London Week – Four Perspectives

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Museum of London

Day One: Monday

This was the day that we flew into London, but that doesn’t mean that it was all just flying and packing.  We visited the Museum of London, and walked around the city near the Thames. It was gorgeous!! We walked around the city and saw the lights, and the Globe theater, we went through the Museum, which had an adorable little town set up in it, as well as a pretty good exhibition on the Great Fire of London. It was there that we also learned about an old Roman style iron.

Louisa Masemore

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London at night.

Tuesday in London…

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Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Tuesday was a very exciting day! As our first full day in London we were all pretty excited! After getting all of our belongings together and eating breakfast in the hostel we set out! We made it to the underground right in the middle of the morning rush while the line we needed to take was also experiencing major delays.  After three completely packed trains and the fear that we would miss our tour time, we mustered up the courage to wedge our way onto the train.  For me it was very reminiscent of my time on the subway in Italy, I could tell that the other girls were not amused by being in such a tightly packed space.  Finally we made it to our stop, we steeped out of the station and were greeted by Big Ben.  It was breathtaking! As the bells of Big Ben chimed we made our way through security and into Parliament.  Heather had written to her MP and was able to get us a tour! Our tour was wonderful!  It was so fascinating to see the places where so much history and important political things have taken place.  After our tour our guide informed us that the House of Commons was meeting soon, and we had the chance to sit in and watch.  So of course we took advantage of the opportunity!  It was so fascinating to watch, even though it was just them going over proposals.

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In the National Gallery

From Parliament we moved to Westminster Abbey.  Westminster Abbey is a lovely building, I loved being able to wonder though it, reading the graves, listening to the audio guide and of course picturing the royal weddings and coronations that have taken place there.  From there we found lunch, before making our way to the National Gallery.  The National Gallery is huge! Personally I do not normally care to spend a lot of time in art museums, but I could have spent all day inside exploring!  I was amazed by the collection of amazing paintings, I saw so many paintings that I had only ever seen in art textbooks before: Van Eyck , Botticelli, Michelangelo, Monet, Van Gogh and many others!  After our whirlwind of art we made our way next-door to the National Portrait Gallery.  By the time we made it there our feet were quite sore from all of the walking, but it was worth it to see all the paintings of England’s kings and queens, and political figures.

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Since it was only early evening we decided to walk around the city; we explored several large stores, the highlight of which was the new Lego store.  It claims to be the largest in the world, I  however have been in Lego stores in both New York City and Florida which seemed much bigger… The store was filled with the important landmarks of London, made out of Lego.  From the underground, Big Ben, a light up underground map, city map, and phone booth that are in the store it is evident that someone had a lot of time, and hopefully fun, putting it all together! We walked along many streets covered in twinkle lights and the festive spirit was very much in the air!

Lizzy Tewksbury

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Lego Map of London

 

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Martyr’s Memorial

Day Three: Wednesday

We went to Oxford this day and had such a blast, we went around the town a couple of times, as well as making a stop at Christ Church College, and taking a walk in the park. There was sooooo much that happened that day, we visited several museums and libraries, as well as seeing the monument for the martyrs, but I think my favorite part of the day was when we stopped at the Eagle and Child for tea.  It was the place the Inklings used to hang out in, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The tea warmed us up so well, and it had a friendly atmosphere as well. When we got back we had a quick stop in front of the one place it is obvious you need to visit…221B Baker St.!!

Louisa Masemore

 

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Along the Walking Path

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Eagle and Child

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221 B Baker St.

London Trip: Day 4 (Thursday)

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On Thursday, we visited Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, and Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Buckingham Palace was a wonderful place to see. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to witness the changing of the guard, but we did still get to witness the beauty of the architecture, and we managed to catch some glimpses of different rankings of soldiers as they marched by.

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Buckingham Palace

The tour of the Tower of London was a very informational and entertaining tour. Our guide did a great job of keeping his audience engaged as well as informed as to the history surrounding the Tower of London.

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Tower of London

St Paul’s Cathedral has some more mixed feelings given to it. I, for one, am not a huge fan of spiral staircases. Climbing up a lot of them, then, was not my favorite part. The fact that a majority of these stairs were not actually attached to the wall and seemed to be thrown into the middle of the cathedral did nothing for my fear of heights. This does not lessen the great beauty that I was able to glimpse once I got to the top. The views were absolutely gorgeous, and the climb was worth it.

Mary McCurdy

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london-skyline

The Cure for Antiquated Doubt

Our fifth and final day in London was almost entirely devoted to antiquities. We began the day in the British Library and ended it in the endless soaring galleries of the British Museum. The British Library itself is a massive institution with millions of books. We only explored their Treasures Room where they display rare books and manuscripts that they have collected over the years from around the world. From an original manuscript of Handel’s Messiah to one of precious few original 1215 AD copies of the Magna Carta, it is a collection that is nothing short of the story of Western Civilization on paper.

