The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. 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.
Sorry I forgot to do a preview last week. Numbers were quite low in the evening again but we crawled up to 10. It was a pity there were no real outsiders. It was better in the morning with people from the area joining us- a lady who we've been in contact with for a while, a Latvian lady there for the first time who found us online (I forgot to mention the Iranian first timer last week - not back this week), a Nigerian lady and a Portuguese one who both come from time to time, a tattooed man who'd never been before, etc. Two difficult passages - the second half of Acts 18 and the next but of Matthew 24. The joys of systematic expository preaching.
It is not that unusual for me to be in Whitchurch, Cardiff but I was on Saturday and for the first time I noticed this mural created in 2016 not far from Bale's old school (same school as Sam Warburton and Geraint Thomas).
I finally got to see the film about Laurel and Hardy yesterday. A double treat I saw it in Cwmbran but that's another story. I really enjoyed the film, which I thought was done very well indeed. The decision to place it where they did (in 1953 in Britain) and not to include representations of the very final years (Hardy died 1957 and Laurel 1965) was wise. The film is full of gentle humour and little by way of action but this was not at all detrimental. What emerges is a great friendship, not without its vicissitudes and some great humour. I loved it. Whether others would I'm not sure. My wife for example would not have enjoyed it as much as I did (she went to see the Mary Poppins film) and certainly not my son and his cousin (who went to see How to train your dragon 3). It deserves Oscars.
There were 11 of us present last Wednesday as we looked at the final two verses of James 1. The verses are fairly easy to expound - don't misuse your tongue, do good and don't be worldly. What is much more difficicult is how all ths works out and we had a good discussion on it. We then discussed matters for prayer and spent a little while in prayer. It is an oasis of joy in the middle of the week our little meetiing I hope.
I was able to give the second of this Spring's lunch time lectures at the Evangelical Library last Monday and it went well with a good number present. I threw in some pictures which helped. Having looked into Obadiah Sedgwick last year I discovered what a pot pourri of evangelical history swirls about Coggeshall and it seemed to me that it would be possible to produce a short spiritual history of the place of some interest. Not all my ideas come off but with references to a Marian martyr, Owen and Sedgwick, Spurgeon's grandfather and one or two others it went well. I wonder if there are other places that could bear similar treatments.
|7 or 8 yo|
|12 or so|
For many years we were the parents of several kids but as of today we technically have no kids. This is because our youngest turns 18 and so they are now all grown up (in theory at least). Happy birthday Owain. Come December we can say we have children 18-30.
I wanna hold your hand (Also Eleanor Rigby (Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave)
I've just seen a face
Also A day in the life (They'd seen his face before Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords and Dragged a comb across my head)
Across the universe (Sounds of laughter shades of life are ringing Through my open ears inciting and inviting me)
All my loving (Close your eyes and I'll kiss you)
Mean Mr Mustard (Keeps a ten bob note up his nose)
Here there and everywhere (There, running my hands through her hair)
7. Arms [and finger]
Happiness is a warm gun (When I hold you in my arms (Oo-oo oh yeah) And I feel my finger on your trigger (Oo-oo oh yeah))
Rocky Raccoon (Rocky had come, equipped with a gun To shoot off the legs of his rival)
Back in the USSR (On the way the paper bag was on my knee)
Lady Madonna (Children at your feet)
There's a bit of a thing about women in music again I notice. Good excuse to give you a list of ten of my favourites.
3. Norah Jones
5. Julie Fowlis
6. Kate Rusby
8. Tracy Chapman
9. Joan Armatrading
It's half term here and I think that must have had an impact so that we were slow filling up in the morning and only about 10 in the evening. Nevertheless, we are seeing people from the area - a lady who began coming recently but often cannot make it, another lady who we know from the mums and tots and other visitors. I was quite long in the morning on the first part of Acts 18. I think it was interesting, however. Then in the evening we began on Matthew 24 which is always going to be difficult but it went okay. We had communion before the evening meeting (unusually we ended up using white grape juice rather than red). In the afternoon we had four member around (a single lady, a widower and two husbands whose wives are away for half term). It wasn't planned but these are among our longest serving members, going back over 20 years and more. A classic line up as we remarked.
