Today I visited Westminster Abby with the other 16 people of our group, all of whom arrived safely from a number of ECO churches scattered all over the USA. We actually quoted various parts of the catechism to one another as we were going in and had fun talking about whether ECO will ultimately include the Westminster Standards in its Book of Confessions, something we will be voting on at the National Gathering in January.
As fun as that was, the most interesting aspect of the visit to Westminster was tied to the fact that the remains of over 3,000 are interred there. This was particularly poignant as today is All Saints’ Day. It was a practical example of Hebrews 12:1 and the Great Cloud of Witnesses that surrounds us.
For me, though, the most powerful moment was at the tombs of Elisabeth and Mary. They were sisters who were divided when it came to the Reformation with, Elisabeth favoring it and Mary staunchly opposing it. The inscription at their tomb talked about how they were divided by religion but united in death by their common hope for the resurrection.
It is quite the range of “witnesses” in Westminster. Some, perhaps many, are witnesses of what we shouldn’t do. For me, though, the most powerful.
Today, it is good to remember that it is our hope in the resurrection that compels us to engage in mission or risk eternal separation from lots of different people. That is a lesson worth reflecting on.
Pastor Jon Heeringa is traveling in London and Dubai and is learning from missionaries in those places. While he is there, he will be sending dispatches to his First Presbyterian family.