les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in 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)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ben Thomas, mediamegastar, AT LAST !

I cry laughing every time I see this. My mate Ben from Flint was a reporter on a children's news programme on Welsh TV and was doing a piece on rollerskating staff in the huge new Tesco in Cardiff.

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Ben. Ardderchog !

Janine Jansen The Lark Ascending ( 1-2 )

This is just lovely.

Close your eyes, hold your breath and listen.

Fingers WHERE ?

Some French expressions just make me laugh.

To say that something is really easy one can say les doigts dans le nez

It beats easy-peasy coughy-sneezy any day.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

You probably need to warn your wife first

To illustrate that faith involves connaissance, conviction et confiance, I took a chair and pretended not to know what it was and got the kids to tell me, then to advise me what to do with it and to persuade me that they were right and that it would take my weight. Eventually I sat on it.

Pat meanwhile was suspecting dementia and wondering who she should call.

Here's something :

How much connaissance (knowledge) does it take to come to faith ? Enough to be convinced.

How much conviction does it take to come to faith ? Enough to entrust oneself (confiance).

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A bit on podcasts from the BBC

1) "From our own correspondent". This is simply a must.

2) "In our time" with Melvyn Bragg. Excellent.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Well done les Griffin !

For further information see Liz Griffin's blog, but les Davey offer their hearty congratulations to les Griffin on their examination success.

Liz - 65 % at the Alliance Française

Ben - 15.5 / 20 at the DEFLE, with specially high marks for assistance and assiduité. 1° next year !
then - 70 % at the Alliance Française

2375 euros !

I thought I'd show you the price in our local supermarket of a bottle of Petrus Pomerol red.

2375€, that's the price.
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I say ! Blog's a bit quiet, what !

Yes I know. It's a bit busy over the next few days. Here's Thursday to Sunday for this week:

Thurs eve : Student Bible Study
Fri eve : Groupe Rive Gauche (and simultaneously the Soirée de Jeux de Société at student centre)
Sat aft : English class
Sun morn : Groupe de lycéens (and simultaneously the culte en anglais)
Sun aft : preach en français

I much prefer times like this though I do get a bit absent-minded and incommunicative !

The "simultaneous" things are being ably handled by Ben Griffin.

Student Bible Study - Luke 18 : 9 - 14

Nice study last night to finish the year, on the parable of the pharisee and the tax-collector.

The word collabo is a strong word even for the younger generation.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A nice Aquitaine pattern of summer weather

We've settled into a nice summer pattern. Basically day time the sun roasts you - you get into the mid 30s. Then at night time we have storms.

For us it's quite nice, though you have to get into the habit of managing the ventilation of the house. You open all the windows in the morning to let in the cool morning air. Then you close the shutters as the sun starts to shine.

For some people it's a problem. The plentiful rain is keeping the drainage ditches full, and the warmth is providing great conditions for the reprodution of ... mosquitos.

Big, juicy, fierce ones.

We are pretty high up in Pessac, so we don't have drainage ditches and the puddles in the garden are normally gone before the day ends.

Chez le dentiste II

Hah !

I chipped a tooth on Saturday.

Just in time, Laura. I am sure it's just coincidence...

A happy busy Sunday

We were 12, I think, for the culte en anglais, and Ben preached from Ephesians 1:15 -> on how to pray for each other like the apostle Paul. Afterwards we ate on the patio and it was a good time of fellowship and discussion.

As I sat in the front row under the watchful gaze of the Grommit stuffed toy on the shelf I reflected on how careful I am to shut all the windows before we start and how one week I must leave the windows open and wander down the driveway to find out how loud our singing really is.

For the culte en français we were in Matthew 11: 7 - 19, where Sammy preached on the uniqueness of John the Baptist. The church is sailing through choppy waters just now - just a few weeks before we quit the conference centre. Sammy saw a place for sale on Friday, but it wasn't for us. Our numbers are a little down at the moment - we miss some of our students and the exam season takes its toll.

"A place for us to meet"

When we sang the hymn "Create in us, O Lord, a holy fire", I always used to stumble at the line "A place for us to meet...".

After all, I was singing it in Wales, land of the closed chapel. There is no shortage of places to meet in Wales. And where you can't get a church building then you can easily hire a community hall.

