This Day At the Vicarage 10-5-20

It would seem I have lost ten days of events to the pace of life…or at least I’ve lost the telling about those ten days worth of events . The pace has not been unmanageable, but I have not learned fully how to work with slow, constant, intentionality and still get everything on my bloated list done. Maybe that’s the point, eh?

Tonight I sit listening to an Epic Playlist On Youtube.

I am contemplating several words I have received from the Lord recently, and one I received at the beginning of the year when I was attending my son’s wedding in The Philippines.

At that time God told me that I had entered a new season of life. He told me the year would be divided into four parts. The first quarter would be about me entering the new phase of life. The second quarter was about settling into the new rhythm of life. The third would be about accomplishing the new phase, and the final quarter would be about finishing the work of the new phase.

This has been a unique year for all of the obvious reasons. It would have been a new season simply because the whole world has changed. In that respect, 2020 is a whole new ball game for everyone. In addition, the Lord told me I was to embrace a lifestyle of living by faith financially for this year. It has been an amazing journey. While I know no one can do this without God’s command behind them, I wish everyone had the opportunity. I have been so liberated by God being my paycheck for the last ten months.

Beyond that I thought the new was going to be about me finishing my book and becoming a full time writer. As it turns out I will finish my book by year’s end and I may just end up becoming a full time writer, but the change has not been primarily about that either. Writing, living by faith financially these are all just parts of the season which I expect will fade as seasons do. The permanent change has been to this rhythm of slow, constant, intentionality. It is something I have been working on for twenty years, and God has used this year to complete the work of transitioning to this rhythm even as the world continues to increase its speed of living..

We are in October now. The beginning of the finishing of this permanent change. I do believe I am carrying this with me into eternity….slow, constant, intentional. I have entered it. I have settled into nicely. I have spent the last three months practicing the form. Now these three months are about perfecting the skills I have learned and applying them to every area of my life. Here we go!

This Day At the Vicarage 9-25-20

In July and August I participated in a two month experiment called “The Celtic Spiritual Journey” with a group of people from several different churches through the region. The goal was to experiment with the lifestyle many Celtic monks used in ages past. The disciplines we attempted were three times of daily Scripture reading and prayer as well intentional commitment to one of seven daily disciplines.Sunday: Sabbath Monday: Study/learn something new; Tuesday: Work; Wednesday: Silence/Solitude; Thursday: hospitality; Friday: Pilgrimage; Saturday: Artistic expression.

Photo by Brady Knoll on Pexels.com

I found the actual devotional aspect of the journey easy to incorporate into my lifestyle. I have lived by bells on my phone for several years. In fact I am doing it right now. As I write this piece I have my timer going for a thirty minute writing session. My day is divided into: Prayer, exercise, rest, work, writing, studying and relationship.All of those things are ordered according to the ringing of bells set into my phone.

The journey simply helped me to orchestrate my day into three blocks, starting with morning prayer I would follow the pathway through trying to divide the morning up into blocks so that I would have time to spend in each of the seven goals up until lunch. Then after lunch would come Mid Afternoon prayer and that would lead into an afternoon session of the goals until supper and then evening prayer and so on.

What I discovered is that the final time of devotion in the evenings and the final turn around the seven goals was very hard to bring myself to because I really just wanted my evening to myself to watch TV.

Photo by Ian Panelo on Pexels.comI

I also discovered that if I was to do the daily disciplines outside of the prayer and Scripture reading, they almost always called me away from the life of devotion I have come to call slow, constant and intentional living.

I write all this to say, this week has been busy. Finally today I got to simply pull back from all the doings outside the Vicarage and have a day that did not fight the bells. I have been able to get a lot of prayind and writing and studying done. It has felt good to be able to spend the time at my desk I need to in order to accomplish my writing and studying and praying tasks. It has been nice to be able to take breaks to do some household chores but to know I didn’t have to rush in order to get them and my writing done before having to run out of the house.

I really do think I would have made a good monk. Well except for the TV thing. and wanting my evenings to myself….Yeah I think I would have struggled with that…..

Well I am looking forward to tomorrow Dear Friends.

Pastor J

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 9-16-20

Mom has a Drs. appointment tomorrow with a cardiac specialist.

Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

She is actually pretty nervous. Though of course, she would deny that if you asked her. I can tell she is nervous because today was the day we had to try on her new “Dr’s. Office Clothes”.

Mom hates to wear anything new. I have bought her several new pairs of pants. She likes her old ones. I have bought her several new shirts. She hates them. The problem is, her old clothes have holes in them. They are just worn out. I do not mind her wearing them around the house but I am not letting her out the front door in them. I am certainly not taking her to the Dr’s. in them.

Today I wanted her to try on the new shirt and pants I had for her. The string of obscenities launched at me for that infraction is what let me know she is nervous about the consult. She doesn’t want to hear what she already knows. She doesn’t want to have said to her what she says to us everyday. That is, “She is dying by inches.”

She can confess it she just doesn’t want to have it said back to her. It is that way with a lot of things around here: If we deny the roof is 50 years old maybe it won’t leak; If we don’t go out on the stone porch maybe it will stop crumbling; If we don’t look out the back windows maybe the giant dead maples won’t fall on our house.

Are you in denial? Read about how to get over being in denial.

I like denial as much as the next guy, but it is no solution to real life problems. Mom is not at a place where she can face the problems on her own. So I am going with her into those problems.

