Friday, 24 April 2009

On time and events

What's happened this past week?
  • We've had really very pleasant weather, warm to almost hot, without any rain. After a long cold winter, Spring has, well, sprung upon us, and indeed we have had some days that have seemed on the verge of summer. Given the rather damp nature of our climate such times are indeed welcome. Last Saturday Alison and I had a great walk around a nearby peninsula marred only by the fact that the footpaths on the map were not duplicated by anything remotely similar in reality.
  • I preached last Sunday night on the principles of evangelism from Paul's farewell address to the Ephesian church. The congregation stayed awake (they are good like that) and some people told me they found it helpful.
  • Monday to Friday I've been back at college teaching, although the proximity of the exams (our first one is an unhappily close on 12th May) means that we are now in revision mode. I finished marking and grading 58 pieces of coursework. Some were of a quality that was arrestingly good and made me feel good about teaching, while some were so pathetic that I wonder what I have been doing.
  • On Monday night, I gave the first (and as it turned out last) lecture in a series of evening classes that had been planned with a biologist friend on Life through Time at the Welsh Botanic Gardens. It's a great place but very much out in the wilds so the fact that we only had three attendees was hardly surprisingly. We may redo it next year in Swansea.
  • We started a week of prayer at church: so far I have not managed to go to much but should be there tonight.
  • Alison and I watched the Coen Brothers’ film ‘No Country for Old Men’ and both agreed that despite rave critical reviews it was only memorable for the thoroughly irritating way in which it arrogantly trampled over those unwritten rules that good storytellers make (and keep) with their listeners. I will say no more but, for my money, if you haven't seen it you're not missing anything.
  • I finished (Hurrah! Hurrah!) the book for Hodder that I have written with J. John; it looks almost certain that it will be called The Return: Grace and the Prodigal. As you may surmise from its title it is a fairly detailed study of the great parable of the prodigal son and its implications for how we live.
  • We heard from our older son John that our grandson Simeon who gave us such concern earlier on is now greatly enjoying life and clearly possessed of a happy and intelligent temperament.
  • We had a truly appalling (in every sense of the word) budget speech this week which a) made plain the extent of the economic devastation and b) manifestly failed to come up with any truly coherent solution for solving it. We are however promised that there will be a massive recovery next year with astonishing rates of growth. The response to this has been levels of mocking laughter normally associated with protestations of innocence from the villain in the pantomime. The truly curious feature on the national scene is that while everyone is really pretty angry about the financial situation the anger so far has been confined to a few protests. We Brits are a pretty placid folk, it seems. Nevertheless everybody has spent a disproportionate amount of time this week talking about the economy.
  • I have a lovely letter of thanks for the books from Kentucky (thank you Debbie) and a nice comment from Canada. Thanks one and all.

There is a lot more than I could add but even so you might well ask: what is the point of listing all this activity? There is nothing particularly new, striking or even probably important in this. Indeed, I suspect your own lives are just as complex. Yet the busyness has preoccupied me: it has been a week quite literally of ‘one darn thing after another’. And yet, as I now look back, I see that somehow the gift of seven whole God-given days have vanished.

Did I use them wisely? Most effectively? Did I consider what I was doing in the light of eternity? Psalm 90:12 says “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” It is easy to see that in terms of a quantitative factor: ‘how many days have I got left?’ It may be better to see it in qualitative terms: on those blank sheets of time God gave me, have I written what was worthwhile?