Sunday in Sydney was worship led by Darlene Zschech in the morning services, and Joel Houston at the evening service. This was especially cool; apparently neither has done so for awhile because of tours, traveling, and time off. Definitely a God-thing, and I was so excited to get to see them in person and see worship leading modeled by experienced leaders I admire.
Aside: From the time we got to Melbourne until Sunday in Sydney, I had the song, "From the Inside Out" (by Hillsong United) playing over and over in my mind. I figured this was all because we arrived without our luggage, I was away from the baby for the first time, and there were a myriad other reasons why I could be focusing on myself, instead of on serving Erin and Phil, who we came to support. The song is all about surrendering control, and I learned a long time ago to pay attention to worship songs that just "randomly" pop into my head. So it was beyond cool to arrive for church Sunday night and hear the first chords of this song. Thanks, God.
Sunday in Sydney was a pleasant surprise with how authentic and....real our experience was at Hillsong. It's a normal church, with normal people, in a normal facility (large, yes, though not as big as I expected). The first service only filled 2/3 of the seats. The message was good, but it didn't blow my socks off. As a matter of fact, just like my own - normal - church, there were a few things that bugged me (and actually, a few that, week-in and week-out, would drive me bananas, but those were all just preferential things). I'm sure behind-the-scenes they have their drama, like we all do, to some extent. We're all flawed humans, after all. But above all, Hillsong was Jesus-centered, not people- or performance- or religion- or music-centered, and that was very refreshing.
Sunday in Sydney was a ferry ride down the Parramatta River and into Sydney Harbour at Circular Quay. We saw some incredible estates, ritzy-looking condos, private beaches, and a faraway glimpse of the Sydney Olympic Complex as we headed down the river.
Sunday in Sydney was sailboats, and skylines, and sweeping views. The skies cleared as we headed into the Harbour, and the temperature was an awesome 65*F or so. The sailboaters were out in abundance.
Sunday in Sydney was spectacular views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. One of the "touristy" things we opted out of was a Harbour Bridge Climb. Before you judge us for not doing what seems like the penultimate Sydney thing, know that said climbs start at $200/person, and you cannot take your camera. So yeah, easy decision! Anyway, in the pics above and below, you can see several of the groups climbing the bridge. In the one below there is a group up top by the flag and on the arch below. It truly gives you perspective on how massive the Harbour Bridge is!
See the groups beginning the climb on the right-hand side of the bridge in the pic below?
Sunday in Sydney was beautifully perfect symmetry.
I love symmetry.
Sunday in Sydney was stunning architecture.
The Opera House wasn't nearly as breathtaking during the day as it was at night, but is was still very striking. It absolutely commands your attention as you ferry in and out of Circular Quay.
Sunday in Sydney was ice cream on Circular Quay, views of Sydney Tower, and a return trip back up the Parramatta River.
Sunday in Sydney was hanging with Matt, a Hillsong College student from West Virginia. And evidently, he's a legend.....eh, Matt? :) Kyler knows Matt from his work at Shepherd University. He was kind enough to meet up with us on a busy Sunday morning, saved us incredible seats for both morning and evening services, and took us out to dinner on Sunday night. We went to....wait for it....wait for it....Outback Steakhouse.
No really, we did.
(And if I'm really honest, it was a relief. After traveling so long and constantly challenging my palate, it was nice to be reasonably familiar with what I'd see on my plate when it was delivered.)
Matt, thanks for being such a great host, and for being a little bit of home on the other side of the world. It was fantastic to spend time with you!
And Sunday in Sydney was lots and lots of sunshine.
Yes, Sunday in Sydney was absolutely sensational.