There was a special section solely devoted to the display of “Sacred Texts.” Huge and ornate volumes and scrolls from around the world are displayed behind a quarter inch of glass. What caught my eye were a few scraps of worn and faded parchment, written in dark characters of black ink. They were portions from one of the earliest known manuscripts of John’s Gospel, written in the third century AD. Looking at those delicate pieces, I couldn’t help but think for a moment how fragile our faith is. Surely, to the world, Christians must seem ridiculous, placing our entire confidence in the reliability of a few scraps of papyrus and parchment. How could these fragments – which could turn to dust at the slightest touch – amount to anything? The prospect was frightening.

But, looking around the rest of the room I had my answer. On the opposite wall was the Codex Sinaiticus (or the Sinai Codex). It is a copy of the Greek Bible written over 1600 years ago. It is nothing short of one of the earliest complete Bible manuscripts we have found. In a glass case to my left were countless illuminated manuscripts, painstakingly copied by medieval monks in the Middle Ages and decorated with stunning colors. Finally, on the wall behind me was an original Gutenberg Bible, the first moveable –type book printed for wide reading by members of the public. The message was clear: God’s Word endures! Despite the onward march of time, God is sovereign, especially in the preservation of His Word. If HE orders world events and the transmission of His Revelation, He most certainly preserves it through all.

greekAlso included in our last day of London was the British Museum. It houses a seemingly endless collection of artifacts from countless locations and spanning thousands of years. The artifacts are all amazing in their own right, but are even more so when they are examined in context. One display I enjoyed was the collection from Assyrian civilization. These intricate stone carvings of pagan spirits and deities decorated the halls of Sennacherib in Nineveh. Evidence for the same king mentioned in the book of II Kings and II Chronicles is there for all to see. In the same vein, a mosaic of a lion that dates back to Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon is on display. Statues from the Parthenon in Athens that pre-date the birth of Christ would have been there when the apostle Paul visited the city. They could have even been the same ones that he saw and “his spirit was grieved within him when he saw that the city was full of idols” (Acts 17:16). Of course all of these connections are made under the assumption that the Bible is true. But God’s Word is historical, not just doctrinal. In fact, if it could not be true in its historical as well as doctrinal affirmations, we could not trust its doctrinal assertions either, since it claims to be wholly infallible. Archaeology and science confirms Scripture. We don’t have all evidence or the whole picture yet, and we may never have it all. But God’s Word can be trusted.

If there is one thing that I learned from this entire semester in Scotland, it is that God preserves His Word and He preserves His people. Through destruction, famine, fire, plague, war and judgment, His Word endures and His Church perseveres.

Lauren Della Piazza

 

Thanks and Fellowship

thanksgiving-sliderThanksgiving has never fallen on a Saturday before – until now. On the surface it sounds so contrary to a traditional American Thanksgiving. Twenty-five or so people – some of whom I had only met once before – all crammed around borrowed tables and chairs in the front room of our little cottage. Scottish people and American transplants or itinerant students celebrating a traditional American holiday two days belated. Unorthodox as it sounds, I have say that it was one of the most heart-warming Thanksgivings I have ever spent. It was a beautiful picture of fellowship within the Body of Christ and what a blessing it can be.

Thanksgiving is – in the spirit of full disclosure – mostly about eating A LOT of really good food. There are traditional elements that would never be absent from a Thanksgiving table: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and the like. All were present in abundance, along with choice favorites from everybody’s recipe books. That is what I found remarkable. While not totally constrained by cultural expectation, everyone brought forth their best. The result was colorful as well as abundantly delicious. This struck me as a unique illustration of the body of Christ. We all have a responsibility to serve one another, to work for the building of the Church and the kingdom of God. But not all of us are properly equipped to perform all tasks. But that is how God had created us. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Romans 6:4-6). We all complement and supplement each other’s strengths. Some of us are deep thinkers with heads for doctrinal teaching and understanding; the “meat” if you will. Others have the gift of discernment and honesty; we may not always like what they have to say, but they are healthy for the growth of the church. Let’s call them the dark greens. Others are compassionate and sweet: the “puddings” of the bunch. All distinct elements that come together to form the complete meal. The analogy may be a rough one, but the parallel is there.

