Narrow Road that Leads TO Paradise Saint James Park

Saturday September 1, 2018

I discovered a forest tucked in London, both an ancient and modern city of the world. One fine afternoon the sun was shining so bright at 31 degrees Celsius. This rarely happens in the financial city of the world. Old trees with fresh dark green leaves are scattered everywhere. It feels and looks so much like “home”. There is a lake with water as clear as crystal. Fowls of many kinds such as grey heron, smew, Ross’s goose, whistling duck, coot, eastern white pelican, Egyptian goose and many more abound. Flowers are of different varieties and colours from deep purple, magenta, fuchsia, yellow, bloody red to white.This is a pageantry of flowers that is the envy of top floral designers in the world. There are trees submerged in the water of the lake that grow strong, leaves swaying gracefully as the wind blows upon them.

I sat on the bench facing the lake. (Memories flashed in my head when as a little girl I would run across the road to go to a guava tree planted close by a running stream, where it bore fruits year round. The sweetest guava in my memory was worth climbing and taking the risk of drowning for. The same tree that my sister fell from, straight into the stream, she almost drowned.

The birds were singing seeming not to have a worry about anything in this world. A yellow butterfly encircled me as I sat quietly. Visitors from different nations passed by but it was as if I didn’t see anyone of them. The cool breeze was perfect, it was a tropical like weather. I could have sat there all day doing nothing.

Until… my attention was caught by a dancing, diving coot. (A coot is a water bird of the rail family with blackish feathering, lobed feet and a beak that extends back on to the forehead as a horny shield). It dove into the water its whole body fully immersed upside down. I saw what it was doing under water. Its somersault movements produced a round wave, like it was dancing with diamond confetti around it, brought about by the reflection of the sun. These confetti like brightness coming from up above was like angels throwing heavenly flowers in jubilation. The bird was enjoying itself. It was alone swimming to and from.

We are far more important than these birds. Yet busyness at times deprives us of quiet moments like that to think deep and be refreshed. We work to live, and we do not live to drown ourselves in work and anxieties. The coot did one of the things it was created for, diving and enjoying. Enjoyment is what makes life bearable, not just massive money in the bank, though it is helpful, living the life God created us for and enjoying it.

The place is called Saint James Park. The name was taken from the former hospital for the leper dedicated to Saint James, The Less. In 1532 Henry VIII developed the site as another deer park.

Elizabeth I and James I contributed to the aesthetic ambience, but it was Charles II who made exciting changes. You cannot find a single deer in this park today, but the pelicans have been permanent residents for 400 years since the Russian Ambassador donated several of them to Charles II. There are so many reasons that you would like to visit this place and it is just in front of Buckingham Palace. I didn’t know how relaxing and mesmerizing the place is. I always took my friends to Buckingham Palace not knowing the park that seemed so small is the entrance of this Shakespearean themed Royal park.

I discovered the place accidentally. Occasionally there is a church conference in Westminster Chapel. A chapel with a sitting capacity of 2,500. Yes, that big. The chapels in the Philippines have seating capacities from 150 to 200. This one is different. It only shows how God loving and God fearing British people were in the past. Going to Westminster Chapel I always get the tube to Saint James Park, but I always get lost on my way out, not sure whether to turn left or right. My sense of direction is not at its best. Not that I have any impediment, it is just that I prefer to stay in one place. And going from one place to another is an adventure in itself.

During one of the conferences, I decided to take a bus and used Google maps. It led me to Buckingham Palace and to my surprise to a beautiful Saint James Park. On the south side is Wellington Barracks (the Guards Museum), to the east, Horse Guards that has the Household Cavalry Museum. When you are in Buckingham just continue to walk straight and there you will see the park.

