Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Christmas worship experiences

We began our worship experiences by attending a Taize service at King's Cross Methodist Church in the setting you see at the left...quiet, peaceful, meditative--just right for the weary travelers trying to get acclimated to their new time zone! There were about 25 there, mostly young adults, but a few of us older ones as well.
We have Taize services here in Midland several times a year so we felt right at home with the music and prayers. One fellow we visited with pointed out to us that Sunday worship at the "big" churches within the heart of the city are really for the tourists--they basically minister to a congregation of folks who are in the city to work during the week, but are not there on Sundays, because thats a day they do not have to make that trip back into the city. Their ministry to their congregation takes place at week-day services, be it morning or noon or 5 p.m. So worship services at places like St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey are for the tourists.
This did not seem to be the case at All Soul's, however. To worship at All Soul's was a dream come true for Jerry. He so admires their former pastor, John Stott (who is retired but still participating..unfortunately, we did not run into him...) so it was a treat to be there. The church is built at the end of Regent Street--a magnificent setting. It is a viable congregation, with over 19 on their ministerial staff, highly programmed....we were there both morning and evening on our first Sunday in London, and heard a small choral group that you see pictured here lead the worship--gorgeous voices. The fellowship hour after the morning service featured tea and little mince pies--a Christmas staple in London. The church operates a fine bookstore in the fellowship hall as well. Folks were very cordial and welcoming to us, and we certainly could feel the Spirit in that church family.
This is a first for us - standing in line to get into a worship service! Wow! On Christmas Eve we were in line for about two hours for the late service at Westminster Abbey--the photo below is one Jo took while we were waiting in line. It was a beautiful service, as you can imagine, and one we will not soon forget! The fellowship and cameraderie of folks standing in line was marvelous as well.
St. Paul's was another worship experience - we also were in line on Christmas Eve morning for that service, but not for very long. The contrast between St. Paul's and Westminster is really something - WA is SO grey--stone everywhere, no color, very austere and regal, while St. Paul's is simply vibrant with its color--lots of reds and golds everywhere you look. The acustics are magnificent--on New Year's Eve, Jerry and I heard a Salvation Army brass band doing a pre-service concert as well as all the service music. Following the NY Eve service, we were dismissed through the front doors to the pealing of the bells and a bit of the fireworks that our kids were experiencing down on the Thames. Quite a site!
While we missed being with our church families at this special holy season, we found God's people very welcoming and accepting of us wherever we were worshipping. We were thinking of you!
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