Tokens of Love and Gratitude to Christ | Part 5

Originally posted on

Poland’s Favorite Sons

We arrived two days early in Warsaw in order to acclimatize to a new time zone, nine hours ahead of Arizona. A period of adjustment is important to me when preaching God’s word. To walk to the podium feeling as though it is four in the morning without having had any sleep the night before is a recipe for disorientation, not only to me but also to the audience!

Old Town Warsaw

Old Town Warsaw

On day one in Warsaw, I awakened at the unsociable hour of three in the morning Polish time. Unable to sleep any longer, I jumped into my work-out clothes and hit the jogging trail alongside the Vistula River, headed towards a destination I had plotted out the night before – Old Town Warsaw. I ran past the ornate National Stadium, where a few days earlier the final of the Europa Cup (soccer) had been played, which Jon and I watched a world away in our living room in Scottsdale. I also passed a dozen or so of the hundreds of wartime monuments commemorating Polish resistance during World War II.

When I finally arrived at Old Town, I was amazed to find a place so enchanting, so completely devoid of humanity. Since Warsaw is located at relatively northern latitudes, daybreak in June can come as early as 3:30 in the morning. With the sun already peeking over the horizon, it was odd to find the streets completely deserted. (Three days later we would return as a family to Old Town for a Polish meal of chicken dumplings in one of the many outdoor cafes in the marketplace; at noon it was overrun by thousands of locals and tourists.)

Polish favorite son Copernicus and his heliocentric solar system

Polish favorite son Copernicus and his heliocentric solar system

What a magnificent sight the old sector of Warsaw – once completely destroyed by a vindictive Hitler, now completely restored to its original charm brick by brick, by the careful use of historical blueprints and photographs of the original layout . . . churches, cathedrals, palaces, monuments, market-square, buildings, cobblestones all meticulously reassembled.

Next to the science building in the University of Warsaw stands a provocative statue of Copernicus, a favorite son of Poland and the first person to posit a heliocentric universe, rather than an earth-centered system, which had been the cherished dogma of the Church from earliest times and which earned Copernicus condemnation as a religious heretic. On the statue, Copernicus is holding in his hand a round sphere symbolizing our solar system, with the sun at the center. While it would have been better to depict the hand of God cradling our solar system, and billions of other solar systems as well, the lesson which Christians can take away from Copernicus, himself a professing Christian, is the importance of humility in our assessments of the natural world. Science is not a discipline to be regarded suspiciously, but, when handled prudently, as a textbook into God’s creative mind.

Polish favorite son Chopin whose heart is buried in this crypt

Polish favorite son Chopin whose heart is buried in this crypt

Similarly with great music, by whomever composed, whether Christian or non-Christian – great music opens a window onto God’s glory. Certainly that was the case with Frederick Chopin, another Pole and favorite son, after whom the international airport of Warsaw is named, whose heart is entombed in a cathedral adjacent to the statue of Copernicus. Almost everything Chopin writes resonates with Jonathan, who often drifts into sleep at night to the notes of the peerless composer’s Nocturnes. The Chopin Museum in Warsaw is a rewarding stop – ask Jon about it. I missed it, needing to work on my talks for the conference.



Read more posts in the series:



Add your voice to the conversation: