Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.
I'm not sure how I discovered Karine Polwart's second studio album Scribbled in chalk. I know that it was bit by bit and well after the release date of 2006. It has been acknowledged as a fine folk album by many. It wears its folk mantle lightly and is not afraid to use orchestra, drum kit, as necessary. It is not an obviously Scots album but the Scotsness creeps in here and there (eg the reference to gallons ie daisies on Follow the heron a favourite track of mine and the Jane Haining link). I like Maybe there's a road and Daisy a lot. Wikipedia says that the album often looks at the darker side of life with tales of sex trafficking (Maybe there's a Road), the holocaust (Baleerie Baloo, which is about the missionary Jane Haining) and the uncertainties of life (Hole in the Heart). But these stories of despair are balanced by others that describe the joy of a slower life (Take Its Own Time), of hope triumphing over cynicism (Where the Smoke Blows) and the wonder of the universe (Terminal Star).
We had a bumper turn out last night mainly because we had a few students back before they head off on various exploits for the summer. We looked at Philippians 4:10-19 and the matter of giving to others - a cause of joy in the Lord, when opportunity arises, etc, including material on contentedness which is so important. A good time of prayer followed.
It is well known that every chapter of 1 Thessalonians makes reference to the second coming
1.10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
2.19, 20 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
3.12, 13 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
4.13-18 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
5.1-11 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
The theme that comes in every chapter of Colossians is thanksgiving.
1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
1:12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
2:7 ... rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
3:15 -17 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 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. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
I got round to reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley the other day. It's another of those novels you feel you ought to have read by now. Well, there it is done. Written in the early thirties it is a dystopian novel of the future (2054) that makes a number of telling points about mass production, promiscuity, the search for happiness, etc. One of my sons has made a study of the genre and suggested to me that although Huxley's ideas are very good George Orwell (1984) is probably just a better write. I think there is a lot in that. (The title, of course, is from Shakespeare's The Tempest. The title is not just chosen at happy random).
I was attracted to this book by its nice cover and its title. I didn't really take in that it was by Ralph Nader whose name I am vaguely aware of as a many times US presidential candidate. It turns out that he is an American political activist of Lebanese origin who has written many books. This one is partly a trip down memory lane. He picks out lessons learned form his family and sums them up in 17 chapters of what he calls traditions. The book is devoid of any Christian content but at certain points the values do match things upheld in Scripture. The utopian description he gives of growing up in New England can cloy at certain points but it is a pleasant and thought provoking effort.
The 17 traditions are as follows 1.The Tradition of Listening 2.The Tradition of the Family Table 3.The Tradition of Health 4.The Tradition of History 5.The Tradition of Scarcity 6.The Tradition of Sibling Equality 7.The Tradition of Education and Argument 8.The Tradition of Discipline 9.The Tradition of Simple Enjoyments 10.The Tradition of Reciprocity 11.The Tradition of Independent Thinking 12.The Tradition of Charity 13.The Tradition of Work 14.The Tradition of Business 15.The Tradition of Patriotism 16.The Tradition of Solitude 17.The Tradition of Civics
Yesterday turned out to be a minor disaster in many respects. It's quite humbling. We have had to have underpinning work done on the chapel and we have just reached the replastering and decorating stage. The place was a bit higgly piggly therefore and there was a problem with the PA (later mainly resolved when we put the battery in the right way up!). Preaching without a mic is not actually a problem in the summer months when there is no noise from the heating.
While the engineers were working on that I put the folded July ETs on the table from where I preach and they sprang up and upset my glass of water. (I also forgot to bring my copy of the catechism for the children's address).
All these distractions meant that I didn't get a look at my kindle from which I preach until it was time to preach. When I did look at it the screen was blank. This has happened once before and if I had remained calm I could have solved it. Instead I panicked and sent one of my sons for my laptop. So I got through my message on Psalm 91 and it was appreciated although I missed things out and it didn't flow so well. It was a good congregation with a few visitors.
One would have thought I would make sure I got things right in the evening. I was amazed when I looked at my kindle and saw that I had downloaded a previous skeleton version of the sermon document I wanted and so had no real helps for preaching. I struggled through it (the golden rule of Matthew 7:12) and lasted about 20 minutes, never really settling to it.
People were very nice about it. I'm sure the right thing is on one hand not to make too much of this. It was a mistake. Try not to let it happen again. On the other hand it is sobering and a reminder to put more into preparation, to be more prayerful, to avoid all forms of pride and to remember Satan is at work. I am quite humbled.
Psalm 91 is a good psalm to have on my mind as I reflect.
The annual LTS service when the students come to the end of their course is always a special occasion and we try to get along. This year some nine students had finished the two year course and were going on to further studies or pastoral ministry. Three are UK students and six from elsewhere. In the Principal's report he reminded us that one of the factors for deciding on membership of the EU is the present ease with which such students can come and study here. He also mentioned the many books currently coming out by those connected with the seminary on one way or another. The visiting preacher was to have been Sinclair Ferguson but he could not come and so his place was taken by Mark Johnston who preached from 1 Thessalonians 2. Tea on the lawn and a chat with friends old and new is always an added bonus.
We looked at just one verse again last night - Philippians 4:9, Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. In a quite wide ranging presentation I urged us all to take greater advantage of the ministry we receive. We were able to spend a good time in prayer.