les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Monday, January 23, 2017

A wee Monday ditty

So relieved!

Saturday evening at about 5pm, the sudden thought comes - quickly, without warning, unannounced, as if from nowhere - "You should have been on duty in the Maison de la Bible this morning, the 21st of January, and you forgot to go."

Anguish and terror seize my heart with a strong, swift, vice-like grip.

I dare not look in my diary.

I tell Pat, 'I think I forgot to be in the Maison de la Bible this morning."

"Oh dear. What does your diary say?"

I dare not look, but look I must, so I brace myself, take a deep breath, poke the little square and up it comes.

Nothing. There is nothing noted for that morning!

Relief is short lived, a mayfly, a shooting star of hope.

"I bet I forgot to note it in my diary!" Like a gambling addict in a bent casino, which essentially means any casino, I know I cannot win.

"I'll ask Catherine."

"No, don't worry about it. There's nothing you can do now anyway."

I listen to the voice of reason, but reason cannot drive out the dreadful feelings of guilt, culpability and blame.

Yesterday at about 14:00 hours Catherine sends me a text message about something else.
I reply, surreptitiously appending, "Did I forget to be in the MB yesterday morning?"

No response came.

It's an obvious "yes".

They're trying to spare my feelings.

Oh dear, it's time to engage a personal carer.
I can no longer live unsupervised in this world.
I contemplate a bleak future being spoon-fed and accompanied to the cough-cough bathroom.

At 20:00 another message. Tacked on the end thereof, "No, it was John's turn."

PHEW!

Oh dear. Perhaps it's them...

Adorable couple come to church late December.

I have my funny turn, as in I can't see them properly and forget momentarily how to read!

Adorable couple come to church again yesterday!

Shoddy message... :-(

Still, we sang well and folk prayed well.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Them as can read French might appreciate this magazine from the Institut Biblique Belge

http://www.institutbiblique.be/IMG/pdf/le_maillon_-_final-non-vectorise-web-2.pdf

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Acquired tastes, from France24

The eye test

Again it's really very cold here. I'm typing at 11:34, the sun has been up and bright a long time and still there is frost on the roofs where the sun is shining! I've just got back from my annual eye test and on the way back, in the sunshine, my breath still condensed in the freezing air. My phone says it is -3°C right now. Could be.

It often is colder here n Bordeaux than in Shotton where we used to live in North Wales. My theory for this is that Spain blocks the effect of the Gulfstream from us while bestowing upon us the storms of the Bay of Biscay. At the moment we are on yellow alert for grand froid (big cold) while northern Brittany is not. Good old Gulfstream, eh? Please correct me gently if I am wrong.

50€ for an eye-test! But we should get that back. The doctor said (you get seen by an optometrist first, then a doctor who has a good squint at your retinas) "Well, your myopia is getting worse, as is your presbyopia, but that's all to be expected. I'll write you a prescription for new glasses but you can wait a while if you prefer. See what your insurance says."

So in a moment I'll go on the insurance company website to see if they tell me how often I can change my glasses. I think it's once a year, in which case I can go ahead. If not, well, we'll see.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I just need you to know that I tried

6:35 am found me at the corner of the vineyard, ready to rock, ready to roll, ready to run.
Yes! Let's do this!

I'd been impressed to see no frost on the ground or even on the roofs of the houses.
"It can't be that cold", thought I.

Then I began to run.

OUCH! It was FREEZING! I had a woolly hat on, but my FACE! And the TEARS!

I briefly, oh so briefly considered running in a balaclava.

Then I turned round and went home.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Some photos of the new meeting place

Looking out of the front door

The open front door with our banner

This way

To the end of the corridor

through the courtyard

That's the place

Welcome!

a little kitchen

no cooker, but coffee makers and our kettle

Pat gets the table ready for pre-service coffee and post-service snacks

Sit in the middle, please! And yes, there's a piano!

Did I mention post-service snacks?

Monday, January 16, 2017

A wee ditty for a Monday morning

You learn something new every day!

If someone asks you "Comment est votre transit?"

the right answer is not: "ben, dans le tram."


