In the Midst

Last week our grocery store started limiting the number of people who could go in at one time. One in one out, is the new rule.

This week we were asked to start shopping in two week stints to limit the amount of exposure each of us have to the public, as cases of the Covid-19 mount across the state. I could feel the fear as I was shopping yesterday. One man yelled at me when I pulled down my face mask for a moment to defog my glasses.

In the midst of our world falling apart around us by bits and pieces, I have been “attending” an on-line retreat regarding the sorrows of Passion Week. Today our leader in the retreat wrote this:

“Where is our hope? Our hope is in a God who died publicly humiliated outside the walls of a minor city in a great empire. This God is not a God for winners, not a God who makes us great again. We believe in a God who throws the rich from their thrones and lifts up the lowly. Our God dies daily, alongside the poor, the outcast, the immigrant child, the fearful and victimized, the one who dies alone. Our hope is in a God who chooses humility, a God who bows deeply, who suffers with us, even unto death. A God who dies daily alongside those in this plague, who knows the fear of those who serve others in this pandemic, who knows the avoidance of those who would rather go back to sleep.” Almut Furchert

I am struck by the phrase, “Our hope is in a God who chooses humility, a God who bows deeply,”

When, besides the cross, in all of the worlds religions did a god choose humility? IN the cross God bowed low!!!!

For me this time has been a very humbling experience. I got sick at the beginning of the shut- in and my voice has not yet returned (I am thanking God that this sickness was not as serious as it could have been). I have not led worship in something like seven weeks. This has been one of my lamentations during this season. It felt like a loss ( not so much the loss of worship but of my voice), but God has showed me that this is the moment I have prayed for. In my inability, younger men have stepped to the plate and worship has gone on, and there is actually a liberation in that!

The whole church is being humbled as we approach this Easter weekend. We are being forced to do away with the pomp and circumstance which generally go with this season. We are being forced to return to the simplicity of the cross: no frills, no stirring music or acting, no lights or crowds, just a naked Savior hanging, dying on a cross. Perhaps in the midst of our world falling apart this will be one of the most powerful Easters the church has experienced in many years simply because we cannot make it about us or our attempts at personal kingdom building. It must be completely about Jesus.

God is changing me through this experience. He is moving me ,in the midst of it, into the new place He has been promising to being me. He is accomplishing His prophesied move in our church at Cornerstone and He is fulfilling His prophesied word in the church world- wide. The church is being humbled. As the crucifixion of Christ was God’s plan to bring about Christ’s Resurrection then, this crucifixion we are experiencing has a resurrection attached to it as well. Hold onto that.

Easter And Beyond

Well it has been a bit since we have communicated with any of our readers, but to be fair the Vicarage has been just abuzz with activity. Easter is the minister’s busiest season. I guess it could be likened to the accountants final week of tax season or the teacher’s finals season. It is crunch time and this year we got crunched, but it was a wonderful crunching.

We had our Good Friday communion service and then on Saturday and Sunday we were blessed to have the Nichols ministering to us prophetically (prophetic ministry is about to become a big part of Cornerstone and we will chat about that later).

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Pastor Jean ministers to Pastor Dan.

Saturday our sound man came down with the flu, so I (J) went in to set up sound for the choir. I was doing fine until just before service and then I got wicked stressed out and didn’t really know why. It wasn’t until after service when we were at the restaurant celebrating my daughter’s birthday that I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast and I was just super hangry.

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A good supper and piece of this cake made me feel a ton better. Of course during my hangriness I did lose my car keys so Brenda had to drive us all to the restaurant and then home.

Amanda drove me to church for Easter Sunday services and I found my keys under the conference table in our main offices.

Brenda and I along with our friend Eric led worship on Sunday morning for the Nichols while Amanda led children’s church downstairs. two more children came to know Jesus on Sunday! Praise God!

After church we got home and I made Easter dinner for the family and we had a wonderful lunch and birthday party for Amanda. my daughter and son-in-law came with their daughter Daniella!

Easter buckets

A Busy Good Friday

The day started out quietly enough. I got up late (6:42). After walking and feeding Jacopo and Mercedes and getting Mom her morning pill, I spent an hour and a half in prayer and then had breakfast.

From there it was an end run to tonight’s service. Today was my day to do the shopping for our Easter meal….and my secret plans of course! We are having steak and tortellini salad along with a sweet kale salad. I also bought fresh garlic ciabatta bread. For dessert we are having limoncello cake and ice cream in honor of Amanda’s birthday!

And then of course we will reveal my secret plans! Mwahaha!

I thought the afternoon would be quiet, but when I got home Amanda’s ears were giving her terrific pain. Off we went to urgent care, where we discovered she has a double ear infection. That of course led us to the pharmacy. Then it was time to walk the dogs again and get showered and changed for Good Friday service.

Now here we are finishing up the set up for tonight and I am about to go over my music one more time and get the mics and inears ready for our team tonight.

Here is the song we will be opening with for the evening.

Happy Good Friday everyone! Remember Sunday is on the way!

The Vicarage Accepts the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Worship

The world watched in horror yesterday as Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames. “Dutch Goes the Photo” has issued a challenge as a tribute to the spirit of the famed church and the people of France.

The theme of the challenge is WORSHIP. Our instructions are as follows:
“Regardless of religion, faith or belief system, we can all worship; whether it’s a universal being, nature or the love of our life… Please take this challenge into the direction of Worship that speaks most to you and share it creatively! “

The Vicarage is sending up prayers today for the Parisian community of faith at this Easter season!

You can check out how others have honored Notre Dame by CLICKING HERE.

Here are our tribute photos.

These are mine:

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Immaculate Heart Winchendon MA

“Do not say, ‘But it is hypocritical to thank God with my tongue when I don’t feel thankful in my heart.’ There is such a thing as hypocritical thanksgiving. Its aim is to conceal ingratitude and get the praise of men. That is not your aim. Your aim in loosing your tongue with words of gratitude is that God would be merciful and fill your words with the emotion of true gratitude. You are not seeking the praise of men; you are seeing the mercy of God. You are not hiding the hardness of ingratitude, but hoping for the in-breaking of the Spirit. 
John Piper
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Olde Center Church Winchendon MA

“When we lift our hands in praise and worship, we break spiritual jars of perfume over Jesus. The fragrance of our praise fills the whole earth and touches the heart of God.” 
― dennis ignatius
Nieuwe Kerk Delft

This next section was sent by my sister Brenda from her travels as a missionary

“Mere talent does not give glory to God but a humble heart.”
― Mac Canoza

“Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. 
Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this 
attend strictly to 
the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered 
to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and
reward you when 
he cometh in the clouds of heaven.” 
― John Wesley

And finally these photos are sent by son’s fiance Kristine from South Korea. These are all churches in the Philippines where Kristine grew up.

“Praise and worship is not about how talented you are or what a wonderful and beautiful voice you have. It’s all about denying yourself, let God to be God in your life and praise Him with all your heart and soul.” 
― Euginia Herlihy

“The place where music and worship meet is like a divine mystery of sorts.” 
― Temi Peters, 
Instruments of Praise & Acts of Worship

GOD will never disregard or turn away sincere prayers from those who diligently seek Him and humbly call upon His Name.” 
― Errol Anthony Smythe

So let us not become weary in the battle. Let us continue to praise and worship the God of Heaven whom our houses of worship were made to honor.