Sunday, November 23, 2008

England - the land of Early Christians!

Barbara at the Museum of Art

Lord Nelson Statue

Old, Old Tudor Home

Hope all is well with you. We are both fine here and are staying very busy. We took the train into our old stake, Wandsworth Stake, to judge Road Shows last night. I had forgotten how much work went into those when we used to do those years ago. They were very entertaining and the youth of all of the wards there had a great time and that's what it is all about, isn't it? Kenneth declined to be a judge so he sat around and visited while I tried to figure out who should win the prizes. It was great fun!!! We are anxiously awaiting Brooke and Ben's arrival here in the morning. It will be so much fun for us to see all of them. I can't wait to hold those two sweet little girls. How lucky and blessed we are to have such a great supportive family. They are the best.

As those of you know who know us well, Kenneth and I are really into history. We have loved being here and being able to see so many of the places that we learned about as children in nursery rhymes, history classes, movies, and many books. Those historic places are all around us here in London. A few weeks ago we traveled to Canterbury. I sent an email about that trip. While riding down there in the temple van, I got talking to an English lady sitting next to me in the van. We were talking about Henry VIII and somehow early Christianity came up and she began to talk about a place here in Southwestern England called Glastonbury where an ancient cathedral was built shortly after the time of Christ. I mentioned to her about a poem/song we sing here in all of our Zone Conferences called Jerusalem, written by William Blake. Many of you have probably heard the poem/song. It goes like this,

"And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England's mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God on England's pleasant pastures seen? and did the Countenance Divine shine forth upon our clouded hills? and was Jerusalem builded here among these dark satanic mills? Bring me my bow of burning gold: Bring me my arrows of desire: Bring me my spear, O clouds unfold! Bring me my Chariot of Fire. I will not cease from mental flight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand till we have built Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land."

The song was also the theme song in the movie "Chariots of Fire". She began to tell me of the legend or tradition here that tells that Joseph of Arimithea owned tin mines in Cornwall, in the southwest part of England. He was an uncle to Mary, Jesus' mother. He supposedly brought Jesus here to England with him on one or more trips during Jesus' growing up years before he began his ministry. It is recorded that Joseph of Arimithea, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Lazarus, and 8 other followers of Christ were set adrift in a small boat by the Sadducees who wanted to eradicate the followers of Christ after his crucifixion. They drifted across the Mediterreanean and miraculously landed in Marseilles, France where they were greeted by Phillip, an Apostle of Christ. They later made their way to Avalon or Glastonbury in England and Mary lived out the rest of her life here surrounded by many of the early Christian leaders. She is buried in Glastonbury beneath the old Cathedral. We were incredulous at this story and a little skeptical, too. She offered to let us borrow a couple of books written on the subject so we have been ravenously devouring those books the last couple of weeks and it has been very enlightening to read the books and study all of the sources that he has compiled the information from. For any of you who are interested, the two books are "Whence Came They" and "The Drama of the Lost Disciples". Now we realize why the English people were so receptive to the Gospel when it was first preached to them in 1838 by the Early Apostles. Joseph Smith himself said, "This land of England was consecrated and dedicated by ancient Apostles." The people of this land are from the lost tribes of Israel, principally Ephraim and the Gospel when it was restored spoke truth to them. I ordered these books from and sent them to our children, because now we have all of them hooked on reading them. It has been fascinating to read of this ancient legend and the sources that testify to its truth. My mother would be so pleased that we are studying the history of England, the land that she loved so much. We have truly learned to love this land and the people here.This week is Thanksgiving at home. We are preparing an American Thanksgiving for all of my English family on Saturday. We will think of all of you fondly this week and remember how thankful we are that we have had the privilege of associating with all of you through the years. You have truly blessed our lives for good. Have a great holiday week.