Recently, on John Piper’s Desiring God website, we came across a recommended reading list, which includes many great classics by authors such as A.W Pink, R.C. Sproul and J.I. Packer. Feeling inspired, Nathan ordered a selection of them for us to read – including this little beauty.
A couple of pages into The Cross of Christ, in a chapter entitled: The Centrality of the Cross, I came across the following excerpt:
Imagine a stranger visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Having been brought up in a non-Christian culture, he knows next to nothing about Christianity. Yet he is more than a tourist; he is personally interested and keen to learn. Walking along Fleet Street, he is impressed by the grandeur of the building’s proportions, and marvels that Sir Christopher Wren could have conceived such an edifice after the Great Fire of London in 1666. As his eyes attempt to take it in, he cannot help noticing the huge golden cross which dominates its dome.
He enters the cathedral and stands at its central point under the dome. Trying to grasp the size and shape of the building, he becomes aware that its ground plan, consisting of nave and transepts, is cruciform. He walks round and observes that each side chapel contains what looks to him like a table, on which prominently, there stands a cross. He goes downstairs into the crypt to see the tombs of famous men such as Sir Christopher Wren himself, Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington: a cross is engraved on each.John Stott – The Cross of Christ
I found myself greatly intrigued by this description of the grand old Cathedral that graces the skyline of our beloved Capital City. So on 28th December, 2018, Emily and I set off on a grand adventure to visit St. Paul’s.
We emerged out of Blackfriars Railway station, not too sure which way to go. We needn’t have worried, however – There in the distance, we soon caught sight of the iconic dome and spires. A stroll up Ludgate Hill, offered us a wonderful vantage point from which to take in the splendour of the Cathedral. And there, right at the top was that Golden Cross.
Unfortunately, as it’s a place of worship, visitors are asked to refrain from taking photographs in the main part of the cathedral. It’s a shame, as the interior is just as stunning as the exterior. However, I couldn’t resist a quick snap of the Nativity, after all, it’s only there once a year.
I settled on buying a guidebook, and some postcards, which I hope will give you a glimpse into the Cathedrals’ astonsishing vaulted ceilings, adorned with their ornate carvings, and mosaics.
The black and white tiled floor, the chandeliers giving off their soft glow, the intricacy of the mosaics and vaulted chambers overhead- it was difficult to know where to look first! Such a spectacular work of architecture, all built to the glory of God, triggered an unexpected wave of emotion.
Standing beneath that central dome, I gazed upwards, taking in the sheer brilliance and significance of the architect’s plan. The epicentre of the entire building, famous the world over, situated right in the middle of a cross.
After a lovely browse in the Cathedral Gift Shop, and a refreshing stop in the cafe, our adventure led us 259 steps up into the fascinating Whispering Gallery, where legend has it that due to the amazing acoustics of the dome, you can hear the slightest whisper from the opposite side of the circular balcony.
A further 376 steps brought us out onto the Stone Gallery, with glimpses of London’s skyline seen through stone ballestrades.
And then – not for the faint hearted – another 528 spiral steps, and we had made it to the Golden Gallery, 85 metres above the Cathedral Floor. God had blessed us with the clearest of days. The climb was well worth it. The views were extraordiary.
This extraordinary Cathedral, built out of the ashes of a Great Fire, is definitely one of the most special places I have ever set foot in.
Here are a few thoughts I came away with:
- How can I make the cross central in my life, this coming year?
- How, as a Temple of the Holy Spirit, can I glorify God more?
- Sir Christopher Wren’s Cathedral, built in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London, in my opinion, is greater than the original. This stirs my faith that God can redeem the worst situation and turn it around for His glory!