As I write this I am on a coach (bus for us South Africans!) from Oxford to Heathrow. I will be visiting with Craig and Kath, my brother and sister in law, before flying home this evening. I am looking forward to having some time with them! I am so aware of the blessing that it is to see them so frequently when Megie would love to have these opportunities to visit with her brother and sister in law.
On Sunday I was at Holy Trinity Brompton and then met my friend Dr Wessel Bentley who arrived from South Africa. He rented a Boris bike and I had Doris my Brompton and we did a good 30km cycle through London seeing just about every sight a tourist could cover in half a day!
On Monday we moved across to Oxford where we spent the week at Oxford University (Christ Church) for the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological studies.
I was honoured to be the co-chair, along with Dr Sergei Nicolaev, of the Theology and Ethics working group. It was both an honour and a joy to be part of the planning of the institute, the selection of the members, and of course the task of chairing the presentations. I was also honoured to chair a plenary lecture given by Dr Rui Da Silva Josgrilberg.
In addition to the plenary sessions each of the working groups (of which we were one of five) presented their articles and engaged in discussion around the topic of the Institute. It was wonderful to be engaged in rigorous academic discussion and debate once again. Our group was blessed with a number of senior scholars (Douglas Meeks, JC Park from Korea, Sondra Wheeler, Michael Nosner from Germany, and Rui from Brazil). The group is making an exceptional contribution to scholarship across the world (Africa, Asia, the America's, Europe and the East). We also had some emerging scholars in our group - PhD students or recent PhD graduates. I was deeply impressed by their fresh academic knowledge, the magnificent intellect and the capacity to engage on a relatively equal footing with some of the more senior scholars in the group.
I leave England looking forward to being home with Megie, Courtney and Liam who I miss so very much! I shall be home for just short of 4 weeks before departing for Malaysia (Megie is coming on that trip with me!)
The experience this week has reminded me that I do have a contribution to make in the academy. My teaching post at Stellenbosch University is important to me. I also realise that I am a theologian for the Church. My primary focus seems to revolve around a central Christology to which every is a missional response.
I am grateful for this week! In my younger life I could never have imagined the privilege that I am currently experiencing. It is humbling, but it also comes with important responsibilities.