I do not really get homesick, but I will admit that on Thanksgiving Day proper I was acutely aware of what was going on back home and how far away I was from it all. I was even tempted to feel a bit sorry for myself, in a strange place far from family on a national holiday. But then I realized just how UN-thankful that would be. Here I am, in an amazing place, with a group of like-minded believers in Christ that have welcomed me into their midst and showered me with hospitality and brotherly love. This Thanksgiving I am profoundly thankful for the bonds of fellowship, and how encouraging it is to join together with other Christians from the other side of the world. While we each strive to serve each other with our best, we try to help one another grow and continue in the Christian life. Let us all rejoice in the blessing of fellowship, which God did not intend for any of us to be without.

Lauren Della Piazza

A Week in the Life of a Semester in Scotland Student!

Last week in class we were discussing time management, and how we use the time that God has given us.  Everyday we have roughly 3-6 hours of “free time” that is not taken up by work, sleeping, eating, traveling, and daily life stuff.  How we use that time is very important, once it is gone we can never get it back again.  We can use that time to glorify God, or we can waste it.  The use of social media was brought up, and how we can choose to use it to glorify God, or we can waste our time by simply scrolling endlessly through post after post.  This started me thinking about social media and how I use it.

In reflecting on my use of social media I realized that I work very hard at projecting a certain image, one of excitement and adventure.  Since I am currently in Scotland, with the opportunity to travel, this has been a very easy thing to do.  If you know me only through my social media you would assume that my past three months in Scotland have been filled with non-stop traveling! I have posted so many photos of castles, mountains, seasides, manor houses, cities, and gardens.  While I am getting the chance to travel much more than I normally do, it is not the entirety of my life here in Scotland.  So I thought I would share what my life here in Scotland is actually like, it is not all traveling and adventure, we are actually studying.

Here is a general idea of what a week in my life in Scotland normally looks like-

Monday – We go to the church for study time from 9:15am to 1pm.  Normally Mondays are generally quite productive because we are rested from the Sabbath.  After studying Lauren and I generally go to ALDI to get our groceries for the week.  Groceries for us are normally apples, potatoes, spinach, chicken breasts, bratwursts, eggs, butter, milk, lunch meat, chips, salsa, and whatever other things we are in need of; it varies week to week depending on if we have made a menu plan in advance. We go home, unload the groceries, study for awhile, and make dinner when one of us gets hungry. Lauren and I live together and share evenly in the cooking. Generally I handle raw meats, and Lauren cooks the starch and veggies.  If I do say so myself we have become pretty good at cooking, so far we have yet to mess up a meal! We listen to music, discuss what we’ve been learning or what is going on back home, and generally we end up sitting and talking for an hour or so.

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Tuesday – We have study time from 9:15am to 1pm, then we go home and eat lunch.  We go back to the church at 2pm and we have our women’s ministry class.  We talk about topics that are relevant for helping counsel women though difficult situations and how to point them back to God.  That class is taught by Beth, who is the church administrator and is involved with basically everything in the church! Then we have our church ministry class, which is taught by Rev. Andrew Quigley who is the pastor at the Airdrie church.  In that class we discuss spiritual disciplines, every week we talk about a different one and how we can incorporate it into our lives.  We also talk about youth ministry and how to build a good relationship with the youth in our churches and communities.   When we are done with classes we go back home and work on stuff until dinner.  Lauren leaves for MET (a Bible study, it stands for Mutual Encouragement Time), and while she’s gone I generally do a load of laundry, clean up from dinner, and do other house things.

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Wednesday –  Study time from 9:15am to 10:30am.  At 10:30am we have our systematic theology class.  It is taught by Rev. Kenneth Stewart who is the pastor of the RP church in Glasgow.  Systematic theology is one of our favorite classes; Kenneth is a wonderful teacher, and we learn a lot about theology, he is very good at explaining and Biblically backing up concepts that can be very difficult to understand.  After that class we eat a quick lunch at the church. Then Jimmy and Helen pick us up, and we go off on an adventure somewhere in Scotland! It varies week to week, generally we don’t know ahead of time where we are going!  This is when I get to gallivant all over Scotland and generally when the majority of my pictures are taken.  After a few hours of adventuring we come back, Lauren and I make dinner before I go to my MET.  In MET we just  finished working through the book of Ecclesiastes.  I really love MET because it’s a chance to discuss the Bible in depth with people from church.

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Thursday – Study time from 9:15am to 1pm.  Normally on Thursday afternoons Lauren and I run errands like going to the post office to send letters, or Tesco to buy more specific things like gluten-free food.  It kinda depends on the week, and what we are in need of.  We make a quick dinner, and then at 7pm we have night class.  Our night class is Life of Paul, which is taught by Stephen McCollum.  Life of Paul is probably my favorite class; we go in depth on Paul’s life and what made him one of the most important people in the Bible.  In that class we go through and read the portions of the Bible where it talks about what is happening, so it really gets in depth about Paul, and the social and historical context of the chapters we are reading.  A common phrase used in that class is “Well, what does that word actually mean in Greek?”

