les Davey de France

In 2005 Alan, Pat, Gwilym & Catrin Davey moved from North East Wales to 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)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book review : God's Story - a Student's Guide to Church History

History is not bunk. It is awesome.
It tells you the route that brought you where you are today.
It warns you of the mistakes and errors that others, wiser than you, made.
It inspires you with stories of heroism shown by people in worse circumstances than you.
And the history of the church is especially God's Story.

Dr Brian Cosby is pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church in Tennessee, and he has sketched out this little survey of Church History for students.

Here we hit our first snag. British people will think the book is aimed at university students, at kids of 18 - 21. If the book is aimed at university students of age 18 - 21, then I suggest it is aimed a bit low. But high school kids would appreciate the level of Dr Cosby's approach.

The book is the product of a pair of theologically safe hands. You can generally see where the author is coming from in his treatment of the reformation, of the puritan period, of Christianity in the New World, etc. On the other hand the Anabaptists get one sketchy paragraph and the twentieth century is skimmed over very quickly. Also it's very centred on Europe and the USA. We don't get anything about the faith in China or in the Middle East. North Africa disappears after Augustine. For information about the Missionary Movement and the growth of the church in the southern hemisphere the student will need to look elsewhere.

What the book does, however, it does pretty well. I would suggest that rather than it being a history of the church, really, it is a history of the theological roots of the reformed churches today.

There are some clangers due perhaps to sloppy editing - for example I googled "ad fonts" just in case, and got some fascinating information about typefaces, rather than the renaissance return to the sources, ad fontes.

And is it true that the Western Church adopted latin rather than greek because the latin language was not tainted by its use by the Roman persecutors, who spoke greek? I always thought that it reflected the historical use of the languages, greek in the eastern empire following the conquests of Alexander the Great, and latin in the western empire following the conquests of Caesar. Google and Wikipedia didn't help me and after all, what do I know? Gentle reader, can you help?

I enjoyed the book, and it could be useful for kids in their late teens to give them a quick overview of the road that got us where we are. But I would want them to move on to something more substantial and more thorough pretty quickly.

I received a review copy of God's Story free of charge from Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review.

Here's a video promoting the book :

A bit of morning encouragement!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Naughty naughty !

Last night we were invited to our Dutch missionary friend, Harriette's place.
Some of her friends from Holland were visiting.

They came into the bookshop earlier that day, which was great.

The Dutchies and Daveys evening was spent in the usual European high-jinks, including :

: Making those wristbands out of rubber bands, you know the things...
: Trying to work out how to make a Dutch "r", by vibrating something deep in your throat that I am sure does not exist. Catrin is a natural at this.
: The "Sing a song that has this word in it" challenge. We failed on scissors. (There is a Dutch song about the dentist, would you believe...)

Then this morning, by unhappy coincidence, I discovered that some person or persons unknown in Germany and in Holland has been accessing my Hotmail account.
Rotters!
I have now set up two-step verification and a password SO ENCRYPTED that even I don't know it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Crazy lunch!

Courgette cuppa-soup.
Sweet flat white peaches.
Cake with lychees.
Baby lettuce with balsamic dressing.

In that order...

OH DEAR

At the end of the fete du vin they had planned a huge fireworks extravaganza, with thousands of wine-filled, sun-kissed festive throngs all over the quays watching the show.

But météofrance forecast a nasty storm, so they cancelled it.

(no storm came)


Then last night was the first night of the reenactment of the battle of Castillon, which ended the Hundred Years' War and returned Aquitaine to French rule. Also various open air music concerts were planned.

But météofrance forecast a nasty storm, so they cancelled it.

(no storm came)

This time we did have some brief downpours of rain and thunder rumbled a bit. But nothing that would make you batten down the hatches or cancel your stuff.

I hope météofrance doesn't swing the other way, though!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sans même râler!