The True Bishop of Jerusalem

Let us dedicate the park this time to Saint James, the real Bishop of first the Christian Church in Jerusalem. Just like the park, the relevance of Saint James the Just was often taken for granted for millennia until the veil was uncovered by recent discoveries. I remembered a preaching of one of the most learned theologian who walked on earth, the late Dr. Michael Eaton, if I remember right he said, “There are not so many written books about the historicity of Jesus other than the Holy Bible. Luke the physician, the author of one of the gospels of the New

Testament and the Acts of the Apostles is one of the greatest historians that ever lived. History proved his writings are accurate especially about the Roman officers and is reliable source of historicity of Jesus Christ”. Now the artifacts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and James Ossuary have made the Holy Bible and historicity of Jesus grander than ever before. The long-debated doctrine of ancient belief of institutionalized religion has now been shaken to the core.

Let us know James even more. Peter preached the first sermon on the day of Pentecost and Paul wrote two thirds of the New Testament, but it was James, the brother of Jesus who stayed in the Church of Jerusalem (mother church) to serve as the Bishop. Peter, Paul and rest of the disciples preached in different locations. At the Council of Jerusalem a certain group of people from Judea said that unless a believer be circumcised (a physical or outward mark of a believer) he cannot be saved. Peter and Paul believed it is by the grace of God alone that we can be saved, not by works such as circumcision. It was James who concluded to settle the matter that the Gentile believer need not be circumcised physically, but that they abstain from idolatry, fornication, duly let out the blood of an animal (remember when our grandmas killed chickens for food? they let all the blood out for healthy reasons) and forbid eating of blood (but it could also mean manslaughter, murder and cruelty).

Blood should be considered sacred from the time of the first disciples up to now because physical life is in it. Even during the time of Cain and Abel. It is the blood of Abel that cried out to God seeking justice. How can blood talk to God? Whether it is a metaphor or not God created man that He knows even the tiniest cell about everyone. If blood seeks justice how much more the author of Justice not demand one to show who He is? It is His nature to exercise justice and for eternal justification there is only one blood that will satisfy, the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. We fall short of deeply understanding the application of these four basic rules of the first Christian church.

James was called the just/righteous because he tried to follow all (more than six hundred) laws of Moses. That’s a lot. The Ten Commandments is fewer but it is still difficult to perfect. Thank you Jesus He made it two. But these two is as good as the ten commandments. In short, no matter how, we tried we cannot be perfect, but the Holy Spirit is always there to remind us. One of the famous teachings of James quoted by some who tried to excuse themselves from going to church buildings is “that pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction (charity) and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

James didn’t mention a specific religion but the mere fact that he was the bishop of the first church building, meant people still needed to go into the church building. Which church? He called Jesus his Lord and he taught others not to be like the world. In short, a church that teaches that Jesus is Lord and knows the difference between real spirituality and being worldly.

I met several people from the parks, they hated organized religion or the church because of sexual child abuse cases committed by persons no one expected would or could do it. Whether it is an isolated case or proven by statistics to be prevalent at certain periods? I don’t know. Not many people who were victims would like to come out in the open and if they did those in power can dispense all the machineries they have to cover up the crimes. It has been 2000 years. Even eagles when they mature, their feathers became weak over the years. They retire alone on the rocky mountain. Then they pluck out all the old feathers and let it grow anew. Then they soar mightily once again.

The gap between the model Church of Jerusalem where Christianity began and the present body of Jesus Christ has grown too far apart. The present body of Christ was severely bruised and deeply wounded just like the physical body of Jesus when He died on the cross. As more blood of the Son flowed out, the grace of the Father abounded.

Finally, I just went to Saint James Park to rest and relax when I spontaneously wrote what I observed. And while working on this article, I checked the page of Dr. Michael Eaton and this is what I saw. “About Greenleaf Ministries; Jeremiah 17:8”, he is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit”. This was the very thought I had while sitting quietly under the shade in Saint James Park. This described the life of Saint James and the true Christians. Righteousness is the fruit we couldn’t get on our own but only through Jesus, James’ half-brother as a man and his Lord, as a divine. Jesus is our root and the Holy Spirit is our stream to sustain us until we bear the sweetest fruit which is eternal life.

Just like what the eagle does, though it may be painful and sorrowful, let us pluck out worldly things from inside of us. Each one of us is part of the body of Christ, then and only then will the bride of Jesus soar high as the Holy Spirit blow the wind of power from the Father.

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