Friday – We have study time from 9:15am to 1pm.  Before we leave Beth hands out the information about Kids Club for that evening.  Then she and I look at craft options to go with the story.  Once we’ve picked something, I get to make the example craft! That’s one of my favorite parts of Friday afternoons because I get to do something fun and artsy! We go home, eat a quick dinner, and then at 6pm we go back to the church for Kids Club.  Kids Club is kinda like a VBS that is once a week: we play a game, have snack, sing a psalm, work on the memory verse, read a Bible story, and do a craft.  I enjoy it a lot because I get to help lead little kids in learning about God while also having a lot of fun!   After Kids Club we clean up and depending on the night we have an activity with the youth, which is called Covenanter Youth or “CY”.  The activity for CY depends on the week, they try to do something different and fun each week.

Saturday – What we do on Saturdays really depends; generally Lauren and I like to take the morning slow so that we can catch up on sleep, then we go somewhere for the midmorning and afternoon; with the ease of the trains it is very simple to get into Glasgow in about half an hour.  Our Saturday adventures have ranged from going to Glasgow, Edinburgh, York for the weekend, and seeing the lesser traveled areas of Scotland when someone offers us a ride.  The ease of travel here is really wonderful, this is where a lot of my photos also come from.

Sunday – We go to the church at 10am. The first half hour is Bible class, we talk about different topics in the Bible.  Recently we’ve been talking about Heaven.  The second half of that hour is congregational prayer, they have a list of prayer points, and they open the floor for anyone to pray.  It’s really neat because everyone has the chance to join, so you have elders, adults, young adults, and children all praying together for the church and church family.  Then we go into worship together.  We sing psalms, read the Word, have a children’s message, and the sermon.  After that people chit chat for a wee while before they leave for lunch.  Every week they have someone on hospitality, and that person invites us and any other people who are in need of a place for lunch over to their house.  I love Sunday afternoons because it’s a lovely homemade meal with wonderful fellowship time. We stick around people’s houses and chat for a while before going home to rest.  In the afternoons I sometimes watch my home church’s service on live stream because it starts at 4pm here, I like to hear what’s going on back home and listen to my pastors preach, so I can talk about it with my family.  Then at 6pm we have evening service, it’s very similar to morning worship but normally a little bit shorter.  After the service they have tea, coffee, and cookies, and everyone talks for a while.  Then Beth invites the young adults over to her house for fellowship. We chat and laugh and sometimes sing psalms together! It’s really fun, and I really enjoy the fellowship with young adults.  I generally spend Sunday night catching up on the phone with people back home.  Then I get ready to start another week!

The social media mystery has been lifted! You now know what a week in my life looks like here in Scotland!  Yes, I am actually doing school work, cooking, and keeping up with housework, but I do also get to explore this amazing country while learning about God with some spectacular people! I would not trade this semester for anything.  Even when it is hard to be away from home, and the people I love, it is definitely worth it! I love Scotland and I would strongly recommend this program, or simply a missions team trip to anyone who asks me about my time here!

Lizzy Tewksbury

An American in Scotland

This past week has been one of great decisions in the United States of America. Being across the ocean during this time does not change the amount that it affects me. If anything, it is increased. Though I am blessed to not have to be in America while the events of the week have been happening, I still have the opportunity to watch it. I get onto social media to check in with friends, and I am bombarded with posts about the political state in the nation that I call home. To be completely honest, I am disappointed in many of the reactions that I have seen. However, that is not the point of this post. The point is to explain what it is like to watch the presidential election from across the sea.

It is sort of like being in a bubble where you can’t quite be touched by the events. And yet, the bubble is not all that protective. People from across the sea can still reach in and drag you into the situations through conversation. Though you are able to decline these Internet conversations, you still feel involved, because this is the place that you call home. And while you live in the bubble of your Scotland adventures, you see how those across that great sea view the people of your nation.

Being in this foreign land during these difficult times of American politics has been both relaxing and distressing. I have found that I cannot escape the election, no matter how hard I try. The people with whom I am acquainted in Scotland continually ask about the election and my views on it. And yet, I am extremely thankful that I don’t have to be around the American people during this time. I can fill social media with pictures from my adventures, and I can enjoy the bubble of Scotland adventures for as long as I have left.

Despite my homesickness, I am glad for the opportunity that I have to escape the election in even a limited way. I am glad to be in Scotland with my studies in theological matters and the strengthening of my faith. I am glad to be here to witness the prayers of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for another nation in desperate need of prayer. I am thankful that God has brought me to this wonderful land of history, and has shown me a vivid reminder that His Kingdom is not limited by oceans and national borders.

