Tribute to Great Apostle, Paul (St. Paul Cathedral London)

Tuesday May 1, 2018

As we turn our backs to London’s Millennium Bridge, facing towards Saint Paul Cathedral is like a journey going back to the Christian Heritage of United Kingdom and the world. The term “Church” is at times misconstrued as the physical building. Different organizations or groups of people (based upon their beliefs) have different terms for the buildings they encounter. The Jews have synagogues, Muslims have mosques, Buddhists have temples, Jehovah’s Witness has its kingdom hall, Christians (Protestants and Roman Catholic) have the church and, the Atheists and Secularists may consider malls as their place of worship.

The word “church” was meant to be the “Gathering of people called by God” and did not refer to the building. The Lord said “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? For all thosethings hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” – Isaiah 66:1-2 (KJV).

These words alone are enough for anyone who reads this to kneel wherever they are in holy fear not only inside the church building because every inch we step on belongs to Him.

In London the most iconic church building used for formal gatherings of Christians is St. Paul Cathedral. Another destination for you to consider when you visit.

St. Paul Cathedral London – Aesthetic and Grand Church Building St Paul Cathedral’s dome is famous at 111.3 metres high, one of the largest cathedral domes in the world. It weighs approximately 65,000 tons. It can be climbed, having 528 steps. After the pain of going up, the reward is that of panoramic views of London that includes the River Thames, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the streak of light from Millennium bridge. St. Paul Cathedral was the masterpiece of great mathematician, astronomer, anatomist and physicist Christopher Wren. This is where Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married. A Cathedral stood on this site in London as far back as AD 604. Several church buildings were built then destroyed by fire on this site.The current building is the fourth to have stood on the same site in the span of 1400 years.A building dedicated to the great Apostle Paul was where the Roman temple to goddess Diana is believed to have stood on the site before that/ Londoners back then who knew the scripture inside out, decided that in place of the temple of Diana, to build a church dedicated to Saint Paul instead.This goddess Diana is the same goddess mentioned in Acts 19:27. The Roman idol having silver shrines worshipped in Asia and the world. It was Paul, by the power of the Holy Spirit delivered the people from worshipping this idol or image of Diana.

Paul’s Love for the Nation of Syria

Does it sound bizarre that a tribute to Paul will be connected to Syria? Not at all. Syria is an ancient, small country but immeasurably rich in history since antiquity. Damascus, its capital was first mentioned in Genesis 15:2 by Abraham when he mentioned his most trustworthy servant Eliezer to God. Today Syria which stood against almost all the powerful empires in the history of the world is currently experiencing the worst humanitarian catastrophe.

Let me tell you why Syria has a special place in the heart of Paul. It was in Damascus where Paul, the former leading persecutor of early Christians was converted. On his way to persecute Christians, a light from heaven suddenly shone around him, he fell to the ground and heard the voice of Jesus Christ. He was blinded for three days until a believer from Damascus named Ananias was commissioned by Jesus Christ to lay his hand and pray for him. Instantly, something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight.

Today the Chapel of Ananias is still preserved in Syria to commemorate Paul’s conversion in Damascus. It was in Syrian Antioch that Paul began his missionary journeys. Paul lived, learned and taught in Syrian Antioch for 14 years. The conversion of people in Antioch was remarkable so that they were the first followers of Jesus Christ called to be “Christians”.

When there was a great famine across the entire Roman world, it was the Christians from Antioch who sent relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea. Syrian Christians were good people.

Today Syria is predominantly Islam converted around the 7th century when it was conquered by Muslim Arabs. The enormous Christian heritage of this nation was hidden and preserved under the sand until the oldest Christian Church building Dura-Europos were unearthed in 1934. It dates from AD 235 nearly, 1800 years old. There are remaining Christian areas threatened by current civil war such as Maaloula that still use Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

St. Takla’s monastery, one of the oldest in Christendom is located there and dates to the First Century. Its founder was a disciple of St. Paul.

Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Paulin Syria

Jesus Christ did not personally preach in Syria, but while in Galilee His teaching, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing the sick spread all over Syria. Sick people and those who were demon possessed were brought to Him and He healed them. After Jesus ascended to Heaven, there were severe persecutions of the Christians. The first martyr was Stephen.

While he was being stoned to death, Paul was there as one of the persecutors. The believers were scattered to different places including Antioch of Syria. The Holy Spirit was with them and large numbers of people were converted. Barnabas was sent to Antioch, he then looked for the converted Paul and that was the beginning of their Holy Spirit charged teamwork – converting Syrians and other Gentiles to believe in Jesus Christ. That was the highest calling of Paul, a witness to the Gentiles that became only possible when he believed in Lordship of Jesus in Syria.

Today, the official number of casualties in Syria is not yet clear. But it was internationally accepted that around 470,000 have died. More than a million fled out of the country to save their lives from this devastation. Syrians are people loved by God. Yes, it was prophesied by Isaiah about 700 years before the birth of Jesus that Damascus will become a heap of ruins. Let us always remind ourselves, more than the place, city or village Jesus is far more concerned with the people. The earth is only His footstool, but for people He died a shameful death. On the third day He rose for the people to believe that what He promised about the Kingdom in heaven is true. There are principalities working not only in Syria, Christians should not wait until the people perish without taking any action as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit moved with the moving brave believers that even when Stephen was martyred they preached boldly despite of the threat in their lives. Christians must fight to the end not with metallic swords and arms but with the armour of God. The Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God is the sharpest of all. It is good to know that going to a church building is an important thing, but doing something like what Barnabas and Paul did is the first step and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Jesus and Paul loved Syrians, so we must too.

Next time you visit any St. Paul building you know something more about him from this.

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