Workwise, December revolves around the ten Carols by Candlelight services. It was amazing to be part of the operation as every year. The number of people who worked tirelessly in military fashion behind the scenes was unbelievable. I watched the two girls in my office for the first time this year in close proximity and witnessed the amount of organisation involved. To welcome around 5000 visitors during the ten services with 8000 candles, a huge team of 50 readers, 130 choristers and musicians, 110 candle team helpers, 40 creche helpers, 75 sidesmen, and 80 caterers worked seamlessly together. It was by God’s grace that all went well and I pray by God’s grace that it will bear fruit.
What I Got For Christmas
We had four friends over this year. As usual, we went to the Christmas Day morning service. (I say “we”, I actually didn’t go because I woke up too late and the turkey went into the oven late as a result. Why does this happen every year?!) I made the best gravy from scratch in Newcastle as previous years (no way!). The opening-presents session on Christmas Day was pretty insane – I got so many amazing gifts from friends and Andy I felt completely spoiled! (Please forgive me for not mentioning the chocolates, biscuits and mince pies one by one. We’ll be enjoying them for the months to come! Thank you all!)
First of all, from Gloria, a thoughtful girl, a faithful friend and a lovely little sister. She got me these two things because of my passing comments, some of which I forgot even myself!
Secondly, a handmade present which was brought all the way from Japan! Thanks Meg for thinking of us! But I’m even more grateful with your enthusiasm to help out with everything big and small. I’m so so impressed! And your ‘Mango Tofu’ is truly special ;)
Then my annual present from Andy: A dotted notebook. This one is from Moleskine. Maybe I should do another notebook comparison post if you are interested? See the post comparing a Rhodia and a Leuchtturm 1917, click here.
21 Servants of Sovereign Joy by John Piper is for both of us. It includes some familiar names like Martin Luther, John Bunyan, John Newton, C. S. Lewis and Hudson Taylor, also less familiar ones (for me) like William Cowper, David Brainerd and Athanasius. It’s over 800 pages and weighs a ton but I really look forward to reading it and getting to know these great people in history that “display the majesty of God” and I know John Piper’s biographies are really good!
Andy also got me this beautiful ESV Reader’s Bible. It’s a normal Bible, first of all. At a quick glance, you’ll notice that it has no verse numbers, section headings or footnotes. A modern Bible usually has those things. Quoting the Introduction of the Bible, “bold headings act as signposts to announce what is to come; chapters and verses can play a helpful role, making it easy to locate passage by a kind of shorthand; clarification about what we are reading is provided by footnotes.” We are so used to them that we forget “ANORIGINALNEWTESTAMENTMANUSCRIPTLOOKEDLIKETHIS”.
Taking out the “non-inspired material” also makes using the Context Tool (from Dig Deeper series) a lot easier. The parables of Jesus in modern Bibles, for example, are neatly divided into individual sections that it requires deliberate effort to read them as ‘the wood’ and not just ‘trees’ on their own. Quoting the Introduction of the Reader’s Bible again, “this design is ancient in its similarity to the original manuscripts, yet familiar in its resemblance to the modern novel”.
Interestingly it does include the page before Genesis which says “The Old Testament” and the page before Matthew which says “The New Testament”. They were, apparently, not part of the original Bible either (according to my tutor at Moore Course).
Move on to the next present. I got Andy an ESV Journaling Bible for his birthday and he’s been writing in it happily. I’ve been marking and writing in my old (not-designed-for-journaling) ESV Bible as well thanks to the brilliant Dig Deeper episode three: Dig Deeper into the Gospels. (A book review to come!) If you haven’t ever tried it before, writing notes and highlighting text directly on the pages of the Bible are really helpful and fun. I recommend trying it! Here is how my Mark’s Gospel looks at the moment:
Taking all the above into account, it’s not unexpected that I got an ESV Scripture Journal as well, except I didn’t know they existed! Mine is a thin book including the books of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus on the left hand side and blank space on the right. (I wish they used dots or just completely blank page rather than lines. It’s hard to go back to lined notebooks after you tried dotted ones!)
This has opened up a whole load of possibilities! Obviously, you can easily carry it around to church on Sunday when the sermon series is on a certain book. (It’s such a shame Exodus and other Old Testament books are not yet available when JPC’s Exodus sermon series commences at the beginning of January 2019!) Or you can prepare for small group Bible studies in it throughout the term, writing and marking to your heart’s content. Or even better, you can give one to each member of your fellowship when you do a weekly seminar on digging into Mark’s Gospel! How exciting!
I was also sent a very affordable and well-made hardcover ESV Bible by one of our book suppliers (the perk of being in charge of a church bookstall!). Bibles are becoming easier and cheaper to get hold of (in this part of the world at least). There’s no reason to keep it in a pristine state because of cost any more (unless it’s a family Bible from your ancestor from the 18th century or something). And certainly, there is no excuse for not reading and studying it! What a privilege and how exciting!
You’ve probably noticed the theme of this year’s presents by now. Yet Andy has sought out one more way to read the Bible! The Infographic Bible!
The last part of our joint Christmas presents arrived on the 28th. It’s the July, August & September 2018 issue of Delayed Gratification. It’s a magazine that pioneers Slow Journalism. It looks at events and people in the news from a few months ago, taking into account things that happened after the immediate event, and gives an in-depth explanation of its impact. One of their key features is the infographics, which analyse news and stories in stats. Pretty fascinating. Look forward to reading that too.
New Year Resolution
… will be going to bed early, which has been my all-year-round resolution for years and I never achieved it so I’m not going to think of any more New Year Resolution…
I’m going to spend the last day of my 2018 in the church bookstall checking the stock of the books and in the big kitchen in church chopping vegetables and serving Indonesian food at the New Year’s Eve Party. What are you doing on the last day of 2018? I hope you have a wonderful New Year celebration and see you next year!