As the title of this post suggests, I am an American in Scotland, observing my nation from afar. However, as I bring this to a close, I would like to pose another thought. Perhaps I am not just an American in Scotland, but I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God traveling to have fellowship and community with fellow citizens of that same Kingdom. And when one puts it that way, any feelings of distress or international animosity that one could potentially feel melts away and brings a greater hope for the future of the world – for God has control over all that occurs, and His Sovereign plan cannot be halted, no matter how hard humanity tries.

Mary McCurdy

Autumn Break

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Heya, All!!

So! This past week was our Autumn break over here, and Lauren and I went to Amsterdam, Netherlands. We had a great time, but there was one thing that kept asserting itself to me through the entire trip. Trust. All of my life I have been taught that trust was one of the most important aspects of life. Trust in God’s almighty power and providence. This trip was something of a trust exercise, not only for myself, but also for Lauren as well. We had to trust each other and trust God to protect us in a city that was unfamiliar and more confusing than what we were used to.

First of all we were two American girls traveling together to a different country with no one waiting for us on the other end. No matter where you are going that is something that most sane people would avoid. We took it in stride, yes, we were nervous, but I knew that God is in control of everything, and that we were doing what he wanted us to. This was made even more clear when my mom later informed me that the place we originally wanted to go to was being plagued by earthquakes.

Second, we didn’t know each other all that well in reference to ability and attitude. In other words, would we get along and trust each other enough to make sure we did not ruin the whole thing for both of us? As it turned out, it suited us just fine, and we were able to have an awesome time walking around Amsterdam.

Thirdly, in Amsterdam it is not unusual to come across a lot of people who do drugs and also many homeless people that you need to be careful of. Truth be told, there were a couple of times when we knew we just had to keep on walking and not get distracted by any of the people around us.

Finally, for me while I was there I found out that someone I respected a lot was killed in a car accident, and some of my other friends were also in one. This does not seem like a situation in which someone would require trust, but it reminded me that no matter what, our lives are in the hands of the King, and as long as we walk as he wants us to we will be as safe as we can be. Whether that be living or dying, that is what is best for us. But only if we trust him!

Louisa Masemore

Awed with Caution

The United States is a big country. The continental portion (that is, excluding Hawaii and Alaska), stretches over three thousand miles. This means that to get anywhere interesting or remotely different from your own neighborhood stomping grounds, it is necessary to travel a significant distance by car or plane. Needless to say, I was struck with the boundless possibility for adventure when I discovered the compact scale of the British Isles. Living in a place like Scotland, one can travel to a variety of wild and different cities and landscapes, all in less than a day’s journey. That is precisely what Lizzy and I decided to take advantage of this past weekend. With “the world as our oyster” we set out to spend a couple days in York, England.

Within minutes of alighting from the train in York, we found ourselves walking on the medieval wall that still surrounds the city and gazing at the most stunning building I have ever beheld. York Minster Cathedral, with its soaring Gothic towers, arcaded stained-glass windows, and gleaming white stone is truly an unparalleled sight. This wonder of craftsmanship looms over the city and dominates the skyline.

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The Humanities 203 class at Geneva College talks about Gothic architecture and how builders liked to utilize color and light for dramatic and religious effect. The huge windows were intended to catch the sun, brightening what had previously been dark, vaulted, stone interiors. The result was supposed to be conducive to illumination – both literal and spiritual. Walking into York Minster, this fact from a previous class came immediately to mind. And I must say, if that was the intent, the builders certainly succeeded. I do not think I have ever beheld such a magnificent interior space. So much stone and yet the entire thing was bathed in light and color. One cannot help being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the place, almost a quarter mile in length from end to end. A Christian place of worship of some kind has stood on the location for well over 1200 years. With its importance to Christianity in Britain, York Minster is almost as much a testament to the English monarchy as it is to the Church. Statues of kings from William the Conqueror to Henry VI cross the central nave. Political symbolism is as prolific as Christian symbolism in the windows and ceilings. Personally, my favorite space in the building has to be the Chapter House. It is an octagon-shaped chamber with seven sides consisting of soaring stained-glass windows and a massive domed ceiling. It was used by the Parliament of King Edward I in 1297. The sheer beauty of the place left me speechless, and I was not the only one. There was not a sound to be heard among the people gazing up and around; occasionally there was a gasp of awe, but for the most part nobody said anything. What could have been said that would not have diminished the moment?