I think she will promise us -

a "Hope and Glory Brexit".
I'm quite excited about the Prime Minister's speech tomorrow! 
Remember, if she does say that, you heard it here first.


Couch to 5K

As I came back from my early morning exertions the two mistresses Davey were preparing to leave for theirs.

And as I gallumphed alongside the vineyards my thoughts went out to the many friends in all corners of the world who will be out running either today or tomorrow in my worldwide running revolution.

Bonne route, chers amis, bonne route!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Disturbing news

I have this funky mobile phone contract that I really like. I've been on it for two years now. It's not the cheapest I could get, but it has two advantages that I appreciate a lot.

1) It gives me the same amount of calls and text messages anywhere in Europe that I have in France, and half the amount of data coverage. Typically French contracts give you a limited number of days, but with me doing church visits and us spending holidays in the UK, plus me needing to use my phone as a sat nav, then this "unlimited" cover is very useful.

2) Premium Spotify! This has been wonderful!

Then I had a message informing me that my Premium Spotify has a two-year limit and I must within the next few days switch to unlimited internet access at weekends, video games, TV programmes or films to watch on my phone. None of those are of any interest at all to me.

Oh well. Farewell Spotify!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Pat's head scan results arrived today by post

A nice CD and prints of the various slices that the scanner took at 3mm intervals.

And a report saying that they found nothing sinister and all they would normally hope to find!

Jolly good. Thankful.


Monday, January 09, 2017

First meeting in the new venue

Well it all went pretty well. We got there plenty early and opened up, fixing our banner to the grill of the shop front (which belongs to the premises). We sorted out the kitchen, heated water for tea and coffee and I set out the room. We were a decent number with some new folk there for the first time. So far so good.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Gwilym is back in the UK

We took a photo last night of the four of us. Now trying to get a photo of the Daveys is a bit like trying to get a group shot of the cast of the Muppet Show after a successful performance. Not simple. We took about 20 shots and this is by far the best:

Today we took Gwilym to lunch at Flunch - a big canteen-style restaurant in Mérignac - then to the airport. Easyjet says his flight left and landed on time. He's back in the UK.

Meanwhile at Villa Koralli lots of people have been moving out, including Sumo's owners! He's gone! To Lyon!


Friday, January 06, 2017

What? When? Hang on... where, exactly?

So can you confirm your text for the youth service on January 29th? I have Colossians 2. Also we'll be choosing songs this week so we need to get things straight before Glen leaves for New Guinea.

So read the email I received yesterday. More or less. Names and destinations changed.

But I'm preaching in Bordeaux on January 29th. Anyway, where could this be?

I replied. Who? What? Where?

It transpires that I am not the only pastor in the world who goes by the name of Alan Davey.

As well as a prominent civil servant in the Midlands and the bass player for Hawkwind, Google reveals a Pastor Alan Davey in Toronto and in New Zealand. Both in Baptist churches. Both very cool guys.

Maybe I should write them...




Thursday, January 05, 2017

Pat's progress

is good. She has LOTS of paracetamol to take, but is taking very little. She has spectacular bruises in sundry places and the limp on her head is going down. We phoned about the scan and the results are in the post, from which we conclude that there is no cause for alarm.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Snault!

There are unconfirmed reports of snow in Bordeaux and in parts of Pessac.

LATE UPDATE: it was what is called "industrial snow", where the foggy cold weather colludes with particulate pollution from diesel engines and from heating systems to form little frozen "snowflakes" that originate just tens of metres from the ground and fall like snow. It is no more dangerous to your health than breathing the particles themselves, and performs the useful function of flushing them out of the atmosphere...


Tuesday, January 03, 2017

At the post office

"This has to get to England as quickly as possible."

"Chronopost!"

"OK, how much is that?"

The chap left the counter and looked at the chronopost shelves...

"50 euros"

"A bit less quickly..."

the chap laughed...

"Priority, 5,50€."

"That's the right speed!"


Monday, January 02, 2017

2016 - a year of division

I suppose that Brexit is by nature a vote for division since it was a vote for leaving a union, to exit the European Union. But here in Bordeaux in our International church the US presidential election also played its part in our feeling that 2016 was a year for division.

