I've been to a lot of football this season already, all four home games in the league at Exeter City. It's great to spend two or three hours thinking about nothing else but the game, a welcome break from the day to day pressures and problems of church life!
It started badly, 3-0 down to Morecambe in about 35 minutes on day one, but since that defeat, five wins and a draw and sitting pretty in 3rd. Early days, obviously, but it could be a great deal worse.
Today they are over at Southend and so I am getting slight withdrawal symptoms. This afternoon finds me tied to the radio trying to make out the commentary on Radio Devon. The static only adds to the atmospehere, I haven't listened so avidly to such poor reception since the days of Radio Luxembourg.
Listening to some great music this week, which I would have been unaware of had I not been listening to BBC 6 Music. It's testimony to the excellence of this album by David Byrne and St Vincent that in the week of the new Killers album, this is what I have been listening to. The single is the most accessible of the tracks but it's not a particularly difficult listen. On repeated listens others are lodging into the brain, 'I Am An Ape', 'The Forest Awakes' and 'Lazarus' in particular, but the track to add to the sidebar (top right) is the single, 'Who'.
Not sure how I missed it but last year Stuart Townend released his album 'The Journey', and a fine listen it is too. I already knew and loved a few of the songs, but the one that really did it for me this morning was the wonderful 'Vagabonds'. Great track which should be played loud, preferably in a car so you can sing along without being stared at. Or alternatively dig out your penny whistles and join in. Click the link in the long-neglected, top right hand corner of the blog; 'Our Friends Eclectic' and turn up the speakers. Enjoy!
Had just the best day on Saturday and to make the most of it, a long one. Started with a six o'clock alarm call and the long ride on the underground across London to use our tickets for the Olympic Stadium on the last day of the track and field of the Paralympics.
We had great tickets, at about the 200 metres mark of the track, 18 rows back. This meant we saw the triple jump final and some javelin as well as the various races, including guided runners and some wheelchair races. And being where we were I got to take a few photos too. I was like a pig in muck!
The atmosphere was every bit what everyone has reported, an incredible and at times moving experience. Helped by the fantastic weather, which sent weaker members of my family looking for shade at one stage, it all added up to a terrific day out. It's been a long time since I was in a big stadium in such hot weather, it brought to mind some of those concerts of my youth at the old Wembley.
The tickets were very fairly priced, we had the most expensive tickets for our three and a quarter hour session and that was £30 for us adults and a fiver for the marginally smaller of us. This included our travelcards all the way across London, which (if I have read the complicated charts correctly, as a hick from the country, I may not have) would normally have been about half the cost of our tickets altogether. A bargain, to be honest.
Aftrewards, back to the friends we had lodged with the night before, tea and cricket on the lawn before heading back west late in the afternoon. A fabulous day, thanks in no small part to Sebastian Coe and LOCOG who have done us proud with the Games.
Where are all the cynics and sceptics now? For a few weeks we've lapsed into being positive and optimistic and Britain has been an even brighter place to be. It's been a summer holiday from the naysayers. Sure we have problems, but perhaps we aren't in such a bad way as we tell ourselves we are. I wonder how long we'll stay positive?
"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart." (1 Peter 1.22)
As I mulled this over and read around the verse I discovered that there are two different types of love referred to here. The Greeks had (and, for all I know, still have) more than one word for love, depending on what kind it is. In this verse the sincere love is philadelphia, a brotherly love, the love of a good, functional family. The "love one another deeply, from the heart" is agape, a tougher, unconditional love.
It seems that Peter has reason to remind the churches that as family together they should already have a brotherly love. But now it needs to go even deeper, they need to love each other in tough times.
I suspect that we all gave assent to this when we read it together and prayed about it afterwards. But then two days later (just two days) we had a Church Meeting where we seemed to forget all that.
Well, I'm afraid I just gave up in the end, it all became too much. It wears away at you after a while and the law of diminishing returns kicks in, hard. I started with such resolve and was determined to see it through but in the end it just didn't seem worth it. I'll try something new and will still practice but there comes a point where you wonder why you bother. Week in, week out, day in, day out, is there really any point? I made my decision on Sunday and am now going public with it.
I had a new resolve at the beginning of the year, one that was strengthened by a sabbatical from my work as the pastor of a church. It's an incredibly taxing job, whatever people might think, amazing highs and serious lows. So it was good to take three months to recharge the batteries and I think I probably did some of my best work during this time, I had the time and space to do so. I was able to keep things fresh for a few weeks after this as well but you (all too) soon get stuck into the old rut of not having the time or energy to do a proper job so I have quit. A few good friends will be disappointed, they have been incredibly supportive and kind - you know who you are and I thank you - but I have no regrets about my decision.
My project to take and post a photograph every day for the year has stalled and on 2nd September I had my first photo free day of the year. My Project 366 became Project 245. I just felt that the standard was heading downhill and I was posting rubbish in order to fulfil my quota. I'm still as keen as ever, I just won't be wandering round the house at night thinking, "What can I take a photograph of tonight?"
I bow out with Number 245, Exeter City captain Danny Coles in the warm up before leading them to a terrific 3-0 win over Burton Albion. We've moved up to second in the table. Early days but exciting ones too.
I was preaching yesterday about Jesus' command to 'love one another' and pointed out that this is as old as the hills, referring to where God's people were told to do this in Leviticus. Or I tried to point that out.
Genuine laugh out loud moment this morning on receiving this email today. I'll leave you to look up the passages to see why:
Hi Steve, Good sermon
on Sunday morning! If you ever preach it again though you might want to
revisit the second slide in your presentation. I think that you probably
meant to quote from Leviticus 19 v 18, however the actual verse you wrote on the
slide was Leviticus 18 v 19. It added a whole new perspective to the point you
were making........... :-) Best Wishes, Dave
I'm a middle aged man, a Baptist Minister, and more to the point an evangelical Christian. I have a great family, the best wife, an interest in music (mainly the sort of things that a middle aged man should like) and media in general. I like my sport and hardly ever play any. Will watch Test matches very happily and have a love of football, Exeter City are my club of choice.