Monday, April 05, 2010

Now THAT'S OLD!

I read once in Reader's Digest:
You can tell the difference between an American and a Brit:
A Brit thinks 100 miles is FAR
An American thinks 100 years is OLD.

This weekend we went to visit Martin and Lucie, friends of ours from Niger.  We went on several outings with them.  Unfortunately my camera batteries were dying and I hadn't thought to bring new ones as I had just changed the batteries.  Cheap batteries, I guess.  

The first place we went was to Olney to the William Cowper & John Newton Museum.  In case you don't remember from your studies of British Lit, Cowper was a poet who lived from 1731 through 1800.  We got to tour the actual house he lived in, so it was built sometime in the 1700s.  Cowper was good friends with John Newton and the two of them together published the hymnal in which Amazing Grace first appeared.  Cowper was a devout Christian but suffered from severe depression and often thought that he was doomed to eternal damnation.  His poems were about everyday things and about the English countryside. Here is the first stanza of one of his poems called Contentment:
Fierce passions discompose the mind,
As tempests vex the sea,
But calm, content and peace we find, 
When, Lord, we turn to Thee.
 
Also in Olney, we visited the grave site of John Newton who did so much to abolish slavery.  Much of the museum was also devoted to John Newton.  There was a space on the floor to lie down in to show how much space a slave would have been given on a slave ship. 
And as we pointed out....it was a nice clean, airy space in the museum.  Imagine how smelly and filthy and frightening it would have been to actually be on a slave ship.  No wonder John Newton later shuddered to think of his years as captain of a slave ship, but how amazing God's grace that freed him from that and allowed him to work towards the abolishment of slavery.  As he said, "We serve a gracious Master who knows how to overrule even our own mistakes to His glory and our own advantage."

On Sunday we went to Brixworth
where people have worshiped God for nearly 1300 years!  The church we visited there, All Saints Church, Brixworth, was originally built in 750, but it is likely that a wooden structure existed there from about 690!   Now, that is OLD!!!
It was possibly built by masons from Italy or Gaul with local Saxon help.  The bricks came from the Romans, but the Saxons didn't know how to lay them, so the arches over the windows are an interesting combination of bricks set going several different directions! 


After visiting the church we walked around on footpaths through the country side for several hours.  Something really nice they do here in England that I don't believe we do in the US, is that farmers allow people to walk through their fields.  The path usually runs along a field, but in one field we went through a path had been left right through the middle of the crops.  Whenever you come to a fence, there is a stile so you can climb over.  One almost expects to meet Elizabeth Bennet or Mr. Darcy coming down the path!  I was not able to take any pictures of our walk with the Browns, but here is a picture I took on a path I discovered not far from our flat in Oxford. 

From Brixworth we went on to Moulton where William Carey served as pastor and cobbler.  The Carey Baptist Church was having a service and we didn't go in as we would have been embarrassingly late.  Just in case you are a bit shaky on your missions' history, William Carey was born in 1761 and became a missionary to India.  When he first presented his missionary vision he was told, "Young man, sit down.  When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine."  William Carey is pretty much considered to be the father of modern missions.

So, there you have it!  A lot of history packed into two days.  For sure,  100 years is NOTHING here!

3 comments:

Jonathan said...

Gorgeous. I'd love to visit England some day.

podso said...

Thanks for the history and great photos. It's true we in the States have nothing on "old." It's so nice you are getting to see all of this. Hope you get to see some J. Austin too! I'll have to link some England loving friends to your blog. Enjoy!

Rich said...

thanks for your pictures of the museum in Olney. I love John Newton. I wrote a bit about him at my blog if you're interested.

http://sounddoxology.blogspot.com/2010/02/worship-leaders-imitate-john-newton.html