Some Lessons Learned While in London

Last week I had the incredible opportunity of being in London with my two daughters.  Visiting London had been on my "bucket list" and what a privilege it was for me to be there with them.  Having been in London before, they knew their way around.  We had mapped out an itinerary for the five days we were to be there.  And, thanks to a very special nephew, Matt, who graciously allowed us to stay in his flat in central London, we were within walking distance of the Tube stations and other places of interest. 


We visited Westminster Abbey.  It was so much bigger than I had expected.  (I will say that a lot about what we saw in London).  I really appreciated the audio tour just so as not to get lost in all of its history.  We also attended an Evensong service there; the organ was powerful and the choir was amazing.  And I got to see many of the tombs of men whom I had read about and some whom I had come to admire down through Church history. 


We also had the opportunity of sitting in the gallery at the House of Commons in Parliament.  It was exactly as pictured in that scene in the movie Amazing Grace.  We listened to a portion of a debate on Brexit - the focus being on plant health, yes, you heard me right - it was on plant health.  Seems that Britain has more strict standards regarding imports of plants, etc. in order to protect its roses and other flora than does the EU.  I found it very interesting.  What will be the future of Brexit?  A decision must be reached by October 31, unless another extension can be reached between Britain and the EU.  From conversations we heard, it appears that Brits would like to leave the EU, but do not want a "hard Brexit" - that is a leaving without sometime of roadmap to move forward.  These next few days will test the leadership abilities of Boris Johnson. 


We also visited two places not usually on a tourist's itinerary.  One was Wesley's Chapel.  This was a church and house built by and for John Wesley in the mid-eighteenth century.  We had a delightful tour guide through Wesley's home.  She told some anecdotal stories of the Wesleys that were fascinating to hear.   We also visited his grave which was located just outside the Chapel.  Friends, if you have not read "The Journal of John Wesley", I would highly encourage you to do so.  It really is his diary of his ministry career.  What an amazing servant of God he was. 


The second place was The Kilns in Oxford.  This was the home of C.S. Lewis from 1931 until his death in 1963.  What a quaint cottage.  What an exciting moment to see the desk from which such masterpieces as "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" and "The Great Divorce" and "The Abolition of Man" were created.  After visiting The Kilns, we enjoyed a lunch at The Eagle and the Child, a local pub that Lewis and his friends, known as the Inklings, attended.  Lewis called this pub, The Bird and the Baby.  How exciting to be seated in the very booth where the Inklings had met for many years, sitting there to critique each other's literary works.  Can you imagine critiquing "The Lord of the Rings" or "The Chronicles of Narnia?"  If you are not familiar with this outstanding man and his deep insights into the Christian mind, I would highly recommend that you begin that journey with "Mere Christianity", or, if you prefer something lighter, "The Chronicles of Narnia."  I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.


I could write about the other amazing places we visited: The Tower of London, St. Paul's Church, the British Museum (one could spend days here; we spent 4 hours), and Windsor Castle, just to name a few. 


But I close with what I had not expected to find in London - protestors.  They literally clogged the streets and parks around Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square.  And what were they protesting?  Climate change.  They called themselves the Extinction Rebellion.  As we walked through the protestors - and I have to admit that they were not hostile or intimidating - we heard songs and speeches about how the world will be destroyed within ten to twelve years unless the climate can be changed.  The great proportion of the protestors were young people, although there were also some "gray hairs" present as well.  They carried placards encouraging people to become vegans as animals are bad for the planet.  Other placards and banners proclaimed the elimination of all fossil fuels.  As we walked through some of the encampments just to get to our destinations, I wondered how those people got to London.  I am guessing that many of them took the train or the Tube (the subway).  Those are powered by electricity which is generated from fossil fuels.  And I also wondered what those people ate.  I certainly hope they did not want a hot meal as that would mean using fossil fuels once again.  One night we walked through the edge of one of their camps and I notice candles burning.  And I thought of the hypocrisy of their actions.  They spoke vigorously during the day in one direction, but in their lives they contradicted what they were saying. 


I thought of how that spoke to how many of us live.  We proclaim one thing with our words, but the actions of our lives point toward something entirely different, even contradictory to what we have proclaimed.  The writer James expressed truth when he wrote: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says" (James 1:22).  In other words, what you hear and what you say should be reflected in what you do. 


One other thing I would have liked to have shared with those protestors is this: I have read the end of the story and climate is NOT going to destroy the world.  In fact, when Jesus Christ returns, the world's climate will be perfect as it was when God created the world.  Now that does not mean that we should not take care of our planet.  We should because that is also a mandate from God (see Genesis 1:27).  But we are not to worship our planet.  Paul writes in Romans 1 that that is what happened: man worshiped the creation rather than the Creator. 


Well, I could write a lot more.  London was an amazing place.  I am so grateful for the invitation Merideth and Beth offered.  It was a week I will not soon forget. 

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