Then I started to get France Mission's prayer news. One feature struck me : all these churches in France struggling to find somewhere to meet. It can't be that hard can it ?

Two conversations from this Sunday. Firstly with the pastor of the Malagasy Lutheran Church that shares our room (they use it am, we pm). "Have you found anywhere for after the time when the centre closes ? No ? We haven't either. We look and look but nothing."

The second conversation gave an indication of how local politics can mess it up, too. A church in our region was meeting in a rather unsuitable building (a kind of prefab, built to last a couple of years) down a lane that was inaccessible by the fire service. They're a church from an authentically French denomination that has existed for centuries.

They let it be known that they were looking for a plot to build a new church on. "You'll never be granted permission for a new build in a new site."

They suggested that they build anew on their existing site. "No way, not there."

They were told that they could renovate their building, but it ends there.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

La fête de la musique

Well poor Pat spent today in the car ferrying family members hither and yon :

Catrin to troupe de scoutes. Oh - they're not there yet.
Gwilym to répé de saxos.
Catrin back to troupe de scoutes. They're there now.
Alan to tram stop.
Gwilym from répé de saxo - a brief respite, then
Gwilym to fête d'anniversaire.
Go to Catrin's fête de la troupe de scoutes.
Gwilym from fête d'anniversaire.
Catrin from fête de la troupe de scoutes.
Gwilym and Catrin to Centre Ville de Pessac for Gwilym's concert de saxos.

As for me my day was quite calm in comparison.

It started with preparation for the English Class, then a quick scuttle into town to hear an ensemble de cuivres at the Cour Mably. I arrived as they were packing their instruments away, but I got another chance to look round the Cour Mably, which would be a wonderful venue for a Carol Service. It's a cloistered convent with a fairly good meeting room that belongs now to the city. We need to get this association sorted out and then maybe we could use one of these gorgeous rooms for Christmas.

Then to the student centre. Finish off preparation. Chatting with a student. Class was depleted today - just one student, so we did the stuff I'd prepared but also talked about laying out letters in English. Then off to Pessac for the fête de la musique and Gwilym's saxo concert.

Last year in the town centre the fête de la musique was nice and busy but it's the one time when you see lots of drunks in the streets so by the end of the evening you feel a bit like going home. Add to this a temperature in the thirties and the cooling breezes of Pessac called loudly.

In Pessac it all has a very different feel. Many people are dressed up smartly for it, and the town centre has four venues, all within two minutes' walk of each other. In the one AssoSax were playing light jazz. In the school yard rock bands were blasting. In the main square a variety of different ensembles were playing. I listened to some people playing Gascon music on fifes and drums. Then in the church a choir, then the wind band from the music school, then the orchestra, then the ensemble de saxos.

I hadn't eaten so the glorious smell of the municipal barbecue overcame me. I chose duck and chips (improbably cheap) and then remembered that magret de canard here is traditionally eaten raw - well seared on the outside but with ... well I won't describe it any further. I thought 'It must be OK. People have done it for centuries, and anyway a duck is not a chicken, and if you don't look at it it's really not bad at all"

Why did Adolphe Sax invent the saxophone ? Why is it so popular in France ?

Anyway all the ensembles were incredibly good. Gwilym said that they got lost in the middle of one piece, but they still started together and ended together and that piece was a bit .... like that anyway.

Gwilym packed away his saxo (for the last time - I take it back today and he's switching to electric guitar. We haven't told his teacher.)

So we hauled ourselves off to bed. Phew !

Classique !


Classic !


This weekend

Today poor Pat is driving all day - Gwilym to saxo practice, Catrin to scouts, etc. etc.

I have the English class and two orders of service to sort out - an emergency one for the French service (I'm substitute for the scheduled guy who can't do it) and then for the service in English, which I am also leading. Ben's preaching, then the PowerPoint for the French service. We produce leaflets for the English one.

For the English class I have four students at varying degrees of proficiency, but all are great to have along and are good contacts. Next week being the last class of the year we may do something special involving scones if people are still around.

It's a quiet weekend.

