Dave commented this week and seemed to think that it was a bit ironic for me to go to Rome and seek God. Well, fortunately for him I did not go to Rome in order to seek God. I went to Rome to sing with my college choir.
But come to think of it, I find it quite sad that 'seeking God' was not a big feature of some of my visits to Rome's many churches. In fact, I would go so far to say that St Peter's angered me somewhat. This is the centre piece of the Roman Catholic church, and yet rather than focussing on God the statues of the Popes seem to be more important. Rather than being welcomed I felt that I was ushered round aggressively. Rather than encouraging an atmosphere of reverence and worship, camera flashes and talking seem to be acceptable during the services. And rather than taking the opportunity to preach the Christian message in all it's simplicity it was acceptable - encouraged even - to queue and rub the feet of a bronze statue of Peter. Idolatory aside, what happened to John 14v6?
So the irony in 'going to Rome to seek God' actually stems from the fact that I noticed God's work more outside the walls of St Peters. Just in the way that things worked out, in the way that my tiny little prayers were answered. In the evidence of God's people - Christians - throughouut the ages, even if sometimes it is corrupt and misses the point (Christians are only human, after all), and in the beauty of His creation, especially along the leafy oasis of the Appian Way.
I have also noticed God at work without having to travel to Rome - see my posts about camp in Norfolk. In fact one of the clearest answers to prayer I've seen recently came last week, on a wet and windy morning as we gathered as leaders. Someone prayed that we would have good weather for the day ahead, and almost instantaneously (I kid you not) blue sky appeared on the distant horizon. The approaching rainclouds went along both sides, but not over, the campsite and before long the skies were completely clear and the day hot and sunny.
I think I shall end this God Slot by reflecting on the events of last Thursday, and the anti-terror arrests (news did eventually reach us in Norfolk). It's difficult to supress my anger towards the people (this is a family blog for family people, but insert stronger language here if you wish) who wish to cause such senseless death and disruption. Part of me would have them all locked up or deported without question. Part of me is angry that this country is so woolly that people like Abu Hamza can burn the British flag with hateful intent and still remain in residence here. I think that stronger measures are needed to punish these people, but at the same time that alone won't discourage other extremists.
I don't know what inspires these people. Jealousy of our tolerance and freedom? The Iraq war cannot be entirely to blame; 9/11 happened first and anyone with any sense would know that a lot of Britons voted against it.
It was quite comforting earlier to hear the Delirious? track I have mentioned before: Our God Reigns. He does indeed, and I hope that some of you will join me in using prayer as the way forward in this age of increasing terror threats.