Drinking Wine and Learning Greek Verbs…

As you know, I am studying Greek at Spurgeon’s College–which also trains Baptist ministers. I’m not sure if I’m a very good fit with the college, though I am absolutely loving the course.  On Tuesdays, there is a chapel service (all on zoom) which usually has an interesting speaker and music that’s not too terrible (I am not a great lover of most churchy music). Last week we were told there would be a communion service, and we should arrive at our computers suitably prepared.

The day arrived and started in a rush, as all my days tend to. I had my coffee and Bible time, went for a run, fed the ducks and cleaned out the chickens, then realised that I had forgotten to prepare for the communion service. We usually have half-finished wine hanging round the kitchen (because I don’t drink much, and unless it’s drunk with guests it’s left in the fridge for ages—Husband drinks beer). We had half a bottle of red wine lurking next to the microwave, I sloshed some into a big wine glass, grabbed some pitta bread left over from a curry, and hurried to my computer.

The chapel service was nice, and there was some liturgy for everyone to join in with. I left my mic off (it tends to boom nastily) but other people turned theirs on, and as I had set my zoom to ‘speaker view’ I had a lovely parade of faces, all different ages and colours, as people read the words. Then there was a prayer about the communion, and we ate and drank what we had brought. I had my eyes shut, and was mid-prayer when I had a horrible thought—as Spurgeon’s College is primarily a Baptist Minister’s training college, do they frown on alcohol? My eyes were shut, so I have no idea what other people were drinking, but as I lifted my large glass of red wine, I wondered—too late—if perhaps I should have disguised it in an egg cup or mug. I told myself that God wouldn’t care what I was drinking, it was my thoughts that mattered. But I didn’t take a second sip.

My glass of red wine sat on my desk for the rest of the morning. I had poured a generous glassful, and the service was in the morning, so probably not the best time to drink wine and have a productive day. However, after lunch, I thought perhaps I would finish it. I set up the ironing board, and went to collect my wine. Returned to find visiting son about to start a work zoom meeting. He told me that mothers ironing in the background did not look suitably professional, and mothers ironing while drinking wine was even worse. I moved to the kitchen.

The main problem with learning Greek is that my memory is less reliable than hoped. I am faced with lists of words, and I am supposed to remember the endings, but this seems impossible. I know how to remember things—you might recall I wrote a blog about how the brain stores data: https://wp.me/p5hYzv-1RL

However, this does not seem to apply to Greek words. I read them through at night, hoping desperately that my brain will absorb them, only to wake having completely forgotten them. It seems my brain only remembers all the things I wish it would forget, like the embarrassing time I said completely the wrong thing…or drank red wine with a group of teetotal trainee ministers…

To be honest, at times I feel real panic over my lack of memory. I have to remind myself that I am learning Greek so I can read the New Testament in a new way and the result of the exam doesn’t matter, not really, not compared with real life stuff. I have to stop the panic, because it spoils the fun, and learning Greek is fun, it’s exactly what I had hoped.

Yesterday, I was reading some of one of the books, and I came to a verb I recognised. Now, verb-endings are one of the things I have managed to learn, and I know that if the verb is linked to ‘we’ (we talk, we look, we eat) then the ending is ‘omen’ (but in Greek letters, obviously). I came to the part of the story which introduces Simon, and it said: “Simon, who we call Peter.” I must have read those words a thousand times in English, but reading the phrase in Greek, seeing the end of that verb, made the whole phrase seem very real, very personal, as if the writer was telling me about someone who he knew well—which of course he was! This is why I am learning Greek.

Thank you for reading. Have a good week, and take care.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
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