It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve blogged, and most of that time I’ve been away. On Friday the 18th (well, actually, in the wee hours of the 19th), Tim Gallant, Jamie Soles, and Alex Barendregt descended on my house like a herd of locusts (okay, a rather small herd). On Saturday, we drove down to Moscow, Idaho, for the 2002 Christ Church Ministerial Conference.
I greatly enjoyed all of the lectures. Peter Leithart‘s talks continued to whet my appetite for his doctoral dissertation (forthcoming sometime soon, right, Jon?). On the Tuesday evening we were there, Duck Schuler‘s choir sang Bach’s “Jesu, Meine Freude.”
But perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the conference was the chance to visit with a lot of friends, old and new — which happened in all the breaks and lunches, at the few times I was able to stop by Bucer’s Coffeehouse Pub, in the evenings (mainly spent watching movies or hanging out with my friend Chip), and especially during the glorious long Sunday afternoon and evening spent with a crowd of people at the Leithart’s.
On the 24th, we drove back to Lethbridge. Tim, Jamie, and Alex left for Grande Prairie early the next morning. That afternoon, I drove up to Red Deer, where I stayed overnight at my parents’ place. On Saturday, I travelled to Edmonton, shopped a while at The Book Outlet in the West Edmonton Mall (discount books!), and then headed over to a friend’s house for the night.
On Sunday, I preached in the morning and evening at the Orthodox Reformed Church. In between, I visited with Rev. Jakob Kits, one of the retired ministers in that congregation, who mentioned that there’s a Cornelis VanderWaal webpage (which must be this one, though alas it’s all in Dutch).
On Monday, I went to The King’s University College to visit my friend, Arlette Zinck, who teaches English there. Arlette wasn’t there when I arrived, so I stopped by Douglas Harink‘s office and had a chat about his concerns with N. T. Wright’s “supersessionism.” Arlette showed up later and we had a good (albeit brief) visit.
The drive home, however, wasn’t so pleasant. The snow started around Olds, an hour or so north of Calgary. I hit Calgary at rush hour and crawled slowly through the city on wet and soon-to-be-icy streets. I finally stopped for supper to give the traffic a chance to thin out before I headed south into the night. The highway between Calgary and Fort Macleod (150 km), as the road report people like to say, was in poor winter driving condition. To make matters worse, I was pretty tired and had a pounding headache. The last half-hour or so to Lethbridge was much better, but I was exceedingly glad to be home again.
And now I’m getting back to my regular routine — part of which includes the customary noticing that it’s past midnight and that Colin Dexter’s delightful The Way Through the Woods is still awaiting me. (Well, maybe a couple of chapters anyway before I head to bed.)
John van Popta, my friend, colleague, and neighbour, has just informed me that he has a webpage. John is the minister of the Canadian Reformed Church in Coaldale, just a few miles east of Lethbridge. His page includes links to some of his articles and sermons (including an interesting series of four sermons on the parable of the prodigal son), but I’d especially encourage you to read his journal of his son’s battle with leukemia.
Well, I just finished shovelling snow for the first time this year. It wasn’t snowing when I woke up this morning, though it had rained some the night before. But by noon, the wind had picked up, the snow was falling as fast as rain, and I could barely see the houses across the street. Within half an hour we had our first centimetre (or even half an inch, for you Americans). It let up a while ago and the snow started to melt, so I went out to shovel my driveway and sidewalk. Now I’m back inside (obviously), drinking a cup of Bigelow’s Constant Comment tea. The sun just came through the clouds and Lethbridge’s first blizzard is officially over.
Here’s a big welcome to another Reformed blogger — my old friend, Nick Smith. Back when I was in seminary, I tutored Nick in Latin. He must’ve learned at least five or six words and maybe even a conjugation or two from me, but most of the time we just talked (in English, in case you were wondering). Now he’s a Covenant College grad and a computer programmer who’s planning (someday) to head to seminary. Welcome to the world of blogging, Nick!
Here’s some advice from Dr. Luther’s letter to Prince Joachim of Anhalt (1534), who suffered from melancholy and “dejection of spirit”:
I should like to encourage Your Grace, who are a young man, always to be joyful, to engage in riding and hunting, and to seek the company of others who may be able to rejoice with Your Grace in a godly and honorable way. For solitude and inwardness are poisonous and deadly to all people, and especially to a young man. Accordingly, God has commanded us to be joyful in his presence; he does not desire a gloomy sacrifice. [Luther quotes Ecclesiastes 12.] No one realizes how much harm it does a young person to avoid pleasure and cultivate solitude and sadness. Your grace has Master Nicholas Hausman and many others near at hand. Be merry with them; for gladness and good cheer, when decent and proper, are the best medicine for a young person–indeed, for all people. I myself, who have spent a good part of my life in sorrow and gloom, now seek and find pleasure wherever I can. Praise God, we now have sufficient understanding of the Word of God to be able to rejoice with a good conscience and to use God’s gifts with thanksgiving, for he created them for this purpose and is pleased when we use them (Martin Luther, Letters of Spiritual Counsel, trans. Theodore G. Tappert [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1955], pp. 92-93).
How many pastors give that kind of advice to depressed young men today?