It’s Sunday in Iceland. I hadn’t heard back from the local pastor about worship time so it looked like my friend and I would have to create our own church today.
Friday we had stopped at the church in Reykholt on the way to the hotel. There was no worship information posted at the church or (later) when I checked the website. The pastor’s email address was listed so I wrote her. Alas. No response. There had been a sign on the door letting me know I was in the wrong place if I was looking for the museum.
Our Sunday morning worship began in view of the Langjokull glacier. We used my favorite traveling prayer book (downloaded on my phone’s kindle app ever in ready-mode), Prayers for All Seasons.
After prayers, we decided to take a drive on a beautiful road that we’d traveled the day before, this time going the other direction. I’ve found scenery looks completely different looking backwards frontwards. It was too cold and too windy to do the walks we’d planned for the day so a Sunday drive was a grand idea.
We’d prayed that God would get us where we needed to be that day, and eyes were open for what God provided for worship.
There were the ewes with their lambs. Most had twins, and while the lambs frolicked, the mother watched us closely. If the lambs got too curious about us or if the mom thought we were getting a little too interested in her children, the ewe would scamper away. The lambs would race after her, and when catching up to her, immediately began to nurse.
There was a lunch of homemade soup with bread fresh from the oven.
There were the four church structures we visited.
ONE was beautiful on the outside with an unlocked door. It was warm inside, but the walls and floors were dappled with mold and it was on the midst of being restored.
SECOND, THIRD, and FOURTH were three churches all on the same site where churches had served as places of worship for over a thousand years.
There was the remaining floor of a church from 1000 years ago which had recently been uncovered during excavations. There was a church built in the 19th century that had been deconsecrated when the new church had been completed in the early 21st century.
The new church was the one we had wanted to enter to join in worship today; it was the one where we could find no information about worship times and had signs pointing the way to a museum posted on its locked doors.
It was the deconsecrated church, beautifully restored as a piece of history, that my friend and I were able to enter and find a place to pray.
It had been a day of conversation with God.
A church. Morning prayers by a glacier that is predicted to be completely melted in less than a hundred years because of our lack of care of the world God gifted to us.
A church. Mother sheep carefully protecting their lambs while they played, slept, and ate.
A church. Beautiful on the outside. Door open to welcome me into a space that was full of air too dangerous to breathe safely.
A church. Bread broken during communion lunch. Thermal energy that could be seen from the restaurant window powering the oven which baked the bread.
A church. Where people’s prayers from a thousand years ago, still share God’s love.
A church. For those of us today. Artistically exquisite with doors locked tight, only available to those in it’s closed circle.
A church. No longer considered part of the Church. Doors unlocked. Welcome anytime for whomever stops in to pray.
Church with a daylong sermon. Never boring. Sometimes not exactly sure where it was leading. Full of laughter, fellowship, scripture, beauty, and joy. Delicious food and conversation with unexpected strangers. Flowers on God’s altar? Icelandic poppies.