Catrin wants to study voice with a view to singing professionally, and in the meantime she makes videos of her songs and puts them on Youtube.
But her camera is a bit... well... she could do better.
So she's been saving up. We said we'd pay half and so on.
So the other day we started looking seriously at what might suit her. We looked at websites and videos done by people who make videos.

Some of them - well they say "An inexpensive set-up" and wave this massive device at you that would cost thousands.
Yeah. Right.
One lady said "I use my iPhone."
Yeah. Right.
One person pointed out that for singing the important thing is to capture the voice well with an external mike, so that set us on a more helpful quest. So off to the Fnac we went to hunt for cameras that take an external mike.

I'd been fancying a Lumix FZ200 for her, really because I'd like one myself, except it's too big so an LX7 would be the best for me, but the lens on the FZ200 is a marvel... Our trip to the Fnac confirmed that it has an external mike socket and we mugged up on microphones, too. We didn't have enough money saved up, but we'd get there...
Then on the way out of the Fnac they gave us a magazine all about photography and cameras and I saw another beast, the Canon Eos M, at a very reasonable price. And it has an external mike socket.
I mugged up on it. It got bad reviews because of its slow autofocus, but they fixed that with a firmware update. I looked on the Fnac website and, yes, it was available at Bordeaux.

AND... there was an offer where if you bought gift vouchers in advance they would add 25% to their value.
Which means getting 25% off.
Then you use the vouchers to buy whatever - in this instance, Catrin's camera.

Consultations on every hand. Catrin was happy. Fnac staff assured me it was right and it would work.
Yeah. Right.
Well I bought the vouchers.
Waited till they were credited to my Fnac card.
Went into Bordeaux having printed off my account details showing the vouchers.
Fretted and prayed all the way - these things rarely work as you think and you often have to rant in the shop... :-(
Saw the same lady as yesterday in the camera department. Thanks !
She remembered me. Thanks again!
She remembered what I wanted to do. Many thanks!
She sorted it out and lo and behold off I walked with the camera at 25% off an already very good price!

I said, "Vous savez, je pensais que ça n'allait pas marcher, mais voilà, sans même râler!" (you know, I didn't think that would work, but there you are, without even having to rant)
She laughed and said, "Ouais, toujours souriante!" (yes, smiling all the way)

Bravo Fnac and bravo lady in the camera department.
Now we need to buy a microphone...


When it's HOT, HOT, HOT

Well yesterday Pat was in the Maison de la Bible all day and I was in with her in the morning.

At lunchtime I came out of the nice, cool, stone-built bookshop into the heat of the afternoon sun on the hottest day of the year so far, 38°C.

When it's 38°C in Bordeaux it's a bit like when you check the barbecue to see if it's nice and hot.
The sun beats down at you mercilessly and you need to drink lots of water and seek the shade.
Everyone walks very slowly. Very slowly indeed.

Thankfully there were nice breezes, but still the side facing the sun was getting nicely cooked.

I had an errand to run in town, then home on the nice air-conditioned tram!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Office for Bulgarian and Romanian Squats

While I was waiting at some office or other with our asylum-seeker friends I noticed that the next door office was entitled "The Office for Bulgarian and Romanian Squats".

OK...

Another thing that you can"t help but notice is the number of Ukrainian families seeking asylum in France.
Youngish parents, one family with 6 little children, all sat in a row in the préfecture. Imagine!

but it is God who gives the increase

Many years ago when the world was young and I was doing my ministerial training I used to preach in a church belonging to a denomination with an illustrious past but a somewhat faded present - the church was one of a few relict communities of evangelical life in what had become a moribund, formalist body.

I remember a conversation with one of the church leaders of the congregation where I had preached. He criticised another denomination because they had lost the truth, "gone rotten from the bottom up" because of their independency and democratic church government. "Our system kept the church pure", he said.

I thought, 'You don't get out much or go to your denominational meetings, do you?', but I listened politely, treasured up what he said and pondered it in my heart.

His answer to decline was having the right structure.

