massive churches like Hillsong is that they have numerous services going from 11:00 AM until 5:30 PM. I knew if I did not get out of bed immediately it would be a while before I did and I had about twenty-some pages of reading to also do that day, so I decided to shoot for the 3:30 PM service.
I left around quarter to three with the intention of getting some breakfast before the service. My breakfast ended being a little bacon cheese-burger from Five Guys and a Oreo shake, maybe not the most nutritious, but sure was delicious. Timing worked out perfectly and by the time I exited at 3:15 PM, people were beginning to enter Dominion Theater next door. I entered in and was instantly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people. I had originally planned on possibly talking to some people, but because I was so overwhelmed I opted to just go and find a seat in the theater.
I sat in the middle/back of the theater in the center section and waited patiently for the service to begin. As I was sitting there a woman in her mid-twenties came and sat in the row in front of me and introduced herself. We talked for about five minutes and she said that after the service a group usually went out for food and I should join! She told me to look for the people holding up “After-Church Hangout Signs” and that she would be one of them.
After she walked away, I looked at the stage that was covered in instruments and lights, preparing for what was sure to be a grand-scale worship service. I was not disappointed when it begun as five main singers and three back-up singers entered onto the stage. You could really feel the presence of God filling up the theater as we all worshipped His name together.
Our speaker was a man named Ray Bevan who was currently traveling around the UK preaching to various churches. He was from Wales though and sang in addition to preaching. He was a short man who enjoyed making jokes and using sound-effects to explain biblical stories and get his message across. One of the first things he told us when he began his message was that the Holy Spirit had sent him here to be an abolitionist and free us from our chains as we entered into 2017.
His message was very strong and impactful as it focused around grace and how grace does not give up. The metaphor he used was of a Christian fighting the devil in a boxing ring. The Christian was doing well, holding their own. Then suddenly the devil knocked the Christian to the ground. The count began… 1, 2, 3… 4, 5, 6, 7… 8, 9… the crowd grew silent as the referee reached 10. The devil went to celebrate and jump up into the air pumping his fist when suddenly the ref kept on going… 11, 12, 13. That’s grace. Grace does not stop or give up. He ended by encouraging us to overcome shame in 2017, trust God to heal the people that we may have hurt, and remember that goodness and mercy follow close behind us through everything in life.
When he had finished preaching we prayed and one of the other guys with the church came up and shared the gospel with us. Multiple people became believers that service. After we sang a couple of closing songs I went into the entrance and met up with the girl I had talked to earlier, Sophie. We went to a Mexican place near by called DF Mexico where I got steak tacos that were very delicious. There was only about five of us that went to hangout today because of the tube strikes that were going on and travel times were extended.
After getting back to the hotel I did a variety of things before heading to bed at the reasonable time of 12:30 AM. I read a bit, did some homework, FaceTimed with Peter, watched some TV, blogged, went to the gym for a workout, showered. All in all it was a very relaxing evening that was mainly marked with doing other things to avoid finishing my homework. I crawled into bed around 11:30 PM, leaving about eight pages of homework for the morning, but knowing I needed to prioritize my sleep so I wouldn’t waste all my weekends sleeping past noon.
Reflection on Hillsong: While I was talking to Peter I reflected on my time that afternoon at Hillsong. It was definitely cool to see so many Christians together in one place praising the same God, but it was also very flashy and overwhelming. I don’t think I would be able to go to a church like Hillsong for an extended period of time. There’s something comforting of having a church to come home to where you recognize almost every face and every name. It was a great experience marked by worship and a strong message, but it also realized how blessed I am to have a home church such as Crossing and made me realize that no matter where I am worshipping or sharing/hearing the gospel, Crossing will always be my church home.