People say that these votes revealed the deep divisions that exist in the UK and in the USA. OK, perhaps. And in 2017 we have a French presidential election which will be contested by an as yet unannounced champion for the Socialist Party, by François Fillon for the Centre-Right "Republicans" and by Marin LePen for the far-right National Front. François Fillon is much further right than his rival candidates in the party.

It's interesting to me to note that the past presidents of France have said that they want to unite all the French, and indeed, M. Sarkozy did succeed in uniting quite a lot of French people in protests against him. There have not been protest marches against M. Hollande, but the country is united in its disappointment with him.

Incidentally, and quite off the point, really, I think the whole trend towards telling people what they'd like to hear rather than actually making any serious promises you could keep was easy to see in M. Hollande's campaign when he promised to cap the price of fuel.

Anyway, division. We know that it is not in the power of any politician to unite people and to overcome the divisions of class, income, background, colour, education, ability, whatever... These things are deep and powerful and politics lacks the power to conquer them.

But churches can and should show that these divisions will be overcome one day, and the seeds of their destruction are sown, germinating and will one day soon come to full fruition in the renewed heaven and earth.

Perhaps 2016 did us a favour in confronting us with what was there all along.

Catrin is now doing Couch to 5K

as are some other friends here and there.

Run, folk, run for your life!

Coming home

At about 3:30 the call came to collect Pat, so Catrin got together the things she needed, Gwilym carried the bag and we hied us away to collect the Citiz car - I'd reserved it from 2 till 8 in readiness. The Clinic Mutualiste is about 2 miles from our flat down roads we never take on the university campus. The folk there were very nice and we were there perhaps 10 minutes in all.

The head scan had perhaps shown a little something but nothing to stop Pat coming home. We were told to phone on Wednesday to hear the verdict of the head honcho.

So back home, two bowls of bolognese sauce (no spaghetti) prepared by Pat in the morning, but doctored later by the addition of Alan's two secret ingredients, then an early, peaceful, restful, quiet night.

The patient is recuperating nicely

Well after two big bowls of bolognese sauce ("did you add anything to this?" "why?" "it tastes really good" "ok, yes, I put in my two secret ingredients...") and a peaceful evening spent dozing on the sofa and watching detectives track down murderers, Pat slept early, long, deep and peacefully.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Well that's one way to start your new year

We decided to go this morning and worship with our friends at the brethren assembly - without contacting them first, of course. The service starts at 10am, and it was a bit of a scramble to get out of the house and catch that 9:18 bus 4 but we made it, Pat striding off like Scott of the Antarctic on a summertime practice session.

We got to the building and found it all locked up. Oh well. So we considered our options and decided to return home. We just missed the return bus 4 and hoofed it off to get the tram from Quinconces. While steaming across the tramlines, Pat tripped, took a tumble and bounced her pate off the hard, hard floor.

I got her up and off the tram lines. We sat for a while and decided to get on the Pessac tram, but that's when the nausea set in. She also had a goodly sized mound on the back of her bonce. So at Victoire we got off the tram and I phoned for medical assistance. A bit of how's your father - how does one say again that one tripped and hit one's head on the floor... all while the street-sweeper machines were noisily clearing Victoire of bottles, cans and plastic glasses. Anyway three charming ambulance men came and carted Pat off to the Clinique Mutualiste.

"Go home and wait for a call. They probably won't keep her in overnight, but when you get her you'll need her passport and her health card."

So I wended my weary way home alone on the tram, fed the kids, ate a mince pie and now I'm waiting for the call.

Meanwhile they've done a head scan, so Pat is waiting to hear their verdict.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - a litany of deaths

It was interesting earlier this year to preach on Genesis 5, a litany of deaths with the constant refrain, "and then he died...".

2016 has seen the death of a long list of celebrities, young and old, from screen, stage and song. I think it's fair to say that lots of people have expressed their protests in the media. Even Fidel Castro, who apparently survived over 600 assassination attempts, found that 2016 was too strong for him and got him in the end.

2016 bit hard in my family, too. We knew a tragic and sudden death that hit us with great force.

