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.
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.
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.
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!
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.!!
London Trip: Day 4 (Thursday)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also 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