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Midweek Musings: Home Abroad

July 7, 2022

By Jo Wiersema

Midweek Musings is a weekly Covenant blog with a variety of authors and a variety of topics.

I spent the last couple weeks of June in Dublin and London, and, as a seminarian, it’s astounding. I’ve visited more churches that have been around longer than I can wrap my head around, and I even had the opportunity to spend a few days in a monastery with Augustinian nuns.

Sunday morning rolled around, and after much thought, my husband and I decided to visit a church associated with the Church of Scotland.

Quick history lesson: a lot of what we know as “Presbyterianism” and the government structure we use come from Scotland. Much of it was put together by several of seemingly organized and nice gentlemen, most notably, John Knox (1514-1572).

John Knox, if you look much into his history, has a whole slew of problems. He’s supported some wars. He’s said some unkind things about women. In short, he was a 16th century man who was a product of his time, but he also came up with a lot of the infrastructure we use today in the PC(USA) and at Covenant.

Back to the good stuff: on Sunday morning we walked into the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland church in London, St. Columba. It was built in the mid-19th century, destroyed during the Blitz, and eventually rebuilt.

I’m not an architecture person. I don’t look up building histories. I have a terrible habit of completely forgetting everything immediately when someone tries to tell me facts about buildings. But this building held something special. In this building on a Sunday morning, five hours before Covenant had their service, I was filled with emotion about how much this (not so) little building represented. It represented a country that didn’t separate church and state and fought wars to argue for the Church of England being the only religion. It is a country with buildings older than anything I see in Madison.

I was humbled. As we sat in worship a few things happened:

We said the Lord’s Prayer.

We sang hymns, which, though slightly different, were reminiscent of our own.

We listened to a sermon based on 2 Kings and times of transition.

We were told about coffee hour.

We were invited to their church picnic next week.

I was four thousand miles away from home, and the Church universal reminded me that home isn’t always a place. Home is a memory, it’s open arms, and it’s comfort after long days of travel.

After these past few weeks, I want you to know this: there is another blog post in my heart that is just 600 words of absolute rage. I’m terrified. I’m angry. I’m frustrated at the misguided hearts of Christian nationalism imposing restrictions on millions of bodies that is not the right nor the mission of the Church. But I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I pray.

I pray with the Church universal for these times of transition. I pray for the Church universal that there is peace. But I hope you realize that, for thousands of years, Christians have believed in a God that is alongside those in times of stress, trial, and pain.

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