It's la fête de la musique, and Gwilym is playing in an ensemble de saxos late tonight at Pessac Centre. I haven't told his teacher yet, but he wants to give up the saxo and rejoin his football club. However, the music school is now offering electric guitar so he's going to sign up for that. We are pleased because it'll mean he continues with music and because an electric guitar is much cheaper than a saxophone! The teacher has suggested buying cheap second-hand or Stagg - the local brand name for Chinese instruments. His best mate at school has suggested they form a band. He can"t play anything at all, apparently. Over-qualified, perhaps. I expect the teacher will form groups. They're also offering electric bass, but there is a limit.

Hay fever

It's definitely changing.

This year I have not taken any anti-histamines at all. I get a bit of sneezing first thing in the morning. I am aware that dust thrown up by the road when driving and the general dust in town is irritating my asthma, but not so that I am having "attacks".

And that's all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chez le dentiste

Jolly useful ! Thanks Laura !


Gordon Cheng ponders slippery slopes and the authority of the Bible


Maybe that first step onto the slope is the decisive one. A small step for a man, it seems at the time, but it turns out to be a giant leap for all mankind. hmm...

We are seeing now not just an attack on the truth and the authority of the Bible, but also on its clarity - the perspicuity of Scripture. The attack is phrased something like this :

"OK these passages exist, and they are doubtless true and authoritative, but the problem is that we aren't at all sure what they say or what they mean. So we'll go with our culture because the Word of God, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, is just impossible to understand at this point."

Bon. When one says that he has made that big decisive step. A small step, it seems at the time, but a giant leap it is really, to abandon the clear word of Scripture for the changing norm of the shifting sands of culture.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

From Embers to a Flame - and Highland Theological College

I mentioned in these august pages ( ! ) some time ago the book by Harry Reeder called 'From Embers to a Flame' about Church revitalisation.

Highland Theological College are running a three day conference at Kirkintilloch from 27 - 29 August with Harry Reeder. If you are doing a DMin with Highland /RTS then the conference counts towards your modules.

I am on the hunt for cheap Bibles in English

They have to be in modern standard English - they're for the English classes. If anyone knows a good place to look then do please say !

Funny how things come together

I was talking with someone the other day about how when we are working hard at evangelism so many of our worries, squabbles and preoccupations seem so unimportant that they are forgotten. It was true in the Christian Union so long ago. It is true in churches.

Then this morning in Donald MacLeod's "A faith to live by", the chapter on the covenant, I read this:

it is a remarkable and solemn thing that the familiar words of the Great Commission in Matthew 28 are cast in the form of an ancient covenant. There is a preamble, "All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth". There is a stipulation, 'Go, teach all the nations." And there is a promise, "I am with you always." What are we being told here ? That the presence of God is covenantal: "I am with you as you go and because you go." If we divorce the promise from the stipulation, there is no presence. The preaching of the Word, the evangelising of the nations, church extension, outreach, bringing God's word to bear upon the lostness and blindness all around us: it is all covenantal. That is the precondition of our enjoying the presence of God. We cannot invert the Biblical order and say "We won't go; we're not ready; we're waiting for the presence." It is the going church which alone enjoys the presence of the promise of God.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fête de la musique

The fête de la musique is a really big deal here. This article gives you a bit of background as well as describing the event in one of its local manifestations.


Oh well it's time to change (ii)

I got an email from my mobile phone company, TEN.

I ought to explain that I have been on this brilliant contract where for 14 euros a month I get up to 1 hour of calls / up to 120 text messages, plus unlimited internet access, MSN and something else that I can't remember what it is and I have never used.

The only problem is that I have an aging phone with a small screen that makes internet access pretty pointless really. And aging eyes ! The one time when it would be useful (checking bus times) it's not much good. I fancied changing phone but I am tied in to this contract till December.

Or rather I was. They are stopping my contract. TEN were bought up by Orange and so all the old TEN people have to move across to TEN by Orange or go elsewhere. Since the cheapest TEN by Orange is 40 euros a month I will go elsewhere. Probably to Orange, strangely enough.

So I tried to phone them yesterday and got the "All our operators are busy. Please sling your hook." message. This morning I phoned them again and was shocked when somebody answered the phone straight away.

Can I just change to any operator ? Yes.

Can I do it now ? Yes.

Can I keep my number ? Yes.

Well there we are. It was good while it lasted, but it's time to find something else.

