I arrived in London late Friday and on Saturday she was at her radiant best beneath a bright azure sky, crisp winter air, and sun for all.
On Sunday Carmen and I had a day in London which we thought we’d begin with a change… attend a service at Westminster Abbey. Throughout the week a tour costs 18 pounds per person but on Sunday attending worship is free. It’s an incredibly beautiful building with high ceilings, stain glass windows and on a scale that takes your breath away. Entering gives a sense of the majesty of God and his great magnificence overshadowing our smallness in every way.
Everything is strictly controlled after passing through the gates and main entrance. You’re not allowed to look around but go straight down the left aisle to the area of worship – or where we will sit and the choir will sing. I used to be one of the choir boys for six years and I guess I’m still not healed. The whole service was a concert and the level of engagement for those off the streets was minimal. Throughout the week we pay to enter and admire and on Sunday we ‘re freely invited to enter and also admire. Worship is an aesthetic experience of sound and vision but engagement and relational vulnerability is nowhere to be found apart from a handshake when we leave.
I want so much to be charitable but it grieves me. These magnificent places of potential worship lose such an opportunity to really interact with visitors. Westminster Abbey had over one million visitors a year which brings in over 180 million pounds plus the cafeteria and store. Looking more closely I noted that within the first 20 or 30 feet (height) in the cathedral the walls are cluttered with memorials to past great men and heroes of Britain. The Empire of Britain is the focus – the kingdom of God on earth is absent; while above 30 ft the eyes and heart soar upward and there is a great sense of the triumphant, the majesty, the glory of God. However we live under 30 ft and in places like Westminster Abbey if you’re looking for the Kingdom it’s hard to breath down on the ground. Such a shame.
After a great chat and lunch with Brad we visited the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. What a contrast to Westminster Abbey. this was interaction and engagement at it’s best with terrifying rides, food, stores, and entertainment jostling cheek to jowl for attention. Color, music, screams, laughter, and chatter were everywhere in a crowd that almost competed with the masses in India. The event is massive in scale and so much fun….. now if we could integrate the magnificence of Westminster Abbey with the spirit of the Winter Wonderland all of England would be delighted to follow Jesus.