I wrote this piece two weeks ago, not knowing how much more important its message would be just a few days later…
Last weekend I was in London. I spent Sunday afternoon walking along the South Bank and watching people as they enjoyed the unusually hot summer weather.
So many people from all kinds of backgrounds.
So many faces I’ve never seen before. I cannot help but wonder what their stories are.
Do they live in London or are they visiting? What has their week been like? What has brought them here today?
And how can this world be so diverse?
After a long day of walking my feet desire some rest.
After so many new impressions my mind longs for a place to settle down and reflect.
So I walk across Millennium Bridge and make my way up to St. Paul.
The noise of the street ceases, the crowds of tourists vanish as I enter the old and majestic chapel.
I sit down below the dome and look around. Exquisite decor and detailed design fill me with awe yet again of what individuals accomplished long before high tech machines were invented.
More and more people come shuffling into the cathedral and sit down next to me. Their skin color and murmured words tell me that they come from all over the world. There are quick smiles, some hushed “Hello’s”, silence.
The organ plays softly, the service begins.
People from all tribes and tongues meet here in the house of God and confess their sins before God and each other. Together we enjoy the gift of salvation. The choric prayers draw your mind slowly away from the busyness of the world and into a humbling admiration of God whose presence is so tangible. This is a sacred place and I’m glad I get to be here for a while.
God is here and He invites everyone to His table.
No matter your skin color, sexual orientation or mother tongue, no matter how strong your faith is at that moment – we all eat from the same bread and drink from the same wine.
I see young and old, natives and foreigners, people from everywhere walking up to the table, and I have to smile. I feel a sudden joy and warmth deep inside – is this what heaven will be like? When human division and differences will be overcome by community, acceptance and perfect presence?
No matter how strongly we might feel against each other – God is always for us and He invites us all to join Him at His table of grace.
Church isn’t static. It’s not a building, or a denomination, or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Church is a moment in time when the kingdom of God draws near, when a meal, a story, a song, an apology, and even a failure is made holy by the presence of Jesus among us and within us.
Rachel Held Evans. Searching for Sunday.
The vicar closes the Eucharist with the Lord’s Prayer and the congregation joins in.
The sound of many different languages echoes one common message throughout the cathedral: “Our Father who art in heaven…”
Never before have I grasped its meaning more than in this moment when I heard it in so many different languages from such a diverse crowd of people who are yet all children of the Most High.
“Go in peace.”
The service ends, people are moving towards the exit.
We all go our separate ways from here.
Back into a world of separation and division.
But we all carry a sense of peace, hope and love inside, and we can make a difference to tear down the walls between us.