Even more years ago I was very keen on a strong independency myself. "Groups of churches go down the Swannee", I would say, "keep pure, keep keen, keep out".

Trouble is that individual churches go down the Swannee, too,  in all sorts of ways.

I read stuff now that says, "A confession of faith! Otherwise you'll go down the Swannee."
Or "Proper liturgy" or "simple dependence on the means of grace" or "expository preaching" or "seminary-trained pastors"... well the list goes on.

A robust confession of faith, good Biblical structures, expository preaching, simple dependence on the means of grace, strong, qualified leaders, well-trained pastors, expository preaching,

All these things are very important indeed.

But none of them works apart from the grace of God.
Nothing works, apart from the gracious influences of the Spirit of God.
Only he makes things grow and keeps things alive.

Let's pray, folks.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bangs

I've always cut the family's hair, ever since the children were small.
Sometimes I try and encourage them to go to a hairdresser.
Pat likes to go to a stylist now, but the kids still prefer me to do their hair.

But I was a bit daunted when Catrin said she wanted me to cut her a fringe.
I resisted for a long time.
She found a video on Youtube showing how to do it.
My resistance weakened.
I found another video.
This morning my resistance crumbled.

So she has a fringe. And she looks fabulous.

Pictures from 14 July

The Fête Nationale festivities for Pessac were held in the park at the end of our road.
This was very good news for us, of course! Here's some photos.











Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's going to be the best 14 July EVER!

Well here we are just getting ready for the Fête Nationale, the 14 juillet, and everyone knows what's happening where.

In Bordeaux there are the Firemen's Dances tonight from 8pm to, I think, 3am.
Then tomorrow evening the military parade complete with parachutists and alphajets,
followed by fireworks.

In Pessac there is the 14 juillet extravaganza.
From 16h tomorrow the park opposite our house gets turned into a fair from the year 1900.
Everyone is invited to come dressed up. (I'll wear a cap and braces)
There'll be period burger stands and crepe-mongers.
There'll be a méchoui - a spit-roasted lamb stuffed with cous-cous.
There'll be singing and dancing and giant wooden games.
There'll be fireworks at the end of the evening.

Hmm.. Bordeaux or Pessac?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Self-help religion




(Please note that posting this extract does not imply approval of everything Paul has ever done or of the Anglicanism of which he is a part.)

Wedding and Groupe chinois

Today at 11 at the town hall Manu and Delphine are getting married.
Wahoo!







Then their celebrations continue at the church in Auros at 4, but we're not going to that.
Auros is about 30 mins by car outside Bordeaux.
We were offered a loan of a car, but by then I'd been asked to preach for the Chinese group.

So at 6 I'll have the joy of preaching for the Chinese.
Last time was on the Trinity.
This time will be on Jesus, his person and his work.

Poor kids

Well Catrin's results were due at 17:00, but we encouraged her to look at about 10:00.
You never know.

All went quiet just after 10.
Then "Mum, come here..."
Then all went quiet again.

Then the silence grew deeper and more ominous...

Catrin had passed all her exams, with
a very respectable 15/20 in Science,
14/20 in Geography and History,
but 11/20 in français écrit
and 10/20 in français oral.
That was the first silence.

The deeper and more ominous silence was as she began to hear from her friends.
Some had got 7. Some had got 5.
7 is bad. 5 is the pits.
Some few had done better.

Still, she's accumulated 20 or 21 points towards her bac next year,
though it seems that some of her fellow students are starting with a negative score.

Vagabonds



This song took a while to grow on me, and I'm still not sure about the balkan-style arrangement, though it makes a change from riverdance-praise.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Catrin has passed her bac français

with a mix of good and OK marks.

Some of her co-students have not done as well.
Post mortems are in process.

Oh well.

Today Catrin gets the results of her Bac Français

I did have a rendezvous at 10 in town, but the chap phoned yesterday to postpone.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

L'administration française - dans toute sa splendeur !

