Life over the past few days has been very pleasant.
Saturday evening I watched Eurovision with friends. (Pete, and Joel and Craig) It’s a fantastically goofy thing that all of Europe has done for over 60 years now. I haven’t heard of it until this moment and I regret not having known more. Basically, all of Europe produces a song. Country by country. Then they’re graded and receive up to 12 points. Britain is notorious for not taking it seriously and their commentator just rips the nonsense to pieces. Incredible.
These were my top 3. Austria won. Poland was so over the top it was ridiculous. Watch that one on your own time. I mean wow.
In other news the hosts made a video.
Now you know, USA. This is what we’ve been missing.
Ah, Eurovision…Really, if you’ve watched these videos you now know that we have missed one of the greatest television spectacles in the world for 60 years.
Sunday morning dawned early after Eurovision. Tony and I drove to Drumoak/Durris, which is the church where he is interim moderator. The church is seeking a new pastor and he is running their church council meetings till the next one is nominated. Tony preached and I chatted to folks and ran his power point slides. I was initially skeptical of the idea of power points slides in a sermon. Horrible memories from service outlines where you fill in the “key words” from the sermon like a crossword puzzle jumped to mind. Then it was actually helpful. His slides were extremely minimalist. Black backgrounds with white font that gave you key bits of information or scripture. No chumpy excel effects. Just a helpfully tasteful hand offered to those in the audience who aren’t auditory learners. I was impressed. As is par with Tony.
Tangent: The church of Scotland has different–and better–words to the hymn “Be Thou My Vision”. We have been cheated. 2 different verses that change the song. Italics added for emphasis on difference.
Verse 1: Changed
Be thou my Wisdom, and thou my true Word;
I ever with thee, and thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father: Thine own I would be;
Thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.
Verse 2: NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE
Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my dignity, thou my delight
thou my soul’s shelter, and thou my high tower;
raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Now see here. First of all we get the “I thy true son” part out of the song (how are women supposed to connect with that?), and then we get this epic verse about towers, swords, dignity, and delight? COME ON. I’m just sayin…
End of Tangent.
Following the service I stood by and shook hands and drank tea. People here are incredibly kind. I was told that I should consider the hammer throw as a sport by an elderly scottish man. His accent meant that I considered it all the more strongly. The folks at Drumoak/Durris are a part of a joint congregation with two buildings separated by about 10 minutes of driving across the river. They’re pretty elderly for the most part, but they’re lively and kind. I liked them.
After church we drove back to Banchory and showed up just in time for chatting and tea with folks at the West Church. Amy preached a sermon on the 12 woes from the book of Matthew. She was nervous, but folks really seemed to like it. I was sorry to have missed it, but I figure that I’ll get my chance at some point to preach on a hard text. After church, I was invited to Mary Marshall’s house for lunch with Amy and Joel.
The Marshalls (Mary and David) treated us to a fantastic lunch of steak pie, potatoes, and squash with lovely wine. Gooseberry crumble and ice cream followed. Then tea and a biscuit–which is how people here say cookie. David and Mary were incredible hosts and we laughed and talked for several hours. The last time I was in Scotland I stayed at Mary’s house for a week with my friend Gavin. We ate like this OFTEN. I swear I gained 10 pounds before I left that week and it was worth it.
After lunch I had to take a 3 hour nap.
When I awoke, I headed back down to the church for youth worship which was pleasant. The youth did a good job and again…there was tea. I have been averaging between 3-7 cups of tea a day. No shame.
I headed home after this and promptly brought tickets to go to Glasgow on Friday. My friend and boss from NC is in a band that plays in Glasgow and I decided to go see him play. I’m even on the guest list (i.e. I don’t need a ticket). So rad. I’m going straight from there to the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly in Edinburgh. Weekend away doing interesting things is on the radar! Nonetheless, I’m sad that I won’t get to be at the West Church to see folks there on Sunday. I’ll also miss my Saturday adventure in the woods this week.
All the same, as I fretted about it this morning at Mary’s house–which features a weekly coffee time at 11 on Monday–Tony gave me encouragement. He said, “Well, you’re a volunteer after all and this is a part of the experience.” The man has succinctness down to an art. I want to try to be here as much as possible in the future for Sundays. I forget how much I really love this community of people and worshipping with them is a gift.
After coffee time I went to lunch and responded to emails and then I went to a community meeting about using the space at the west church. There was tea. I was pleased. People in the community (not all church folk) were genuinely interested in how the space could be used at the church and wanted to work together. This was a new development and nice to see.
Then, I went home and read. It was nice to take a break and read. I read a smattering of poetry, theology, and Hebrew.
I’m trying to work through Song of Songs in Hebrew. The trouble is that while I have the resources to work through it…the innuendo in Hebrew erotic poetry is so dense that I miss it. What does “…feed the she-goat on the dwelling places of the shepherds.” mean? I have no idea. It’s really odd trying to creatively interpret strange phrases with the assumption that they’re about some sort of sexual experience…
On the other hand the book does a ton to communicate at least one great truth. Namely, God has a desire for us that is uncomfortable. Probably because talking about sex makes Christians uncomfortable. Really, I don’t know what else to do with the book. What is the desire of the lovers in the book about? Well, it’s either just about 2 people who wanted each other really bad about 3000 years ago OR it’s that but it points to something else about God. The latter is the case.
Yes. Erotic poetry in the bible. At the same time this is God communicating Godself to us through erotic poetry. What does this make us think when we think about “dirty” jokes? Why are all the jokes that have to do with sex “dirty”? God expresses God’s desire for Godself/humanity/Israel/the church through a sexy poem. It’s not dirty.
After my reading I Facetimed with my friend Johnny and then attended a meeting for the VBS we’ll be putting on in June. It was nice to see a great friend from home and there was more tea at the meeting…as you might tell it’s nearing 12:30am and I am tired. Sleep now. More bits of the story next time. Carry on, folks.