My son’s wedding rehearsal….
Today my son took us church hopping. We visited HarroCathedral and Molo Church
My first day started with a swim and prayer by the pool.
After a final four hour delay in Manila, Brenda and I made it to IloIlo City., We discovered I am severely allergic to volcanic ash though, I was miserable during my time breathing the air of Taal Volcano. I was fine as soon as I got on the plane.
We made it to Korea!
Waiting to board Boston to New York
Well this week has been a week of preparation for our 10 day journey to the Philippines for my son’s wedding. It has run like most trip prepapration weeks I have experienced. You know what I mean, I got all the bills paid up to date. I have written the “how to operate the Vicarage manual” for Amanda and Melanie. I have done the grocery shopping for the time I am away. I have made sure Mom’s meds are ready for the time I am gone. I filled the sand bucket in case of snow and bought a new shovel to replace the one I broke. I stocked up on dog food and bird food. I have packed ans repacked for the trip. I schedule blogs ahead for the time I am gone….and…and…and….Anything that is not done at the house at this point is just going to have to wait.
Getting ready for this trip though has been different than prepping for others I have taken. In times past it was all about the jobs I had to get done before I left. This time it has been about the people I had to reach out to before I left.
There were the post Christmas letters I had to write and the thank yous. There was the dinner I had to have with the deacon and the friends I had to have coffee and prayer with before I took off. There was the show I needed to go to and the people of the church I had to enjoy it with. There was the stop off to see my friends at Special Touch Ministries and then of course there was coffee with the staff one last time before I hit the blue skies. Finally just this morning as we went up to Keene to put my son’s wedding money in his account there was the final coffee with my daughter at Starbucks.
Over the last two years something in me has changed. Maybe it’s my age or the time of life I am in. Maybe it is my spiritual growth. I am finding that the jobs I do are not as important as the people I do them with.
As I head off on this little adventure, it is not the job I am going to miss. It’s the people…people…people. The preparation I have done has helped me to be able to take them with me in my heart.
The Vicarage is what we call our home. We call it that because it is a place where we three ministers of the gospel live. I know…I know…we are not really vicars but I couldn’t bear the thought of calling our little cottage the parsonage. It just doesn’t ring right. It is not just the place where we live though. It is the place where we ministers have grown up. Actually there have been Lillie’s on this block in our tiny town since the year 1940. From my back yard I can see the house where my father grew up.
But the Vicarage is not the Vicarage just because we live there. This old house has housed ministers of three different churches over the course of its life. God keeps putting His men in this house and I have to believe there is a reason for that. We have a purpose here in little Winchendon. We have a job to do which has been assigned by God. He has provided us a space from which to do it. The present troubles facing us do not compare to the power of the promise we have been given.
So no matter what may come, we will carry on.
I spend the last few weeks of every year praying for a future word from God for the next year.
A few years ago the word was “Prepare for change.”. By April our church had lost its Lead Pastor, Children’s Pastor and Youth Pastor. Before the year was out we had welcomed in new people to all three positions.
Last year my word was directly from Scripture, Psalm 144:1 to be exact,
Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
The year turned out to be one of the most difficult our church has faced.
This year the words came about two weeks before Christmas, “Shift your focus to wonder.”.
So much has changed, there has been so much battle these last few years and yet I know there has been purpose in all of it. God has been doing a remarkable work of restoration in my life which I was unaware I needed. God has been doing a wonderful work of restoration in our church which we were likewise unaware we needed. But the temptation to get our eyes focused on the spiritual pruning, which happens through difficulty, is great.
I believe the time has come to shift our eyes away from all the turmoil which has gone on among us. I believe God is about to do something great in my life and in our little church and that means the time has come to shift our focus to wonder.
As the year closed out the ministers of the Vicarage were honored to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of our longest tenured staff member, Wendy Brouillet.
Wendy has been the main desk receptionist at Cornerstone for more than half her marriage to Roger! Both of those things are amazing feats!
In a few week’s time Brenda and I will head to the Philippines to attend the wedding of my son Joe and his fiance Kristine.
My daughters will be staying with my mother during that time and the church will embark on what I am believing is going to be one of its greatest spiritual adventures. Cornerstone will be hosting 21 days of 24/7 prayer and fasting.
Our times are perilous and yet full of the greatest wonder. We all get to choose what we look at. What will you focus on this year?