So I spent a happy afternoon with our friendly local asylum seekers getting their request for asylum completed and sent off. This experience was made wonderfully surreal by the following :

1) the charming Italian lady in the office whose English was better than her French, which meant I had to correct her spelling a bit.

2) the sheer glory of our friends' national calendar. It is NOT the Islamic calendar. It is another lunar calendar in which we are in the year 1393. This meant that working out the parents' and siblings' dates of birth was an exercise in complicated mental calculations. I KNEW algebra would be useful one day.

3) the application to join the French health scheme, a thick wedge of documents sealed in a plain brown envelope accompanied by colour photocopied instructions to :

1. take bus 15 direction Les Aubiers,
2. alight at Place de l'Europe,
3. find the tall building in the photograph, indicated on the map, then
4. enter, ascend to the second floor then
5. place the plain brown envelope into the hole in the wall pictured in the further photograph.

We actually laughed, but it was not a joke.




Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Evocation de la venue de Napoléon à Bordeaux

Napoléon came to Bordeaux last weekend. Here's a nice photo and a little vidéo :




Tuesday, July 08, 2014

In a strange coincidence...

On Saturday I shot briefly into town to meet up with one of our old Chinese students. Now working in a financial trust in a city of 10 million people in the heart of China, he came to faith in Bordeaux and we spent very happy years together, studying and reaching out and working with the Chinese group. It was a good time.

Now he's married to a super godly girl, and they have a little boy who is growing up fast. They are looking for a church, which is not so easy when you're in a Chinese city of 10 million people. It was an encouragement to me to work with these Chinese lads.

Book Review - China's Reforming Churches, edited by Bruce Baugus

This is a really good book. No, I mean a really good book.

It's essentially the story of Reformed churches in China (Reformed in this context meaning presbyterian) Bruce Baugus is the editor, with different authors for the different chapter, the book is organised into four parts :

1) The Story of Presbyterian Missions in China

2) Presbyterianism in China today

3) Challenges and opportunities in China today

4) Chinese appropriation of the Reformed faith

I don't know of that sounds all that appetising to you. What if I tell you that along the way you'll read discussions of :
how to conduct overseas mission such that strong indigenous churches result,
how to face up to doctrinal shift in ministerial training,
how to pastor in today's connected mega-cities,
the practical implications of covenant theology in church and family life,
ministry in times of social upheaval
as well as a detailed exegesis of Acts 15 ?

It really is a most stimulating book and I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you care about China, if you care about mission or if you care about the church, this book is for you.

I received the book free of charge from Cross-Focused Media in return for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.


Monday, July 07, 2014

It's a tough life for asylum seekers

For our asylum seeker friends the week started early - Monday morning rise and shine and go and register at the OFII.

So 7:30 found me haring off to the bus stop for the 7:41 bleary-eyed bus to Bordeaux.

8:25 we were in place. 8:30 the doors opened and we were in line.
Then sat waiting in the reception area.

I fingered the tricolour sitting proudly in the corner by my seat.
Its bold colours were taken up by the reception area -
bright blue doors
white walls
bright red desk (this was a bit of an eyesore, frankly).
But it did get the message across. This was not Kansas, either, Toto.

A gentleman came in and called out the name of our friends.
We followed him by a circuitous path to an office where he entered all their details on computer.

Voilà. By 10am I was back home, making and answering phone calls
and sending out an email with details of the meeting
for the little team that is taking over from next week.

Can you imagine it. A trip to the OFII and you don't end up carrying home a bottle!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

After-church barbecue

No problem - we'll use the amazing, magic, electric barbecue.
Plug it in. It heats up.

POP. The electricity trips.
Unplug it. It still trips.

OK... Let's get the Davey nose on the job.

In the kitchen there's that familiar smell of hot wires...

Unplug the kettle, the coffee machine and the oven.
Turn on the electrics. Fine.
Turn on the barbecue. Fine.

"I think it's the kettle". That's bad news, eh?
So we put the kettle to one side and plug everything back in.
An hour later.

POP. The electricity trips.

