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, 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.


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.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bravo!, Your Majesty

The Focus Group

Would you please attend a focus group to discuss the bus and tram network. It'll take an evening, we'll feed you and we'll give you a cheque as a gift.

People so rarely ask you for your opinion these days that the invitation was impossible to refuse.

So I found myself in a group of nine assorted folks discussing real-time information in the bus and tram network of Bordeaux.

Guided by a very cheeky chairman from Paris (what do you call the person who runs a focus group? in French he's an animateur) who got away with saying things he'd never be able to say in the UK, I'm sure, we had a full and lively discussion. Almost everyone uses the smartphone apps to navigate the network, and the one lady who didn't decided during the course of the evening that she'd have to get one.

On the way home I chatted with a young chap from Carcassonne who knows a colleague's church down there and had sometimes thought he'd like to go along, so I encouraged him to do so.

The evening was very enjoyable; French people are natural comedians. The food was nice but it was party food you get frozen from Picard - twee little sandwiches and tiny fancy cakes - so people did go home longing for a good hunk of bread and a scraping of duck grease. Still, it's all grist to the mill, eh!

That was the week that was !

Well the blog is a bit quiet, isn't it. Let me tell you why.

On Wednesday usually Mrs Davey and I do a stint together at the Maison de la Bible, Bordeaux' excellent city centre Christian bookshop. This week Mrs Davey needed to stay at home with our offspring, so I done the stint alone.

I always enjoy my time in the bookshop. You meet super folks and get a chance to help and advise on reading, on Bible translations, on finding a church, all sorts of things...

My stint would finish at 2, so I arranged two appointments for the afternoon, one at just after two and another at about 3:30. And on the way to the bookshop I popped into Subway and bought a very nice salad for lunch.

On occasions in the past our replacement hasn't arrived to take over from us, but this time I had a very reliable replacement AND the determination to shut the shop at 2 and get to my appointments.


My replacement was unwell, but didn't phone to alert us.

No problem, you think. He said he'd shut the shop.

And so I would have done were it not for the customer sat in the window reading a book.


Thanks to the wonders of the smartphone I coud email and apologise for not making the rendezvous and reschedule for a fortnight's time.

My replacement arrived in time for my second appointment, so all ended on a better note.

Yesterday found us at the doctors in the morning, then I offered to replace Pat at the bookshop before going on to another interesting meet-up, this time in a focus group.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A stop go kind of day!

The day started late for Mrs Davey and the Daveylings. The nippers are on revision leave, which means late mornings and midnight oil. I, meanwhile, was greatly fatigued by my weekend journeys and the associated jet lag, so I fell asleep early in the evening and then rose early in the morning. This gave me a couple of hours to linger over my porage, to blog, to email and to consider the week ahead.

Then swift, so swift the madding crowd surrounds - Phone Here, Scan This, Install That There, Plan the August Journey... Multitasking, when will I master thee? So it was a somewhat frazzled Alan who hurtled into Bordeaux to meet up with a charming couple of asylum seekers for Bible study in English - because they do not speak the vernacular dialect of Bordeaux and folk here don't speak their ancient and noble national tongue.

It quickly became apparent that a Bible study in English was somewhat ambitious, so we revised our plan and next time we meet they'll have their Bible in their ancient and noble tongue, and I'll have a Bible in English.

Home through the estival Bordestival heat after picking up milk and loo rolls, and a peaceful evening. Phew!

Some photos of Kent, including some autochtones.

A swift sortie to Kent

I just got back from a quick trip to Herne Bay to preach at the anniversary services and also to do a deputation report on the work in Bordeaux.

The church in Herne Bay is pastored by an old university friend, Keith Hoare. His wife, Janice, is also an Aber ex-student. AND they served for over 20 years in and around Aix-en-Provence. And their excellent son, David, is a student at Bath. So there are lots of links between us.

I flew from Bordeaux to Gatwick.

Leave the house at 11:45. Bus 4, Bus 48, Airport in plenty of time. That's the theory.

In practice I leave the house at 11:47. Miss the first bus 4. Get the second, which arrives a little late. Charge pell-mell to a different stop for bus 48 and arrive there just in time to catch it. Airport still OK. Phew!

The flight was smooth and Janice found me in the arrivals hall.  I was staring everywhere looking for a big bloke with a beard so the little lady who said, "Alan, Alan" rather took me by surprise!

Herne Bay is on the Thames Estuary, more or less facing Southend, but a long way away. It's famous for Whitstable oysters and for its somewhat elderly population. The church is affiliated to the FIEC and falls into its "small churches" category, and was celebrating its 84th anniversary. Some of the congregation are older than the church.

I was impressed by the kindness people showed each other, they were very nice to each other, and by their outward-looking attitude. A nursery school shares the church building. They run garden parties and barbecues. Reaching people is never easy, but the church is applying itself to the task. This week Keith has a particularly sad funeral to conduct.

We walked round Herne Bay and Whitstable. We shopped in Sainsbury's, giving me the chance to restock our depleted reserves of PG Tips and to indulge the family's craving for Dairy Milk.

Am I preached on John 8, I am the Light of the World and pm on John 10, I am the Door. We sang "A Dieu soit la gloire". Keith and Janice learnt French properly, at Paris, and I'm always in awe of their lovely long a's and their carefully nuanced o's. Not like us bucolic folk from the South-West.