As I was caught up in all of this, I sat down to think. This marvelous work of art and craftsmanship was having the effect on me that Gothic design was intended to have on the beholder. I wondered for a time: “Is this a good thing? Surely, God has granted so many gifts and skills to men. And over a period of centuries, they used them here to build a house of worship.” Then I studied the windows more closely. The late Gothic period windows in the other portions of the church were full of images and icons, likenesses of historical and Biblical figures at an almost alarming scale. A worshipper would come into the church and be practically assaulted with that which is not Biblically lawful in worship. Instead of having his/her attention oriented towards God, it is oriented around them on all sides to the men from the past staring down at them. A sign by a display of candles implores visitors “To light a candle is to say a prayer.” But it’s not! I then wondered, how did an attendee here know if what they were really worshipping was actually the True and Living God?! I left York Minster awed by artistic and historical splendor, but theologically confused.

I think it is important to be awed by things occasionally. These experiences remind us how small we are in the grand scheme of events, and how infinitesimal our trivial problems are. However, it is important to exercise caution about what we are awed about. As Christians, we need to be sure that whatever it is, it is reminding us of how small we are compared to how big God is. He is the One who truly deserves our awe and worship. When the Object of our worship is correct, a small country church is just as effective as a soaring Cathedral. The small-but-stately, post-Reformation Lyne Kirk in the Scottish Borders area can be just as awe-inspiring as York Minster itself. It is the awareness of our condition before a Mighty God that should fill us with humility and gratitude.

Psalm 107:8 “Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man.”

Lauren Della Piazza

Benefits to Studying Abroad: Short Term and Long Term

I have been blessed this year to be able to participate in two of Geneva’s study abroad programs, the Rome program and Semester in Scotland.  If you would have asked me this time last year, I would have had no idea that I would spend more of my year in Europe then back home in Virginia. It has been so amazing to get the chance to expand my view of the world by being in foreign countries, and I still have another two months here in Scotland!  Recently I have been reflecting on the two programs, how they are different and the benefits that each of them offers.  For context the Rome program was in Rome and Florence and goes for three weeks.  Semester in Scotland is over a whole semester taking place in Airdrie with trips to Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London.

Studying Abroad Short Term – The Rome Program

1.  Any major can do it.
Since it happens outside of the traditional semester any major can participate.  It does not affect graduation dates and fitting in all of your required classes.  The Rome program can also count as credit for Humanities 203 and 303.  One class and the trip to Italy can count for both classes!  I really enjoyed that our trip to Rome was with such a wide variety of different majors, I was able to make friends with people who I would not have crossed paths with otherwise.

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2.  Fast paced.
There is not much downtime because you are seeing so much everyday.  This can be good and bad.  It is good because everything is already planned out, you do not have to worry about whether or not you will see something.  The fast pace can also be overwhelming, but it is definitely worth it! There is no better feeling then climbing into bed after having walked 8-12 miles of Roman roads.  There were definitely times when I almost dozed off on the train, but looking back that tiredness really was not that big of a deal.  Looking back I remember what we saw not how tired I was at the time.

3. Short means you are only gone for three weeks.
This is perfect for people who are not as comfortable with being gone for four months.  It is just the right amount of time to see everything while not having to completely move there.  In three weeks you also develop a close bond with your travel companions while not driving each other too crazy.  By the end of the three weeks I was feeling ready to go home, but I also did not want to have to say goodbye to everyone.  I was thankful to go home, finally have a home cooked meal, and be with my family.  Three weeks is just the right amount of time for a short term study abroad.

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4. It is not as expensive as a whole semester.
It is cheaper to travel for three weeks instead of a whole semester, and you are getting a lot of travel in during those three weeks. Food and extra shopping can add up though, so you have to be careful.  But money spent on gelato will never be money spent in vain, eat as much gelato as you possible can, it is amazing.

5. Minimal class work while you travel.
Most of the class work is done during the semester, so once you are actual in Italy it is just presenting the work that you have already completed and keeping a travel journal.  This leaves all of your free time for exploring without having to worry about school work.  I did not even mind the small amount of presenting I did in Italy, it was really neat to get to present in front of the artwork I had spent all semester studying.  It also makes everything more personal when it is students presenting on things that they have grown to love through their research.

Studying Abroad Long Term – Semester in Scotland

1.  Living in a foreign country.
When you live somewhere for an extended period of time it begins to feel like home.  You are surrounded by the culture, living as they live in that country.  This gives you a better understanding of how people in other countries live.  Your view of the world will be changed!  I have spent a lot of time reflecting on how Scotland and the United States are different; I have realized that they are not as different as I had once thought they were.  Now that I have been outside of the United States I am able to actually reflect upon how we are not as important as we think that we are.  I have also realized what a young country we are; last week we spent the whole week on the history of England & Scotland, and it was not until day four that we got to 1607, which is when the settlers got to Jamestown, Virginia.  It really put into perspective how much we have to learn from other places.