2017 won't be any better. Why should it? There are still lots of celebrities left and death is still as widespread as ever - 100% mortality rate, they tell me.

A year like 2016 is valuable and important. We are confronted by the reality of death, and we try to cope with it in different ways. Sometimes we defy it : 'death is nothing'. Sometimes we try to ignore it and forget it. Sometimes we glorify it, whether by the idea of glorious death - dulce et decorum est - or by the "justification by death" that our society so loves. Everyone's a saint once they've died. Sometimes we just hope to stave it off as long as possible by dieting, fitness drives, health fads, green tea and ginseng, whatever.. But it stalks us all the same.

2016 doesn't hold out much hope in and of itself. But Genesis 5 does. Amidst the list of deaths there is one who didn't die, but who walked with God and then one day went to be with God.

It's a pointer to the great hope we have in the face of 2016 and of every year where death dogs our steps. Our great hero died and rose again, he conquered death, so that we need not fear death or fear any killer year. He rose and we rose in him and we will rise to be with him and so we will be with him for ever.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

My family does not eat cake

Hey, it's not my fault!

Farewell to Dan

I took the keys back. It was not without incident.

I suppose I arrived at the restaurant at about 3 in the afternoon and the grill was open but the door was locked. The lights were on, a computer was turned on on a table, but there was nobody around.

I knocked. No answer.

Meanwhile a woman was hanging out of an upstairs window across the narrow street crying.

I phoned the restaurant and got the answering machine.

A man came round the corner and yelled instructions and insults to the woman. "Die, son of a prostitute," he cried.

She threw a glass down at him, which shattered and spread shards all over the street.

I sent a message to Jérôme via sms and Facebook.

"Phone the police!" yelled the woman. And say what, exactly, I though to myself.

The man periodically left and returned, repeating his instructions and insults to the woman.
He noticed me and decided I was calling the police and taking photos. I assured him that I was waiting for the restaurant, but then I decided that it wasn't absolutely necessary that I hand the keys over in person, posted them through the door, left a message saying the keys were there and left.

Jérôme later phoned me and we had a nice chat. He'd been in the kitchen preparing the New Year's Eve meal.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas thoughts - food

It's hard to imagine Christmas without especially nice food, be it wintry cakes with lots of dried fruit, or rich puddings, or good meats, or roast vegetables.

I am sure a lot of this is from old practical customs - because of the cold season you need more calories! And because harvest is past and there is little that is fresh, then you need to eat things preserved by drying, sugaring or curing. In warmer climates the customs are different. Here in France Christmas dinner has a large element of seafood - shellfish or lobsters - as well as various kinds of poultry - capons, guinea-fowl, geese, ducks etc...

Christians are sometimes ambivalent towards Christmas. We can't be sure of the date. There's this suspicious coincidence with the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. There's all the materialism and consumerism. And then surely all that fat and sugar isn't good for you.

So some avoid Christmas like the plague. Others argue that it is too good an opportunity to miss to share the central Christian hope with a world that for once seems willing to listen a little.

But others embrace it and go for it.

I'd vote for that.

After all, if we celebrate Christmas at all then we are celebrating the birth of hope! And that hope is of a world renewed, fruitful, abundant, a world where the Kingdom of God is described in terms of feasts and festivities. What earthly nation could be described in those terms today?

So to enjoy a moment of plenty, as best one can, in the middle of the winter seems to me to be a very fitting way of looking forward to what God had promised he will do when he refashions everything just right.

We had a very decent chicken, corn-fed, accompanied by all the usual trimmings, except no parsnips. Parsnips are not popular in France and when we saw them we did not snap them up. We had a splendid Waitrose Christmas pudding with a nice rum and raisin ice-cream - an inspired combination! And a very swanky bottle of wine from the posh château next door - well, from their wine shop. The chap in the shop persuaded me to buy it, though it cost about double what I intended. I don't regret it. It was a fine 2007 Medoc and absolutely delicious.

As good a foretaste as possible of the peace and plenty to come.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Some Christmas Eve Dvořák

8th symphony.

Back on track

This morning I went out running again, after a two week break.

