Our last full day in London was Sunday. The family was struggling with colds, so I caught the subway by myself and went to a worship service at West Minster Abbey. This turned out to be the highlight of my time in London.
I waited outside in the cold for about 15 min until the ushers let us in for the 11:15 service. We were directed to the inner most area, beyond the normal folded chairs that one doesn’t pass in cathedrals on tours. I sat in the inner most seat of wooden pews, the ones parallel to each other facing the aisle through which the reverends and worship leaders enter. The leaders then stand in a circular center area, which still has some folded chairs on either side in the alcoves. The male choir in red robes sang in the wooden section on my left, with 12 men on either side of the aisle. I sat next to a kindly, older, single gentleman who had been there before and was was kind at directing me where to go.
It was such a beautiful service- so regal, meaningful and sincere. I felt like my spiritual hunger was being fed and I could better realize in psalms why David would delight in worshipping God in a temple. The lovliness and grandeur of the place, with the polished, beautifully carved wood, the lofty ceilings, the colored light cast by the sunshine through the stained glass, seemed more fitting for God than any other place I’ve worshipped.
The sermon was finely crafted, being brief and yet richly profound. “And here lies one of the key differences between Islam and Chrisitianity. The word “Islam” means to submit; and in Islam, Judaism and Christianity we are all called to submit to God. Yet here in Christ’s baptism we find that God has submitted to man.” The baptism of Christ is the initiation of His ministry that culminated on the cross in ultimate submission to man. I never understood that raw act of humility when Christ was baptized. And this morning when I read Luke 12, Jesus speaks of His sacrifice (quite a while after His baptism, yet not long before His crucifiction) by saying “I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed.”
Humility, I mean raw submission to others, is absolutely counterintuitive to me, especially when being mistreated or taken advantage of. I find examples of genuine humility rare, especially in people who are successful. I can honestly say, however, that I am blessed to have my husband be one of those examples to me. Recently I witnessed this when I scrubbed in a case with him in Cameroon. He was repairing a huge hernia, and after we had scrubbed at the sink, we entered the OR to get gowned and gloved. The scrub assistant was really quite lost, had prepared the wrong things, didn’t know how to glove Dasen and seemed overall rather lazy and a bit too disinterested from my perspective. The other people in the room started to grumble and the other surgeon yelled from the neighboring partition where he was doing surgery. Dasen, however, slowly talked the scrub through what to do step-by-step, often repeating himself. When it came time for us to leave Cameroon, the OR department invited Dasen and the whole family into the OR. They gave him an African shirt of honor worn by chiefs, and several people spoke on how grateful they were for Dasen’s service, and especially his humility.
At West Minster Abbey I learned how Christ’s baptism exemplified His courageous submission to wayward and wicked mankind. I’d love to adequately share those insights with you and tell you about the beauty of the communion ceremony at West Minster Abbey. To share Christ’s cup is no easy matter.
May you be blessed by Christ’s humility today, and may you in turn bless another likewise.