I'm slowly re-entering 'normal' life after a great break in the south of France. We spent two weeks in Le Somail on the banks of the Canal du Midi, deep in the heart of the Languedoc, basking in the late summer sun. Idyllic.
On the way there and back we stopped off in Amiens, Clermont-Ferand, Chalon-sur-Soane and Reims. We sampled some great food and excellent wine, we wondered in medieval streets and churches, investigated Gallo-Roman remains, tip-toed into the Medietrranean, read, slept, laughed and chilled. Perfect.
While I was there, I read Tracey Thorn's engaging autobiography about being a singer/songwriter and one half of the wonderful Everything but the Girl (if we'd known we were going to last, she says, we'd have chosen a better name). Bedsit Disco Queen: How I grew up and tried to be a popstar is a gem. Thorn writes in a disarmingly honest way about her career, her songcraft, her life-long partnership with Ben Watt. I first heard her on a Cherry Red sampler in the early 1980s both as solo artist as one third of Marine girls. Reading her account of those years and what followed made me want to listen to the music all over again - something to look forward to in the autumn.
It's a huge privilege to be able to drop everything, swan off and enjoy almost three weeks of uninterrupted leisure. I'm aware of so many who can't do it for all sorts of reasons. So I realise how blessed I am.
And I return to a church that's been doing great without me (just as it should be!) and new reading to look forward to. In particular, this morning my copy of Without Borders by Rob Schellert dropped on my mat (well, it was handed to me by the postman because the package wouldn't fit through our letter box!).
Rob is a lovely guy who is currently working alongside East London's anarchist and squatter communities, exploring how to share life, Jesus, and make community.I love spending time with him, exploring his world, listening to him gently unfold his story. I've already read a good deal of the book in draft but am relishing getting to grips with the finished article. You can get your hands on a copy (and I really think you should) at his website (here).
I will also begin reflecting on our autumn series tomorrow. We will be exploring the Kingdom of God under the title a brighter day (taken from a great Gungor song). We'll be looking at a number of the paradoxes of the Kingdom that make it difficult to pin down but wonderful to be a part of - personal/political, public/private, puzzling/plain, present/potential, etc... I'll be blogging thoughts as we go.
I'm looking forward to having Nelson Kraybill's Upside Down Kingdom and reading Jim Wallis' new book, On God's Side, as companions on this adventure. At our later service, we'll be exploring the same theme using Charlie Peacock's album Kingdom Come and other great music.
So, bring it on; I think the autumn is full of promise...