Friday, August 24, 2012

Last day in London--more food!

We had a delicious final dinner at the Hyde Park Hilton and good fellowship reprising the whole. This has been a delightful group to spend these ten nights and eleven days with! I'm blessed hat they wanted to follow Mr Pipes (just for the record, I'm not Mr Pipes just his creator) to all of these charming, backwater, and wonderful places.

We went to evensong at St Paul's and heard rich reading of Scripture: Ruth, Good Samaritan account, and all of Ephesians 1. It was a said service as the cathedral choir was on holiday. Afterward I pointed out to the group how Christopher Wren was commissioned by Catholic leaning Charles II who wanted to restore the splendor and authority of the monarchy, and it's supremacy over the church. The place was designed to rival St Peter's in Rome, to humble the masses with the shock and awe of high church monarchism. Ironic that though it was designed with many other priorities in mind, the Word of God was read and heard today.

Stacie wins the prize for winning the most Cadbury bars (Margaret comes in second) and she and Aaron tie for pushup champs (Aaron for most hamburgers consumed). Charissa wins the goofiest food portrait (as you see) and for being the most able navigator and programmer of Francis the sat nav. Machaira wins the prize for the most awed, so much so that she drops farther and farther behind, gazing in wonderment, pausing to jot notes in her journal or take a photo. Craig wins the prize for taking the absolutely most goofy pictures of the tour leader (and for asking really good questions about the economics of things). Margaret wins for having "relatively perfect pitch" and for creating the fun jeopardy game played at The Bear in Hodnet in the shadow of Heber's church. Elizabeth wins a prize for wide-ranging and fascinating stories shared. And Dana wins for running her fingers across her jugular vein when the loquacious tour leader does what he does best: blabs too much, and for coming up with the most creative and effective way to get me to stop for visits to the WC (give the driver another bottle of water or cup(s) of tea). Blessings on you all!

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Six feet above Watts, Hart, Wesley, Owen, and more

Open air full English breakfast (likely our last of this tour) then schooling on using the underground, so much fun!

Wesley Foundry Chapel and singing Zinzindorf/Wesley, Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness. Bunhill Fields singing Watts at his grave, Bunyan, Defoe, The Calvin of England--Owen, and Joseph Hart, Come ye sinners poor and needy...

Tower of London where Thomas Ken was held for a time for resisting the king, the only hymn writer I know of to be held in the Tower, though many others. And I having relaxing down time blogging and sitting back overlooking the vast array of humanity passing by on the street below, all empty and needing the free grace of Jesus.

Balmy London, hotter than I have ever experienced London before!

God brought us to our hotel, the Hyde Park Hilton, another amazing hotel find from my excellent wife, thank you my dearest!

We checked in then strolled (at a Mr Pipes' clip) across Hyde Park, and by Buckingham Palace, to Westminster Abbey for a brilliant organ concert, William Byrd, Hubert Parry, etc.

Then a London cab ride back to he hotel and dinner at the nearby Middle Eastern reataurant extraordinaire (I'd never had Persian ice cream before and learned to say please and thank you in Farsi and in Kurdish). Wonderful food and delightful service. Whoever says Londoners are rude is seriously missing out. All this a reminder of the wide-ranging missionary movement centered in the British Isles.

Aaron taught us some slight-of-hand tricks and some of us strolled the international district near the Hyde Park Hilton, our hotel. It is a panoply of the breadth of the British Empire over the centuries. "He who is tired of London is tired of life," said Samuel Johnson.

Cambridge with Hamiltons and "all the saints

Ian preached so ably from Jesus' sermon on the mount showing us why it makes every bit of sense for the Christian to be anxious for nothing. If God our heavenly father bankrupted heaven to redeem us by the substitutionary sacrifice of his beloved Son "how will he not with him freely give us all things?" Being anxious for nothing is theological. This was rich, gospel-centered, Christ-centered preaching at its best. So encouraging to our tour group. May God continue to bless his work in Cambridge through this ministry. I enjoyed conversations with a number of folks that I have come to know over many visits with these dear saints. Bruce Clark is finishing his doc then becoming a church planter in Toronto with MNA. Blessings on that nascent work.

Luncheon after morning worship. We did a walking tour of Reformation sites in Cambridge, the spiritual movement that gave congregational singing back to the church. St Edwards church where Hugh Latimer preached the free grace of the gospel after being a virulent opponent of it, the cradle of the Reformation.

Then we sang our way to London, hymns all he way into the center city, scary place for driving, but I was mercifully kept on the left.

Bunyan playing 'cat' in Elstow

We had a push up contest where Bunyan heard the voice from heaven, "Will you leave your sins and go to heaven or have your sins and go to hell?"

We sang the Pilgrim hymn where Bunyan was baptized and where he would have gone to church (reluctantly, kicking and squalling) when he was a kid.

Aaron gets his app level out to show just how out of plumb the columns holding up everything in Elstow abbey are. What do you expect after 900 years?