After the Sunday evening service at Trinity Road Chapel in London someone asked to take a picture of Pastor Doug McMasters and myself. Doug is a big boy…he makes me look pretty small. Doug and I have developed a lot of memories over the past fifteen or so years. We once did a 105 mile ride together out on the Sun Valley Parkway in Phoenix. Sadly, we tried it too early in the fall, and it got hot. Those last few miles were tough! And one year in El Tour de Tucson he zipped away from me early on in the race. But about ten miles from the finish I caught up with him, pulled into the drafting position and said as I was passing him, “Get on the bus!” He did, and we finished together. Never dreamed back then, of course, that someday we would be hustling through Gatwick airport in London just barely making a flight to Dublin, or sitting in the reading room at Trinity College examining Codex Montfortianus, or standing in Leicester Square witnessing to folks (or wandering around downtown London looking for anywhere to sit down and eat our fish and chips and mushy pes—yes, they spelled it without the ‘a’). But, that’s one advantage of growing old. You get to create collections of great memories with great friends and brothers in Christ.
Speaking of great friends and brothers in Christ, I got to spend at least one evening with Roger Brazier and his family while I was in London (they picked me up at Heathrow when I flew in from Glasgow). Roger was the man who first invited me to London back in 2005, so all you folks who have benefitted from the ministry over there over the past six years, Roger is to be thanked (or blamed, depending on which side of the aisle you are on). So we get together at Heathrow and the first thing I notice is that we have both gotten new glasses. Now, remember, within five minutes of meeting for the first time at Heathrow in 2005 we were chatting like long-lost brothers who had twenty years to catch up on. There are just some brothers that you “fit” with like you’ve known each other your entire lives, and that’s Roger and I. So what do I immediately notice but that we have both purchased, without any communication or cooperation, almost identical glasses! OK, that’s just too weird.
Finally, I am tremendously proud to announce that Jim Handyside almost gave me my “genuine Scots card” while I was in Glasgow. I can almost taste it. I did point out to him that there aren’t that many Scottish Reformed Baptist pastors left in Scotland, so, can he really afford to get rid of me? I think that was a solid argument. But, to assist in my continued attempts to gain his acceptance of my true Scottish nature, I remind all of my readers of pastor Handyside’s speaking schedule here in the US starting next week:
February 23- Highlands Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Sebring, FL 863-385-3787
March 5-6 First Baptist Church Markham Woods Lake Mary, FL 407-333-2085
March 8th Grace Chapel 352-476-8078 Sanford
March 11-17 Faith Baptist Tabernacle: Williston, FL 352-528-2216 Contact: 352-208-1007
March 17-22 St. Mary, GA 912-882-5704
March 22-28 Griffen, GA 770-631-3660
March 28-April 5 Bethel Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA 678-880-1123
Now, if folks came up to Jim and said, “Your fellow Scotsman, James White, told us about your being here,” well, that sure would help a lot. But there is one thing that is sure…absolutely sure, to help me in my quest for final acceptance into the “truly Scottish Reformed Baptists” club (of which Jim is the President). And that is to go for the gold:
The cheerfu’ supper done, wi’ serious face,
They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;
The sire turns o’er, with patriarchal grace,
The big ha’bible, ance his father’s pride:
His bonnet rev’rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care;
And “Let us worship God!” he says with solemn air.
They chant their artless notes in simple guise,
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
Perhaps Dundee’s wild-warbling measures rise;
Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;
Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame;
The sweetest far of Scotia’s holy lays:
Compar’d with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickl’d ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they with our Creator’s praise.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high;
Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek’s ungracious progeny;
Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
Beneath the stroke of Heaven’s avenging ire;
Or Job’s pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;
Or rapt Isaiah’s wild, seraphic fire;
Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
How He, who bore in Heaven the second name,
Had not on earth whereon to lay His head:
How His first followers and servants sped;
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:
How he, who lone in Patmos banished,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,
And heard great Bab’lon’s doom pronounc’d by Heaven’s command.
Then, kneeling down to Heaven’s Eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
Hope “springs exulting on triumphant wing,”
That thus they all shall meet in future days,
There, ever bask in uncreated rays,
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
Together hymning their Creator’s praise,
In such society, yet still more dear;
While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere
Compar’d with this, how poor Religion’s pride,
In all the pomp of method, and of art;
When men display to congregations wide
Devotion’s ev’ry grace, except the heart!
The Power, incens’d, the pageant will desert,
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
But haply, in some cottage far apart,
May hear, well-pleas’d, the language of the soul;
And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.
(From “The Cotter’s Saturday Night” by the “Bard of Scotland,” Robert Burns