They got me to Gatwick in plenty of time and I had my bag thoroughly searched, which meant i repacked it more efficiently and could have fitted in more teabags... Oh well. Then ran the gauntlet of the scent-sellers in the huge duty-free shop that everyone is obliged to parade through.. At the departure gate there were chairs to sit on! luxury.

The return flight was extremely uneventful, despite warnings of violent storms in South-West France the flight was smooth and comfortable and bus 1 and bus 4 returned me to the bosom of my family.

Merci bien, les amis, pour un agréable weekend!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Language fun

One of this week's themes has been intercultural language stuff.

So Tuesday evening found me at a meeting of Bordeaux Interculturel, my second visit.

This is a group that aims to help people cross intercultural barriers by arranging language exchange evenings and also themed evenings. And they meet just round the corner from DAN, our restaurant, in a super facility called a Centre d'Animations, run by another group (association).

This Tuesday various teachers had been invited to give people a taster of different languages, including Korean, Italian... I chose Mandarin, and our very affirmative teacher ("You are doing very well for someone of your age", he said) taught us to say I/me, you, he/him/she/her/it and also we/us, you, they/them, to introduce ourselves, you count to twelve and to name the months.

I bumped into a few of the folk I met there last time I went (in February, I think).

Yesterday evening found me at a Spanish themed café where a French/English language exchange evening was taking place. Like speed-dating, you sign up and arrive and get assigned a table for two, one francophone, one anglophone, where you speak with your partner in English for 7 minutes, then switch to French for 7 minutes, then change tables. Four changes of table and your head is spinning and you go home.

One the way out I met a chap I met some months ago at a book event and we walked and talked back to his apartment up near my bus stop.

It was a nice way to meet people and to help folks with their English and to get help with your French. The café was noisy, however, so it wasn't all that easy to hear each other.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

A spontaneous creative type or a creature of habit?

Interesting video here about the role of habit in a life of creativity.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

So why have we (almost) all adopted this pattern?

One of the things we noticed during our sabbatical period when we were visiting various churches in Bordeaux is that almost all have adopted the P&W followed by Teaching model of form of service.

Essentially this form of service or liturgy is composed of two halves.

Part one : Praise & Worship (in French one would say la louange)

This is a series of songs, often recently written, sometimes favourites from youth camps of the 1970s and 1980s and occasionally classics, either reset or with their original tunes.

The number of songs can range from 4 to 9 or more, and sometimes the sequence of songs is punctuated by short prayers, sometimes by short readings and occasionally the readings are the substance of short meditations. But sometimes it's just song, song, song, song.

The time of worship is generally led by someone other than the pastor. Some churches have Worship Leaders who conduct this part. In other churches members take it in turns to lead this part of the service.

Part two : Teaching (in France, l'enseignement)

This part is led by the pastor and consists of the main reading followed by the sermon.

Part two might end with announcements or with a benediction. Sometimes a prayer of intercession. Sometimes the Lord's Supper, though in some churches the Lord's Supper is part of la louange.

In conferences both in the UK and in France I have noticed this form of meeting being adopted. It's the form at Keswick, basically. At the recent TGC conference a modified form was used, where there was louange at the beginning of the day for 1/2 hour, then the conference addresses and seminars followed in unbroken succession.

I've not lived in a church that uses this pattern. In the UK we had the old "hymn sandwich" style of service. Indeed, I think our church still does. In France our church is liturgical, with a loose form of worship based around a classic reformed liturgy. In the International Church we have a somewhat modified hymn sandwich structure.

However it seems to me that we are allowing a few unhelpful ideas to take root :

1) Separation of "worship" and "teaching".

Say what you like about the old hymn sandwich ............................................... (there, didn't that feel good) but it did give you a planned response to the preached word. There was a hymn and prayer that followed the sermon.

Not only that, but we are giving the impression that our worship teaches us nothing (sometimes sadly true, it has to be said) and that our teaching is not worshipful. Paul thinks differently. Colossians 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

2) Prayer! Prayer!

What are we doing? Prayer is getting very neglected in our worship services. Whether we decide on one long prayer, or several shorter prayers, or written-out set prayers, or collects, or times of open prayer, or designated people to pray, shouldn't prayer characterise our worship?

Look, I'm not arguing for tradition, for old songs, for one man to lead the service, against participation or even against worship leaders, but if there's little or no prayer then what is the difference between our sessions of p&w and a concert of contemporary Christian music?

There's a real danger that our "sacrifice of praise" is a sacrifice that we offer to ourselves to please our own tastes and desires and has little to do with the God we aim to address. Or not, as the case may be...

3) The flow of worship

Christian worship has a flow, a dialogue. It's a conversation. And one of the great arguments for liturgy is that it retains that flow, that dialogue, and in the right order.

What do I mean?

It's really important to keep in mind that all our worship is a response to God. He speaks first, and calls for a response from us. He initiates the dialogue. His voice is heard first.

This is really important because, after all, we only know anything about God because he has revealed himself, and his special revelation is in his word that he breathed out, and his supreme revelation is in his Son, the Word.

So if we begin our service with the drumbeat "du du du du" and a high octane worship song, then in a sense our worship has lost its Christian shape. We are calling on God, trying to attract his attention, rather than the Christian faith's unique approach which is that God calls on us, and we respond to him.

I was quite surprised to see that even some of the most conservative churches in Bordeaux seem to have adopted a two-part, p&w/teaching shape to their worship, and concerned to see how little prayer is present in our p&w sometimes.

Is the same thing happening in the UK?

Monday, June 02, 2014