UK Kingdom Travel Journal—Day 2

When we strolled out of London’s Heathrow Airport to the pick-up area we were supposed to be met by a van, courtesy of our travel agent, who would take us to the car rental place.

When the car didn’t show, we called. The driver said she was at the pick-up in Glasgow Airport, but didn’t see us.

This didn’t surprise me, since although not trained in the science of optometry, I am generally aware most people cannot see from Glasgow to London.

Fortunately, we were on vacation, didn’t have to be anywhere, and no one stressed about it.

Our travel agent, no doubt embarrassed about not knowing the difference between London and Glasgow, called ahead to Avis and got us a complementary upgrade to a Mercedes  van, or is it a bus? Whatever it is it is very long, and I suspect it will present us with some challenges before our journey is completed.

Exiting the airport was no easy task. Guided by the Mercedes GPS we returned to the same roundabout three times, which felt strangely like the motorist’s version of 50 First Dates. But we finally found our way out and headed west toward Oxford, which will be our home base for the next three days.

Thanks to the Venerable Bede, we know a good bit about the Christian history of England. We know that in the first five centuries after the resurrection, the Gospel found its way to England, but as the people contended for their island with the Picts, Angles, and Saxons, they held onto their pagan practices.

Then around 596 A.D. Pope Gregory sent a Benedictine monk named Augustine—not the City of God Augustine but the City of Rome, Augustine—as a missionary to England. The king at that time was Aethelbehrt. Aethelberht, a pagan, was married to a woman named, Bertha. Bertha, the great-granddaughter of Clovis and Clotilde, the first Christian King and Queen of France, was a Frank, but most importantly she was a Christian.

When Augustine arrived in England with a letter from Pope Gregory he met with Aethelbehrt, who although pagan, allowed Augustine to preach freely throughout England. I suspect this was out of deference to his Christian wife.

Augustine did preach, people responded, and Christianity begin to spread. Aethelbehrt saw the moral purity and devotion of those who became Jesus-followers and was so impressed he soon repented and in approximately 600 A.D. became the first Christian king in England. Augustine was then made Bishop of England in a place called Canterbury. The leaven that will leaven the whole earth had begun to leaven England.

We didn’t try to do too much our first day in Oxford. We peeked into a couple of pubs where C.S. Lewis and his friends regularly met, The Eagle and Child and The White Horse. We strolled down Broad Street to Blackwells, one of the oldest, largest, and most famous bookstores in the world.

We returned to our hotel for an early dinner, made our plans for tomorrow, and then turned in early for some much needed sleep. GS