THIS DAY AT THE VICARAGE 11-11-20

As the holidays approach this year our state, Massachusetts, is preparing to face what may be its greatest days of challenge since the pandemic began.We received new protocols last week which include mask wearing in all public spaces including outdoors and even when you can socially distance, a 9:30 P.M. curfew, and a suggestion that families should not unite over the holidays and that no gathering over 10 people may be had in private homes. The buzz today is that governor is getting ready to reactivate the field hospitals in MA as our hospitals in the state are reaching capacity.

The gathering thing is not a hardship for us at the Vicarage our whole family together is 7 people, but I know many families for whom the gathering rule is going to be massively difficult come the holidays. I have now been wearing a mask so long in public the idea of not wearing one is almost uncomfortable…and please the idea of having to be in by 9:30 is a super-blessing for our family.

That said a pall has been laid over the holidays and everyone is feeling it. Everything is changing, including the way we are used to celebrating. We have to find new ways, new methods, new opportunities and we have to try them.

We were at Hobby Lobby the other day and my sister bought this urn. Now all four of us are dropping in a note about something we are thankful for every day. We will empty it and read our thanksgivings on Nov. 26th. As we eat our turkey pot pie…. I think the idea is that we have to figure out how to be thankful even when we cannot be traditional.

What creative thing are you doing to face the challenge of this year’s holiday season?

PJ

This Day At the Vicarage 11-8-20

The sky has been really stunning the last few days. Sunrises and sunsets come seemingly to remind me that there is a large part of life that simply transcends the everyday trials of this world.

No matter how crazy things get there is always the sky to look to.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:25-28

Today was church day. So I had to make sure most of my extra work was done before I left the house for the morning. Sundays can end up being mostly a wash once church time comes so I try to make sure I have a jump on things before I head out for the day. To that end I spent an hour this morning writing. I exercised. I got a little housework done and then it was off to the races.

Pastor Dan and Pastor Jen preached a great message today on celebrating in every season of life. And then we practiced celebrating as a church at the end (socially distanced of course and with masks). This is a lesson then church needs to take to heart. It is a message I need to take to heart. We are the people of God. Of all people on the planet we have a reason to celebrate which trumps every difficulty.

If nothing else there is always the sky to look to…so let’s celebrate!

PJ

This Day At the Vicarage 11-4-20

I need a hair cut.

These days you can’t just walk into your barber and sit down in the chair. You have to make an appointment. Apparently I keep calling at the wrong time. I tried again last night and no answer. Today she is closed. So I wait and of course slather back my hair with lots of product before I go out the door.

Of one thing I am sure. Some day soon I will get a hair cut. I just have to keep trying and stay patient.

I suppose some people would chide my lack of persistence or tell me to just go to another barber. But you know in the grand scheme of things how important is a hair cut?

I guess that is a question I am asking about a lot of things in this world right now. Getting the yard set for the winter seems more important than a hair cut right now. Getting my book finished seems more important than a hair cut right now. And spending the appropriate amount of time in prayer ( what I call the Sage’s Cave) is more important than all of it right now.

Photo by Brady Knoll on Pexels.com

I know that other people think the amount of time I spend in prayer is foolish even wasteful. I am pretty much OK with that. This is my call not theirs and I am learning that others not called to carry this ministry really don’t understand it. Their lack of understanding does not release me from God’s command…..So I move forward in prayer and wait for everything else to come at its proper time. Even my hair cut.

See you all tomorrow!

PJ

This Day At the Vicarage 11-2-20

Lillie-Put

4 A.M. comes early even after you turn the clocks back. This has been my normal time of rising for the last several months. I usually start my morning with what I call basking prayer. I sit with the Lord and just listen and I let the Spirit within lead me to truth and to petition.

This morning I keep hearing that God is moving to extinguish pride, luxury, and extravagance in me and in US and in the U.S. Maybe it has something to do with the Bible reading I am doing this week (The Book of Revelation today I started with chapter 17-19). Maybe it has more to do with the fact I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with worldliness I see around me. Something in me longs for a simpler way of life.

