Saturday, April 26, 2008

Day Seven!

Well, finally to day seven, our last day in NY but we aren’t winding down yet! We started the day attending church at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Both Rich and Rick had recommendations from acquaintances so we decided to try it. We grabbed a cab to Hunter College Auditorium, where the service was held at 10:30 am. Their pastor, Tim Keller, apparently travels to various locations around Manhattan preaching four times on Sundays.

Well, you could say it was different than what we are used to. The music/worship portion was quite good, but then they moved on to baptism… I was really caught off guard when they brought a little baby up to be baptized! As the pastor described the reason they baptize infants, I listened intently as I know that the bible does not command babies to be baptized (on the contrary, it makes the distinction that when you have made a profession of faith in Christ, it is then that you get baptized as an outward symbol of your faith). Never did the pastor say that the baptism “saved” the baby, so that was good, but he did say that faith was “not individual” but was encompassed in the family, therefore trying to justify infant baptism, I suppose. This is the complete opposite of what we believe -the bible is very clear that each person must have a personal relationship with Christ; being a member of a Christian family does not grant you automatic salvation. Each of us being born a sinner has a personal need for salvation. So, thus, faith is completely personal.

So that aside, we got onto the preaching. The topic of the “sermon” was music. Among mostly unmemorable things that the pastor said that morning, we will all never forget him saying that you can “evangelize about God” through music, and you “don’t even have to be a believer to do so.” Huh? Not sure exactly what he meant by that one. His message seemed more like a lecture in a college class - perhaps one at a really liberal Christian college. It was basically just really shallow. There wasn’t much tie in to Scripture (maybe a couple references to the Bible or God); I’m not sure if the pastor even had a bible with him- if he did I didn’t see it. I do know that no one in the congregation had a bible with them – apparently they don’t seem to need one there. That is a problem if you don’t need your bible in church! One thing we all talked about later was the fact that we are indeed so blessed to be taught from the Word every Sunday at Grace. The Word is our life! How can you even think to have a church without it? Very sad.

Anyways, when that service was over, we headed back to The Burger Joint to try again. This time, there wasn’t so much of a line – yeah! The place is hilarious. You enter the beautiful and elegant Le Parker Meridien hotel (rooms begin at $400+). You go through the lobby, and go behind a curtain. There you see a little neon burger sign with an arrow on the wall. Not a restaurant name or anything, just a little neon burger. You follow the arrow until you find yourself in a tiny dark room, which is the Burger Joint. You instantly feel like you are indeed in a joint (hence the name)! Their sign instructs you to order in the following manner: 1) what kind of burger (hamburger or cheeseburger), 2) how you want it cooked, and 3) what you want on it (and there is a list of toppings). And they want it in that order. Then there are two little sentences that come off as a strict warning at the bottom of the sign:

If you do not see it, we do not have it.

If you do not know your order,
go to the back of the line.

So, under fear and trepidation, we managed to order promptly and correctly and found a couple tables. The burgers were ready really quickly and boy were they yummy! Really good meat and a nice toasty/greasy bun. One of the best burgers I think I've ever had. The fries, which are thrown into a brown paper bag, are also amazing. Also, a real treat for me was washing it all down with a coke. Not diet coke, mind you, but a real coke. I never drink any soda (diet or regular), but I do allow myself the treat of a real coke about once a year when it is fitting. And this seemed the perfect time to have one.

After lunch we headed over to the Nokia Theater in Times Square, where Steven Curtis Chapman would be having his concert that evening. We got a chance to meet Steven and his wife, Mary Beth, and their two sons Caleb and Will Franklin. Then, we went off to Chinatown to shop! The girls loved all the knock off items. Emma picked up a few “designer” purses, while Kari found a cute hat!

A shot of Steven's name on the marquis of the theatre. It was so cute- he was so excited that his name was up there that he told his wife to be sure and get a picture of it!

Shopping in Chinatown - Emma on left.

Emma excited about her "genuine" Designer purse!

After a brief rest at the hotel after shopping, we headed to Times Square for dinner at John's pizza. The restaurant is housed in the coolest old church - lots of beautiful stained glass and huge ceilings! John’s is good, but have I mentioned that Lombardi's is the best?? (ha ha) After getting our last fill of NY pizza, we crossed the street to the Nokia theater for the concert.

Dinner at John's, both above photos

Steven generously comp'ed the Dempseys and us tickets – and nice seats they were too! This is the second time we’ve seen him in concert, as we saw him at the Greek theater a couple years ago. I guess he doesn’t make it to NYC too much, maybe once before, I think he said. It’s hard to imagine a group of Christians living in Manhattan, but maybe they came from neighboring areas because it was a full house. Steven is really good in concert. He talks a lot between each song, making it very personal by telling funny stories, and sharing his own spiritual journeys, so it's really cool to go to one of his concerts. Also, I really just love his music. It is so worshipful, and really encourages me in my Christian walk. And I would have to say there was more good theology spoken by Steven than by the pastor that morning at church. So it was a great evening. His two high school-aged sons have recently replaced former band members and our touring with him - one on drums and one on guitar. So that is really neat. They don’t seem to have a lot of confidence yet (not used to the limelight) but they seem to be having fun out there with their dad. Steven said it’s a blast performing with his boys, and Mary Beth said it has really energized Steven.

The music was really great...

Steven and his boys: left - Will Franklin, right- Caleb.

Steven and the kids backstage

Anyways, after getting to go hang out backstage for awhile (Dempsey perks again), we capped off the wonderful evening with dessert at Planet Hollywood. We were pretty worn out by now, but also disappointed that our adventure was coming to a close. We said our regretful goodbyes in our hotel lobby late that evening, and parted ways. In the morning, the Dempseys would be on an early flight home, and we would be on our way to Philly!

The girls sporting our "Pashmina" scarves ($5 on any NY corner)

Drew being K.O.'ed by Sly at Planet Hollywood

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