Now what size of screen would I need to be able to read the bus company website on ?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oh well, it's time to change

Pat saw the dentist on Monday. He gave her a quotation for what he was going to do and advised her to send it to her mutuelle (health insurance) to ensure they'd cough up. So I went to the office in Pessac. The lady was very helpful and explained that there are two things you can do :

1) stick with the dentist you normally go to and take the chance that he charges more than usual, pay him then claim back whatever the insurance will give you.

2) go to a dentist on their approved list where you only have to pay whatever the health insurance does not cover - all the rest is done automatically.

There's one of their dentists within a walk of our house whereas the dentist Pat has been seeing is where we used to live in Villenave. She's minded to switch.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Qu'est-ce que la philosophie ?

Today our sixth-formers are sitting their Bac Philo.

The newspapers this morning have handy hints on how to do well, including "It's too late now to revise - except perhaps for learning the definitions of key terms like liberty, work, etc."

Meanwhile one teacher has come up with a winning formula - he raps his philo course and has produced an album, philosong, so the kids can learn things effortlessly.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday evening reflections

As water to the thirsty, as beauty to the eyes,
as strength that follows weakness, as truth instead of lies,
as songtime, and springtime, and summertime to be,
so is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me.

Like calm instead of clamour, like peace that follows pain,
like meeting after parting, like sunshine after rain,
like moonlight and starlight and sunlight on the sea,
so is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me.

As sleep that follows fever, as gold instead of grey,
as freedom after bondage, as sunshine to the day,
as home to the traveller, and all he longs to see,
so is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me.

Timothy Dudley-Smith

OK, it's not "A debtor to mercy alone", but it does express well the sheer refreshment and satisfaction of faith in Christ.

Last night was an unusual experience. Daniel, Samy Foucachon's nephew, ex of Lyon but now living in Moscow, Idaho, married his beloved Lydia. And the marriage was webcast. Daniel and I have never met but we have corresponded by email, etc., so I looked in on the wedding - 11pm our time and it was all over by midnight. American weddings are brief ! They looked a splendid couple, Lydia gorgeous in her white gown with a colourful bouquet and Daniel imposing in his dark suit.

This morning we were meeting with the Eglise Libre de Pessac at the Bagatelle Hospital Social Centre. Samy preached on Bartimeus - faith, its content and its outworking.

It was a nice service, a little different from our usual format, and afterwards we ate together and chatted.

Emmanuel, the pastor at the Eglise Libre, came and sat at our table and we chatted about the weekly radio slots he does on RCF Bordeaux - a Christian Radio Station (broadly Christian, you understand). Emmanuel presents "Point de vue Evangélique" and usually speaks from a Bible passage but another time we presented the student work in Bordeaux. I told him about my experiences at BBC Radio Cymru, and the sheer fun of live broadcasting.

Then we talked about the anglophones and the project of the International English-language service. A lady in his congregation is Anglo-Française and she passed on her email address and phone number as she is interested in getting involved.

We talked about witness in the streets and on the quays of Bordeaux, too, and the special times when the city is out in the streets. Emmanuel is a good guy and is president of the French Protestant Federation here in Bordeaux.

It was good to see some of our students there and most of our young guys. A Brazilian student was with us for the first time - she's from Pat's French class and she wants to come to the Service in English next week and also to the English class on Saturday.

It was a useful time. And we always eat so well, too !

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A quiet weekend

This weekend we are meeting with the Eglise Libre in the morning which means there's no Service in English, no preparation of order of service, no projection of hymns to do. Nothing except try to ensure people know how to get there and get food ready for eating together afterwards.

Today I'm at the student centre and we have the English Class. Gwilym has a rehearsal this morning for the ensemble de saxos at the fête de la musique next week, then he has youth group this afternoon.

Because there's no Service in English tomorrow we will try to get the anglophones together this evening and eat together.

One of the anglophones is a doctor from India who is in Bordeaux on an Erasmus scheme and will shortly leave for Rome. I asked where in India she's from, because we have friends who have strong links with Delhi, who worked in Maharastra province and speak Marati.

She said that she was from the North East, and that her church at home is Welsh Presbyterian.


You aren't from anywhere near Manipur ? Our church group at home has strong links now with the Independent Church of North India, which was founded by Watcyn Roberts, a Welsh Presbyterian.