Well it isn't the kettle. Get the Davey nose on the job again.
Oh dear. It's the oven...

Still - at least it's not the kettle! Let's get some tea made.

UPDATE : it tripped again, so it isn't the over either. Perhaps it's the coffee machine.
We'll leave the lot unplugged overnight and try it in the morning.

UPDATE : finally tracked it down to the extension lead the kettle and oven were plugged into. :-D

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Bible in the mother tongue.

"The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner." - William Townsend
Just to mention that at the Maison de la Bible we don't half sell a lot of Bibles. We sell over 100 Bibles at 1.90€ EVERY WEEK, in addition to all the other numerous translations and bindings that we sell.

Happy Bac Day

Today was also results day for Gwilym, the day when he got his results for his Bac Pro Commerce.

Well the boy done good. He got an average of almost 70%, buoyed up by 100% in his three English exams, but sustained by good marks in Geography, Commerce etc.

He ends up with a Bac Pro Commerce Admis avec Mention Assez Bien.

Bravo, fiston. Tomorrow he starts his summer job at smart togs in Bordeaux.

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Who'd be an asylum seeker, eh?

So this morning while we still had the car I roared off to Carrefour and did the big shop, then returned the car unscathed to its waiting owner. Paperwork completed in order, off with me to my meet-up with our asylum seekers to accompany them to the OFII - Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration. But nipping round to the OFII sounds so ... ordinary somehow...

The lady at the OFII was charming. She said, "You'll have to come back next week."

A bit of discussion uncovered the reason why. All the relevant staff were at Paris for meetings.

So there we are. Rendez-vous next Monday, 8h30 at the OFII.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Day trip to Beynac

Well we wanted to mark the end of the BAC exams in worthy manner, so we planned a trip to Puy du Fou. It was suggested to us as an outing when we first arrived in France nine years ago, but it's still hideously expensive, mainly because it's SO FAR AWAY. We'd have travel costs and accommodation and...

Well we thought again, and decided to go to Beynac. It's the setting of Michael Crichton's book, Timeline, and the associated film, and a very historic castle, the Lionheart bought it not entirely honestly, but there we go...

So we hired a car from a charming gentleman in Bordeaux whose cousin is a pasteur protestant and whose brother is a pasteur évangélique (small world) and hied us away to Beynac. Including a somewhat comic moment where the various follies and foibles of the family made either buying lunch or even eating the rolls we brought with us utterly impossible, the day passed very enjoyably.

Here's some photos.








Monday, June 30, 2014

Bordeaux rooftops and other photos










































Intermittents are show-business people and at present they're on strike!

The trouble with internet preachers

So I said to myself, "Now I have my sermon outlined, let's see what other people have done with John 14:6, I am the way" the truth and the life".

My favourite IP hasn't preached on that verse, but he has preached on how to not have a troubled heart.

Another preferred chappie went on at length about coronary heart disease.

hhhhmmm.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sh! Don't tell anyone!

At this time of year whenever we take the Number 4 or 44 bus, which we do pretty often, we walk through the park: through the gate, across the field, past the swings, through the woods, through the far gate and out opposite the bus stop.

Just inside the nearer gate there is a plum tree. In the park. A communal, civic plum tree.

And in June the little, dark purple plums are soft and sweet and juicy and delicious.

I walk round the tree and take only those plums that are just about ready to drop. I never pull, I never twist, I just give a gentle tweak and if the plum comes away then its abscission layer is ready and it's ripe. Otherwise leave it. It will be ready to come tomorrow.

And so every time I catch the number 4 or 44 bus the experience is sweet.

The trouble with internet preachers

Before I got old and crabby I would sometimes say to myself, "Oh boy do I need help with this text. I know, let's see what Revd. Bigtime-Preacher or Pastor Guy Famous did with this passage."

"Ah. Nothing." And usually Spurgeon hadn't either.