I’m not talking about a return to the good old days. I am talking about…

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This Day At the Vicarage 11-1-20

It snowed the day before Halloween. Even though snow at this time of year generally doesn’t last, just having snow that sticks to the ground and the cold that comes with it, makes for a long winter.

It is not unexpected though. My prayer times in the Spring were full of warnings to prepare for a long hard winter and here we are at the beginning of many forms of winter all at once.

We had several families cancel their reservations for church today, citing this second wave of the virus. One of the nurses brought an extra forehead thermometer to church so we could begin checking everyone’s temp as they came through the door and not just the leadership team.

 It is really nice to be in a church that is taking the protocols seriously. We have a sister church nearby who was not quite so stringent and they had an outbreak of 38 cases stemming back to a weekend of revival services.

We have modified so much of our church life now. I miss some of what we have had to leave behind, but I am also greatly challenged and excited about the road that lies ahead of the church as we embrace this cultural change which is cutting deep into our methods, but never the foundations of our faith….God is the same yesterday, today and forever!

Just like the winter storm is showing us the beginning of a new and cold season, this pandemic is showing us the beginning of a new cultural normal. We cannot act like nothing is changing anymore than we can wear our Bahama shorts and flip flops out in the snow.

What lies ahead might not be easy, but we’ve weathered winters before, even long ones. There is beauty to be found in every season. We just have to look for it.

Well folks. I have to go make supper. I will chat with you tomorrow!
PJ

THIS DAY AT THE VICARAGE 9-20-20

The weekend is finally winding down and returning to a rhythm I can recognize and move with easily. The last two days have been wonderful and busy! But I am glad to be returning to something like slow, constant and intentional as the new week blossoms.

Yesterday’s pace picked up with coffee at Identity Coffee Shop in Rindge New Hampshire at 8:30 A.M.

Identity Coffee Lab - 32 Photos - Cafes - 1090 Nh Route 119, Rindge, NH -  Restaurant Reviews - Phone Number - Yelp

This is sort of my new go to place for meeting with congregants when I am not visiting in their homes. I met with one of my friends and we chatted about God and grandchildren. Then we both headed off to the rest of our day.

I do a lot of pastoral visitation now. Visitation has always been a part of my ministry, but now aside from prayer this is my ministry. I pray. I write and I meet with people on-line or in person. I am enjoying it even if sometimes I seem to have a hard time keeping it all straight in my head, where I need to be and when I need to be there.

My daughter, Amanda, and I talked about that on the way to pick up my grand-daughter in Lynn MA yesterday. Amanda has this amazing ability to organize and keep things in order. I have trouble wearing the same color socks on any given day (especially if they are colored which is why I usually wear white). Amanda always knows where she needs to be and when she needs to be there. She plans travel time and she plans cushion into all of her work. She reads and retains instructions from instruction manuals and can keep guidelines in her head. I usually end up losing the English directions to things and end up trying to build things from pictures using the Chinese directions five minutes before they have to be assembled. It was a nice ride, and I really got to affirm Amanda in her gifts. She doesn’t often consider what she does as being supernaturally gifted, but she really is.

We got to Lynn and picked up my grand-daughter Dani. I really thought getting her to come with us back to the Vicarage would be harder but she hopped right in the car, kissed her mother good bye and we were on our way with nary a tear.

We stopped at Wendy’s for a late lunch. After that, Dani colored with my mother for a bit. Then we went to pick some flowers and for a walk in the park. We ate pizza for supper and then Dani was pretty well done for the night.

Today was church. Melanie and James came to pick Dani up there and then we celebrated Amanda receiving her license to preach. She is now a fully licensed minister of the Assemblies of God! We had lunch and then the Franklin family got back on the road. A very busy and very wonderful day.

Well tomorrow starts a deep housecleaning because I sensed in prayer this afternoon that The Vicarage has visitors coming…..I have no idea what that means, but I know it is time to prepare.

