This Day At the Vicarage 11-7-20

The dogs woke me up at four A.M. The morning coffee was brewing by 5 and I was already deeply engrossed in my morning reading and writing by 6 A.M.

I like the early mornings. Once I get that first cuppa in me I feel like I can take on the world….at least for a few hours.

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I had coffee with a friends and mentor at 8 and then I was back home by 9:30 and back into the prayer space.

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There is so much to pray about just now not the least of which prayers is just about me keeping my nose out of places it doesn’t belong. Have you noticed the world is full of opinions? Have you noticed that the world is constantly trying to prod you into giving your opinion just so it has something to disagree with?

One of my biggest requests is an echo of the prayer of St. Francis.

The world needs channels through which God can flow, and to my mind that is the church’s job. We have such a high calling and one of my greatest fears is that by my opinion of things in the world I will somehow be distracted by those very opinions and thereby disqualify myself from that true calling. Even worse I am afraid that by inserting my opinion where it does not belong I will distract someone else and they will miss out on the flow of God they could have otherwise brought into the world.

I know we say everyone is entitled to their opinion I am just really struggling with whether that is true or not.

Anyway, thanks for listening….

PJ

This Day At the Vicarage 11-3-20

My cousin, Karen, posted this last night:

You know what I’m going to do the day after tomorrow if my candidate loses?Get up.Do my normal routineStrive to do my best and be my best. Find the positives.Appreciate my family and friends.Be happy. Create happiness for others. Be grateful.Love my country. Be kind to others.Yes…. Be kind to others – regardless of how they voted, whether they voted, their skin color, their eye color, their income, their education, their favorite color, their gender, their age, their sexual preferences, their name, their favorite ice cream flavor, their religion.You know what I’m going to do the day after tomorrow if my candidate wins?The same. The exact same.

Everyone who reads my blogs regularly knows that one thing I am after in this life is to live a constant rhythm,…slow, constant, intentional.

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This morning I got up and began my normal routine: Pray, Read my Bible, Read the book I am studying, Eat and chat with my loved ones for a few minutes, Get ready for the day, walk the dogs, feed the dogs, do the laundry, check the furnace ( a seasonal chore), feed the birds, go to the store for Mom’s morning necessities and then write and get ready for daily ministry (which today consists of writing thank you notes, continuing a few on-line pastoral conversations, calling a pastor in the region who has some questions for me about the office of a prophet and a staff meeting).

The time has come for us as Christians to stop living for the world and its ways and that includes paying undue attention to the election. I am not saying we should not take our responsibility to vote seriously. I voted a week ago so I could avoid wasting hours waiting in line (for me time is a precious commodity I need to stop wasting). The time has come for us to realize that we live for and in a much larger Kingdom than America or England or India or…. You get the picture.

The Kingdom of Heaven is calling us to its work and we cannot let anything distract us from it! So today I am going to my work, the work I feel God gave me to do. Tomorrow I will go to my work, the work I feel God is giving me to do. I will keep the rhythm God has given me even if the world around me plays something entirely different. And I will play my God-given song with joy. How about you?

PJ

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.

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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.

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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 9-18-20

I have come to call my position of prayer the Sage’s Cave. It is not so much a place or even a position but a state of mind.

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I started my prayer life (forty years ago now) like I imagine everyone does, with a list of things I hoped to get God to do. This kind of prayer is called petition/ intercession. Petitions are prayers for yourself (God heal my heart, God give me a new job). Intercession is prayer offered for others (God heal Sally’s heart, God give Sally a new job).

As I have grown into the Sage’s Cave I have found that the petition/intercession part of prayer has taken a very back seat in a rather large bus. It is not that there is anything wrong with petitions or intercessions. I still petition God for things. I still intercede for others. It is just that for me petitions and intercessions are the least relational prayers and I am very much more interested in knowing God and knowing what is on His mind than I am in getting stuff or things from Him.

I have somehow come to the position of seeking His face more than His hand as the song by Paul Wilbur says,

I do really struggle with this sometimes, because my prayer life is a lot of waiting and listening now. It feels like I am doing even less than I used to do in prayer and I know most people think prayer is useless unless it leads to an action of some kind.

I am learning to be content in the waiting. I am finding that is where the weight of God’s glory resides. Something inside of me tells me that waiting for His glory is my most important ministry now.

Sometimes as I am waiting. God gives me little things to do. Sometimes I see visions of things coming or of things already happening. Sometimes I get understanding of some Scriptural principle. Sometimes I get whole sermons. And then sometimes I just sit and hear nothing but the sound of my own breathing and the music or Scripture playing in the back ground.

Today I am moving towards three hours of waiting in a lot of sweet silence.

THIS DAY AT THE VICARAGE 9-12-20

The dogs and I got up at 4 A.M. this morning to begin the day. It is just before 6 now and they have had their morning outing and are now eating second breakfast. Well, Mercedes is pushing the breakfast bowl around inside the eating crate trying to bury second breakfast so she can eat it later for elevenses.

Jacopo and Mercedes

It has been a busy few days here at the Vicarage. Brenda has been working some long hours at the apple orchard in Harvard MA and Amanda has been working some long hours at the church.

I have been running between the Vicarage and visitations and what not. Yesterday I had a funeral over in Athol MA and then I had to mow the lawn up at the art gallery up the street after supper.

The art gallery gig is something I picked up early in the summer when I saw the President of our art association out mowing the lawn herself on a hot summer day. She is a lady who has had to have major heart surgery and is heading for knee surgery so the little voice that guides had me approach her and offer to take over the lawns.

I am not what you would call a great land scaper or anything. I own a lawn mower and I know how to start it. I think that qualifies me for what I am doing (though I am sure some would disagree).

Here’s the thing… I often remind my congregants they don’t have to be experts at the Bible in order to share Jesus. All they have to be is available to love, listen and share what they know. God will handle the rest. Further sharing the love of Christ is not so much about what you say. It is about what you do.

That conversation brings me back to our Wednesday night on-line Bible study and prayer session for this week. We talked about Rizpah Saul’s daughter-in-law. I guess I will sign off today by leaving you with a copy of that study. I hope it blesses you.

I am looking forward to tomorrow Dear Friends.

Pastor J