Back in Zeewolde


Our first week back in Zeewolde has almost ended. Our jetlag was, for some reason, probably a bit more severe than usual. It was a strange experience to skip the entire spring. We left for California when the winter had hardly ended, and now, upon our return, it is fully summer. But it is not difficult to pick up things where we left them And a not unimportant detail: our car started as soon as I turned the key. In fact, we simply transitioned from one pleasant phase to the next.

I have used the past few days to get a good grip in the things I plan to do in the coming months. I have appointments for some presentations and lectures, for a good number of sermons and have some plans for travel. But our first major project is our vacation (late July to early August) with our son and his family in Sweden. In addition, a few writing assignments are awaiting completion. All in all, quite enough to spend the rest of the year without any fear of boredom.

Today I spent most of the time working on a sermon. It gave me real satisfaction to focus once again on a new sermon. I did miss my regular Sabbath preaching appointments in my Loma Linda period. (But this was largely compensated for by the inspiring, alternative Sabbath school sessions that are initiated by dr. David Larson and dr. Roy Branson.) The sermon topic is the doubting John the Baptist, who wonders, while in Herod’s prison, whether he had been wrong all the time about who Jesus is. Then it deals with the reply of Jesus to John’s disciples and what this answer could mean for us when, at times, we wonder whether we can still rely on our faith and our church. In hope that on July 5 the church members in the Zeeland church will recognize some of their own experiences in my sermon and may find some helpful points in what I will say.

When last Monday I visited the office of the Dutch Adventist Church in Huis ter Heide, I was given a copy of a new book by Ellen White that I translated into contemporary Dutch. I would have liked to make the language even more contemporary, but I also needed to keep the expectations of the average church member in mind. Working on this book once again made me think about some aspects of Ellen White’s inspiration. This book (Christ’s Object Lessons) is a commentary on Jesus’s parables. It does not deal with any theological issues, but is of a purely devotional nature. Ellen White wrote the book in the context of a fund raising campaign that was to ease the debt burden of some of the schools of her days. While translating I often wondered in what ways this book essentially differed from the work of many other authors who have written on this topic. And at times it seemed to me that several people that I know could also have written such a book. But in that case, of course, the book would not have been inspired. Or would it? Anyway, it was good to see that the book looks attractive and that it is now available. Hopefully it will be a blessing for many readers.

I have now almost finished reading Hillary Clinton’s book (Hard Choices) about her four years as the Secretary of State of the USA. It has reinforced my feelings that she might be a good American president. However, what I think in far-away Zeewolde about her virtues and competencies will not have any influence on what happens in 2016.  I will, however, closely follow the election process, since I have always been keenly interested in American history and American politics. But, besides what I might think about Hillary and her political future, I found this book highly informative. It gives an excellent survey of trends, leaders and events around the world. Therefore I would highly recommend this book also to my fellow-Dutchmen.