OK. No help there.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Le bal

The thing with adolescents and young adults is that they kind of fade out of your life by spending more and more time in their room. 
This means that when eventually their room is in another city or even another country you don't notice so much.

Anyway last night we suddenly though, "Oh yes, Gwilym went out to the end of lycée ball."

Elegantly clad in his sales suit he'd gone off to celebrate the end of his education.

We remembered at bed-time, and idly wondered what time he'd be back and whether good parents would wait up for him. 
Then Pat's phone rang. 
He was warning us that he might miss the last bus and so stay with his friends and come home the following morning.
But in the end he cycled on the city bikes to Pessac Centre, then walked home from there.

Oh yes!

When it's hot it's important to drink enough. Carry your little bottle of water.

But if you don't have it for whatever reason ?

Then U have bottles of water for 17 centîmes.

And, opposite the no.4 bus stop there's a small supermarket.
I like the owners and I went in there thinking that maybe they would have something I have found nowhere else.

An ordinary ice-cream. A choc-ice, Anything like that.

Bordeaux is full of artisanal ice-cream vendors where you can buy very good ice-cream in remarkable and unusual flavours at, of course, high cost.

But it ain't easy to find a choc-ice. 
Well not unless you buy a pack of four... 
But my favourite little supermarket might...

Yes! They had Mars or Snickers bars, and for just 1€ each. Great!

And a bottle of water, fizzy, I think this time.

And I am set for the arduous journey home on the small, overcrowded, rush-hour bus 4.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Have you heard the one about

a Welshman,
an Irishman,
a Ukrainian,
four Americans
three Frenchmen,
two Persians
and a Dutchman ?

Well that was my day. A bit crazy, but all pretty wonderful.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book review - Dear Life, by Alice Munro

I read this book for a readers' group here in Bordeaux and it occurred to me that it would not be a bad idea to review the books we read on the blog.

"Dear Life" is a book of short stories from Alice Munro, Nobel prize winner, who a kind of specialist. I really like short stories because of the discipline and artistry necessary to encapsulate a life, a landscape, history, into just a few pages. Incidentally, if you can read in French then Philippe Delerm is great for this. He aims to capture an impression or a moment, sometimes in just three pages.

I'll be honest, I almost gave up on this book. The first story in the book centres on a casual sexual encounter on a train, the next three stories also have significant moments of sex and I began to tire of the book.

After the book group meeting I thought again and decided to plough on with the stories, and I'm glad I did.

Munro's stories are set in Canada. It's important for the stories because you need to understand that they're set in a big country, sparsely populated, with small towns where everyone knows each other. This is not city life. And cars, trucks and trains are important in the stories.

The stories feature people who are shaped, often damaged by their past. Sometimes you know what happened. Sometimes you just conjecture. Different people come to different conclusions about the before and after of the stories.

The stories are about how people cope with each other, how angular people fit together, how damaged people live with each other's sharp edges.

You don't often get resolution. Apparently, we are told, there is always a moment of epiphany, when someone in the story realises what's going on. OK. Maybe. Again, apparently, we are told, people need to read one story a day, then ponder it - a bit like daily readings. I didn't. I finished one story, then ploughed on...

I enjoyed the stories, once I got past those first four, and they encouraged me to think of reading more short stories.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fête de la Musique

Today is Fête de la Musique, so the day began at the Espace Musical de Pessac, where Catrin has her singing lessons, for breakfast of pains aux raisins, and the Assemblée Générale.

Afterwards home for pancakes for lunch, then work on the order of service for tomorrow.

Then into town for my annual fix of bandas.

To the Porte Cailhau where our friends' jazz band was playing.
Then to Place Saint-Projet where there was first a pipes band, then Los Téoporos, one of my favourite bandas. They're medical students so they're absolutely barking mad. It's the stress.
They were followed by Lesbogoss from Bègles, who were quite disappointing. They played well, in tune and in time. What's the fun of that?
Then to Pessac, which was buzzing', to hear les Brasseurs de Vent, our own Pessac Banda.







