That's been a busy 24 hours! Drove over to Norfolk with The Pew Cushion yesterday afternoon. The journey along the A47 was fairly dire - I loathe those long straight stretches of road when a queue of irritated drivers builds up behind a slow moving caravan! Got to Dereham at 5.30pm just in time for tea at the Baptist Church. Splendid meal prepared by Lynne, the Pastor's wife and her friend [sorry,forgot her name] Enjoyed conversation with family, and friends old and new. The purpose of the evening was a worship session with Godfrey Birtell.
It was good to be back in the church where I spent my youth - and catch up with news. Folk there have always been so faithful in praying for our ministry down the years and I appreciate the rare opportunities I get to return to the place where I was baptised and married.
I freely admit the evening event wasn't quite my style! I am a little uncomfortable about a service that has absolutely NO moments of silence - even when we weren't actually singing, the drummer was banging his cymbal between two soft drumsticks [the sort that look like dishmops] or Godfrey was banging out a rhythm on his guitar. I thought about I Kings 19
The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
I would have appreciated a gentle whisper somewhere along the line! Interesting, Godfrey claims the hymnwriter James Montgomery among his forbears, and has written a new tune for Lift up your heads. I like a lot of JM's hymns - he was a Moravian [I think we could have done with a little bit of explanation there, Godfrey - one person afterwards told me they thought Moravia was the place Dracula came from!]
Anyhow, in the middle of all the noise, I was struck with inspirations for next Sunday night's sermon, so I sat down and wrote notes furiously in my Filofax. I'd been wrestling with ideas all up the A47 and was grateful to the Lord that it had suddenly started to come together. Please note - the sermon is on Psalm 23, so I did NOT have to have a Bible open to check the passage whilst driving - I know that one by heart!
Godfrey also referred to the Celtic Christians and their choice of a Wild Goose as their symbol. He had written a Wild Goose song,and said he always ran the words of any song past a theologian friend to check they were OK before he published them. My Inner Lynne Truss wished the friend had a; gently pointed out the innumerable spelling mistakes and b; explained that 'wild goose' probably means 'not a domesticated goose' rather than 'a crazy and demented old bird'. I didn't really feel comfortable singing that "I wanna honk and flap and hoot and get loosed" But that's just me...lots of people there obviously really enjoyed the session.
Not sure about his comment that 'many Baptist Churches are full of Masonic Furniture' either - perhaps someone can explain that one to me!
However, Godfrey did make it quite clear that the important thing is not having religion, but having a relationship with Jesus, and I give him full marks for that. You should never assume that everyone present has already heard the Gospel.
Over the washing-up, had a good discussion with my brother Adrian and Michael about the church constitution issue. DBC are currently sorting theirs out, as we are. Particularly the issue of postal votes. I have strong feelings about this one - we are NOT a democracy, we are a theocracy, and we come together in the Church Meeting to seek the mind of Christ. I don't want to know your opinion, I want to know His Will, and I believe God reveals that to us, as we meet and pray together at the meeting. I will do everything I can to be at the Church Meeting - but if I cannot be there, I know He will be. I was reassured to find my brother has sound theology too!
Back to Adrian and Marion's place, where Lucy was dozing on the sofa. The cushion fits beautifully! They've repainted the kitchen recently though, so I wonder if I should do a fresh cushion cover in a heavier fabric which reflects the red theme.
This morning everyone was up fairly early for various appointments with hairdresser, riding lessons etc, so I was able to get on the road promptly. Remembered I needed to buy a box of chocs for someone, so stopped at the village store in Mileham and picked up some Quality Street. "Can I have a bag, please?" I asked. "Yes! here's one with writing on it!" said the assistant and gave me a HUGE plastic bag, with "HILDA" written on it in yellow pen. "Don't know who Hilda is" she said. I indicated the sign saying 'newspapers' - "Have you got The Times?" "Oh no - only Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times. You'll have to go somewhere else if you want one of The Nationals" I waited for her to say "Why would you want to know what happens outside Norfolk, anyway?" but she didn't!
Got back on the road, and the journey back was much better than the day before. Remembered I needed to get my contribution for the Bring'n'Share lunch, so stopped off at the Big Tesco's at Hamilton. i do not like Tesco's! The bread was wrongly priced, and I pointed this out before the guy scanned it. He agreed, and summoned help. It took two assistants four minutes to work out the cost of 4 items at 60p each! The younger one was using the Doubling Strategy - slowly and very inefficiently. I confess to finding it hard to teach maths using a Numeracy Strategy which involves "Dublin, Chunkin, and Cuddly Numbers" but someone, somewhere believes it to be better than the method we used to use.
Here's a picture of my niece Lucy, sitting on The Pew, you can just see one of the cats underneath. Lucy made some excellent ginger nut biscuits, which I sampled this morning. I must get the recipe from her sometime.
I had a good time and enjoyed myself - but it is good to be back home!