THE ROAD AHEAD

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One of the purposes of sabbatical was to create for myself and my congregation a season of prayer in which we could discover the road ahead. I went into sabbatical asking God to give me and the rest of our congregation “words” that would direct our future.

As I have come back I have made it a point to meet with everyone of the DLT (Doing Life Together) groups around which are church is grounded. I have literally a whole room full of notes. The walls in our conference room are plastered with large post it sheets.

The staff and I have n’t had time to discern all of the common words that have been spoken but a few are very clear:

Fourteen people in our congregation heard the word “PREPARE”. Usually this word was coupled with the idea that there was trouble coming or something hard we needed to be ready to face. Over the course of the last week I have come to understand that this word needs to manifest in three ways. We must prepare physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“LOVE” was another word prominent in every group I met with. Interestingly the emphasis was never on God loving us. The word “LOVE” as it was spoken to the congregation is a word of action and the action is ours to perform. Further we are being called not just to love people within the church but to love all people in our community, especially those who think and believe very differently than we do.

Our world, even our church world, is struggling with the road ahead. love and preparation are twin struggles which must be engaged and figured out if we are to move forward. My church seems ready to engage ion the struggle.

DEAR FAMILY-TRANSITIONAL ANXIETIES

Dear Family, We have successfully moved out of the Annex and back into The Vicarage.

Good bye Annex! You were a wonderful place to rest our heads for the nine weeks we could not be at home! Thank you Webster and Li for opening your home to us!

Thank you Brothers Remodeling for getting is back into our home!

It’s funny. I thought we would just walk back in and settle right into our old routines. I don’t know what made me think that, but it is definitely not a truth.

Mom has gone through transition anxiety in a big way. The house is not the same and she knows it. Lots of confusion. Little sleeping and lots of psychosomatic pains. While she did not need anxiety meds when we left The Vicarage and moved to the Annex, she has definitely needed them on the return from the Annex to The Vicarage. Sometimes she is not even sure where we are.

Then of course we are also not done the project. There are still little things inside that need to be done: a shower nozzle to be installed, a glass surround still on order, window locks that never got put back on after painting and a few outlets that still need to be replaced and turned on.

And then there is the last big job of the moment.

It was a bit noisy on Saturday and will be for the next four days I am afraid. But at least we are back in and working through our transition anxieties. We are home.

OZ

DEAR FAMILY- GETTING IN

Dear Family, Since completing the class on Appreciative Living at Beals Memorial Library here in Winchendon. I have been fascinated by the concept of “journey living” versus “destination living”. Journey living is the idea that we have a destination in mind but we really live for the journey because we realize that each destination is just a temporary stopping point on a much larger journey.

This week the Vicarage project wrapped up and so we reached a destination of sorts and found ourselves ready to go home.

We packed our bags…literally our bags.

and started cleaning. It was at this point we realized our destination was not a completion but just the beginning of some new journey I think we will call the continual road to home improvement.

As we got back in and got set up…Thanks to Ray and Barry Parker for helping move the necessary furniture into place and The Bag End Beam DLT group for coming in to wash all the woodwork….we realized that there is much more to do. So first we sat and just enjoyed the newness of our home. Then, as I walked through our home I began to realize that much of our old stuff is going to need a new home. It does not fit with the new Vicarage.

I started unpacking our bags…again they are literally bags…. so as I went through it I began deciding that some of what was in those bags should just stay there and go directly to the dumpster. Other bags I began to empty. Those bags will be used for laundry and for filling with other stuff from other rooms that never made it into bags to go to The Annex with us.

The journey ahead promises to be just as long as the journey behind and I believe that the results will be just as fulfilling.

Oz

Dear Family- The Third Project Begins

Dear Family,

Well the third of our big projects for the month of May and June has begun. We commenced the sanctuary remodel yesterday!

Here is what the Sanctuary looked like before service.
And here is what it looked like after service.
We will be taking the chairs in and out of the sanctuary for service for the next three to four weeks.
What a great crew of people we had helping yesterday!

DEAR FAMILY- THE RIVER IS RUNNING HIGH

Dear Family, I apologize for not writing these last several days. If life was a river, then these last days have been in the high water. The project at The Vicarage is moving at high speed now. The bathroom tiles got finished late last week launching us into the next phase of the project which is plastering and floor revarnishing.

My part of the next step was to move all the furniture from the first floor to the second floor. But before we could do that we had “A Taste Of Winchendon”, a fair on the grounds of our local library.

Abigail and I spent some time hanging out there.

Amanda’s job was to set up. My job was to break down. In between we just made connections with the people in town.

On Sunday I preached on the transcendence of God and how that makes Him different from us. That knowledge has to frame any proper relationship with Him. As all the projects I am involved in are dove-tailing at the moment, I am keenly aware that I am firmly locked in time-space and the constraints of human weakness. It is only as I focus on the transcendence of God…His ability to rise above all that is and to move me, by His grace, into peace, that I keep myself from feeling constantly overwhelmed. The fact that I am surrounded by such a loving congregation is a sign to me that the transcendent God has my back.

Several church folks came and helped me to move furniture on Sunday after church. The floor project is underway.

Here is coat number one of five.

Not only that they have also opened the new entryway into the kitchen.

Another week is done. Sunday starts the sanctuary project at Cornerstone and then next week I have court to assume guardianship of our dear friend Grace and then the staff and some parishioners will help me finish closing down her apartment.

Did I mention how much I love this congregation?

