Sunday, November 29, 2020

What can you learn from Coventry City?

All photographs used courtesy of Unsplash

It was my privilege to live for a number of years in the city of Coventry which is a large city near Birmingham.  Coventry was famous for its football team which once won the FA Cup in 1987 and the fountains of the city gushed out blue water as the football team was known as the ‘Skyblues'.  It was also well known as one of the great manufacturing centres for vehicles including a number of famous car making firms. This is what caused it to grow enormously quickly after the Second World War. It was also in Coventry that the story of Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom originated.

Coventry had its origins hundreds of years ago and was characterised by narrow, cobbled streets and had a cathedral which was a place where people came from all around to worship God.  Yet sadly so much of that city was destroyed in the Second World War by the German Air Force in what was the largest bombing raid on Britain. So much of the city was destroyed and a new word came into the English language and it was the word, “Coventrise” which simply means to destroy totally.

The city as a manufacturing centre for munitions, armoured vehicles and other instruments of warfare was clearly a high priority target for the Luftwaffe.  Sadly, the Medieval centre and the cathedral were damaged and much was destroyed.  It was a very sad time for the city. The cathedral which had taken 125 years to build was destroyed in one night, 14th November 1940.  Today that cathedral has not been rebuilt or restored, but stands empty with no roof, though the tower still stands and it is possible to ascend and get a great view from the top. 

After the war the city was developed and the centre became possibly the first fully integrated shopping precinct in the country.  The centre is a large area which is only for pedestrians and is in the form of a cross when looked at from above.  As time has gone on the precinct has been upgraded and modernised.  
Today a new cathedral stands next to the ruins of the old one and they almost seem to be joined and therefore integrated. The architect was Sir Basil Spence and the builders were Laing Construction named after their Christian founder Sir John Laing. The building was consecrated on 25th May 1962 in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. 

One interesting event took place back in 1940.  The day after the air raid someone went into the ruins of the old cathedral and formed two charred beams into the shape of a cross and wrote, using a charred piece of wood, the words, “Father forgive”.  They were moving words after such a traumatic incident but they became the basis for the influential centre for peace and reconciliation worldwide which is based in Coventry.

The words remind us of Jesus who said, as He was being crucified, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”  

The hymn writer composed the verse:

‘He died that we might be forgiven, 
He died to make us good. 
That we might go at last to Heaven, 
saved by His precious blood.’

The greatest blessing is to experience the forgiveness of God through faith in Christ Jesus and the sign that we are forgiven is that we are willing to forgive those who have wronged or hurt us.  

God bless you.

Used by permission of Your542Day. Written for Messages with Meaning (28/11/20)  by Paul Young 

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