Book review : Worshipping with Calvin, by Terry L Johnson

subtitled "Recovering the Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism".

All through my Christian experience I have hugely appreciated the preaching and writing of Don Carson. Especially his preaching. For me the fact that Don Carson is preaching at a conference is a good reason to attend.

I have noticed certain ... let's say anomalies, irregularities... over the years. Not with Don's preaching. He maintains his exegetical thoroughness, his concern to exalt Christ, his love for his hearers with a consistency to which I aspire sincerely.

No, the anomalies and irregularities have been evident in the circumstances surrounding Don's messages. Especially the times of worship. Let me explain.

An anomaly. I don't know what else to call it, if not a glaring clash. In a conference a few years ago Don spoke on the need for A Biblical Evangelical Spirituality. I think it was that very morning that the group leading the worship announced that all the songs that morning would be accompanied by percussion alone, especially the djembe, which in Africa is highly prized for its healing qualities and greatly used by Christian healers, too.

Um, someone pinch me, please.

An irregularity. On our arrival in France we quickly learned one of the favourite praise songs in our churches. It sets words from Revelation 15 : 3 - 4 to a lively tune in broadly hebrew style. The words are followed by a chorus on "laï, laï, laï" which mounts chromatically. You sing "laï" typically 82 times, depending on the number of times the chorus is repeated. So far so good.

But at one conference where Don was about to speak the music group omitted the verse and just had us sing "Laï laï laï".

Don is a gentleman. His tact and politeness are admirable. He is a model of restraint and control.

But all the same I would LOVE to know what he thought and to hear his views on these things.

Well read Terry Johnson and you'll soon know what he would say! This book is a call to serious reflection on the manner, style, concern, intent and content of our worship. Terry wants to call us back.

Back to a serious approach to worship.
Back to a word-centered approach to worship.
Back to a simple approach to worship.
Back to a Spirit-dependent approach to worship.

It's extremely closely argued. You'll need to read the book slowly, because he does sweeping historical surveys in a small number of pages.

It's very focused on a particular liturgical approach to worship. Not necessarily with set words, but with a certain form and structure nevertheless.

It's strongly paedobaptist, as you'd expect. Baptist friends will not be in total agreement with his historical survey.

There are big bibliographies, notes and references at the back of the book which would make it a useful reference work for students at reformed seminaries.

It would also be a useful book for people wanting to work out the implications of their newly found calvinistic convictions for worship.

It deserves to be read, studied, considered and evaluated widely and deeply.

A review copy in Kindle format was supplied free of charge by Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to give a positive review.


Exams season is drawing gradually to a close

Gwilym has now had all his exams. Apparently in his English oral the examiner gave up and they just chatted because it was obvious his English was well up to scratch. He says his other exams were no problem.

Catrin has just one exam left for this year, her French oral on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile a variety of books has arrived at the house, including "Worshipping with Calvin" for which a review is to be expected today, and "Albert Camus and the minister" which promises to be a fascinating read.

Today if Fête de la Musique, but the temperatures have been in the mid 30s, at which point the family lose the will to do anything but lie around. The day has started promisingly with soft, refreshing rain so maybe we'll get into Pessac or, ideally, Bordeaux, to hear some street music...

It will start for me with the AGM of the local Music School at 9:45am with croissants and chcolatines and musical interludes.

Oh yes, and a local grey cat has started visiting us each day. We've known her for a long time, but she's always been quite timid. Now she's appropriated the house and pops in to survey all that of which she is master.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Well THAT was a good day!

Up before the lark to see Catrin off for her bac examination in français écrit. The exam started at 8:00  so she had to be at school by 7:45, which meant she left the house at about 6:45. That's one occasion where having a car would be profoundly agreeable! But hey!

Then Pat and I had three hours to get ready to leave for the Maison de la Bible together.

I had given myself the goal of getting the wifi working, and it turned out that it had been working all along. With a triumph of teamwork, Catherine knew where to look, I knew what to look for, I found the wifi password, connected, checked it all worked and stuck a notice with the password on the noticeboard.

