At this writing we are well into Day 16 of our time at The Vicarage Annex. We are also plunk in the middle of Easter Weekend. So no work is happening at The Vicarage today.
Happy Easter everyone! I have been doing my cooking for tomorrow, today. Since Easter itself is such a busy day, I am keeping dinner simple….Ham (which will be cold sliced tomorrow), potato salad and fluff. I am thinking of cake for dessert with ice cream since it is someone’s birthday in a few days and she will not be around to celebrate.
This morning, since there was no work going on at The Vicarage. I decided I would start doing some of the laundry from there that will need to be done to get back in. It’s a start of what will be a very big project, but it is only day 16…. so no rush just yet.
Sitting at the laundromat, the day’s first cup of coffee in hand with only the sound of the dryer’s rhythmic thumping to keep me company helped me set my own internal timer: slow, constant and intentional. Just the way I like it.
We have a carpet to get rid of before the rain comes in and then I want to bake a cake and get my studying and practicing done for tomorrow’s service…slow, constant, and intentional. Just the way I like it.
I am considering the two big building projects which are taking up my time for the next two months…the one at the Vicarage….and the sanctuary restructure at the church. What an incredible blessing it is that I get to do these two projects.
On the surface it would seem I am the wrong guy for this. If it were left to me to actually do the work it would be true. I possess none of the skills needed to replace plumbing or electrics, carpets or altars. But I am not called to any of that actual work. I am just having these things done on my watch. Aside from a little demolition, I am just the guy behind the curtain nodding my ahead to give approval or shaking it to say “I don’t think that works for me/us”.
I do suppose it is a little more complicated than that. I have a job to do while the construction goes on. While the builders build, my job is to figure out how to do ministry around the construction.
The adjustments I have made in order to keep the work of ministry going are indeed some of the biggest blessings I have yet encountered in the work of ministry. Figuring out how to care for Mom’s needs and still meet the congregation’s needs: having meetings from home, having intentional coffee dates at set times everyday with Mom, finding people to sit with Mom while I go into the church.
The conversations I have with my Mom at our coffee times can be very repetitious. Her anxiety about the house is still high. She is also not use to having people in her living space, but there have been some real blessings to it. Mom has not smoked a cigarette since we got here almost two weeks ago. It is nice to see her interact even if it is only a little with our church family. We have even had a few times where she has consented to listen to the Bible with me as I did my devotions.
Prayer time has been an interesting shift for me. My meeting load has actually increased during this season and I am really enjoying that, but I am finding that a lot more of my prayer time is spent in decompressing from the pastoral work. We are traveling in some deep pastoral waters now and that is very encouraging
I have always thought of myself as someone who does not like change. But I am discovering that while these changes brought on by these projects are uncomfortable they are not bad…they just are. If I take it slow and easy and I don’t let the changes effect my inner peace then the adjustments are actually all blessings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The blue flooring we have been walking on since I was 10 is apparently asbestos. So the contractors have a bit more to remediate than I originally thought…or hoped. Bringing things back to the studs seems to be a theme for the adventure of life these last few years.
Wendy, our church secretary, has likened the events in our church to exactly that (taking everything back to the studs). Now what we have spent the last few years doing in the spiritual we are doing in the natural at the Vicarage. Themes repeating themselves continually…..
I have to admit I am feeling more stress about this move than I thought and truthfully I thought there would be a lot. It is different than I thought it would be though. I expected to feel constantly overwhelmed. I don’t feel that. I just feel tired.
The truth is there is so much going on not just with the house but with the church that I have little time to dwell on my anxieties. I am in a constant mode of response and each response seems to create a new set of realities with their own sets of responses which require more thought and more work.
In the last three years our church has been through a breaking down. Like our bathrooms we have been taken back to the studs.
It has been hard work and it has been good work. But the breaking down of our church….going from 350 to 120 has only caused me to realize how much more work there is underneath to do. The stress is not manifesting in feeling overwhelmed or like I don’t know what to do. I am just tired and I realize we are just at the beginning of a long journey. Here I am talking about bathrooms and churches like they are the same thing. Principles hold true for all forms of reconstruction I guess. The first step is the breaking down. The next step is the rebuild. It’s all good.
Here is my next ten minute letter. That is right I am trying to add an atomic habit to my life by writing these letters as a part of my daily devotional regimen. Mostly I want to have some record of how this project advances at The Vicarage…for posterity of course.
I never in a million years I would be in charge of building projects as a minister. But here I am doing a major renovation on The Vicarage and major renovations on the church. It amazes me how God has prepared me for this through all the house projects we did as a family when you kids were little. I didn’t really have anything to do with them as far as the real construction. We all know that was your mother, but I at least learned how to work around those projects and I am putting the skills learned then to good use now.
Deconstruction of the bathrooms started yesterday!
Dear Family, Well we at The Vicarage are in another transition. The next phase of our project has begun. We have moved next door to The Vicarage Annex and the construction crews have arrived today to begin the tear out.
Gram has been dealing with a great deal of anxiety with the move and the project. Pray for her. I am really excited to see what the place will look like when everything is done.
I am hoping during this season to become more faithful to updating this blog. My goal is 10 minutes a day of writing. I guess the project has more than one objective. I hope to overhaul the home space and I also hope to gain some new habits in the process.
Let’s see what the changes actually look like in the days ahead.
I am so looking forward to you and your parents moving here to Winchendon. I am hoping you make it for the fall. It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year here in New England.
I do often wonder what you will really find when you get here. I remind your father often that The United States is not the country he lived in six years ago. So much has shifted. So much has changed. It has been even longer since he lived in Winchendon or New England for that matter. I think it is 13 years since he has attended Cornerstone Church. And we have changed.
We are smaller now than when he left.
We are also more relational.
When you come Sevy you will find us a people of the Word.
A people of much prayer.
In this regard I am not even the man your father knew when he lived with me. I crave the prayer space now. I am often afraid people around me find my lifestyle boring. I hope you don’t find me so when you get to know me.
We are also learning hospitality as a community.
We are a people of deepening relationships.
Maybe it won’t matter what is happening in the big wide country so much. Maybe the real beauty here has nothing to do with our seasons or even our culture at large. Maybe the real beauty and what you and your parents will find attractive about this place is the love our community has for itself and the people around us.
First, thank you for taking prayer for me again this week as I stepped away for a few days of vacation! I know you have had a very busy time with all that is going on in your family. I pray for you guys daily as your wife works from Florida to help her Mom after the passing of Paula’s Dad.
I really appreciate the hard work you are doing for our church. Thank you for leading the worship of our church in its new direction. The team led model we are using is so empowering for our congregation. I love the opening up of the prophetic voice we are experiencing. Cornerstone is becoming this beautiful tapestry of gifts and voices being woven together by God’s hand.
This week as I took a bit of time to step away and gain some perspective the Lord has been showing me how I must begin to restructure my schedule. He has been speaking to me about some new practices of life which will involve sacrifices of me in the days ahead.
Someone last week mentioned to me that in order for God’s dreams to come to their fullness there must of necessity be a sort of a death of the dream. I don’t fully understand this yet, but my prayers and meditations this week have been about that. I know there is a letting go coming in order to grasp onto what comes next.
This may all sound rather sullen, but I am coming to see that it is not! It is hopeful because we have waited so long, as a congregation, for the promise to be fulfilled. I am convinced that is about to happen. But it only comes when we let go of what we have known to enter into that which is new!
I look forward to the pathway in front of us as a church.