Well, the 50th. birthday celebrations are over – at last is the cry I hear from Emily. However, the one thing I planned was great from my point of view – which I guess when it’s your own birthday is fairly significant. On Saturday, we booked the Skittle Alley at The Stoke Inn, in Chew Stoke, and took fifty friends for a carvery meal. A big thank you to the staff there - I would recommend them for a relaxed environment and excellent value, as well as their friendliness. As far as I’m aware everyone enjoyed the meal and the evening, which was the main point. It started out as a ‘let’s go out for a meal with a few friends’ and ended up at fifty, which was all the room could hold (if that if I’m honest). Friendship has many different levels – I have for example, a lot of people I regard as ‘friends’, but very few I bare my soul to. This event, therefore, as a little like a re-run of Tom and Rachel’s wedding – who do you invite when there’s a limited number? Do you go for a big hall and just have everyone who wants to come? Will so-and-so be offended if they know someone else is coming? If we invite them, then they’ll feel uncomfortable. Who do I consider ‘my’ friends as opposed to ‘our’ friends? Does any of this matter? We decided to keep it local, not family, which helped logistically, but believe me, it wasn’t as easy as I originally thought – thinking about it now, the fact that it was a successful night is quite remarkable!
One of the most sobering issues I need to do some work on before my 60th. birthday – well, the previous one was when I was 40 – is will there be a greater proportion of people not-yet Christian counted among my closer friends? I wont go into the details here, but it was worth the exercise for that reason alone. My reflection is that the proportions invited reflects the proportion of time invested in each direction – and I don’t think I’d be accused of some of things Jesus was accused of at the moment (eg Luke 2:16). If a Minister is paid a stipend (paid not to work) should they not be at least in a position to be accused of such things? Well, ask me when I’m sixty and I’ll tell you whether my intention to change the proportion has worked!
Another remarkable occasion on Saturday, which I missed due to the party, was the Kettering v Fulham 4th round FA Cup tie. We ran out of steam, but put up a brave fight, but just not enough to compete with Danny Murphy and co. What was really fascinating was communicating with three old school friends – two who I was at primary school with and known since I was 8 – on Facebook whilst we were all listening to the match live (one in America). I was delighted too Kaka come through with some decent press:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/manchester_city/article5552242.ece