Friday, September 27, 2013

We Are the Church (Part 2)

When we stayed in London earlier this month, our hotel was right near (same block as) Westminster Chapel, a rather Victorian building (a variant on faux Romanesque). It had services on Sunday at 11 and 5:30, and other programs were advertised on the church doors, like Comedy Night on Mondays.

I looked up the church online – door to door from our hotel to the church, it might have been all of 90 seconds. And I discovered that this was the church where G. Campbell Morgan and David Martyn Lloyd-Jones had been pastors. The church had a long history of evangelism and outreach.

And, as it turned out, it still does.

On our last Sunday in London, I went to the 11 a.m. service. Keep in mind where this church is – three blocks from Westminster Abbey and Parliament, three blocks from Westminster Cathedral, three blocks from Buckingham Palace, and about two blocks from Scotland Yard. The area is called St. James Park, and it’s an interesting area for a church to be surrounded by all that royal, ecclesiastical and government power.

The interior of the church is what I would call “plainly beautiful” – a royal blue ceiling with white crossbeams (see the photo), unstained leaded glass windows, double balconies that curve like horseshoes around the interior until it reaches a beautiful and large pipe organ.

There were about 250 people waiting for the service to begin. The building could hold more – likely 1,500 or so.

The preacher that Sunday wasn't the regular minister but a member of the staff (who confessed during the sermon that he was a former attorney).

The worship service was contemporary, which for some odd reason didn't seem out of place int hat old building. I think the reason was the congregation.

To be alliterative, I would call the congregation demonstrably demographically diverse.

Young. Old. Children, Babies. Singles. Families. Various racial backgrounds. In fact, likely all of the major racial backgrounds. The congregation was not homogeneous by any stretch of the imagination.

Some of the hymns were familiar (if a Chris Tomlin song can be considered a hymn). Some weren't familiar at all. The minister, in blue jeans and open collared shirt, was a gifted preacher.

But what I found most remarkable was the prayer time, two of them, in fact.

The individual prayers were not silent. They were spoken aloud. Gradually, as more and more people prayed – aloud – the murmuring grew collectively louder. And it seemed to combine and become one, a fusion of many voices of many people becoming one voice.

A voice called the church.



Martha Jane Orlando said...

Wow! A contemporary service in such an old edifice. As contemporary worship is all I do now, I know I would have loved this.
And, yes, I think we can consider Tomlin's songs to be hymns. :)
Blessings, Glynn!

JofIndia said...

Beautiful and moving, Glynn..
But I must take issue with Martha from Orlando: in Britain a Victorian church is anything but an old edifice; it is not even approaching middle age!

Anonymous said...

This sounds really...really really good.