"I write these things to you who believe in the name
of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life."
2. Students in Starbucks. Many coffees & meals with students as they prepare to flee university for the summer, and Starbucks now do Fairtrade coffee (finally... but not tea - still working on that one) - x2 in Brum & one in Leicester with an interesting basement layout. Also patronised were the good ol' Selly Sausage with its marvellous blueberry pancakes, Pizza Express (Aston CU grub crawl!), student houses, my house, and the Bennetts' (which has admitted tea other than Earl Grey). The encouragement of students testifying to growing throughout the year - and a friend of some Aston CU members putting her trust in the Lord for the first time a week ago :D
3. A sunny Saturday afternoon cycling along canal towpaths, followed by an evening listening to Bach's St Matthew's Passion.
4. Heartily piano-ing in worship with church, with everyone praising our Father and our Saviour Jesus Christ. We've been enjoying learning Keith & Stuart's Speak O Lord - a brilliant prayer before hearing God's word preached, which, in new songs I'm teaching, has followed The Power of the Cross which we're deepening appreciation of when celebrating Communion.
5. Hosea with Midlands staff and Tim Rudge. God as the wounded lover & our adulterous hearts which make desires inordinate and thus fashion idols. Our sin is not only judicial but deeply personal. Deeply hurtful, shameful, gut-wrenching. Chs.9-12 pictures of God's people in the past, like a deserted husband mourning over pictures from the wedding album. In punishment also God is being faithful! Yet the question raised: how will this adulterous whore of a people (and us included, in these heart adulteries) become faithful (1.8-11) when divorce would be just? Christ's fulfilment - the faithful people, the true vine (Hos.10), the obedient life - removed the sting of sin & death (Hos.13), so in him we are faithful.
6. The joy of Brahm's violin concerto and Tchaik.4 with Weller conducting the CBSO. Best seats in the house on standby tickets. I wondered if one could have a heart attack from joy. If it could actually burst. The Brahms (Steinbacher) is the first violin concerto I remember hearing in concert, and still thrills me. The Tchaikovsky just makes me want to burst. And reminded me of when we played it on tour in Italy: with the oboe solo rising in the Symphony Hall, I could feel the air of an open air evening concert in Florence in July. The third movement pizzicato is a wonderful playfulness in the violins, respite from the rest of the symphony while still flying the tune with energy. With the wonderful brilliance of the start of the 4th movement I felt the launch of joy of throwing bow, fingers and violin into the music when too épuisée from the previous three movements in late evening heat to feel anything any more. But this was Tchaik 4 as we never played it - Weller's brilliance drew the CBSO into the work as I can't describe. It made me think, 'joy unspeakable and full of glory', which challenged me as my housemate said afterwards - we should be even more engaged with God, as he is so much more than wonderful music. As David said in Psalm 4, in persecutions and troubling times, "You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound." I am challenged - do I have more joy in my heart from God than when my Brahms and Tchaikovsky abound? It makes me feel alive. But is an idol not something to which we turn for life, not recognising that it is God who makes us live? (See Hosea 2.2-8.) Oh that I truly and joyfully acknowledge the giver, and may my heart see the glory of the gift reflect to his praise, as it does. Yet I think I need a resurrection body before this following can be fulfilled:
You make known to me the path of life;Fullness of joy in God's presence? Entering into the joy of our Master? I think my heart would break from joy, if it can barely cope now with the dim, shadow-joys of his creation, and knowing him in part. Yet we'll be transformed to be a joy (Isa 65.18)! So the challenge of
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. [Ps. 16]
7. Psalm 27 -
You have said, “Seek my face.”is a challenge for joy. That he would be my highest joy.
My heart says to you,“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”