I am looking forward to tomorrow dear friends!

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 9-15-20

It has been a busy week at the Vicarage. I guess the pace really picked up last Friday. As Brenda had her first full day at the apple orchard, I performed a funeral and then mowed the lawn at our local art gallery. Meanwhile, Amanda did her on-line children’s church lesson and prepped for Sunday.

Saturday was church clean up day. About twenty of us raked leaves, pulled weeds, dug up saplings and cut down a few bigger trees.

By the time Amanda and I got home from this we both needed Motrin and a nap.

Sunday of course was church. After service one of our congregants had a medical emergency. Thankfully a family from church was able to get her to urgent care. Afterwards, while the family got the lady settled back into her home, Amanda, Brenda and I took a trip to the pharmacy to pick up the meds she needed and brought them to her house.

The last two days I have been out to this dear lady’s home to help her with groceries and banking. Today we went for a follow up to the Dr. The report was that the Dr. wants to check in with her again in another week so…..

Cheshire Medical Center | D-HH Locations | Dartmouth-Hitchcock

I have a feeling a few of us are probably going to be spending a lot of time here in the next few weeks.

In the middle of this time several of my posts have begun to require a bit more time to create. It’s a good thing, but I am finding I am falling behind in my reading of other blogs.

Frowning Face Emoji (U+2639, U+FE0F)

Oh well….Life is all about the seasons. God is the author of each one and we must accept them as they come. It is our job to learn how to utilize the different blessings each season of life provides.

This season is really changing how our church operates as a body. We are deepening the sense of family we have. We are becoming more important to each other. We are learning to be together in new and deeper ways. We are learning what it means to be a people of faith, hope and love.

It seems these lessons should have been learned a long time ago. Maybe the theory has always been there. Now we are being forced to put the theory into practice. It feel like the New TEstament is becoming very real to us right now.

Living Word New Testament - Posts | Facebook

The Lord is doing good things!

I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings Dear Friends.

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 9-2-20

It rained this morning. I left the laundry out last night. Go me!

Laundry on line in rain Stock Photo: 4551198 - Alamy

Oh well. Little foxes may try to spoil the vine, but I am not letting a few wet tee shirts ruin my victory over my schedule.

Back in January, God told me I was walking through a brand new door into a place I had never been before. He told me that I would be “entering” in January, February and March. He said I would be “Settling in” in April, May and June. He told me I would “begin accomplishing” in July August and September. Then He said I would “Be finishing” in October, November and December.

I naively thought this was all about my book. I think I may have alluded to that fact here on “Notes From the Vicarage”. I realize now it was bigger than that. It was about a radical change coming to my life. The first quarter was revealing the scope of that change. The second quarter saw me accepting and settling into that change. God used the pandemic to create my new life-rhythm, but by June I realized I had accepted the change and I was determined not to go back to the old rhythm of life, even if the rest of the world did. These last few months I have been learning how to become accomplished in the new rhythm of slow, constant, intentionality (the words aren’t new to me but the practice has taken on a much deeper meaning).

I have kept a schedule for years. I have modified it into my own secret shorthand.Here is what I have done this week. As I look at these tick marks and numbers I am realizing a huge difference in what I am accomplishing.Here is what my schedule looked like in January when I was just beginning.

You might not see much of a difference, but as I have been working with this schedule over these months I see a marked change in how I am utilizing my time. Just look at the first number on my agenda (that is the physical activity goal). Back in January I was lucky if I was doing thirty minutes of physical activity a day and that included walking the dogs. Today I am generally hitting the goal and going over my physical activity number.

Part of that success has to do with me being home more. As Mom’s need for me here at home grows, I am finding that I am actually gaining control of my schedule even as I become more housebound. I am not yet what I shall be, but I am surely more than I was.

Well I have blathered on long enough….

