So Many Churches

My husband planned our European Adventure and was joking with us before we left that our goal was to visit a castle, a church and a museum everyday!

We have seen such a variety of churches so far, from the super huge to the really teeny tiny. We have visited: St Giles Cathedral, Queen Mary’s Chapel and a Salvation Army church in Edinburgh; a very famous Chapel in Rosslyn; a Salvation Army church meeting in a Methodist church in Newcastle; Yorkminster Cathedral; Coventry Cathedral; 2 small church graveyards that are the resting places of CS Lewis and Roald Dahl and today we visited St Paul’s Cathedral in London for Evensong.

With each location there was a significant amount of difference from the others we had seen, but also a number of similarities. Each time I catch my first glimpse of the church I am enamored by the surroundings. I love observing the different areas and points of decoration while I look with interest for those symbols and items that give glory to God and those that raise questions as to what they might mean.

Of all the churches we have seen so far the one that has brought me to tears is Coventry Cathedral. As we came around the corner I remember the sight taking my breath away. It wasn’t quite what I’d expected, but I recall feeling quite overwhelmed.

I stood looking at the contrast between the bombed out remains of the one structure standing in the shadow of the new Cathedral built next to it. You see, after the bombing and fire that destroyed the original church the townspeople had a choice to rebuild the old church, but they decided to leave it as it was as a memorial for peace and reconciliation. It seemed better, somehow, than building the new structure and totally eliminating the recollection of what was, erasing the pain of what was lost.

For me, Coventry Cathedral stands as a stark reminder of what happens when evil reigns. When one party decides they are right and their enemy is wrong then they justify the destruction of homes and businesses and places of worship and lives. Much harm has been done over the centuries in the belief that these types of actions are necessary, but what is actually necessary is more forgiveness. More “I’m sorry”. More grace. More compassion. More tolerance. More love. Much, much more.

While none of us can have much impact in the course of world history and conflict, we have plenty of choice with regard to our own personal wars. We have the choice to destroy or to reconcile. We can offer forgiveness so that relationships are not left with the question of “will we rebuild or start over?”.

On the wall of the new Cathedral in Coventry is this striking sculpture …

It depicts St Michael standing over a bound and defeated Lucifer. Despite the evil that was intended for the township that night, the way they chose to respond meant that they were not overcome by it. I love this imagery of good being victorious, despite the circumstances. I pray that it is so for my life, with God’s help, and I pray it is so for yours also.

Be blessed.

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