The first break was after I phoned the doctor and she told me to see her the following day and meanwhile to rest all day with my feet up. This had two effects - firstly I learned how annoying it is to rest all day with your feet up and secondly I put off going running till I had the all clear from my blood tests, which happened on the Thursday.

The break continued because of late nights and consequent lie-ins! The early morning runner needs to get to bed on time.

Anyway, I got back out there this morning and, apart from sluggishness, it felt good!

Some Christmas thoughts - loss

This Christmas especially I am thinking about friends and family who are spending Christmas without their better half - perhaps for the first time. And other friends whose better half is victim to dementia and in that twilight world of not being really present but not being absent either.

Some have the bittersweet experience of happy memories of past years. Some have the assurance of a better eternity to come, reunited with their loved one at Jesus' feet.

For all of them Christmas brings pleasure and pain, warmth and a chill, smiles and hidden tears.

For us all Christmas demands patience and understanding, as well as cheer and festivity.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A taste of a British Christmas

It's a rum do, this music thing. We were engaged to go and sing for a Christmas evening when some friends and colleagues who are engaged in street evangelism here invited friends and neighbours round for a Christmassy evening. We had to sing "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer" as a family, then lead everyone in singing "Oh little town of Bethlehem" and "Silent night", this latter in French.

It was a pleasant evening and I got to know our friends' neighbour, who works in information technology.

The first Day of Christmas

Gwilym our son is with us at the moment. He arrived on Saturday with his girlfriend, Beth, who is also a student at the London School of Theology. Beth returns to the UK on Friday so we decided to have a phased Christmas this year.

Today was the first Day of Christmas. This entailed:

. The postman bringing parcels of 480 PG Tips tea bags - that will keep us going for about 3 months, I reckon. He also brought some jars of really good chutney. I'd forgotten how good really good chutney is.

. The opening of the stockings and one present.

. Christmas dinner. We got a nice, free-range corn-fed chicken from a local store and we ate very well. Dessert was French-style, an ice-cream log.

. A snacky tea of Waitrose "stollen bites" and a mince pie.

. Playing Monopoly and Bananagrams

although we did not go for the planned walk to the gardens of Château Pape Clément, it has nevertheless been a nice day.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Thanks for clearing that up!

One of our neighbours, an elderly lady, said to Pat, "Come with me".

Pat followed her into the bathroom...

"That is a shower. What you have is a bath."


Saturday, December 17, 2016

The last Friday night of the year

Christmas Carols, short reflection on Luke 2:8-14, prayer time, jacket potatoes and Christmas cookies.

Then hugs as folk leave, some for good...

Friday, December 16, 2016

Carols by Candlelight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8eZIlCR-o0

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Off to be bled

I had the prescription for my annual blood test - my doctor likes to know what's coursing through my veins - she said, "We need to get that done now." So off I trotted at about 7am to the local blood-letting parlour which is just at the end of the vineyards.

By 8am I was back home having left my samples for testing and bought a nice pastry for breakfast for being a good boy and bleeding nicely.

The results will land in my email this afternoon, I expect.

This is what I saw on my way:





Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Carols at the Palais Gallien

All went off well.
It was happy, direct, honest, straightforward, Word-centred, friendly and we had some great cakes!
People brought family and friends. Some people just came from invitations etc.
It was a good occasion.
Thanks for praying!

The Minister's Fainting Fits

Here's a funny one.

We'd just opened up at Dan on Sunday and three new folk arrived, from Réunion Island. As I was getting to know them a little I was aware that I had lost part of the sight in my right eye. Or at least that that part of my field of view was not clear. I blinked and rubbed. No, it wasn't tears. Maybe some strange retinal problem. I could still see, however. I said nothing and carried on.

Then during the service I had a paragraph to read from Acts 2 in French. Much to my horror, I read it like a 10-year old, or possibly like someone with dyslexia. I skipped words, read things that made no sense to me, then realised what it said and had to go back over it. I realised that something was wrong, and I was concerned, but there wasn't anything anyone could do, so I carried on.

"That was a struggle!", said Pat. "Yes," I said.

