Saturday, July 11, 2009

CALVIN at 500! July 10, 2009, Noyon

10 JULY, 2009! I awoke in the early morning and strained to listen for the crying of a newborn. Nothing. It is fascinating to think that just a stones toss from our hotel, Calvin was brought into the world 500 years ago. We strolled the village, bought a Calvin mug and a tin of candy; picked out a French cake—these are works of art—and some (5 because 500 would have zapped the trip budget and obliterated the cake, maybe even the St Eloi ball room, too) flaming candles that shoot up like fire works. I know, a Calvin t-shirt is a bit corny, but I just had to do it. We toured the Calvin birth place museum in Noyon, at left.

We gathered for the stroll down Rue St. Eloi to the fine hotel of the same name where we dined sumptuously. I wanted to recap the trip and return to where we began: Why are we doing this? Not for Calvin. He would not approve. Not just for us, so we can boast about all the cool things we saw and did, and about being here precisely on his 500th. Calvin was consumed with zeal for the glory of Christ. This supremely must be our goal. And the great benefit of studying Church history and her heroes is that we can inspire the next generation to live for the glory of God alone. Beza put it this way, “Since it has pleased God that Calvin should continue to speak to us through his writings, which are so scholarly and full of godliness, it is up to future generations to go on listening to him until the end of the world, so that they might see our God as he truly is and live and reign with him for all eternity. Amen” (19 August, 1564).

We sang Joyeux anniversaire, as the cake blew sky high. The ballroom at St. Eloi is spectacular, and the food was plenteous and delicious. Rick DeMass led off with reflections on the benefits of the tour and many others joined in. It was a blessed time, and our coach driver, Bert, joined us. From here we went on to Calvin’s birthplace museum, crowded but a fascinating visit, with first editions of major Calvin works, original paintings of Calvin and other Reformation scenes.

Went into Notre Dame during a Catholic service, as Brittany chatted away outside in French with a warden and another chap from the village (see youtube clip), then strolled around the entire cathedral, cloister, and library (est 1506). I had an interesting conversation (got a good deal of it) with a Catholic priest who directed me to the chapel le Gesine, Calvin’s first pastoral charge when he was only twelve.

Off to eat dinner again (you do heaps of eating in France, though Calvin ate one meal a day and never with the enjoyment we have been experiencing). From there we entered the Salle Capitulaire of the cathedral and heard Calvin’s story in French with l’Esemble Huguenot singing magnificently in between (see youtube). Calvin would have been in this part of the cathedral, a large chapel off the cloister, many times in his first 14 years, without a doubt.

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