Goodbye Denial… we'll miss you! - Horses for Sources

I called the roofers and they fixed the roof. I called the tree guy. Our dead trees are stuck in some town committee, but at least we are in process. There are a bunch of other things to do, but it is not denial that is stopping them from getting done now just a lack of time and cash.

The Dr. may give us a bad report tomorrow. At least we will know what we are dealing with. Then again maybe we will get a line on some treatment for her circulation no one has thought of yet.

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 9-10-20

We are just returning from walking the dogs for their last time tonight. The night air is that sloppy mixture of fall moisture and late summer heat that makes the world a clammy box of night time slime. It isn’t raining exactly but the rolling fog leaves me feeling damp and somehow dirty.

We made it just around the first corner tonight when we noted a family walking three dogs: two little ones on leashes and a black lab off leash. Our two boys immediately started barking in the gathering dark. The lab looked up from his meander not taking much interest. Still, neither Brenda nor I were in much of a state to take on a wandering “big dog” should the need arise. We turned around and headed back to the Vicarage. The dogs did their business and are now off to bed.

I think Brenda will not be far behind. She started work at an apple orchard today. The orchard is owned by the nephew of one of our deacons at Cornerstone. His Aunt is doing the scheduling for the orchard. The Aunt has offered part time positions to several people in our church. It is an open door so Brenda has walked through. Who nows what wonders it will lead to?

Walking through open doors...God opens doors that no man can close. Believe  that! #opportunity | Greatful, Doors, Opportunity

While Brenda was off sorting apples, I taught a music lesson and then visited one of the members of our congregation. Amanda went in to the church to do some administration work and then went to do our grocery shopping.

Our lives are all moving in separate direction every day. Tomorrow Brenda will be back at the apple orchard, I will be conducting a funeral service and Amanda will be preaching an on-line children’s sermon. Yet somehow God keeps our schedules in some kind of synchronicity so we can do this thing called family. We meet in the middle around the meals I cook (not that anyone greatly admires my cooking but they all put on a brave face). Then we are off again on our tethers to do the work that God has given us to do. There is coming a time soon when this walk in the world’s evening will be done. A big dog, off leash, is coming and God is going to be turning us towards our true home. That truth makes me wonder how important all our doing right now really is. Maybe it is vastly important because these are the last works the church will do in the church age. Maybe it is all just obeying the leash holder on a walk through the park. Which ever it may be, I am going to obey the tug of the lead whichever way it goes and when we come to that final door. I will walk through.

Walking Through the Open Door | From the Desk of Keith Duncan

This Day At the Vicarage 9-8-20

I often write with music playing softly in the background. Somehow the rhythm and the sound help me to focus on what it is I need to say. It is like the sound draws the words out of me.

Maybe that has something to do with my years as a worship pastor. I remember one of my mentors teaching me that in order to lead worship effectively, I needed to be able to move beyond the place where I played music into the place where the music played me.

Yesterday I wrote to an Epic Celtic Album on Youtube. Tonight I am playing the Easters. Somehow their music fills me with hope and just a touch of melancholy. Those things might not seem to go together. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they are polar opposites like the yellow and purple on a color wheel.

Color Wheel Primer | HGTV

Maybe that tension is what I am looking for when I write or when I sing or when I do art. Maybe it is what I need. Maybe it is what is required for me to move into my muse. The muse would be God ,so I guess that makes sense. The tension….the inner conflict somehow drives me to seek the Lord and in that seeking I find my creative spark. And that creative spark is the pathway to the music playing me instead of me playing the music or in this case it is the pathway to the space where the Writer reveals to me my story rather than me striving to make it up.

There’s a whole book in there somewhere. The tension is rising within me and that means the story is about to arrive.

Now I am really looking forward to tomorrow dear friends.

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 9-7-20

Yesterday I was back at my usual job for a Sunday morning, as on-line pastor. I am really enjoying this new work. My job starts at about 9:15 A.M. I open my computer and start “inviting people to church”. Mostly that just involves a check in on Facebook Messenger.

Mad At Computer Png - Guy Working On A Computer , Free Transparent Clipart  - ClipartKey

I sign onto the church livestream when it comes on, and then from my little perch in the church cafe I begin to engage with people attending the on-line service: I comment as the sermon goes along; I “like” and comment on what other people are saying; Sometimes I move to a private message format so I can go a little deeper with people who are popping up on my feed or sometimes even just in my head.

Who I don’t see walking through the church door in the morning or on-line is just as important as who does come to our service in physical form or through the internet. When someone is missing for a bit I use service time to try and find them virtually. Yesterday I missed several people so I sent messages to them during service.

Yesterday I also used the time to launch a remote fellowship campaign with our artist’s group. In two weeks time we will be starting an artist version of chopped.

Chopped | Food Network

One of our artists is donating boxes full of art supplies and so we will make up boxes for all the participating artists and each artist will have a month to create a work of art using all the implements in the box. At the end of the month we will do on-line reveals for the whole artistic community.

Church is definitely different now. People of God are having to find new and creative ways to connect around the Word of God, fellowship and prayer. I don’t know when or if it will go back to what it used to be. Honestly, I am having fun facing these new challenges. I am not sure I want it to go back.

Well, I have blathered on long enough. It is time to sign off for the night.

I am looking forward to tomorrow Dear Friends.

Pastor J