It was our privilege to be at the memorial service for Norman Wells today with about 300 others at IPC, Ealing. Norman died from Covid-19 rather suddenly in Spring last year. He was 56. A memorial service has only been possible now. We had helpful tributes from family and friends and Paul Levy preached helpfully from Psalm 73. It was lovely over tea afterwards to talk with old friends and one or two people I had not spoken with before. I knew Norman from his time in London Seminary and he would sometimes turn up in our services when en route from somewhere else. Norman's main work was with the Family Education Trust. It is clear that his thorough research and advocacy for the Christian view of the family never became theoretical but was lived out in his relationship with his wife Nicola and his nine children.
We were on zoom once again as usual on Wednesday and we looked at another "special" subject - this time limited atonement or particular redemption, what we might call special atonement. We spent time in prayer too. We seemed to take to it better this week than last. These things do vary.
What, another day off? Yes, I was off on Friday and Saturday and after two days I was off again as my general pattern is to take a day off every Tuesday. Having said that I actually spent a lot of time working on a paper I have to give before the end of the year. The introduction has been going round my head so it was easier to get it down. There were various other things like that and a coffee and a bit of TV.
|Two of my grandsons enjoying doughnuts at the wedding|
I thought it unlikely that Thijs van Leer would have been doing nothing during the pandemic. His new album is out today. All in French, Parce que is a set of ten vocal numbers with piano and flute from the maestro. Downloaded it this morning and am enjoying it, though the vibe is more an evening than a morning one.
We were a smaller number in the morning last Lords Day as I preached from Luke 8 again. We were on earthly loyalties and kingdom loyalties. Lots of Filipinos there, as we had some visitors and some returning regular congregation members. In the evening, I preached on Psalm 26. A good day then but there are still people you wonder where they are.
I enjoyed reading this large and comprehensive volume by Gerald Bray which very helpfully covers the long history of Christianity in these islands. He is especially good on the early stuff. Much was familiar but some was new and it was good to see how it all joins up. I had not realised that scholars now say that Wycliffe did not translate the Bible. I did enjoy some of the etymological notes (eg sinecure, Dingwall, church ales).
There was some confusion last Wednesday evening. One of our members had arranged for someone to speak to us on Sunday evening via Zoom but we are live in person again now so I asked about doing it on a Wednesday night when we are still on zoom. I'd thought that was the plan then and enjoyed a little more free time on Wednesday but in the end I had not read my whatsapp messages properly and there was no outside speaker. I had prepared to read Psalm 20 by way if introduction and so I just read it and gave a little more time to expound it (the Psalm has seven petitions and then some closing material). Anyway we had plenty of time to gather items for prayer and then pray too so it worked put okay in God's providence.
Last Tuesday was a lovely hot day and so I put on a flowery t shirt and shorts and made the most of it walking and reading in the garden. (Someone gave me the new Stephen King Billy Summers which one can't really recommend but that is well written and interesting all the way). I also found time for a bit of TV (an old police drama series on catch up The Commander).
We began the Lord's Day with communion We were not too many but the main services were quite full am (c 35) and pm (c 15). We were very international in the morning with Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ghana, Iran, Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, The Philippines and S Africa all represented. (I was sorry not to get opportunity to chat with the man from Afghanistan who I have not seen in a while). These were all familiar faces to some extent and one of our families also had relatives we know visiting. I preached on Luke 18:16-18 in the morning and Psalm 25 in the evening and although they weren't bad homiletically I felt they lacked something somehow. Preaching is a strange thing in some ways. We never get the full picture. At the end of the morning meeting I had a long chat with an Iranian whose English is limited explaining why I wouldn't baptise his young daughter.
A Nigerian couple in membership at the church are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary and we were kindly invited to a celebration in a nearby Chinese Restaurant. They have seven children so we were a good number. (The other week another couple celebrated 40 hears of marriage. We are on a mere 33).
We were on Zoom again for our meeting last Wednesday. We looked at another of these Special subjects - the fact that human beings are a special species, with an emphasis on the fact that we are made in God's image. We were not that many but we had a good time of prayer.
It was good to be back in Childs Hill for both services. We had a good number in the morning and not a bad one in the evening. In the morning it was nice to meet plenty of old friends and some new ones from Eritrea and Malaysia. In the afternoon my niece came for tea with a friend who is a worker in a church in Harpenden. They joined us at the evening meeting. Also in the evening a fellow turned up towards the end in need. We have met him before. I preached one offs from the end of Matthew 7 and on various passages on the subject of providence in conversion.