July 3, 2002

Well, I’m finally back from

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Well, I’m finally back from my vacation. As you’ve read in my last post (which, of course, you’ve read and re-read for the last month, judging by the comments on it), I left home on June 5 to attend Classis Western Canada of the United Reformed Churches. After the classis, I drove from Ponoka, Alberta, to Abbotsford, British Columbia — an 11-hour-or-so drive — for a classis-wide pulpit exchange. Which reminds me of a dialogue I once had, understandable perhaps only to those who know the Dutch word for “Reverend”:

TERRY: “So when you have a pulpit exchange, you come here and our pastor goes to another church and that pastor goes to another church…. It’s kind of a domino effect!”

ME: “No, Terry. It’s the dominee effect.”

On June 9, I led worship and preached for the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church (URC) in the morning and then for Maranatha Canadian Reformed Church in the afternoon. That was the first time I had preached in a Canadian Reformed Church. I was very well received. Several of the members came up to me afterward and told me that they were delighted that our churches had entered into ecclesiastical fellowship and that they were looking forward to closer relations in the future.

My grandmother lives in Abbotsford, so I figured I would start my vacation after the pulpit exchange. I did a lot of reading that week (June 10-15) and hit a few of my favourite used book stores. I also spent a lot of time with Rob Schouten, the pastor of the Abbotsford Canadian Reformed Church. We went into Vancouver to visit Regent College. I blew a lot of money in their bookstore. No surprise there, eh? On the 16th, I preached in the morning for the Langley Reformed Evangelical Church (CRE) and in the afternoon for Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church (URC) in Abbotsford. Call me Mr. Ecumenical: three denominations in two weeks.

On June 17, I left Abbotsford and drove to Moscow, Idaho, where I spent most of the next week, staying at the home of Chip and Janet Lind. Janet was away, so Chip and I were batching — and I have to say that Chip can cook better than I can! We had company over for a couple of nights in a row, and Chip made some pretty good food. I also caught up on my movie watching: I saw Being There, Waking Ned Devine, and Strictly Ballroom, all a lot of fun.

While in Moscow, I spent some time at Bucer’s Coffeehouse Pub, sipping Guinness and reading John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, and P. G. Wodehouse’s Piccadilly Jim. Ahhh…..

On Thursday, June 20, I had lunch and a good talk with Doug Wilson. I also chatted with Doug Jones. It sounds as if Canon Press has a lot of great stuff lined up. Peter Leithart has just finished a book entitled Against Christianity (see his great essay, “Against Christianity; For the Church“). Steve Wilkins has a book coming out soon (on celebration, if I recall my glance at the cover correctly). And they’re hoping to publish books on worship by Leithart and Jeff Meyers and on the Trinity by Ralph Alan Smith and Jeff Meyers sometime next year. I’m looking forward to them eagerly!

On Friday morning, I drove up to Spokane and caught a flight to Chicago, where I was picked up, housed, fed, and automobiled by Wes White, a student at Mid-America Reformed Seminary and an e-mail correspondent of mine. I hadn’t met him before in person, but it was great to be able to get to know him in person. Chicago was extremely hot and humid, especially after Lethbridge (dry and windy as a rule, but rainy to the point of flooding the week I was in Abbotsford) and Idaho (warm but dry).

The primary reason I flew out to Chicago was to attend the wedding of Sarah Smith and Tim Boer. When I was in seminary, I spend a lot of time at Sarah’s parents’ place and it was great to be able to witness Sarah’s wedding and to visit old friends (in particular, Sarah’s older brother, Nick and his new wife). I also had coffee with some classmates from seminary who are pastoring in the area.

On the 27th, I was back in the air, arriving back in Spokane by about 10:30 in the evening. I spent that weekend with Peter and Noel Leithart. Peter and I did a lot of talking, and I spent some time with him and several of his sons at the ball diamond on Saturday morning. That evening, we watched Run Lola Run, a rather odd movie (Peter: “What just happened there?” Me: “I have no idea”).

I worshipped with Christ Church that Sunday: great music, weekly communion, raised hands for the Gloria Patri, congregational Amens, and all kinds of other enjoyable things, as well as a helpful sermon in Wilson’s “Reformed Is Not Enough” series. I spent that afternoon with Roy and Bev Atwood, a home where the food is always good (to say nothing of the wine!). Then I attended the “Men’s Forum” in the evening before returning to the Leitharts.

The next day — Monday, in fact — I drove the eight hours or so back to Lethbridge where I found waiting for me, among other things, a birthday present from some online friends (who appear to have been surfing my Amazon wishlist: many thanks, Chris and Sydney!) and over 400 e-mails.

In other news, as some of you probably know from the blogs by Mark and Davey, I’ve been officially declared a heretic. The Covenant Presbytery (RPCUS) has adopted some resolutions (confusingly identified as a response to the “New Perspective on Paul,” though they have little or nothing to do with what normally goes by that name) and has made a statement about the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church’s Ministerial Conference this January at which I spoke along with Steve Wilkins, Doug Wilson, and Steve Schlissel. Interestingly enough, the presbytery never contacted any of us to discuss our views with us nor did they document any of their charges. In fact, they never quote any of us. And some of their conclusions flow from leaps of (il)logic I’m having a hard time following. Andrew Sandlin has written a good response. Tapes of that conference are still available.

And now I’ve caught up on most of that e-mail and put away the trunkload of books I bought (you think I exaggerate?). I should probably clean up the living room a bit — one of my elders is coming over tomorrow — and read a little more Wodehouse before bed, my own bed, the bed I’ve missed. It was a good vacation and I enjoyed visiting all my friends, but it’s great to be home again.

Posted by John Barach @ 12:45 am | Discuss (0)

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