London Journal – Sunday, January 18, 2009

Easter in January? Well, not quite.

This morning we attended the worship service at All Souls Church, Langham Place, famous because of the fact that John Stott was pastor-teacher here for so many years. The current rector is Hugh Palmer.

The theme was “Why is the Resurrection good news?” The intention was, obviously, not to pre-empt Easter, but to address an issue that is central to the gospel and so relevant to the questions that both spiritual seekers and critics of the Christian faith are raising.

Blended worship; songs mostly “older” contemporary; no hymnals, words printed on the “service sheet” and on electronic screens all over the sanctuary; a small choir, not in robes; a small orchestra; the organ playing with the band on several songs; a thoughful and God-honoring personal story by a woman who is, I think, a member of the church; and a message by David Turner, a judge and a Lay Reader from this congregation. His message on the resurrection of Christ was expertly done.

In the afternoon we attended a workshop on relating to our distant cousins with religious views contrary to the gospel. Then we prayed.

Next, off to Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. Sunny day, temperature about 45 degrees. Because it is winter, relativley few speakers were at the Corner, and the crowds were smaller, but there was action. Jay Smith and two young men, one from India and one from USA, got up on low step ladders at the same time, and spoke about Jesus Christ the Son of God.

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Muslims and skeptics called out their objections. Then a group of Palestinians, or at least Palestinian supporters, moved in close, shouted “Free Gaza!” and similar slogans, and flourished a Palestinian flag.

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Jay called out to them that we are not here to discuss politics, that we follow Jesus in his way of peace and non-violence, and that we call every person and all nations to come to Jesus. Before long the protesters moved on and Jay was able to continue.

Then we went with our London team and other friends to AQ, a Lebanese restaurant on Edgeware Road, for dinner, review and conversation. This restaurant knows nothing of ventilation hoods, so smoke from the open grilling area periodically filled most of the room and set of the smoke alarm.

Next to me sat Yohannes, from Ethiopia. It was a privilege to hear his life story and his passion for world missions. We delight in the multicultural nature of London and of the mission groups here.

Back at the hotel, I did office work until 11:30.

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