Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The United Kingdom (01/22/09)
TITLE: God & the Golden Thread
By Paul Chappel
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Nearly every day we’d worshipped in some manner or another, so a Sunday morning service in Kings College Chapel seemed like it had nothing unusual to offer. Then the Bishop came floating by, looking like a remnant from the coronation of St. Edward the Confessor, in robes that would have impressed Solomon and Joseph. It took my breath away. All through the service, I could only stare at the bishop. His robes seemed to get grander, if that is possible, as the service progressed. As the choir, in Anglican Chant, sent a psalm down to us from their stalls, and up to heaven, all eyes were on the men and boys of the choir. Well, all eyes, that is, except mine.
Kings College Chapel was commissioned by Henry VII, father of the infamous and glorious Henry VIII. Indeed, the latter Henry completed the work, as his father didn’t live to see his vision of a great collegiate church at Cambridge completed. This building has survived the Civil Wars of the United Kingdom, the Protectorate, the Blitz, and many other challenges before and since. From the outside, it looks dark and brooding, right on the river Cam, with punters moving past and under the Clare College Bridge. Inside, though, the chapel is a riot of light and colour. The medieval windows glimmer with hues that have illuminated divine worship for hundreds of years. All around, you feel as though this is what heaven might look like – statuary of the saints and great people of the Realm, windows meant to teach and impress, with the stories of the Bible everywhere, and the carvings and reredos that inspire awe and wonder.
As the service got to that most personal stage, the communion, we students were lined up to kneel at the altar. With both knees on the marble steps that have held kings and queens, archbishops and saints, I looked up to see the great Reubens Adoration of the Magi, which is even more imposing than it looks from the pews. Ancient architecture with a classic masterwork made my head swirl in wonder. Then, quiet as a church mouse, the Bishop of Bath and Wells came around and offered me Christ’s body and blood, along with a word of benediction. “It can’t get any better than this.” I said to myself.
I don’t remember getting back to my place in the stalls, but I shall never forget that moment of the holy here-on-earth, of the wonder of the Resurrection, and of that personal moment with God in the midst of inspired art, architecture, and music.
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