When John Stott’s voice echoed around the crypt of St Pauls

Posted in Blog, Christianity
John Stott

  No one dreamt of demonstrating outside St Paul’s cathedral when, on 21 December 1945, John Stott’s family made their way up Ludgate Hill to see him made deacon. Designed by the court architect Sir Christopher Wren, the cathedral was built between 1675 and 1710 after its predecessor had been destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Wren’s masterpiece had been the venue for events of overwhelming importance: the funerals of Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria and then her memorial service, and peace services marking the end of the First and Seconds World Wars. The church had survived a bombing raid during the blitz in 1940.

Arnold and Lily Stott, with Nanny Golden, together with many of John’s friends, followed the signs down into the crypt. The new bishop of London, William Wand, arrived to conduct the service. John had been asked to read the Gospel, from Luke 12:31–40 (kjv).

‘Let your loins be girded about,’ John’s voice echoed around the crypt, ‘and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately . . . ’

Bishop Wand laid hands on John and gave him a copy of the New Testament.

‘Take thou authority,’ the bishop said, ‘to read the Gospel in the Church of God, and to preach the same . . . ’

Outside, after the service, the bells, which had rung out to celebrate the liberation of Paris in 1944, pealed again for London’s fi rst peacetime Christmas for seven years.

‘When you read the Gospel lesson,’ Nanny Golden told John afterwards, ‘I just felt I wanted all the world to hear you.’

You can read the whole of Inside Story: The Life of John Stott by Roger Steer by clicking through to Amazon from this website.