The Tombs of Kings

Philosophers and kings, poets and scientists, clock-makers and soldiers, famous and unknown—they all have their place in the floors of Westminster Abbey.  And there I was, walking over them. Alternating between pretending I was a princess walking down the aisle and staring at the statues, I thought.

How could this place be so many places at once? It is an architectural wonder. I craned my neck to see the intricate detail in the sweeping ceilings. The beauty of the firm stone still speaks. But it is not just a structural masterpiece, it is a burial ground. More famous figures than I can imagine rest there. And more than just a glorified graveyard, Westminster Abbey is a museum. But more than just a place to go for a tour, Westminster Abbey is a place for royals. Kings and queens have been married and buried here for years. In the museum, I saw a list. It was of royalty who had been christened, married, crowned, and buried at Westminster Abbey.

I thought of my beloved church.  I was baptized there. Much like I pretended at Westminster Abbey, I let my imagination dance along that aisle too. As my sister’s piano lessons would run long or as I carried a box of VBS decorations from one end to the other, I would pretend I was wearing a white dress—being married there. And maybe, though I don’t let my thoughts linger here long, one day I will be carried down that same aisle in a coffin. So is the only thing separating me from royalty is a different location and a coronation? I could say that I wasn’t crowned, but it is not quite true. In the sanctuary of Summit Baptist Church in April of 1999, I placed my heart in God’s hands. I believed, I confessed, and I was crowned daughter of the King of Kings, co-heir with Christ.

And because I have been crowned, death is not in my future. I will be buried, but it will not be my home. I will go to a place more beautiful than the grandiose Westminster Abbey. I will no longer just admire the words engraved in stone commemorating my heroes, I will stand beside them as we all glorify God. The unknown soldier, the mother who died in childbirth, the queen—those who confess and believe will all be one in death and in life anew.

The voice inside the audio tour told me to go inside a smaller room. I love direction, so I did as the deep British recorded voice told me. But I lingered inside the smaller room. I read the inscriptions. I pretended that I could read Latin. I stared at the faces sculpted into stone. I tried to decipher the stories behind the graves.  As I moved to leave the smaller chapel, I noticed something different. Between the glittering gold and the shining stone, there was a wooden cross.

Comparatively, it was simple. It was almost out of the way. It would have been easy to miss. And this, more than the stained glass magnificence of the same scene, was such a true depiction of the cross. Jesus Christ, only son of the Most High King, entered the world not in an abbey or palace. He was born poor, simple, and lowly. And he has no mausoleum. He, in love, died. He, in love, conquered death. No tomb of this world could contain His love. No gravestone could do His story justice.

But He left memorials. Those who believe in Him. We are living statues, reflecting the sacrifice He made and the life He gave. We have the potential to tell the Story just as dramatically as the tombs of the kings and queens buried at Westminster Abbey tell their stories. Our words and thoughts can sweep as beautifully as the ceilings of Westminster to point to Him. Poet and scientist, firefighter and doctor, mechanic and politician, together with other believers, we can glorify the Sovereign King—the one who conquered death and saved us all.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” -1 Corinthians 3:16-17

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