Wednesday, July 22:

“Just wanted to thank everybody for his or her thoughts and prayers. We arrived with the Reynolds LEAD Academy and had a safe arrival early this morning and have pretty much been up for 30 hours. London is awesome. In addition to a general bus tour we went inside Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral. So interested to see historic Church architecture and to hear the rich stories of The Anglican Church and the English Monarch. All of that will set the tone for what this week will hold: a Hillsong conference and a Wesley Heritage tour. Can't wait to share some fruit of this time with you. Grateful for the time to be away and to be present here. I'm crashing now (11:15pm local time). Cheerio.”

Wednesday, July 22:
Some takeaways today from having a morning and early afternoon to sightsee in London before the Hillsong Conference started this afternoon. (It's long - sorry)
Some takeaways today from having a morning and early afternoon to sightsee in London before the Hillsong Conference started this afternoon. (It's long - sorry)
1) After spending the morning in art museums and then lunchtime at the British museum, it's amazing how much people change and how much people stay the same. I have been trying all year to get to an art museum and today I got to two. I saw art from some of the most famous painters of history - Monet, Degas, Da Vincci, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, and the like. Creative expression matters, as people can express so much human emotion and historic storytelling via art. Very moving. And for a significant part of church history, art was the primary way the Gospel story was told because it was offered in images - the true language of the people. Our future is rooted in our past.
2) History gives me perspective. I saw thousands of years of human history from ancient Assyrian and Egypt to early Celts and it reminded me that for all that time humanity has had to struggle with the balance of joy and sorrow, conflict and peace, and grace and sin. The human condition hasn't changed even though the context of the way we live has. Best news of all is that God never changes.

We saw ruins from Nineveh today and it reminded me of the story of Jonah. The Ninevites were horrible by all accounts and Jonah was sent by God to offer a second chance. He doesn't want to go because he knows they will turn and he doesn't want God to spare them. He goes and after all the wretched things they did - God showed mercy. There is indeed wideness to Gods mercy.
3) Visited the historic Church - St Martins in the Fields (Sam Wells serves here now I think). Next to Assurance, this is my next favorite stained glass cross. Sanctuary was beautiful though empty, but underneath the church in the crypt was the coolest cafe where dozens gathered for fellowship and community. Gathering is happening on top of the "saints" of the church. Literally, coffee tables are on top of gravestones and I can't think of a better way to celebrate those who have gone before us. It was the "liveliest" crypt I've ever visited and what a great picture of the kingdom of God. An old old church that has found a way to be the "third place" for so many people in the heart of London (after work and home).
4) After seeing the Egyptian exhibit - which is all about mummies and preserving life in death - it got me thinking about our own quest for immortality. Do we want to be remembered? If so, why? And if so, how? Most of the mummies we looked at today are famous because they died, but I, like you, want to be remembered because I lived. Is immortality just something that comes because we get mummified or we get famous and get a painting or a statue in a museum for all the world to see, OR does immortality only truly come by how well we've loved. What if, when it’s all said and done, that is the only metric that matters. That seemed to be the case with Jesus and it makes ya think, huh????
5) Opening worship of Hillsong Conference - Great music. Really great music. Not sure about the rest yet but the music and attention to the emotion of the worship experience was rich. In the home land of John and Charles Wesley, who set the world on fire and taught the world about God by writing hymns and preaching good news 300 years ago, tonight I watched new hymns break out to a new generation that remind us of that same grace.
6) Just finished up the day at midnight by sharing a "pint" and some pistachios with some friends at the London Bridge on the bank of the Thames River as we literally closed the pub down talking about the day and about life. I'm reminded of the simple and yet profound gift of friendship, shared experiences, time, and yes … laughter.
Tomorrow's another day but I'm going to bed. My fingers are tired after all this typing on my phone . . . So stay tuned.
 

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