It's the same kind of area, the same kind of church and the same kind of people but not exactly where she's from.

India's very big !

Claudio Monteverdi - Vespers 1610 - Duo serafim

I'm sure that I have posted this to the blog before but I do it again wholeheartedly simply for its beauty. The text is below.

Claudio Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine (1610).

Concerto: Duo Seraphim.

(Tribus vocibus)

Duo Seraphim clarnabant alter ad alterum:
Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Plena est omnis terra gloria eius.
Tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in coelo:
Pater, Verbum et Spiritus Sanctus.
Et hi tres unum sunt.
Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Plena est omnis terra gloria eius.

Concerto: Duo Seraphim.

(For three voices)

The two seraphims cried unto each other:
"Holy is the Lord of Hosts.
The whole earth is full of His glory."
There are three that bear witness in Heaven:
the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit;
and these three are one.
"Holy is the Lord God of Hosts.
The whole earth is full of his glory".

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jerusalem the Golden - Charles Ives - UCLA Wind Ensemble

JERUSALEM the golden,
with milk and honey blest,
beneath thy contemplation
sink heart and voice oppressed:
I know not, O I know not
what joys await us there,
what radiancy of glory,
what bliss beyond compare.

They stand, those halls of Zion,
all jubilant with song,
and bright with many an angel,
and all the martyr throng;
the Prince is ever in them;
the daylight is serene;
the pastures of the blessèd
are decked in glorious sheen.

There is the throne of David;
and there, from care released,
the shout of them that triumph,
the song of them that feast;
and they, who with their Leader
have conquered in the fight,
for ever and for ever
are clad in robes of white.

O sweet and blessèd country,
the home of God’s elect!
O sweet and blessèd country
that eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us
to that dear land of rest,
who art, with God the Father
and Spirit, ever blest!

Bernard of Cluny, 12th cent.;
tr. by John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Readers write ..... "English ?"

Hi Alan
Great to hear all the latest news...
But one thing confuses me. Why are you starting services in English? Unless I have missed something, I did not realise that there was a large English-speaking community in Bordeaux. Are these English people, or people from elsewhere who use English as a lowest-common-denominator currency?
Enlighten me, do...
Every blessing

Hello Reader !

We have both.

Firstly, since Eleanor of Aquitaine married Edward the -3 in the year ought-dot and inadvertently started the 100 years war, England and Bordeaux have had immensely strong trade links. The Bordelais fought for the English against the French during said war.

Then modern times have seen two influxes - people passing through with their work and people coming to retire after their working life is over. The former often Americans. The latter almost always Brits.

Last but by no means least - the overseas students who come to study in France with not a word of French but with basic functional English - they choose France because fees etc are so high in Britain.

English - it's the lingua franca, you know !


There is also lots of scope for work in Chinese (Mandarin), and in Turkish, Spanish, etc. etc.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Broken minds

I'm reading 'Broken minds' by Steve and Robyn Bloem at the moment. It's a book about depression that blends testimony and analysis, theological reflection and medical description. It comes highly recommended by such men as John Rawlinson of Banner (a good friend to so many) and published by Kregel. Good pedigree then.

It's a somewhat controversial book, mainly because mental illness and depression is so controversial, especially in the USA where there are so many competing and conflicting models and opinions on the subject and where analysis, therapy and so on seems so strong in the culture.

I've had the book for quite a while but I've been spurred into reading it by the death of an old friend in North Wales.

I am about a third of the way through. I'm just entering the section where they talk about the different treatments. If you have read the book what are your thoughts ?

Faites le plein de poids lourds

Tuesday on the ring road motorway I noticed that there was a sign telling lorries not to take the A63 to Spain.

This morning I found out why. The Spanish lorry drivers, protesting at the price of diesel, have blocked the border into Spain and something like 3000 heavy lorries are stuck on the roads of Aquitaine waiting to get into Spain to deliver their goods and / or collect their loads of tomatoes.

Meanwhile our car is making an effort to combat rising fuel prices. We usually get about 800 km per tank of diesel, but at the moment we are getting anything between 850 and 900. (Yes, I know it's the warmer weather but it's nice to think of the car doing its bit to help.)