We enjoyed watching this slowly paced film harking back to 1959 and one woman's efforts to establish a bookshop. I have stated before that I am not fully signed up to the view that believes reading well written books is some cure all but we enjoyed the film on its own level. I read Penelope Fitzgerald's 1978 book a while ago and it was interesting to see how the characters were handled in the film. It was a good idea to include the modern book in the shot of a modern bookshop in the closing sequence.
The film is narrated by someone other than the book I think and the film has a dramatic ending I don't recall from the book. Silly things like including a book by Philip Larkin ten years too soon is done just to annoy pedants like me I guess. I'm not sure about the hints at romance between the two main characters either. Why the cowman becimes aferryman and where th ghost goes I ahve no idea.
The villagers are presented in a pretty negative light. I would like to see more balance which may be the book has.
Almost time for bed but don't want to sleep without noting Newport County's stirling effort tonight against the league leaders. I listened to the first half on Radio 5 when they held City to a 0-0 draw. I was then busy and sorry to hear the final scoreline although it was close until near the end I think.
Midweek Meeting was a little different this week as we are havving a week of prayer and so we gave over most of the hour to prayer with everyone taking their turn to pray, I think. We were about ten present altogether if I recall eightly. I did read from Ephesians 6 but made little comment. There was as ever plenty to pray about. We still have quite abt of illness among us but we are make a range of contacts with locals.
This week's day off came around rather quickly this time. I woke in an unhelpful mood and could not settle to anything at first. I had arranged a mid-morning coffee time and prayer meeting around 11 (we are having a week of prayer meetings). The wives of our two deacons came, one with her three home schooled children. We were joined for good or ill by two ladies from the area we know. Like others from the area, they are very exercised about a plan to remove over 90 trees from the immediate area this month and that issue threatened to dominate rather but we got through somehow. After that I took Alffi for a walk and made a big dent in this Costa prize winning book The cut out girl which is very good. In the evening after Eleri returned home we watched the latest Shetland on BBC. We love Shetland. It not only gives you a detective mystery to ponder that being in an isolated community has that Agatha Christie Country House quality that these things need but there is a sort of stillness that you get that is very attractive. I'm always planning to visit while watching but probably never will.
Gordon Banks of 1966 fame, the third to go now (after Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson and Alan Ball) was a minor boyhood hero of mine. He played for unfashionable clubs (Leicester and Stoke) and was a very sober and unflashy player, the sort that Alf Ramsey went for that fooled me a bit so that I was more impressed by Peter Shilton. I remember a comic including a series of pics showing that amazing save against Pele in 1970. I was on a train once and Gordon Banks happened to be on it too for some reason as we pulled into Paddington. Today the media are saying that he would have been knighted but for an admin error. I wonder how often that happens. It's odd the way we treat our heroes.
I have really enjoying Bart van Es's prize winning book The cut our girl. I was surprised, however, to find on page 209 what appears to be a mistake.
Half way down the page he begins a new paragraph
On the desk in my hotel room lies a second sheath of papers.
Surely that should be
On the desk in my hotel room lies a second sheaf of papers.
Professor Paul Brians of Wahington State is with me on this. (If you take your knife out of its sheath (case) you can use it to cut a sheaf (bundle) of wheat to serve as a centerpiece.) It is apparently a common error and yet this is written by a Professor of English Literature at Oxford University and appears in a Penguin paperback. I have contacted him and he confesses embarrassment. We've all been there.
Once again we had a large congregation in the morning when it was hard to get to speak to everybody and a rather small one in the evening when the only problem was making the two locals from the area feel welcome. My son and his wife were there in the morning and most of the regulars though our seminary student was preaching elsewhere, one couple are now away for some months, several were unwell and as ever some were unacconted for. In the morning we were in Athens (as announced) and it was a little longer and may be heavier than I had hoped. I spoke to the kids about Mount Moriah. In Church history we've reached the 15th century so it should be plain sailing from here on in. The evening sermon was on the closing verses of Matthew 23 and was brief and had good illustrations.
This week's day off had to be shunted on to Saturday, as I was at a seminary board meeting on the Tuesday. There was a men's meeting at the church at 9 am where we gathered for coffee and prayer. We had a good chat about prayer and it was good to have seven present all making their contribution. Discussions about prayer tend to make me feel guilty but also resolved to try harder.
