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Thursday, May 3, 2012

London Day 1

I somehow have to get caught up on our trip to London so I figured I'd get started tonight!  The reason we went to London was to attend a conference of International Pastors serving in Europe, the Middle East and Kenya.  It is a great tradition, an encouraging time and always filled with amazing conversations and experiences.  We were not disappointed.
Day 1 started with with a wonderful conversation with the Director of the Palestinian Bible Society, Labib Madanat who challenged our notion of how we define neighbor and encouraged us to see all humans as neighbor rather than enemy.  Coming from an Arab Christian seeking to live out the gospel in the midst of the Palestine-Israel conflict, his message was very compelling.  The afternoon was filled with delights of London.  
We popped up from the Enbankment tube station and took a stroll along the Thames.  This spot is where I get that "WOW, I'm in London!" feeling every single time I'm there!  It's just a big thrill.  Loved seeing the British police.  Happy to not have a real encounter with them!
Our walk took us alongside a lovely garden that housed a statue of William Tyndale, the first man to translate the Greek New Testament into English.  Wonderful to stumble upon this monument.
We landed at Westminster Abbey where this delightful priest greeted us and welcomed us to The Abbey. (That's John D'Elia next to him, the pastor at the American Church in London, our host and good friend.)  We were privileged to enjoy the audio tour and I loved roaming around this grand cathedral once again.  
I loved standing near the very spot where William and Kate, almost a year ago to the day, pledged thee their troth to one another.  I'm still trying to figure out how to weave that line into a wedding where I am officiating!  We got to enter the secret place where only special visitors with special permission get to enter: Edward the 3rd's grave.  The chapel of Henry the 7th is, quite frankly, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  No photos were allowed and I respected this rule even though I was sorely tempted on many occasions to sneak a photo or two!  I loved wandering around Poet's corner once again, seeing the names of authors who I love and admire on the grave stones.  I was especially touched by the memorials of Shakespeare and Handel.  I just loved being there.
We ended our time by enjoying Evensong in the Abbey.  The lovely voices of the young boys combined with the rich sounds of the adult male choir is just heavenly.  It was so spiritually uplifting and sublime.  One of the young boy singers hiccuped in the middle of a song and got the giggles.  This playful bit of humanity just enhanced the experience for me.  There was a small row of about 6 very little boys who simply marched in in their little red robes, sat through Evensong and then marched out.  I suppose they are cherubs in training and the first lesson is sitting still!  
When we got out of the service, the evening light was gorgeous.  We jumped on a double decker red bus that took us through all of London's main highlights and enjoyed a wonderful stop at a pub with our good friends from the Frankfurt church.  I loved this pub sign...only in London would the Ale be blessed by the Sabbath, I suppose.