White Horse Inn and Assumed Evangelicalism

I have recommended it before but I have no hesitation in doing so again. The White Horse Inn podcast is the one I stick with.

Recently they made a reference to this article http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=866&var3=main
I am pretty sure I have talked about this before, too, but it remains topical, vital and as urgent as ever.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In heavenly love abiding

Preached on Eph 1:3-14 in the English service on Sunday. Yesterday I was pondering over it again and this hymn came to mind :

IN heavenly love abiding,
no change my heart shall fear;
and safe is such confiding,
for nothing changes here:
the storm may roar without me,
my heart may low be laid;
but God is round about me,
and can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me,
no want shall turn me back;
my Shepherd is beside me,
and nothing can I lack:
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
and I will walk with Him.

Green pastures are before me,
which yet I have not seen;
bright skies will soon be o’er me,
where the dark clouds have been:
my hope I cannot measure,
my path to life is free;
my Saviour has my treasure,
and He will walk with me.

Anna Laetitia Waring, 1823-1910

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Today was declaration day

Income tax return, that is.

I did my declaration online. If you sent in the forms with the papers you had to get it in for 31 May. Online you had until 24 June.

It wasn't that hard. My pay slips total up the amount of income I should declare. Then there were a few other figures to put in. Then press the button to work out your situation.

It turns out that the government owes us some money. Not a huge amount, but not to be sneezed at !

Monday, June 09, 2008

Rooftops of Pessac

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Une manifestation

This demo is against bullrings.
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La mairie de Bordeaux

This is taken from the garden side. People get married from the other side, the courtyard side.

Sometimes I take my lunchtime sandwich in this garden. Very nice.
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Culte en anglais, puis barbecue, puis culte en français

Well we were 16 for the English service. We need to buy some more folding chairs. The service seemed to go well.

Then a barbecue. Thankfully it stayed dry, though it's not very warm for the time of year.

After that some dispersed, others went on to the French service where our numbers were somewhat depleted this week. It's been a busy weekend for everyone.

The wedding

We were nice and early at the mairie so together with the Griffins we decided to stroll up to Vincent's flat to see if anyone would emerge. En route we passed a game shop. Well almost...

Some weeks ago Vincent had mentioned a great game he'd played once, called Carcassonne. We Daveys, having toyed with buying a big study Bible (too personal a choice) or some daily readings (not special enough) decided that a game would be a great thing to receive as a wedding present. So on Friday while Pat cleaned the student centre I scoured the two toy shops I know in Bordeaux. The first didn't have it and had never stocked it. The second said "Il n'y en a pas", which I found comically unhelpful. OK.

I found it on the internet, so I knew it existed, but now there'd be no possibility of getting it in time for the wedding.

Enter the game shop at the end of Vincent's road. A voice called from the heights - a kind of gallery with the manager's office. I asked for Carcassonne. "Quelle édition?", said the man. Yippeee ! So he wrapped it nicely and we took it along to the wedding.

Bordeaux is quite big and it is June so we had to queue up with the other wedding parties. Everyone arrived and we waited in the splendour of the mairie courtyard. Then we were ushered into an equally splendid room (chandeliers, blue and gilt panelling) and told to wait.

We waited.

Then the lady deputed to conduct weddings came in through some huge imposing doors and we all stood while she entered. She was wearing her tricolor sash. She introduced herself and asked us to sit while she made a nice speech all about the Frenchman who crossed to America and came back with a wife in his baggage. We laughed and clapped.

Then she read out the articles of the code civil that relate to marriage - that husband and wife owe each other faitfulness, love and care, and that husband and wife are responsible for the education of their children and for their financial support until they reach adulthood, etc.

Then she asked first Vincent then Jenna "Do you take ..... as wife / husband ?"

The response is "Oui", and that having been duly given she proclaimed them husband and wife and gave them the marriage certificate, a letter from M. Juppé (the maire), a copy of her speech and the pen with which they signed the register.

We applauded, she left and off we all walked through the streets of Bordeaux, honking happily, to the reception room. People on the balcony of their flats shouted "Vive les mariés !" as we passed. We arrived at the reception room and Sammy gave a short message on "Love one another as I have loved you".

