Sunday, February 11, 2007

What's planned for Valentine's Day

So, you ask, what do we have planned to celebrate Valentine's Day?? Not what we expected.

Preparation is underway for another Mega-Outreach this summer in the Philippines. Past experience in setting up and participating in the last two outreaches makes Linda an excellent choice for taking part in an Advance Team to travel and make summer plans. When we have 100+ people participating, it's really important that arrangements and details are in place so time, money and effort during the actual outreach can be maximised. This Advance Team will pave the way for another powerful outreach.

When Linda told Jonathan she had been invited to go to the Philippines again and asked him how he would feel about her being away, he thought for a minute, said, "Yeah, OK," and then looked over to me with the comment, "burnt lasagne!" which seems to be the main thing they remember from Linda's past times away.

The trip is only for one week, but Valentine's Day is when I kiss my sweetheart goodbye.

Nose in the Books

These last few months have had a different emphasis for me. Let me explain. During autumn of 1997 I embarked on a journey that is still not over; I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree with the Open Theological College (which is now part of the University of Gloucestershire). Due to the pressure of other demands I have not been able to work consistently on the course work – I have taken time out to lead schools, teach, travel and engage with leadership responsibilities here at the Lodge ... and Linda will remind me that I have a family, too. But, my time in the studies have proven to be a rich and rewarding experience.

The degree program was structured so I would finish within six years; as that didn’t happen I had to re-register. The end is now in sight, though, and with one more final deadline of full completion this time, 2008 is hemming me in. I am completing my final module with about 7,500 words worth of essays to write, then a dissertation remains of 10,000 words. It will be on the relationship between the mission agency and the local church in a globalized world and I am looking forward to this.

The journey has been a wonderful one so far. I have been able to engage with Church History, discovering I had more in common with some groups branded heretics than with the established church! The Montanists of the Second Century and the Lollards of the 14th especially got my attention. These people simply wanted to obey Jesus and the Holy Spirit rather than the dictates of the established church, and paid a high price to do so. Studying about Perpetua, a young woman who died in the Roman Arena in Carthage, North Africa, in the early Third Century, was both moving and inspiring.

Wrestling with ethics has been challenging and fun. I have just completed a paper discussing at what point a couple is actually married. Is co-habitation really marriage minus an unnecessary piece of paper (marriage licence) when love and a commitment to permanence is there? Many in contemporary society (including a growing number of Christian young people) would seem to think so, but what does the Bible say? Understanding in a fresh way the significance of Old Testament law in relationship to ethics has been a thrill also. The Bible is SO relevant for society today.

My aim is now is finish this penultimate module on cross-cultural missions which has a focus on postmodern western culture. For many churches, reaching out to their contemporary society is truly a cross-cultural experience. The most recent paper I have written to submit is about the differences between the modern and the so-called postmodern worlds, and what this may mean for the mission of the church.

My next paper will discuss how we can know truth when it is widely held by many today that absolute knowledge is not possible. ‘It may be true for you but that does not mean it is true for me...,’ we hear this kind of thing a lot today. What does this all mean for interpreting the scripture, how do we know that truth can be known? In home group Bible studies equal weight can be given to everybody’s opinion of the text, unknowingly embracing the postmodern value that truth is subjective.

Due to the fact I have a deadline for graduation, I have been released from some of my responsibilities to concentrate in these studies, but for the month of March I will be teaching classes, both here at The King’s Lodge and in Munich Germany.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

School's Out

It snowed again. This time it was real snow - enough to impress even Linda. Thursday we woke to snow in the air and 2 inches on the ground and, to our surprise and the children’s delight, school was cancelled. What else can the kids do but join the snow ball fight!

Friday carried on with snow in the air. Jonathan’s school cancelled again, but Elisa had the privilege of continuing her education in the classroom.

We move into a week of half-term holidays now, and school is already a distant memory.