Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Through Smoke

Coincidentally, the weekend that the large amount of us bible school students were in Edinburgh also happened to be Halloween weekend. I had never seen Halloween celebrated in such an intense and openly spiritual fashion. I have always understood that the basis of this celebration is quite paganistic, but it is very easy to ignore that fact in North America, as the effects of that are not regularly witnessed, at least on my part.

It started off 'normal' enough, in the sense that all weekend the streets were covered with people in costume. Just like every year, the costumes ranged from cute kid's characters, to creepy zombies, to costumes that nobody could quite distinguish. The night of Halloween itself, however, became much more out of the ordinary.

As seen in the picture below, there was a group of 'pagan spiritualists' of sorts who held a parade down the Royal Mile. It is difficult to put the details of their parade and 'presentation' into writing, but I will admit I found it all quite ominous.

It began quite innocently, as they marched to the beat of drums from the Castle to in front of the Anglican Church down the street. As soon as the drums began, the skies opened up and it began to rain, and the rain continued until they stopped in front of the church, at which point it ceased.

With the drums continuing, the painted pagan people gathered in a circle for a period of time, individually breathing deeply from a smoking bowl and then passing the bowl to the next member of their group. This went on for a number of minutes, with eerie screams being let out by persons in the circle at different times, until all of them had had a turn with the bowl.

Following this, with the rhythmic beating of the drums continuing, they began to dance and scream and shoot fire. They continued to draw an ever growing crowd as they performed in front of the old church.

With the smoke hanging in the air, the people with the painted bodies writhed around each other and danced to the drums unremittingly for hours on end.

What is even more difficult to explain, is the extreme sense of evil that was in the air. It was noticed not just by me, not just by the Capernwray students, but also by others on the street who do not believe in Jesus. Even one of the local cops was expressing to me how dark the night felt.

I cannot say that I had any bright moments in this time; that I stood up boldly against the powers of evil in the middle of the streets of Edinburgh or even that I tried to discuss my faith any further with the cop.. However, this situation did cause many of us to go to our Lord in prayer for the city, and played a part in opening our eyes to the seriousness and reality of the opposing beliefs and spirits that are active around the world today.

I can't help but wonder... What if it wasn't a common coincidence that over one hundred Capernwray students were in Edinburgh on the darkest night of the year? What if we were placed there in order to bring the light of Christ to a city and a people who have strayed so far away from Him?

We have been placed on the earth for such a time as this. 

As the world grows darker and stronger, it is our time to stand up in boldness and live as warriors against the evil that is around us. It is time to throw off our attitude of indifference, to no longer be average, and to begin living passionately and purposefully every single day in order that those around us begin to notice and CRAVE the difference that they see in us. It is time to get serious about our commitment and consistency in Christ, in order that when the time comes, our familiarity with His character will allow us to see through the smoke.

We are the generation God has prepared to change the world. Our time is now.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Before the Earth was Round

 The other weekend we had a much needed four day weekend to give us a break from studies, and an opportunity to get some local travel under our belts. The hot spot of the weekend was Edinburgh, Scotland, where about 100 of us Capers overtook the local hostels and bed and breakfasts. It was amazing to walk through the incredibly historic architecture, and to experience some Scottish culture first hand. 

The picture below is of the Castle in the center of the city, propped on a jutting out hill with cliff-like edges. As we toured, our minds couldn't help but  wander back to the days that the castle was in use. From the canons used for defending the Castle from oncoming ships in the bay ahead, to experiencing the dungeon-like tunnels below, my imagination had a very active day.

Traveler's tip, if you ever have the desire to try Haggis (sheep intestines wrapped in stomach - Scottish specialty), it would be wisest to get a free sample from right outside the castle, rather than pay 7 pounds at the surrounding pubs.. Believe me, you really don't need to try it in full meal form..

The Anglican church below held a small symphony style concert while we were in the area. Not only did we enjoy the building's intricate architectural design, we were also able to listen in awe to the amazing acoustics within.

Despite the incredible sights and atmosphere of this old city, one of the highlights of the weekend away was actually climbing up Arthur's Seat. It is a great (medium level) hike up the cliffs at the edge of the city that allows for some very rewarding views - of which cameras do not do justice.

Overall, Edinburgh is a great city to visit for a weekend. You don't need much longer than that to see all the major sights. I would highly recommend Budget Backpackers hostel, as it is cheap, but unexpectedly clean and welcoming. The co-ed bathrooms are definitely a highlight