I'm always joking that if I decide to give up ministry I'd like to work as a bus driver. Well, that boast was well and truly tested today as I took our newly-arrived Korean guests (they came last night) on a wide-ranging tour of our Presbytery. Actually since the Presbytery covers over 500 square miles the trip wasn't as wide-ranging as it might have been. And, guess what? I haven't changed my mind. I had a great time, even though the bus I was driving looked like it had been shipped out of a war zone. (Maybe I'll take a picture of it later.)
The minibus belongs to a local Scout group and has obviously seen one or two jamborees in its lifetime. But it is a Mercedes and well built and, in spite of its length, it is actually pretty easy to drive and even to park - although I haven't been too challenged on that score as yet. Wait till I take it into Glasgow tomorrow.
But today, it was a chance to underline the vast difference between the home Presbytery of our visitors (East Seoul) and our Presbytery. Seoul, of course, is a vast conurbation with a population of about 20 million all crammed into a space probably about the size of Lanark Presbytery. Maybe even less. Here, on the other hand, there are more sheep than people. So it's a bit of a contrast.
In the background of the picture above is one of our older churches, St. Mary's in Biggar. This particular building dates from 1565, I think, and replaced an earlier one built in 1164. Apparently, however, there has been some sort of church on this site since the very earliest days of Christianity in Scotland, perhaps as far back as AD500 or 600. Amazing to think that Christian worship has been going on in that spot for so many hundreds of years.
History and memory are precious gifts but they can never be more important than an appreciation of the present moment, or even the anticipation of the future. Having a past is good (usually) but living in it is not. I'm happy to believe that as we establish this international relationship between a small part of rural Scotland and a small part of urban South Korea we are building something useful for the future.
In the immediate future, however, what I have to concern myself about is getting the bus through our driveway gates. There is only about one inch to spare on either side! ... now maybe I should think about a change of career...