Oz

DEAR FAMILY- THE GRANDDAUGHTERS

Dear Family, It was a busy weekend. Friday night I attended “The Kingdom Of Priests” conference being held by our local House of Prayer here in Winchendon. What an incredible privilege to have such a ministry in our hometown!

Saturday I went to do hospital visitation with one of our widows and then I did follow up with several of our people who have either been ill or have had surgery this week.

Sunday of course was church and what a time in God’s presence we had!

This morning I started the day in prayer, walked and fed the dogs, got Mom’s papers and then called my sister in the Netherlands before Abigail and Daniella came for a visit.

Daniella was none to thrilled to be dropped off at Oz’ house, but after a rather severe meltdown on the blue stairs she was fine.
We spent our time together watching Veggie Tales and eating Fruitloops.

Now the girls have gone home, and after a brief recuperative nap, I am launching into the day of writing and studying. Time to think about sermons!

Oz

DEAR FAMILY-THE ANNEX

Dear Family, It strikes me that I have not spoken much about the incredible blessing that God has given us during this season of The Vicarage’s rehab. In the midst of all this work God has given us a miraculous provision of a house that meets absolutely every one of our needs. The Annex is a Victorian duplex located directly next door to The Vicarage! The only thing separating us from our house is the field which we own. I can literally see The Vicarage from there sun porch in my room which most of you will recognize as the place I am using to do my daily video devotion, Digging Deeper. The location was important to Mom who insisted she wasn’t going to leave the neighborhood. And it keeps me close to the project.

The place has four bedrooms and more importantly a comfortable couch because Mom will not sleep in a bed having not slept in one since my father died in 1990. It came completely furnished. We didn’t;t even need to bring dishes or a coffee maker!

The place has plenty of places to meet. Which is important because with Mom’s dementia being in an unfamiliar place means we are sticking at home. So I am working remotely as much as possible and we are staffing any amount of time longer than hour. The room below I use for those meetings which are more sensitive in nature.

It is right at the top of the blue stairs.

But I am also doing fellowship meeting in the kitchen.

And I am doing staff meetings at the conference/ dining table which seats 10.

I praise God for His amazing provision!

Oz

DEAR FAMILY- CHOOSING JOY

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Dear Family,

This morning I got showered and dressed at the Vicarage Annex, then went next door to the Vicarage to walk and feed the dogs. After that I headed off to get rid of the trash, clean my car, and get Mom’s morning papers and scratch tickets. Mom still loves here scratchies, but you know what she hasn’t smoked a cigarette since we arrived at The Annex. I am not sure she remembers she ever smoked….And I am not bringing it up.

The staff all came to the Annex for staff meeting and to celebrate Amanda’s birthday. I have the best people on staff with me! What a privilege to work alongside these folks in the work of ministry. We had our meeting and cake, went over business and then off to our various jobs: Carrie to prep more meetings for me, and to continue the practical building of our DLT work in the region; Amanda to prep for youth group; Wendy to visit a sick congregant; Nancy to pay the bills; John to the hardware store to purchase some building supplies; And me…well I have a boatload of paperwork and writing and planning to catch up on. I am never lacking for things to do.

Together we are preparing the church for the days ahead. We all sense the enormity of the task and the incredible challenges that wait for us in the future.

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My all church devotional for today was about how as people of God we are not to focus on the hardship we are in, nor are we to concentrate on the hardships that are in front of us. Instead we are to look beyond these things to the joy which is our eternal destiny.

I am choosing joy in many things. I am looking forward to the fruits of the work of ministry: The beauty of the new sanctuary once we have the carpets in and the altar/stage rebuilt; The beauty of the Vicarage when all the plumbing and electrics and bathrooms are new and the dust and debris is cleared away;

The salvation of all the souls that will be saved through the faithful work our congregation does in Doing Life Together with our community; The release of miracles and healings in our region; And finally the trip to the Far Off Country which is the hope of all Christians.

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There is much to be joyful about!

Oz

DEAR FAMILY- LIFE GOES ON

Dear Family,

I have heard from many of you since yesterday asking me how I am doing with the whole “asbestos thing”. Really I am fine. The asbestos in the upstairs bathroom is not even really dangerous to remove. It just can’t be torn up like normal linoleum, and it must be disposed of properly. It is just another delay. One thing I know is my times are in God’s hands. One thing I am learning is that I need to relax into that.

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The Vicarage project is going to be perfectly in keeping with God’s timing and plan. While we are waiting on it life keeps on with ministry. Most of my meetings now are at The Vicarage Annex and I am finding that I am able to keep a pretty full schedule thanks to my assistant Carrie who is organizing my schedule so well.

Mom has not smoked a single cigarette since we moved to The Annex. So any lengthening of time here I realize might just be to cement this new habit. It all has a purpose and I am learning the joy in finding that purpose.

A Note To James and Melanie

Dear James and Melanie,

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It strikes me that it is time to have some new family portraits done. I am scouring my database for a picture of the four Franklins and I am having trouble finding one.

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and finding one. of the current James is nigh on impossible. We have to get us some pictures of the whole fam in its currency.

I am so glad that you are here in Winchendon with us now. While it certainly puts you folks farther from your work, seeing your faces in church every week and being able to be together for family events is doing my heart so much good.

I know too Gramma is enjoying having herm great granddaughters around. I know she will probably never admit it but they are one of her few joys remaining.

Honestly I don’t think Gramma would have allowed anyone else to touch her adult coloring pages never mind turn them into a carpet into the kitchen. I am so glad you have chosen this place to live. Thank you for making and old man’s heart so glad.

Love, Dad