I’ve thought about how to catch up on about a month and a half of not blogging. I’m not entirely sure that there is a good way to do it. Still, I’ll do my best.
My last month in Banchory was a whirlwind. I led an entire service in a town called Torphins, I preached at the West Church, I went to a wedding, I climbed a small mountain, I led a weekly bible study on Colossians, went to a Charismatic youth conference, and I was a guest at several dinners.
I loved my time in Banchory. I pouted for an entire day after leaving. I didn’t notice what was happening until I finally got to a place to stay. I was mad that I had to leave. It was a good thing, but I was mad. After all, I do have another year of school left, visas do run out, and I do have other friends who I miss as well…It just doesn’t make it any easier to leave a place full of people that you love.
My last Sunday at the West Church was this past Sunday and as I got up to say goodbye in the service there was a deep groan from the congregation as they heard that it was my last Sunday. There was a deep groan in my chest along with theirs. I have left a piece of my heart with the lovely people in Banchory and there it will stay until I get the chance to return. Several friends mentioned that they now had a quest to find me a Scottish wife so I could have the possibility of living there. I felt flattered.
My friend Mary let me stay in this small cottage that is behind her house for my last week in town. I had my own space and that was nice. Mary is also a wonderful host and we had some great chats. However, I did miss Joel and Amy. They are fantastic roommates. On my last night in town my friends the Scotts took me out to dinner. I have now met all but one of my friend Mike and Margaret’s children. They never cease to amaze me. Their kids are such incredible people. It was a treat to see their youngest child Kyle (who is about 30) give his dad grief about his habits. This is one of the things that I have really come to appreciate about British people, they have a lively banter that they keep going all the time. Everyone seems to be able to laugh at themselves.
This is especially the case at weddings where the best man and father of the bride tend to roast the groom. The best man at my friends Claire and Rich’s wedding said, “Well Rich, you’ve found a kind, caring, beautiful woman to be your wife…and Claire…hmmm…well, you’ve got a really nice dress and some flowers.” The dancing at this wedding was also incredibly fun. Screaming along to a techno remix of “Loch Lomund” to send the bride and groom off at 1am is a great way to tie up the evening. It helps to be at the fun table…and to hit the hot tub at 1:30am.
It turns out that the fun table is not necessarily the table up in front of everyone. When I was leading the service (really, the whole thing. Prayers, kids’ talk, sermon, etc…) in Torphins I sat at this table with a podium on it at the front of the church. I stood up and said prayers and preached and sang periodically. Then I sat down. It was like the whole service hinged on me. A very strange feeling. A guy I met told me once that people in his church got mad at him for asking them to pray during the service. Apparently, that is the job of the minister. Lots of churches still have one person up in front doing everything all the time. The West Church doesn’t and that is a gift.
They even let people like me preach there. My last sermon was on the parable of the ten bridesmaids/virgins. It was a comedy of errors as a attempted to set up a music stand. I broke the stand, the projector wouldn’t work, i messed up the musicians music pages, got my notes out of order. I found it comical. So did the congregation. Yet, it went as I’m told that it goes: when you think you did a terrible sermon…everyone seems to appreciate it. Example #201 of why church isn’t about me.
It’s especially not about me at charismatic youth events. I felt like an old crotchety man in a room full of dancing young people. The youth really enjoyed it and made a point of going for the whole week. I on the other hand was tapped out by the second day. I’m not anti-spiritual-gifts or anything like that. I just think that the words of worship songs can be and often are incredibly repetitive and simplistic. HOWEVER, there was this guy Mike Pilavachi who ran the thing. He was great. He had a very gentle and thoughtful way of helping young people get comfortable with charismatic worship experiences. He’s also very funny.
In one of the sessions led by someone else I lost it for a moment. Someone up front suggested that Jesus was separate from the Father when He was crucified. The rest of the talk was fine, but that point itself basically cuts the knees out from whatever you might want to say afterwards. Point of order: The Bible NEVER says that. I’m going to break it down:
A) We have 4 gospels with Jesus saying 4 different things on the cross.
B) If you take Jesus’ words “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” to mean that the Trinity stopped being the Trinity you have made a huge interpretive error.
Why? Well, first of all you have to read that line in connection with what Jesus says in every other gospel from the cross. We don’t have one gospel narrative, we have 4 for a reason. Second, what you’re doing has made God not God.
A bit more on that. God for Christians is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If Jesus is in any way separate from the Father and Spirit then the Trinity is meaningless. If God can just be Father and Spirit then the Son doesn’t matter. Suddenly, there’s another smaller, 2-part god, hiding behind the Trinity. So what’s Jesus? He appears not to be very important to who God is.
If you’re trying to say that Jesus humanity was separated from God on the cross, then you’ve just said that humanity has been abandoned by God in sin and death. In other words, there is no salvation happening there. Jesus has to be God and human the whole way. Unto death. Complicated? Yes. Confusing? Probably. Necessary? Absolutely.
Anyhow, tangent finished.
My last adventure into the highlands of Scotland was up a thing called a Munro. A Munro is a mountain that is over 3000 feet. There are 282 of them in Scotland. I now have just 281 left. My friend Robin and I rode in on bikes and then scaled the mountain, stopping on the way back down to swim in a river that flows off the Munro. Huge win. The way down was all downhill as well. I get why people go mountain biking now. The bugs can’t get you as easily, you go fast, and the wind in your face is refreshing.
Also, I had a blast leading a bible study on Colossians. Now the information from my course this past semester is etched in my mind. Also, it was fun to get to dig into the messy parts of the text (bits about slaves and women) with the people in the study. Bible time is fun time.
Dear friends in Banchory, I will miss you. Here’s hoping to see you all sooner rather than later. Here are some commemorative photos of myself and some of the legends of Banchory.