London Journal – Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sometimes our experiences at Speakers’ Corner are a bit flat. Today was lively and invigorating. More about that later.

Here at our hotel I have become friends with a teenage student named “Tass,” from West Africa. He agreed to go with us on our travels and adventures today.

JoLene and I had decided we would go to the service at Westminster Abbey, knowing it would be “high church” and different from our typical evangelical services. Six of the people here for the Vision Trip decided they wanted to go with us.

Here is a side view of the Abbey.

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The service had pageantry, costumes, Scripture readings and classical music by the choir. It was far removed from the simplicity of Jesus of Nazareth, the wandering rabbi, but it was full of rich meaning.

No photos, no mobile phones and no ice creams. (The usher said it exactly that way, with the plural of “cream.”)

The sermon was by Rev. Dr. Jane Hedges, one of the Canons (priest) of Westminster. She spoke about Jesus’ words, “I no longer call you servants…Instead, I have called you friends…”

The Eucharist (Communion) was open to all believers, so our group took Communion, walking to the front to be served. The wine was served from a common cup, which you could avoid, if you wished, by dipping the wafer in the wine, which, from what I could see, only a few did.

The exterior wall of the Abbey contains this prayer.

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Then off to All Souls Church for a workshop and prayer.

I was pleased to be able to introduce my young friend Tass to a Christian medical doctor, also from a nation in West Africa. As we all walked to Speakers’ Corner, these two had an ongoing conversation. Tass’s family is of a different religion, and several family members are trying to get Tass to renounce Christ and return to the religion of his family.

Then off to Speakers’ Corner for conversations and speeches from stepladders. Often Jay has no one who wants to get up on a ladder to assist him in speaking, but this time there were five available, two of them being pastors from our Vision Trip group, and three of them from another US group that is studying in England.

Here is Jay with one of the other speakers, who shall remain unnamed, but who had a deep and loud voice that was perfect for this kind of setting.

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The “assistant speakers” interacted with Jay and the crowd with humor as well as serious challenges. There were more Christians on hand than usual, so they responded well to questions posed by the speakers and cheered the name of Jesus loudly at appropriate times. So, in every way we felt that this was an exceptional day at the Corner.

I had a polite and animated but inconclusive conversation with a friendly atheist (whom I have met at the Corner on previous occasions) and a skeptical Christian. Both of them say that they cannot accept the idea of hell as a place of eternal punishment. I spoke to them about God’s love and quoted and commented on John 3:16.

By the way, the weather this afternoon was not conducive to comfort. Mostly cloudy, cold wind, and occasional light showers – but we persevered!

After the Corner we went to a friend’s home in northeast London for food and conversation.. Warm at last. The occasion was a farewell for two other friends who are leaving London and the support of this fellowship group. I counted 24 persons crowded into a very small upstairs apartment! Getting to the buffet table and back again was a logistical challenge, but no one complained, and everyone had a superb time. Let no one in America say, “My home is too small to entertain.”

We closed the evening with prayers for these two persons who are leaving London, one for service at a children’s camp in Hungary, and the other returning to her home in Brazil to resume her work as a lawyer. She had come to faith in Christ while in London, so she returns home to big opportunities and challenges.

We returned to our hotel late and got to bed by 11:30, grateful to God for all we had seen and heard in such a glorious mosaic of experiences.

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