London Journal – Saturday, October 11, 2008

As we go about our daily routines, it is essential to keep the long-range view in mind. I saw the future today as I read in chapter 5 of Revelation about the worship that will be offered to Jesus Christ:

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise.

Now, on to our adventures in the present.
When you are an uninformed tourist, things don’t always work out the way you had hoped.

After office work in our hotel room this morning, went to central London to tour Westminster Abbey, only to discover that it is closed today…and every Saturday.
The prayer on the exterior wall of the Abbey is notable.

May God grant to the living, grace; to the departed, rest; to the church and the world, peace and concord; and to us sinners, eternal life.

Leaving the Abbey to itself and its prayer, we walked around Parliament Square to Methodist Central Hall, of interest to me because of our Brethren in Christ connections with the Wesleyan holiness (Methodist) tradition. Not much was happening at the Hall except preparations for a dinner that would feature a Filipino dance team on tour, but the Hall encompasses a lot: a conference and exhibition center, a concert hall (with rows of magnificent pipes for the organ), an art gallery, adminstrative offices, a Methodist congregation, a tourist attraction and a public cafe. How’s that for multiple use of space?!

Now I was ready to fly the London Eye (the locals don’t say “ride” the Eye; they “fly”it). JoLene doesn’t care for heights, so she opted to sit in a Nero Cafe (a coffeee shop) facing the Houses of Parliament and do needle work while I set off across the Thames River to sign up to board the largest “Ferris wheel” in Europe.

First, I had to wait in line for an hour and a half. All around me were people speaking in other languages, none of which I recognized. And since everyone else was in a party of two or more, but I was alone, for the whole hour and a half no one spoke a word to me. So I started reading Perelandra, the space fantasy with deep spriitual meaning, written by C. S. Lewis.

The flight was incredible: about 20 of us in a glass bubble, big enough to walk around in, so that you could see London in all directions.The flight took 30 minutes. By the time I boarded it was late dusk, too dark to pick out such landmarks as St. Paul’s Cathedral, but just right to see the lights of the city. Queen Victoria never saw her city this way! In the distance the lights of the arch at Wembly Stadium were obvious.
Cost: $27. Value: a memory to treasure for a lifetime.

Back on the ground, I rejoined my patiently-waiting wife, and we went off to Picadilly Circus. No elephants or clowns, just a traffic circle with a graceful statue of Eros, the Greek god of love, and garish neon billboards reminiscent of Times Square on the other side of the Atlantic. Picadilly on a Saturday evening is a gathering place for all kinds of people. The fancy restaurants looked inviting, but we opted instead for the simple – a sandwich at McDonald’s. Can you believe it?

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