Then we ate fruits dipped in chocolate and little pastries and chatted happily till it was time to go home.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Today promises to be a ball

Just finished the order of service for the culte en français tomorrow afternoon.

Then I need to raid the supermarket for burgers and sausages ( and my MicroHebdo / HebdoMicro ).

Then go with the family to Gwilym's collège for the Portes ouvertes where there's something he's done that we have to see.

Then this afternoon a proper French wedding at the Mairie de Bordeaux. First occasion to dress up smart in France, and first French wedding ever, except for that one we gate-crashed in St Aubin sur mer years ago. The fact that the couple got married in April in the USA and this French wedding is just the simplest way to satisfy French admin will not spoil our sense of occasion.

Oliver and I have pledged to go in berets. I may renege on that §. But I have also got hold of some party trumpets because we will walk from the mairie to the reception hall so we won't be able to honk our car horns.

Then this evening a swift supper with the Foucachons.

Finish preparation for tomorrow morning's preach.

Powerpoint for the afternoon.

Leaflets / songsheets for the morning.

Piece of cake ( when God gives us the strength )

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Downsie quotes the editorial of the Evangelical Magazine of Wales'

The following is from an editorial written for the Evangelical Magazine:

“The big theme of the story that follows is the defeat of politics by shopping...Consumerism has shouldered aside other ways of understanding the world—real political visions, organised religion, a pulsating sense of national identity.” So begins Andrew Marr's bestseller A History of Modern Britain. It is this consumer mentality that is bleeding to death Christian service.

Tragically much of this has been self-inflicted. No amount of exhortation to passionate, sacrificial service will alter the mess that we are in. In fact no amount of actual serving on camps, overseas mission trips, beach missions, or attending conferences will change it either. Instead it will simply mask over the problem. The real problem is that we have adopted a consumer mentality when it comes to thinking about the Church.

There are some threats to the Christian faith that are unsubtle and obvious. You know where you are with books like The God Delusion that make a direct attack on the truth. Yet there are dangers that are far more subtle and devastating. One of the dangers is the way in which living in the West in the 21st century has changed the way we think about God, the Gospel, and the Church. We live, and move, and have our being in an atmosphere where individualism, consumerism, and felt needs shape our approach to the Church.

By God's design the Church is the means of grace, of Christian growth and nurture, of teaching and training, of outreach, accountability and service. We, however, have succumbed to a mind-set that sees this as optional at best, or an impediment at worse. Instead of the Church being the context for growth, service and outreach we have come to terms with finding input and output elsewhere.

This crisis has been a long time coming. Dr. Lloyd-Jones identified it as a loss of nerve by Christians in the 19th century when faced with the intrusion of error into the churches. Their response was to set up movements as outlets for united service instead of facing down the false teachers infiltrating the sheep fold. Today, the error driving our Church crisis is the triumph of shopping.

The sign that we are not thinking biblically on these matters is that we are asking all the wrong questions about Christian activities. “What's in it for me?” is the unspoken assumption as we listen to sermons and sing God's praise. Our reasons for choosing a church, or even staying in a church, can be exactly the same as the reasons we have for choosing a product. How does it make us feel? What are the personal benefits? What activities are on offer for the children? A further sign of wrong thinking is that a culture of criticism about church activities is tolerated.

When was the last time that you went to church in order to do others good spiritually? Is that your deliberate aim? The Bible is full of images that describe Christians as part of a greater whole. We are sheep in a flock, parts of a body, members of a family, bricks in a building. Each image undermines the idea that we can think about being, and acting, as a Christian apart from the Church. We are to build one another up in love, to spur one another on to love and good deeds.

Think of the impact that individualism and consumerism can have on growth and nurture. There is no need to be dependent on the local church for teaching when there are so many books, downloadable sermons, and conferences available. Not, of course, that these things are wrong. It is the use that we make of them that is the issue. We gather as God's people each week to listen to his Word. This demands that we respond to and apply the Word together in a way that isn't the same when we listen to recordings or attend conferences. There is an accountability upon us in the local church that is lost when we are in the big conference surrounded by people many of whom we don't know, and others that we see once or twice a year.

