Thursday, October 11, 2007

Filled with the Word of God

Gene Edward Veith recently returned from England where he had the opportunity to worship in two magnificent cathedrals:
In London the Montgomeries took me to the Evensong service at St. Paul's Cathedral. Then in Salisbury I went to morning and evening services in the cathedral there, which is one of the most magnificent of all gothic structures. I had been to both places before as a tourist, but to experience them for the purpose for which they were built was overwhelming. With the ethereal voices of the children's choir chanting the Psalms, the rich Biblical language of the Book of Common Prayer, and the extensive Bible readings, those transcendent structures were filled with the Word of God.
The cathedral services had no sermon, which I considered a good thing, given the current state of Anglican theology. But no one could deny, being in those cathedrals at worship, that Christianity is a formidable, profound, culture-creating religion, with a palpable presence.
He goes on to reflect on the state of Christianity in Europe and the West, and observes:
My observation from the conference, after meeting many faithful Christians from England and elsewhere around the world, is that in countries where the church is culturally unpopular, ONLY those who are true believers bother to go to church. The intensity of faith increases.
I've been to both cathedrals, and during worship the sounds of the organ and the boys' choirs reverberate in the great spaces. The structures were intended to create a sense of awe - and they do. They are magnificent structures for their purpose.

Within the last half century, the Christian faith seemed to be an important part of the lives of the English people. It is, perhaps, a warning to us that the decline in public profession of faith can be so rapid. It is already true here that the public profession of Christian faith is looked on with suspicion - even hostility - by important segments of society. The worshiping community in the United States may also soon be reduced to "those who are true believers."

The exterior pictures are of Salisbury, and the interior is at St. Paul's. [The photographs are not my own, and the painting is by Constable.]

Hope for Europe and the rest of us

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