Ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8
Spring in New York City is a very short season. Chilly April seems to give way suddenly to hot May. But today is beautiful, so I'm taking an after-lunch stroll down Fifth Avenue from the Guideposts editorial offices on 34th Street.
Five blocks downtown, on the corner of 29th Street, I come to Marble Collegiate Church. To the right of the entrance, there's a life-size bronze statue of Guideposts' co-founder, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Feeling a little guilty for being away from my desk, I duck my head and walk by, trying to look inconspicuous.
The next dozen blocks go by quickly. With a sigh, I hurry by the big bookstore on 18th Street. If I stop there, it'll be hours before I get back to work. At 12th Street, there's another church, First Presbyterian. Then, two blocks south at 10th Street, I see the open door of the Church of the Ascension. There's been a service there today, and while the sexton is putting things away, I stop in to look around.
On the wall above the altar is an enormous painting by John Lafarge of the event for which the church is named. Surrounded by a circle of angels, Jesus rises into a cloudy sky, while His disciples gaze up at Him in amazement. But there's something odd about the picture: The curving green hills in the background seem somehow out of place. On receiving the commission for the mural, I learn, Lafarge made a trip to Japan, and the Far East, not the Middle East, provided the landscape for his painting.
I take my eyes from the painting and glance at my watch. It's almost two; I'd better head back to the office. As I walk back up Fifth Avenue, surrounded by strollers whose roots are in a hundred different countries, Lafarge's odd choice suddenly makes sense: Japan and Galilee are equally close to heavenand for the believing heart, so is New York City.
Lord, renew us in Your Spirit and make us one in You.