One of my sons and his wife were with us for the weekend so that was nice, although I managed to mess up an appointment with the gasman the day before and so we had to hang about for him. In fact we were misinformed and headed off in the car but then had to return as he was coming in a quarter of an hour. Anyway he sorted out our boiler and it was nice to have the heating back (although it has been quite mild).
Later Dylan and I watched the rugby games while our wives hit the charity shops of West Hampstead. Dylan and Cat then headed off to a Gatsby evening in town while we watched most of the latest episodes of Silent Witness. In between all this I read a chunk of Unexpected histories a Christmas present.
1. Car in Drive my car (and many others)
2. Train in Lucy in the sky (Picture yourself on a train in a station)
3. Taxi in Lucy in the sky (Newspaper taxis appear on the shore)
4. Bus in Day in the life
5. Fire engine in Penny Lane
6. Lorry in You never give me your money (Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go)
7. Ship in All together now (Sail the ship, bompa bom)
8. Submarine in Yellow submarine
9. Plane in Ballad of John adn Yoko (Finally made the plane into Paris .. Caught the early plane back to London)
10. Walking or mind travel. Walking in Aint she sweet (Oh ain't she sweet, Well see her walking down that street) mind travel in Inner Light (Arrive without travelling, etc)
1. Honey in A taste of honey, etc
2. Bacon in Piggies (Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon)
3. Wine in A taste of honey (A taste of honey... tasting much sweeter than wine.) and Norwegian Wood (I sat on a rug biding my time Drinking her wine) etc
4. Strawberry in Strawberry fields
5. Tangerines in Lucy in the Sky (With tangerine trees and marmalade skies)
6. Marmalade in Lucy in the Sky (With tangerine trees and marmalade skies)
7. Marshmallow pies in Lucy in the Sky (Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies)
8. Fish in Penny Lane (A four of fish and finger pies)
9. Birthday cake in It's all too much (All the world's a birthday cake So take a piece but not too much)
10. Chocolate cake in Ballad of John and Yoko (Made a lightning trip to Vienna Eating chocolate cake in a bag)
[Bonus Tea in Cry baby cry (The duchess of Kircaldy always smiling And arriving late for tea) and rice in Eleanor Rigby. I am the Walrus also had several - cornflake, custard, semolina, pilchard]
We pressed on with James 1 last night, this time verses 19-25. We were about eight or nine. so a little down in numbers. We had a decent time of prayer too. We seem to have many struggling with illnesses of various sorts these days.
I never know really how long a sermon might be. Last Lord's Day we seemed to have a slightly short one on the morning and quite a long one in the evening. We began with communion in the morning and then the next part of Acts 17 looking at the coming of the gospel to Berea. I also began a new series for the kids on mountains - Ararat first. We were a good number. In the evening we were down to something like 15. My friend Irving Steggles was with us. He had planned to get there in the morning but it didn't work out. This time I went through most of Matthew 23, hopefully in a profitable way. A good day then.
1. Why did the chicken cross the road? jokes
(As in Why did the chicken cross the road?” “To get to the other side!”)
2. Knock knock jokes
(As in Knock, knock Who’s there? Lettuce Lettuce who? Lettuce in, it’s cold out here)
3. Light bulb jokes
(As in How many Mystery-genre writers does it take to change a light bulb? Two. One to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end)
4. Doctor Doctor jokes
(As in Doctor, Doctor, can you give me something for wind? Yes - here's a kite!)
5. What do you call a man jokes
(As in What do you call a man with a spade on his head? Doug)
6. Elephant jokes
(As in Why did the elephant paint its fingernails red? So it could hide in a cherry tree)
7. Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman jokes
(As in An Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman set up as furniture removers. On their first job a householder saw the Englishman and Scotsman struggling to carry a wardrobe upstairs. She asked them, 'Where is the Irishman?' 'Oh, he's in the wardrobe stopping the wire coat-hangers from rattling.')
8. Bar jokes
(As in E-flat walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Sorry, we don't serve minors.”)
9. What's the difference jokes
(As in What's the difference between a photocopier and the flu? One makes facsimiles; the other makes sick families)
10. Two kind jokes
(As in There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who have a way with words and those who way have do not)
Somehow Wales have won the first game in France against a French side that was 16-0 up at the end of the first half against an error prone Wales team.
We ended up winning 19-24 as Frane also fell into errors.