Those of you who ever have the opportunity to visit the great English city of London will enjoy worshipping at Orange Street Congregational Church, where the British-Israel message has been faithfully and boldly proclaimed for so many years. How wonderful it is to leave the wayward world and its problems behind and enter to enjoy the stirring Spiritual atmosphere of this historic house of the Lord, originally founded in 1693. It was an especial privilege for me to preach from their well-aged and honored pulpit on the first two Sundays in July, and a return visit is planned this autumn on the weekend of September 29 and 30, for the British-Israel Bible Truth Fellowship Thanksgiving convention. Very close by the church is Leicester Square, where a marble statue and fountain depicting William Shakespeare has a thought-provoking inscription reading, “There is no darkness but ignorance.” I believe that to a large extent, the core mission of the British-Israel movement is to dispel darkness and ignorance through proclaiming the Word of God to His people. That may be a difficult task, but we do have opportunities to provide a witness to our modern errant populace. In fact, the theme of this summers’ Olympics has provided an interesting opening to introduce others to our message.
The 2012 London Olympics is underway as I write, with its stated theme, “The Green and Pleasant Land,” an allusion to the closing line of the classic hymn, “Jerusalem,” by poet William Blake: “…I will not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, Till we have built Jerusalem, in England’s green and pleasant land.” This is not only stirring poetry, but a goal for us all to work toward.
The Olympic stadium arena during the opening ceremonies had as a focal point a beautiful model of Glastonbury Tor, known in history as the famed “Inis Witrin” or “Isle of Glass” (Celtic: Yniswytrin) and later known as “Avalon” or “Isle of Apples,” from the early British word, avalla, or apple. Here St. Joseph of Arimathea, who is thought to have been Jesus’ uncle, brought Christianity to England, and according to tradition planted the famous and revered Glastonbury thorn tree. Unfortunately, viewers were never told any part of the wonderful story behind the Glastonbury legend; rather sadly, the American news media simply called the Tor “a view of the English countryside.” It is much more than just that!
The Saxons arrived in England in the fifth and sixth centuries, A.D., and translated Yniswytrin into Glasstinyabyrig, or Glastonbury. There are those who may ridicule the early legends, but the English “father of history,” William Camden, following earlier chroniclers, believed that Joseph of Arimathea did indeed arrive on the shores of Britain, and constructed an abbey of wattle-wood on Tor Hill. The famous Irish saint, Patrick, was actually of British origin, and lived for a time at Glastonbury. On top of Tor Hill are the impressive remains of the monastery of St. Michael, which was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 1275.
Unfortunately, our heritage is fast becoming ignored or forgotten, and our Christian moral principles are under steady and unrelenting assault. The aforementioned poet, William Blake, lived in London’s historic Soho district, at no. 28 Poland Street. The famous composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived at no. 20 Frith Street in Soho when he was a boy. Even the famous Venetian adventurer, Giacomo Cassanova, is associated with this area. The word, Soho, was actually a hunter’s call in the early days when it was a favorite royal hunting ground, but today the district is known for none of that. It has turned decrepit and sleazy, filled with sex shops and similar degenerate occupations, as I unfortunately found out first-hand. Out for a long walk through London on a particular Saturday afternoon in July, I suddenly found myself caught in the midst of a huge crowd celebrating something called the “World Gay Pride Festival.” Soho was literally wall-to-wall with participants, mostly male, with many of them in various stages of undress. I saw many males prancing around nearly naked in women’s undergarments and colorful feminine high heel shoes. A number of them had their bare chests painted with bright red hearts or assorted other symbols. The decor seemed deliberately chosen for its abnormality and shock value. And regardless of your opinion of this lifestyle, if you are British you helped pay to promote it, as they received a large government grant of 100,000 English pounds to underwrite this year’s festival.
Immorality and ignorance are very possibly the two greatest obstacles preventing the building of the Kingdom of God in our Western nations, and they are definitely interrelated. Without the understanding that we are indeed the “people of the book” and that the Word of the Lord and His moral Laws are written for us, we have no moral compass, no hope, and no future. It is no wonder that around London, young people sport tee-shirts with such slogans as “Drunk Girl,” “Make Me Die,” and “Zombie.” Why would a young British lady present herself as a “zombie”? Is this indicating a Spiritually empty soul crying for hope and a reason for being? Such a label implies a person without any intellectual knowledge, without family affiliation, and without hope! Our message counters that lifeless mind-set in society today by giving people direction, mission, hope, and identity. Our young people represent the future, and pass on to the next generation their hopes and desires. Yet without hope, there is little positive to pass on to the next generation, and little reason to even bring forth a new generation. Is it any wonder that the London newspapers reported this summer that there are now more British pensioners than British children?
At the British Israel summer convention at High Leigh sponsored by the Covenant People’s Fellowship, a popular music request was William Blake’s aforementioned hymn, “Jerusalem.” The music and Biblical addresses as a whole were both informative and inspiring and I returned home refreshed in mind and Spirit. I encourage us all to work together to build that heavenly kingdom on earth through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the identification of His Servant People in our Western lands. May we truly live up to our calling as the People of the Book!
Audio recordings of much of the good music and Bible teaching at the High Leigh U.K. convention are posted on the Canadian British-Israel website at www.israelite.ca/otherhelps/audio.html for free listening or download to other devices. May you also receive Spiritual refreshing by enjoying these!