We had a few friendly and charming customers, gave our friendly beggar a cup of coffee and then Catrin came fresh from her exam and Gwilym arrived seconds later. I scuttled off to get celebration fish and chips from the chippie, though Pat and I chose salad instead of chips.

Then the family set off for home while I went off with our refugees for a Bible study.  I planned to do the study in the Town Hall Gardens, but they were closed because of the demonstrations being held by the "intermittents de spectacle", showbiz people.

So we toddled off to the big shiny Meriadeck shopping centre where just outside the've set up Meriadeck Plage, with deck chairs, games and jaunty music. In a quiet corner we prayed and read and studied John 1:1-18 together using our different Bible translations and the excellent 1-2-1 study booklets.

Then a cup of coffee in La Brioche Dorée, goodbye to my foreign friends, and off to the music school to sign Catrin up for next year.

Then home in true Blyton fashion. Tired but happy.

Oh yes, and I found my sunglasses which I had mislaid!

As I tottered home from the music school I thought about our happy exchange in John 1 and then thought, "but it's nothing. it's so insignificant. it's like hacking away at Ben Nevis with a toffee hammer."

Yes, but who cares. All big things are made up of lots of small things, and anyway, what do mustard trees grow from, or mighty oaks?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Because it's June. June! June! June! Just because it's June! June! June!

So what happens in June?

People leave Bordeaux in droves, that's what happens.

So far we have said goodbye to a sizeable proportion of our International Church regulars.
Students return to the land whence they came.
Ex-patriates return to the patrie to become in-patriates for the summer.

Exams, that what happens.

Gwilym has French and History today.
Catrin has her first exam Wednesday.

Picnics and barbecues, that's what happens.

So after the International Service we went down onto the quays for a picnic.
Some of my lettuce got blown away, but not much, and it was a very happy time together.

Fete de la musique, that's what happens.

Next Saturday is fête de la musique.
Conceived to incite the French to get their fiddles out of the attic and get playing again, it's turned into a festival of street music in Bordeaux and of well-organised free concerts in Pessac.

We usually spend the day in Pessac charging from square to square to hear fife bands, accordion groups, big bands, heavy metal bands, bandas, choirs and the orchestra of the schools of music playing in the church.

This year we plan to go into Bordeaux. We'll see. We may chicken out.

The FdlM does have it's down side. It's the date when in the late evening you're most likely to see drunks around, though public drunkenness has been on the rise over the past few years, I think.

But my most lasting memory of fête de la musique is of the Brasseurs de Vent playing in the Place de la République in Pessac and the whole square dancing the madison together.

Some music for Monday - The German Trombone Vibration.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Catrin singing yesterday, "Vaga luna" by Bellini

Catrin singing yesterday, "Se tu m'ami" attributed to Pergolesi



I notice big differences in timbre, projection, phrasing, rubato, general musicality.

Catrin singing six months ago : "Le mariage des roses", de César Franck



Maison de la Bible Assemblée Générale

Every year associations have to have a General Assembly.

Our GA was a quiet affair at Villenave, followed by a barbecue in the garden of the church/manse.

The association is working very well, the shop is doing well, the volunteers work together well, we are aware of God blessing on the shop and its testimony.

At the same time it isn't easy to find volunteers or even to find respresentatives from the churches to serve on the committee of the shop. The load is carried largely by our friends from the brethren assembly, and all power to them for all they do. They're very willing and keen to welcome others onto the team, however. Please pray for this while thanking God for all he has done.

More on the focus group

One thing that struck me about the focus group was that I was the only person to claim to be married with children. There were four single students, one chap who said "it's complicated", two who said they were divorced and one who was living with someone but not married.

Now that may be skewed because it's likely that single people use public transport more than married people do...

However, the statistics tell us that our cities are lonely places where most people live alone, and many are single parents in charge of children. The focus group bore this out.