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A WORD FOR TODAY, September 5, 2023
“When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him immediately. Little children, I will be with you a little while longer. You will seek me, and as I said to the Jews, “Where I am going, you can’t come,” so now I tell you. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’” John 13:31-35, WEB
We really enjoyed our years in England and tried to see as much as possible. We made multiple trips to London with tours and on our own. We always enjoyed visiting the churches; each one is unique. If possible, we tried to visit at times when they were holding worship, and some of our most incredible experiences were when we joined those congregations to sing praise to God. I’ve told those stories over and over again; if you haven’t heard them yet, you are sure to hear them again soon.
One of my favorite places was St. Paul’s Cathedral. This church is a magnificent building, designed in the 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren. Christians have worshipped on the site for 1300 years. It is one of London’s most beloved landmarks.
There is a dome at the center of the cathedral where the transepts meet. There are three galleries in the dome, which can be reached by climbing many stairs. Running around the interior of the dome, 259 steps above the ground floor, is the Whispering Gallery. This walkway, which runs a complete circle around the dome, is called by its name because a whisper is audible on the opposite side of the dome, due to a building quirk. The Stone Gallery is 378 steps above ground level, runs around the outside of the dome and provides an incredible view of London. From this perch we saw Parliament, The Globe Theatre, the Thames, and many other London landmarks.
Just as we were about to descend back to the main level of the cathedral, we discovered that we could climb to the Golden Gallery which is a total of 530 steps from ground level. The stairways to the top were rickety iron, and our bodies were getting tired of laboring to climb to these great heights. But as we came out into the sun, we could see the reward of our labor. The view of London from the Golden Gallery is remarkable.
One sight is a small parish church called St. Bride’s that is just one block west of St. Paul’s. It was named after the 16th century Irish saint Bridget and was also designed by Christopher Wren. The spire of this church is famous, not only for its beauty, but also for a story about a father’s love. The spire, which reaches a height of 226 feet, is composed of stone-carved open tiers, which are crowned by a tapering obelisk. The father was a baker who lived near St. Bride’s. He wanted to give his daughter a special gift on her wedding day. It is said that when he looked upon the newly completed spire, he was inspired to make a tiered cake for her. He became famous for these cakes, and tiered wedding cakes are now a tradition around the world. His love for his daughter was so great that he was inspired by the church and was willing to try something new and different to make her wedding day special.
We could also see a tower from one of the many buildings owned by the company that makes OXO cubes. These buildings are identifiable because they have windows in the shape of the letters which spell OXO. At the time these buildings were constructed, there was a law stating that no commercial industry could advertise on their buildings. This law was created in an effort to clean up the city, to keep it from having too many signs. The company still wanted to advertise their product, so they found a loophole in the law. There were no specific laws against shaped windows. So, the designer included windows on each side of the tower, spelling the word Oxo for all to see.
After seeing all those beautiful and interesting sights, we climbed down the 530 stairs from the Golden Gallery. We went to a café to recover. Worship with Communion was set to begin at 12:30, and we wanted to take part. We often forget as we traipse around these tourist sites, that these are living, breathing churches. People go there to worship God, to hear His word, to gather in the fellowship of saints and share in His love. Sadly, when the door was open to allow the congregation in for the service, many tourists crowded to get in, but one by one they turned and left. They weren’t interested in worshipping God; they just wanted to see the quire. Throughout the service, I noticed that people were outside the quire in the cathedral going about their business. They continued to look at the tombs of famous people, focusing on death while we celebrated life. The world just does not see our faith the way we do.
It was a wonderful but exhausting day. The views from the dome were incredible and the worship was inspiring. How often do we, as Christians, think that the work we do for God in this world is exhausting and doesn’t lead to anything of value? We share God’s love and are met with hate. We speak God’s forgiveness and experience persecution. We are rejected and ignored by the world. We may not always experience the glory that God shines on the world as we hope, but our work is never in vain. The reality is that God’s glory is not as we might expect, especially while we live in this world. Jesus showed us the truth, that it was on the cross that God was truly glorified. Though we will face hate and persecution in this world, because of Jesus’ willing sacrifice the day will come when we will emerge from this world, as we emerged from that stairway inside the dome at St. Paul’s, into the eternal Kingdom of God and look upon His glory forever.
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org