I am looking forward to tomorrow Dear Friends…

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-31-20

Yesterday I preached at Cornerstone Church in WInchendon, A message called “A Message For the Moment.” After church one of our parishioniers came over to the Vicarage to look at the dormers atop the house to see if he might be able to fix them for me before winter. The meeting took all of 15 minutes making me right on time to fix lunch for Mom.

After lunch the sabbath slump hit me. It came as it always does, a sudden rush of weariness that left me able to do almost nothing but lay on the couch sliding in and out of sleep. At three I walked the dogs and then took a short ride with Amanda around the area to see sites. We stopped by the mountain to take a few pics.

When we got back I had just enough energy to make supper before my body crashed once again. The rest of the night was spent watching TV on the couch. I rested. I practiced sabbath.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have long had a love/hate relationship with this discipline called sabbath. I think I have struggled with it because of what sabbathing requires of me….because of what resting requires of me. Most of the people around me approach the Sabbath and the act of sabbathing as a day off, a day to have fun. They get to their day off. They go to the beach. They rake the lawn. They have friends over for a barbecue. They go and visit gramma. They go to Maine for the afternoon…..Meanwhile I crawl into bed and sleep for twelve hours. A really active sabbath for me is to lay on the couch and watch TV for eight hours after my nap, like I did yesterday.

Now there is a piece of me that is good with this. That piece of me knows I need this if I am to function the rest of the week like a normal human being. But there is a piece of me that really struggles to be like all the people around me. I want to be the guy who gets out of church and drives to Lynn to have lunch with my daughter and her family. I want to be like my sister who got done with her responsibilities at church yesterday and then drove to her friend’s house forty five minutes away and then painted canvas until after dark.

Here’s the thing. I can do all those things on Sunday. I can push off the Sabbath slump for a bit as long as I am prepared to slump on Monday. I cannot escape it. If I schedule myself so busy that I can’t Sabbath one day a week, I become this crabby Zombie monster who cannot function in any form of godliness. I revert to my old sinful self.

History of Zombies - HISTORY

I watch other people and think how weak I am because I can’t seem to do what everyone else does. Then I think maybe their not really doing it either. Maybe they really are just better at hiding their sinful zombie monster selves than I am.

Let me ask you dear friends….HOW DOES REST LOOK IN YOUR LIFE? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T REST THE RIGHT WAY?

I am looking forward to tomorrow dear friends!

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-29-20

I awoke this morning with one of those leg cramps that make you scream yourself awake. You know the kind I mean, the kind where you are mindful enough to know that if you could just get to your feet the pain would stop, the kind which is so painful you cannot move out of the position you have contorted into.

What are Muscle Cramps and How Can They be Treated Naturally

After a minute of deep breathing through the worst of the pain, I swung my feet off the bed. I realized the day was dark and rainy, a reminder from God that I was in my current situation probably because I had let myself get dehydrated yesterday.

I pushed myself off of the bed. I thought back to yesterday and remembered that the Lord had changed up my sermon for Sunday on me. I was working in Psalm 84. Then, in my afternoon devotion the Lord had pushed me into Isaiah 8:11-20. When one sermon supplants another the sensation can be sort of like an emotional earthquake, especially when the supplanting comes on Friday afternoon. My new sermon prep got as far as reading the new verses to my sister after an evening ride around the area. Then I settled into an evening of wrestling internally with what I was to make out of the new passage given me. I went to bed with no more idea of what I was going to preach than when I first got the new verses in the afternoon.

This morning, as I paced about my bedroom trying to get my right calf muscle to release, the brain fog of sleep dissipated and I began to realize God had downloaded all the points of my new sermon while I was sleeping.

HAS ANYTHING LIKE THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

MIND BLOWN - Imgur

Well you know I hobbled to my computer, and set the new outline down. I sent it off to my technical director so he could create the powerpoint. Then I heard the Lord say. “I have given you rain. Allow it to pace you. Allow it to slow you down to the place of prayer you need to be ready.”

So I have slowed down. I have hydrated. I have stretched. Most importantly, I have prayed and now I can say.

I am excited to see what tomorrow brings dear friends.

Pastor J