Had a great day at London Zoo yesterday with my youngest who is wild about animals as they say. Not too crowded not over hot. Good day.
Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.
Rather late with this but I did enjoy the last of my Sundays out and about during this sabbatical period. This time I was with a bona fide Presbyterians down in Ealing. IPC Ealing has its roots in Schaefferism but like most churches is made up of various strands and is seeking to bear witness where it finds itself. Their building (looks like an old office block from the outside and a temple on the inside) is currently too small for their morning congregation so they meet in Drayton Manor High School, where there must have been 160 and 170 when I visited. They would like to extend their building which comfortably sat the fifty or so along in the evening.
First impressions are of a well heeled white congregation but closer inspection reveals it is a more diverse group. I know some of the people and met others including my son's new next door neighbour at LTS next term. Paul Levy, who I also know, is the pastor. He is currently working through Luke 22 morning and evening (not his usual practice - like most of us he usually looks at different things am and pm). He has a gift with illustrations and was great talking to the children (in the evening service unusually). They used a projector in the mornings and Praise! in the evening with a guide to the order of service printed out for both. In the morning a flute, a violin and a silver trumpet accompanied the grand piano; just keyboard and flute in the evening. Being Presbyterians there was a bit of audience participation with a corporate confession and at the communion they used real wine in communal cups. They took up a collection am and pm. I also noticed that in the evening some of the chairs were arranged as a choir sideways on to the preacher. It is good to know that the gospel is going out in that part of London.
Last week seems a long time ago now but it was quite a busy week. We started off at the school for our regular chat about our youngest, with whom they are very pleased. He was off to Go Ape on Wednesday. We were back the next day in the evening for what was billed as An evening with the stars, showcasing the music, dance and drama the school has been putting on this term. Another of our sons was hosting it with a friend of his and a very good job they made of it. Then Wednesday was the graduation in Cardiff (see above). Around 200 were graduating, mostly females. The ceremony was in the St David's Hall, which I don't think I've ever been in (I do know that Focus played there once and the magnificent pipe organ was used for a rendition of La Cathedrale). I slowed down after that but Eleri just carried on with another trip to Wales to drop off two sons (one an officer, one a camper) and others at camps. She also got to see our new grandson for the first time. Back here I was saying goodbye to Dylan off on holiday and hello to my niece staying with us en route to Norwich. Busy days.
At 14.13 today in Aberystwyth my first grandson Gwilym Arthur safely arrived. Apparently he's a whopping 9lb 5ozs and he has timed it to be two days overdue (stylishly late) and on the day before his mother's own birthday. The names were agreed on for various reasons but it is the Welsh form of William (the name of my grandfather, dad and nephew, etc) is popular in my family. One of my sons also has it as a second name and it was the name of the first boy I met in infants school. Llongyfarchiadau to the proud parents.
I was in Tollington Park Baptist Church on Sunday. Again, this is a church slightly outside our area but I know some of the folk there and have had connections with them for years - yet another church where they have been praying for me over recent months. I was kindly invited to take part in the communion service at the end of the morning meeting. They use Praise! hymn book but have recently installed a projector too. I notice they have also retained the hymn board from the old building (I have mixed feelings about them but in combination with a book you can make some preparation for the singing part - with a projector and no printed order you have no idea of the shape of the service if you are a newcomer). A unique feature on the music front was the use of piped music to accompany us and that worked pretty well except that for some reason there was a power outage on it by the time of the last song of the day and we had to sing unaccompanied - thanks to a fine deacon we sang a capella and that was clearly the best. The church are currently without a pastor but praying fervently for one. Church officer Kevin Green preached morning and evening from Hebrews 3 taking 1-6 and 7ff in reverse order. Another officer gave a lively talk from Pilgrim's Progress as a sort of embryonic children's talk. We were around 25 in the morning and less than half that come the evening. There were a good range of people of all sorts though a little on the grey side I guess. Good to be there both times.
I've spent the last couple of days in Oxford looking out the Beddome archive at the Angus Library in Regents park College. It is easy enough to get a coach to Oxford from Baker Street and be in Oxford in about 90 minutes. I've done it before. This time I popped into Lincoln College where I once spent a night many years ago exploring being a student there. I hope to get there again soon.
I popped over to Highbury last Sunday. It is six miles away so it's slightly outside our area but I have long been aware of the church and the present minister, Andrew King, has always been very friendly. Like most of the churches I've been to recently they have modern building (like Highgate Rd they meet upstairs). Again there was a pretty diverse and friendly group present. Andrew led the whole thing and they used hymn books (Praise! and a supplement - nearly all modern hymns). There was piano accompaniment and again an African drum. A young woman sang with the instrumentalists but without a microphone. There was no formal collection. The order of service was straightforward, the only unusual feature being an interactive section with a whiteboard in preparation for the sermon, which was a six pointer (the points were written on a sheet for us) in the third in a new series on Ephesians 1. Andrew also tried to sell us some good books (I bought one!) which was refreshing. We had a cuppa to follow and they then had lunch and communion as it was the first Sunday of the month. I had some nice chats. How encouraging.
Highbury normally have a Bible study in the evening, which I might have gone to had it been on. Instead I went to Childs Hill where Robert was preaching again on Abraham from Genesis. We were only about 16 but it was good to be there. I enjoyed the hymns this morning but tonight (God of the covenant, a Horatius Bonar hymn on justification and Wesley's 'Tis finished! The messiah dies - superlative!).
I went along last week to the John Owen Centre last week (my privilege as a graduate). The lecturer was Lane Tipton and around 8 or 9 of us were there for the lectures Monday to Friday (I had to miss Wednesday afternoon). Most are taking the course and are a good bunch. Dr Tipton's way is to lecture and allow questions and discussion with a session at the pub at the end of the day for those who wish. I got along twice to The Dignity in Church End, Finchley, and enjoyed the banter and the theology with a number of useful things coming out. I'm still getting the reading done so I was not best placed to benefit from the course. We hung quite loosely to the subject with lectures on systematics, Karl Barth and a lot of time on historical Adam and creation approaches but that was fine. It was a privilege to be there. The JOC has new drinks machines and that added to the ambience.
It was good to be at the school yesterday night for a production of Midsummer Night's Dream, in which my son was Oberon. He did very well, as they all did on the whole, especially a very funny Bottom. The setting was the eighties for some reason. My son looked like a cross between David Bowie and Michael Jackson. Bottom wore Freddie Mercury gear. I thought the best joke was the girl taking the part of wall in the play wearing a Pink Floyd The Wall T-shirt. They're at it again tonight.
I went on Sunday to West Kilburn Baptist Church. This would be one of the churches that like Childs Hill was once in the LBA and the BU but has now left. It subsequently became quite Arminian but has gone in a Reformed direction more recently. I was especially friendly with the previous minister, Paul Pease and know the present minister well, Peter Law. Like Childs Hill they have a 19th century building but with chairs where there were once pews. They have a gallery where some sat.
Peter preached very helpfully morning and evening from Acts 15 and the first part of Luke 14. He was giving us systematic exposition but to the people before him. There were more of these in the morning (about a hundred or more) and less in the evening (twenty or so). The congregation is predominantly "African" but quite mixed ethnically. Like other churches I have attended recently they project their hymns on to the main wall (quite old fashioned ones this time around, although including the calypso carol!). There was a drum to go with two of the morning hymns and a little guitar band in the evening. Things were a little more laid back in the evening with an open time of prayer and I noticed that Peter preached from the pulpit in the morning. There was no collection. I liked the way Peter sought to tie together the different parts of the service with some comment.