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2.  Being part of the community.
When you spend several months with people you get involved in the activities that are going on, or at least you should!  Community helps combat lonlieness and homesickness while you are away from home.  And who does not want to make friends who are from other countries?  You are able to share and learn from each other.  I have loved becoming part of the community here in Airdrie, I feel like I have been here for so much longer than just two months.  This feels like another home. Through worshipping together I have seen how the body of Christ is universal and brings everyone together.

3.  Downtime to reflect.
A semester gives you the opportunity to take time everyday to reflect on everything that you are seeing and rest before the next adventure.  Often going at a fast pace it can make it difficult to take everything in and you do not fully appreciate your travels until you are back home.  While being in Scotland I have really appreciated having time to rest and reflect on everything that I am experiencing.  While I was in Italy the focus was on taking everything in which did not leave much time to reflect on what I was experiencing; it was only after being home for a few weeks that I realized how much I had been able to see and experience.

4.  Learning on site.
Studying in the country you are learning about means you are able to go from class to the actual places.  All of it is still fresh in your mind, helping to reaffirm what you have learned.  Here we are learning a lot about the history of Scotland and the Covenanters; I am not naturally inclined to absorb historical information well.  However now that I have stood in the places where the battles took place, where Covenanters were imprisoned and martyred I have a much better understanding of what it would have been like for the people back then, and the history sticks with me.  Learning on site makes the history come alive, and it gives you a firm context of where things took place.
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5.  A whole semester in another country.
When you are in a foreign country for four months, you are living in a foreign country for four months!  You have the chance to travel and explore! With the wonderful transportation systems that Europe has it is so simple to catch a train, bus, or flight to another city or county.  Personally I have loved how simple public transport is here in Scotland! Back home the bus system is awful, it can take 1.5 hours to get somewhere that would only take 15 minutes to drive to by car.  But here in Scotland we can jump on the train and be in the middle of Glasgow in 20 minutes! We have visited Glasgow, Edinburgh, and we are going  to visit York this next weekend.  It has also helped me gain confidence in traveling, making plans, and using a map!

No matter what type of studying abroad you are thinking of doing, whether long or short term, I would definitely encourage anyone to go and do it if they are able.  See the world, make friends, get school credit, gain life experiences, and increase maturity and self-confidence! I know that for myself I have grown so much in the past few months of traveling to Europe, and I am still here in Scotland for another two months. I cannot wait to experience more of God’s amazing world!  If anyone at Geneva, or another school, wants to talk about either of these programs I would love to share my experiences with you.

Lizzy Tewksbury

Humanities Week

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The past week of our Humanities modular course and dealing with a five hour time difference when seeking to talk to those back home has been exhausting.  However, despite sleep-deprivation, the Humanities class with Dr Tim Donachie was enjoyable in its intense quality.  We learned history, philosophy, and the general thinking of mankind.  We sifted famous writers of philosophy through the Christian worldview.  We read the poetry of John Donne and Robert Burns.  We read works of John Milton and Adam Smith, finding where they were right and wrong, accurate and inaccurate.

We read, we discussed, and we learned.  Though history is not my favourite or best subject, it was presented in a way that could be grasped and understood.  Though philosophy can sometimes be dangerous to delve into, we discussed it all on common Christian grounds.  And though this past week was mentally exhausting, the benefits of learning are far better than sitting around doing virtually nothing.

Mary McCurdy

Museums and Foundations

This past week we were learning more about Paul, and how we need to tell others of Christ, and also, that we need to first know how we may defend what we believe to a now very resistant and argumentative generation. We also wondered why Paul, newly converted, was allowed, after three days, to go and preach the Gospel right away. The answer was that he already had the foundation of our faith from all of the Old Testament that he had to memorize when he was young. Three days was all it took for a man, used to thinking, to straighten out his knowledge of what he had thought was right to what he now realized was right, that the Messiah had come and all the ramifications of that. Our culture, today, is not as steeped in a firm foundation, and most people do not even know the true basis of Christianity and its effect on how we live. This was very obvious this past Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Lauren, Lizzy, Mary, and I all went in to Glasgow together and on our own; we decided to go to a museum that we thought would be informative and edifying as it was called St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art. We were so disappointed by this place that we were actually appalled at how bad it really was, both in accuracy and misrepresentation. The organization of the displays were not well done either, and honestly we all left feeling quite discouraged. This was supposed to, at least, give a fair representation of the different religions, (though we had assumed it would be on Christianity only, bad move on our part) and instead we found a place that was inaccurate. The whole place first led people through a display of several different artifacts that were supposed to be representations of the cultures, and in some cases, pictures of those important to the religion, but on a whole, it was very unsatisfactory, then it went on until coming to a room that was filled with six different displays of six different religions; Christianity, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and two others (I can’t remember their names).

