[Friday evening] I cannot complain that life is boring. After having preached on Saturday August 24 in Ranst (near Antwerp, Belgium), a small Adventist Church, that assembles in a chapel in a former farm house, I drove back to my home in Zeewolde (the Netherlands). From there I left the next day for Schiphol Airport. My destination on that early Sunday morning was the Adventist University of ‘Collonges’, close to Geneva. ‘Collonges is on the French side of the French/Swiss border, at a sublime location, with on the one side a view on the city of (in ages past) Calvin, and of (today) numerous international institutions—varying from the Red Cross and all kinds of UN offices to the World Council of Churches—and, on the other side the Salève mountain massive.
The pastors of the (mostly) Francophone unions (thus, also including Belgium) were invited for a three day Bible conference. My current role in Belgium and Luxemburg explains why I also was there. The conference is one in a series in more than fifteen places around the world, about the theme of ecclesiology—the doctrine of the church. This much neglected topic within Adventism has long had my special attention. This interest led me to write a book about it, that was published some two years ago by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, one of the prominent Adventist publishers in the US. The book received the title: The Body of Christ, with the subtitle: A Biblical Understanding of the Church. (The cover design, unfortunately, is dramatically old-fashioned and I had also preferred a different title, but, alas, such things are determined by the publisher, ‘who knows best’.)
Some of the presentations were rather sleep inducing, while a few were quite worthwhile. Significantly (but not unexpectedly), the crucial topics were dealt with by representatives of the Biblical Research Institute—the theological watchdogs of the church. All possible risk of heresy (and freshness of thinking) was carefully prevented. However, I was greatly pleased to hear one of the presenters quote repeatedly from my book. I must admit that for a few moments I had a hard time suppressing the sinful feeling of pride. But, after all, it does not happen too often that one is quoted in one breath with such theological giants as Barth and Pannenberg!
With a delay of some two hours I returned home again rather late on Wednesday evening. The delay was partly caused by problems with a Vueling plane from Malaga, while the removal of an explosive from World War II, that was found during construction work at the airport, near one of the runways, did not help either to ensure the incoming planes could arrive on schedule.
On Thursday morning my wife and I drove to the northern part of the Province of North Holland, to meet up with one of my sisters, who lives in Canada, but was staying for two weeks in her beloved native country. We went for a day trip to a folkloristic market in one of the smaller towns in that part of the country, and ended the day with an excellent meal in an obscure village not far from there.
Today (Friday) I had to leave home early for the three-hour drive to Brussels, for a meeting with the developer of a new web site for the Belgian Luxemburg Conference. I write these words in the early evening in my reasonably comfortable hotel room in Brussels. Tomorrow morning I will preach in the Spanish Adventist Church in Antwerp. After that I hope to turn the nose of my Citroen car towards Zeewolde, for a 36-hour stay at home, before returning to Belgium. If I have any complaints, it is not that life has become boring during my retirement.