By the end of the service I was feeling OK again. It had lasted about 1/2 hour. In the tram on the way home I told Pat what had happened. We wondered what it could be - it didn't seem to be a stroke, though I have maternal aunts and paternal uncles who died young of strokes. It didn't seem to be anything permanent. Perhaps one of those transient ischaemic attacks people have? Or a migraine?

I decided that unless it happened again I would not worry about it. Then I thought the better of it and decided to phone my doctor.

"Oh", she said, "that's a vagal malaise - a fainting fit, a sudden drop in blood pressure - come and see me early tomorrow morning and we'll check you over and get your bloods done. Meanwhile rest today with your feet up."

I hate resting with my feet up, especially on sunny days, but hey...

And so I went. She said, "You've lost weight!"

"Yes, about 5kg since I've been running."

"Hop on my scales. No, you've lost about 10 kg, and you look well."

She listened, measured, counted and did the stuff doctors do.

"Tell me all about everything", she said.

"OK. Everything you've said is reassuring. I think we need to reduce your meds. I think as well that it's just your way of coping with a stressful and busy weekend. I think it doesn't do any harm to faint now and again. It gets stuff out. I don't want to philosophise medicine, but you're a man who takes the Word and looks life and death in the face. I'm not concerned about you. We'll check your bloods, however."

So there we are. Now then, do I tell folk in the church or let them just think I had an off-day? I mean, in a way, that's what it was.

Friday, December 09, 2016

"Throw away your cheap running shoes"

This was the title the inimitable Tim Challies used for an article based on Hebrews 12. His title provoked a reaction from some people who can't afford expensive running shoes! Maybe the text needs some careful reflection in order to bridge the gulf between the world of the 1st century despised apostles and the world of 21st century first-world Christians who jog. It made me laugh, anyway.

And it set me thinking about my running shoes. Soon I will have been running for a year. There's a sentence I never thought I'd write! And it is recommended that you replace your running shoes after a certain distance, in my case that works out to about a year.

When we started running we both bought the cheapest shoes that our local Decathlon had. Mine are a kind of pale bluey grey, with white soles. The thought was that if we didn't continue running we would not have made a huge investment in paraphernalia. We could always buy better shoes later on if we needed to.

And the shoes have been excellent! They're light, supportive and comfortable and apart from the initial adjustments that my tendons and ligaments made, I have had almost no discomfort whatsoever.  It was perhaps the finest 13 euros I have ever spent!

While in the UK in June I visited a Nike outlet shop. I had heard of these amazing light running shoes made of a knitted fabric and specially designed to give you the impression of running barefoot while still protecting your feet. I saw some pairs. They were beautiful. Normally they cost about 10 times what I pad for my shoes. In the outlet shop they cost just 5 times as much. I was tempted, but they didn't have my size.

Now it's time to think about replacing my shoes. I won't be near a Nike outlet shop any time soon. And meanwhile Decathlon have reduced the price of the same shoes that I have.

I think I know what I'll be getting.
"Throw away your cheap running shoes" and buy another pair just the same!

Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir



At Aberystwyth I sang this with the Bach Society Choir. The same evening we did Cantata 4, Christ lag in Tödesbanden.
At the time I thought it was entirely normal to sing Bach motets for double choir, and settings by Pergolesi, Schubert, Wolf, etc.. while a student.
I'm only now realising how privileged I was!

Overnigh dodes

Lots of recipes are being suggested for overnight oats. I always eat porage for breakfast and I am very happy to continue doing so, ringing the changes by adding mashed banana, sliced pears and a couple of squares of chocolate, etc...

But never let it be said that I am an old-guard stick-in-the-mud reincarnation of Colonel Blimp, living in the past and unwilling to try anything new! I tried overnight oats.

This is what you do (for the recipe I tried):

In a jar you put a teaspoonful of peanud budder (peanut butter) and a teaspoonful of honey.
(They also added chia and flax seeds, but there is reason!)

Then you add 3/4 cup of milk and shake as if your life depended on it. This will disperse the peanud budder throughout the milk (ha ha! the glob of peanud budder just sank.)

You then add 1/2 cup of oats, screw the top on the jar and leave in the fridge overnight before eating in the morning.