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The entire museum, while as a whole was disappointing, was quite a reminder of who we are as Christians, and what we need to be doing as people working to be like Christ and follow his example in how to live.  It showed such a wrong description of what we represent that it made me personally realize that this was something we needed to do more, tell others about the One in whom we believe, what we believe about Him, and why we believe it.

However, all through the week we have been learning how to be people who know their purpose and drive after it with all earnestness, and that is very important. We don’t want to be individuals who, having just come to know our Savior, rush out and try to tell others about him just to be asked questions they do not know the answer to and thus start to break down their newfound faith because they did not stop to learn all that they need to know to defend it properly. We need to first learn how to defend it and what we fully believe. That is what we are doing as we learn over here, and when we go back home, we will continue to learn how to do that in the various jobs that we are learning at Geneva. I praise God so often that I was born into the family I am in, and that I am allowed by God’s Holy Spirit and Son, to be his daughter! And so we are reminded that our God reigns over all, and his mercy endures forever!

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord.” Psalms 150:6 NASB

Louisa Masemore

Regarding Pilgrimages

20160919_122123We all embark on journeys. Some do it for business purposes; some for leisure. Others set out for more strictly academic reasons. Then there those who venture out for religious purposes. These are the pilgrims, the itinerantly pious, who go on a journey not only of self- discovery, but with higher goals in mind. It is on this subject that I would like to dwell for a time. This past week, the other students and I spent the first two days on our Reformation Tour. Traveling to so many important locations associated with the Covenanters and the Scottish Presbyterians got me thinking about pilgrimages and perhaps how the concept is in need of some rehabilitation and revival.

The classical definition of a pilgrim is simply this: one who journeys for religious reasons, (sometimes to a religious or sacred place). My concern right now is simply with pilgrimages and Christianity. The term “pilgrimage” has picked up some historical baggage over the centuries, particularly in the years leading up to the Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church attached spiritual weight to the completion of pilgrimages and went to great lengths to protect Christian travelers and holy sites. It can be said that the Crusades were waged to protect pilgrimage sites in the Middle East. Most Protestants have heard the story of Martin Luther and his disillusioning pilgrimage to Rome. The corruption, error and excess that characterized medieval Catholicism have dripped down to taint the concept of pilgrimages for modern Protestants. (Geoffrey Chaucer’s motley band of sordid characters comes readily to mind). Now most consider them to be an antiquated vestige of that system of works righteousness that we broke away from so long ago.

I would like to argue that pilgrimages are actually consistent with our reality as Christians. God’s People throughout history have been making journeys for faith reasons. We might be able to say that the first “pilgrim” in the Bible was Abraham. God spoke to him, told him to leave his home and travel to a land that God would show him (Genesis 12:1). In the times of Jesus, the Jewish people were journeying to Jerusalem to make sacrifices for Passover every year. They came from all over the regions of Israel and the Diaspora. They sang Psalms of Ascent to remember the importance of “going up” to God’s house. In a more abstract sense, we are all “pilgrims” on a spiritual journey of the Christian life. John Bunyan explores that in great detail in his masterful allegory Pilgrim’s Progress.

In a way, my main reason for participating in the Semester in Scotland program was for spiritual reasons. About six months ago I decided to join the Reformed Presbyterian Church. I wanted this semester to be a sort of pilgrimage, a journey of discovery, growing closer to God and learning about the lives of like-minded Christians from centuries past. The first two days of the Reformation Tour were a powerful taste of that. We visited St. Andrews and stood where Patrick Hamilton, the first Covenanter martyr, was burned at the stake. We (hesitantly) climbed into the pulpit of John Knox. On the second day in Edinburgh we payed our respects at Greyfriars churchyard where so many Covenanter leaders were buried and where they signed the National Covenant in 1638.  Another gated portion of the cemetery was the location where many Covenanters were cruelly imprisoned. In the city center, we planted our feet where there was once planted a gallows for the execution of so many of them. All of this was really enlightening for me and changed my perspectives. I had never heard of these persecuted Presbyterians a year ago, but now I could confidently call them my brothers and sisters in Christ. Where my view of the Church had previously been quite narrow, I now see how it encompasses so many people all around the world. We have not even completed half of our Reformation Tour excursions and I have already seen and learned things about God’s faithfulness and His people that I will never forget. In a way, these outings were a kind of pilgrimage, a journey of spiritual significance.

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Pilgrimages serve as formative experiences in many ways. They can promote times of introspection on our own walks with God, prompt reflection on what He has done in the past, as well as orient our minds to godly perspectives. I think modern Christians could do well to see them as such. They should NOT be used as a means to earn one’s salvation, but as potentially life-changing physical reflections of a spiritual reality. We are all pilgrims, sojourners, on this harrowing pilgrimage that we call the Christian walk.

Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said to me ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’”

Lauren Della Piazza