Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pentecost weekend

I hope you like that photo of Raphael & Camille's family in my last post — I do! And wasn't Raph's picture of the two cousins just hilarious! Ruben has such a comic look on his face!

After a very long, cold winter we are very thankfully entering into a real spring — and the summer prognostications are looking very good. Just yesterday someone said that this summer may rival the drought of 1976, though I think it may be a little early to talk like that.

This having been Pentecost Monday, and a bank holiday (Whitsun Aunty used to call it) we enjoyed our last long holiday of the month.

For those that may not realize we enjoy the First of May (of course), which is internationally called Labour day, then comes VE-Day on the Eighth of the month. Now since these two holidays are one week apart and entirely dependant upon the vagaries of the calendar we profit most when the month starts on a Tuesday or a Thursday (not as in this year when it fell on Saturday) for then, although it's not an obligation, the custom is most often to "make a bridge" between the holiday and the weekend, thus resulting in a lovely four-day weekend twice in a row!

The next two are Ascension Day (conveniently always fixed to Thursday) and Pentecost Monday. So there you have it. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but always appreciated.

Yesterday Raph & Camille decided to take everyone that wanted to come on an early-morning bike ride before breakfast and get some croissants from the bakery for breakfast.

There's a little spot on the other side of town (about a two-kilometre ride, I reckon) down by the river and it was just an ideal spot with the morning sun shining golden in the blue sky

Friday our resident butchers (Jonathan & Debbie) had killed us one of our sheep so we had the shoulders on the Lord's Day and yesterday we decided that the chops would make an excellent BBQ.

We ate out on the terrace and even Grandma seemed to have a good appetite. Afterwards we lounged around the garden and soaked up some sun. Thank the Lord for the sun and the warmth and life it provides us with. It was so good to eat our own lamb washed down with Raph's own rosé wine that he's just finished bottling last week.

This morning Kevin came into the office announcing in his passionless voice that Becky's bees had swarmed. She and I hurried out to see and sure enough, there they were hanging like Aaron's beard from the lower branches of a young apple tree just waiting for us.

We'd talked about not looking for a new swarm this year but when the Lord drop one in your lap what can you do? You hear a lot about bee colonies dying off but our three did well throughout the winter — and it was a particularly hard one for them here. So we put the new arrivals in the little temporary hive until we can get organized but we're thankful because already we got a good harvest from the colza (oil-seed rape) last week.

Well that is all for today. I hope you're enjoying the weather as much where you are, too! God bless you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A few of my thoughts

Last night I sent an email to a friend whose monthly email teachings we receive and enjoy. This time I felt I owed him an explanation of how our position differed from his. After reflexion I decided to share it with you all.

Dear David,

I think I always read your E-teachings but somehow the one about abortion must have escaped me because I don't remember it at all. Maybe I was absent. Still, I wanted to respond to a couple of your thoughts expressed in the recent letter Christians for Hitler.

I remember very well that we started this conversation one morning with John, (the brother who was visiting us at the time), when you were here with us a couple of years ago. But we were all so busy with the conference we didn't seem to find time to bring it to a conclusion. Since your position seems to be just as I remember it, I'd like to share mine in a little more detail with you by responding to a little of what you said. (To remind you, I represent the typical Anabaptist (Mennonite, Hutterite, Amish, etc) position which is quite fervently opposed to getting involved in politics even to the point of refusing to vote.)

I'm not trying to convince anyone of my position but I'd like to explain it a little better so that you can understand since it is not reflected in your responses to others' comments: so that is my goal. I think that there are two fundamental assumptions that are being made that we are in disagreement over that end up colouring everything else in the discussion. I think if you could see where we stand on these two foundational points the rest would be easy — though you still might not agree with my conclusions, of course.

1. Attitude to the idea of submission. I was somewhat surprised you referred to the passage in Romans 13 because Paul takes an uncompromising stand, as you point out, toward being subject to those in authority. The passage is so clear that there is no discussion of the content. I think what needs to be seen though is the idea of being in submission to that God-ordained authority, whatever it may be. It seems clear that what Paul is concerned about is those judging the "rightness or wrongness" (the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) of the "powers that be" so that they can remove their submission to it and oppose it. No, our position as followers of Christ, is to submit to their rule regardless of how we feel, trusting in God that He has ordained the powers as He sees fit. Read it again with this point in mind; it's inescapable.

Well, of course the first thing that (usually) then comes up is some anecdotal example (like Hitler or whoever) from real life in order to prove (regardless of what the Bible teaches us) that there are times when Christians need to "get involved" in politics. Like voting. Like running as a candidate. Like contributing to a political party. Like joining a resistance movement. Like overthrowing the government. Like assassinating the head of state (with whom we disagree, of course). Where do Christians draw the line, David? Why? How much are we allowed to "get involved in politics"?

2. The naive idea that America (or France, or any of the great western governments that I know of) is a democracy (government by the people) is a total illusion, wilfully perpetrated upon the people for the advantage of those rich, godless, and ruthless individuals who govern us. You know very well that no democracy exists in the world today but most that are considered so are constitutional republics (like the USA and France and Mexico) or constitutional monarchies (like Canada and the UK and Holland). We are most emphatically not the government. We are the governed. (I was reminded of this yesterday when I heard a radio report on how the Portuguese government had just passed a legislation legalizing homosexual marriages. The interviewee said that if ever that had gone to a referendum it would not have stood a chance of being enacted.) The only way the rulers govern us is by putting us to sleep with ideas that we are the government. The Maastricht treaty would never have passed if it had been given to the people (democracy) to vote on. The Treaty of Lisbon was soundly rejected in the two very countries that did hold a referendum (France and Ireland) and the only way the treaty ended up being ratified was for the house of representatives here to ignore the referendum and ratify the treaty over the wishes of the people.