The same danger can be seen in evangelism. Being involved with camps and beach missions can be a great opportunity to learn and serve. Nevertheless we are all aware that living the Christian life in that context is somewhat artificial. It is far more demanding to build good relationships and tell the gospel in the week by week context of church life. By God's design it is the local church that displays the lived out reality of the Gospel. The local church is the place where you see the God of grace at work as people love one another, carry burdens, and forgive each other.

The challenge to do this is there for ministers too. As a friend of mine put it “ministers need to cut it at the local level.” It is easy to pour our energies into wider activities to the neglect of building up, in love and in numbers, the local church.

Involvement in the local church is not “another” option on the spiritual menu for 21st century Christians. To belong to God's people, to be part of God's family, is the high privilege conferred on God's children. Here is the place where God dwells by his Spirit. Here is the place where God assembles us, speaks to us, and sanctifies us. Here is the place where he has given gifts. Here is where we are to serve him, serve one another, and display the Gospel. It is time to put consumerism back on the shelf.

Gary posts Perkins' golden chain.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

That's me ! Fashion king !

I have these really nice shoes I bought in that Cheshire Oaks designer outlet village place. They're Vans slip-on canvas shoes and very nice and cool on a hot day, especially if you wear them without socks. The only problem is that they have Chinese-style dragons on them. The Chinese really like them but some other people find images of dragons inappropriate. (We are NOT going to start on the great Welsh flag controversy again, though.)

So when I was in Britain I called at that Cheshire Oaks designer outlet village place. I wanted pants and socks from the M&S store (14 pairs of black socks for 30 pence, or something...) And when I looked in the Vans store they had this really nice pair of black leather slip-on shoes with a nice pattern of holes to let air through in hot weather. Perfect. £10 to you, sir. (12€ )

Anyway the other day at church one of the kids noticed my shoes.

"Oh, c'est très à la mode, ça !"

Well you either got it or you ain't.

The global village

Some time ago I heard about the failure of the Florida orange crop. The USA would have to get its morning juice from Brazil.

Shortly afterwards the own-label orange juice disappeared from our supermarket shelves, leaving just the premium brands. We switched to "10 fruit vitamin enriched nectar" and the kids were happy with that.

Now the own-label juice is back.

There's a worldwide rice shortage, caused by various factors including the rising popularity of meat in Asian countries, biofuels, drought and oil prices. Wheat and other staples, too. In Rome a summit is meeting to try to improve the world's nutrition.

We really all do belong to one another. It's not just survival of the fitter.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Closure of the menagerie

I got home this afternoon after a lunchtime appointment to find that our last remaining animal, Gwilym's gerbil, had gently shuffled off.

No more animals.

Well, not until after the summer, anyway.

A couple of welcome books in French

I had an errand to run in Maison de la Bible on Friday and noticed two new books that are very welcome, published by Editions Clé :

Le Dieu qui se révèle : Don Carson. This is volume 1 of "For the Love of God". It's a presentation of McCheyne's Bible reading plan, together with a one page reflection for each day. Very welcome book.

L'église intentionelle : Mark Dever and Paul Alexander - "The Deliberate Church". Again very welcome.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

You have to love these people

I got a report on the Soirée Anglaise, which went very well. In the end though he had his talk prepared in French, Ben spoke in English. There were a lot of folk there with little or no French, so to do the talk in English made sense. Maxim gave a simultaneous translation - not easy, but he done good.

The food was fish and chips, loaded with salt and vinegar and wrapped in newspaper.


Ben said that at one point in the evening he saw two of the French lads leaning against the wall, eating their fish and chips out of the newspaper and he thought 'Just like in England'.

The sun shone !

We drove to Blaye through the rain. At one point it was rather like being in a submarine as the spray from the heavy refrigerated lorries enveloped the car.

Anyway we got set up, the service unfolded, a new British couple who live in the Blaye area came for the first time - he phoned me last night - and Samy preached well from Mark 10 - a passage we love from Christianity Explored.

When we went out to the pool for the baptism it was to a lovely blue sky with fluffy Aquitaine clouds - a cloud-free sky is rare - and a beautiful view out over the estuary. The pool was cold, apparently - just about 19° - but OK once you were in. The baptism went well and was followed by a slap-up lunch (organised by Mrs Davey ) The new British couple certainly saw us at our best !

A lovely day and we all went home, as Enid would put it, tired but happy.