Well it was OK. I may try this again in the high summer when the thought of hot oats in the morning is unappealing.

Ce n'est pas essentiel

Two things spark this brief reflection:

1) A tweet from John Stevens saying this:

I genuinely didn't know that the FIEC is a network of complementarian churches. Or maybe I knew it was de facto, but not de jure. Anyway, I guess this is specified somewhere in the confessionnal documents.

2) A recent CNEF meeting where significant growth and direct preaching was noted in one of the institutional churches of Bordeaux. Many evangelicals are finding a home there. Someone asked about the issue of same-sex marriage. I remarked that while the denomination had approved same-sex marriages, individual parishes and clergypersons were not obliged to perform them. "She's already done some! She's already done some!" came the quick and loud reply. And the evangelicals think? "It's not of the essence! It's not of the essence!"

It's all very interesting, isn't it. I suppose we draw lines in the sand, but then when people cross them we can rub them out, pretend they were never there and draw another one. Or just forget lines and sand altogether, and go with the feeling.

I suppose what I think is that it's all much more complicated than one issue politics divisions suggest. Faithfulness to Jesus doesn't boil down to one issue, but to many - with one thing at the heart and core. He is Lord and not me.

The hunt for new premises

Alors...

Various folk have made various helpful suggestions:

1) talk to the Université du temps libre

2) talk to the leaders of Eau Vive (a charismatic Catholic group)

3) talk to the hotels

4) talk to the institutional church in the heart of Bordeaux

Helpful suggestions all, and behold! as I was in the Maison de la Bible on Tuesday morning the pastor fo the institutional church came in. I didn't recognise her at first, I've only seen her once at a service back during my sabbatical. Anyway, we talked. A couple of things she said stood out from our exchange and communicated the subtext "you, of course, should not exist". Things like, "but you are not a pastor?" "Oh yes I am." "Trained?" "Yes, everything. Fourteen years of pastoral ministry before coming to France." "But how far are we going to go with all these churches...?" 

It's clear that the CNEF's goal of a church for 10 000 people has not yet been adopted on a wide scale.

I'm a simple soul and didn't notice how thoroughly I'd been dissed until my colleague remarked on it And of course, once you notice it stings. But anyway, after the initial smart wore off I came to this conclusion: Start with the people closest to you and work out.

Now there's nobody who is both geographically and theologically close, of course, so it's the next sphere out, and I wrote a quick letter and friendly email to the nearest churches asking if we could conceivably rent their building on a Sunday evening. After sending by email yesterday I'll post the letter today then phone early next week.

Meanwhile we don't yet have an answer either way from our closest collaborators. 
Then I'll hit the trail big time.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Simonetta Carr's little illustrated biography of Martin Luther

I recently saw that this book was being proposed for review. Now some time ago I read and reviewed Simonetta Carr's little biography of Renée de France - see here - and really liked the book. So I was keen to give her treatment of Luther the once-over. However:

1) it's a book for younger readers (no problem - I was younger in the past)

2) it was being sent out in print to reviewers in the USA.

But hey, if ya don' ask ya don' git, and so it was that I received by email the first pages of the book in pdf format - just enough to get to see the writing style, a good look at the type of illustration and the approach that the author adopts.

And it's charming. It didn't feel like an infantile read, so I'd suggest younger teens would be a perfect target readership, as well as a suitable coffee-table book to leave around for folk to pick up and leaf through quickly. The sample I got went as far as Luther's studies in law and the thunderstorm experience, so I'm not able to comment much on how the great conflicts and upheavals are dealt with. However, from the map supplied and the treatment of plague I would expect a very sensible approach, serious and weighty but not heavy.

I think the adult reader would appreciate being reminded of some things, informed of others and shown again the remarkable work of God that the Reformation represents.

So often we are like republicans, we praise little men who did things that they thought were little things and - like a cigarette end thrown from a moving car can set a whole forest ablaze, they, too, saw their little spark light flames that would engulf the whole world and never extinguish. Little men who did little things and saw them fanned to flame by the Spirit of the Everlasting God.

And Joel Beeke likes it, too, see!