Do you think the NAFTA would pass a referendum? Why don't they put it forth to see what "the people" ("the government" as you call it) think? People are generally conservative and want to keep the little peace they have. Why didn't the president Bush ask the people if they wanted to go to war with Iraq and help overthrow a "dictator" that was ordained by God to rule the Iraqi people? He'd be still waiting, wouldn't he? (In his case he didn't even get the OK from the duly elected representatives or the UN but just went ahead by "executive order"! Democracy? Someone's going to have to explain that one to me.

Naw, real life is different. We live in relatively peaceful countries, you and I David, but let's not pretend that we run the government and that all that legislation is our desire, our wishes and our doing. Did the multi-billion dollar bailout of AIG get the people's approval? After all, it's them that'll have to pay for it!

I don't want to take too much of your time but I feel like getting this off my heart to you as a respected brother and friend. The last point I have to make is to respond to your statement that Jesus not getting involved in politics was the same as Him not driving a car or writing an email: the reason being that He didn't have the opportunity!


How many times did the crowd come and try to forcibly impose "politics" on Him? They wanted to make Him a king! Why didn't He go along with it and get involved in a little politics? Think of the good He could have done ... and think of what would have been lost, as David Bercot says so powerfully. Jesus had every opportunity, countless times, to respond to the crowd's wishes for him to oppose the incumbent and get involved, and the people were on His side! But we know that Paul teaches us that we must not resist God-ordained authority on earth. We are called to submit to it for the will of God.

What? Hitler was ordained of God? Saddam Hussein was God's anointed for ruling his country? Why not? (God called the pagan kind of Persia, Cyrus, "my servant" and gave Daniel a good lesson on leadership through his experiences with Nebuchadnezzar -- even Nebuchadnezzar learned that lesson at the end of his grazing days!)

It seems to me that Christians that hold this view are on very shaky ground and will be forced, sooner or later, to make an exception to their own rules because of circumstances and conditions. Whereas if we take Jesus' point of view ("my kingdom is not of this world") we can at least keep our testimony on a steady and consistent keel -- even if we reap the scorn of believers and unbelievers alike.

Much love to you, your family and co-workers,

Friday, May 14, 2010

Update from Courtiron

A four-day "weekend" here due to Ascension day (yesterday, Thursday) means lots of time off and getting a lot of those fun jobs done.

Update on the donkeys: Becky, Claire, Agathe and Debbie (and little Ruben!) finally got the donkeys moved, as we'd wished. They just walked them there and made a nice outing of it. No problems at all! On the way they stopped at the lake where all the rest of us met them and we had a great picnic — though the weather has been unseasonally cool lately.

Then today Raph spent a lot of time in the chais organizing, decanting, and pouring. Having designed his own first label the little ones helped him empty the cask into bottles. He had the wine analysed last week at the laboratory where it was pronounced to be in good health: a delicious, slightly sweet rosé.

Susie filling bottles of wine

First bottles

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A coat-hanger

Well now, here's a funny thing!

This morning I decided to wear a fresh short-sleeved shirt. I probably haven't worn this one since last year (starting May first I cash in all my long-sleeved shirts for short ones). As I picked up the shirt I noticed it was hanging on a very old wooden hanger.

I was surprised to see that something was written on the wood and couldn't believe what I read:

The DeWitt Clinton
State & Eagle Streets,
Albany, N.Y. — A Knott Hotel

You're going to have to believe me when I tell you this: I know nothing about this hotel and even less about where we got this hanger! Sure, we use a lot of different hangers recuperated over the years from no-one-knows-where. But where did this one come from?

Then it really hit me. First it was just a vague thought then as I fully woke up it became a growing suspicion: wasn't that the name of my mystery hotel where Marcel was head chef back in the fifties? I ran up to my office and checked — and there it was! It was all just too much! Personal correspondence, postcards, menus, newspaper clippings, books about Swiss cheese ... and now a coat-hanger, of all things!

On an impulse I googled the place and found out that seven months ago it was in the news...

ALBANY, N.Y. -- An historic down-town Albany building is being turned into an up-scale hotel. That word comes Tuesday from Mayor Jerry Jennings and representatives from the Empire State Development Corporation.

Empire State Development is contributing $4 million to the project. The Dewitt Clinton hotel building on the corner of State and Eagle streets will become a Hilton Embassy Suites hotel with nearly 200 rooms.

Who is this guy Marcel Martel and why do I keep bumping into him and his friends fifty years after the fact? How long is this going to go on? :-)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Lord's Day music

Today after the meeting Rebecca, Claire, Ève, and Marie-Hélène took up recorders and starting playing some heavenly-sounding music for us before the meal. It sounded so lovely that I wanted to share it with you but all I ended up with was this picture. Never mind ...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Moving donkeys

Today Raphael and I decided to move the donkeys to the convent where all the sheep are. They have a grassy field there and are eagerly awaiting their arrival to save on mowing. All we had to do was to coax them into the trailer and in a few minutes, the job would be done.

Kevin before the donkey raid

In the shot above Kevin looks quite confident but things didn't work out that way. Donkeys are the stubbornest creatures and if they don't want to do something, you might as well abandon it.

They did not want to get into the trailer.

Marie-Hélène doing her best to coax them into the trailer

I won't say that the donkey's won but in the end we decided not to move them. We said we'd move them next week.