The Blog of Pastor Mike Wilkins
"The long run" referred to in the title of this blog is, in the first place, the many years Mike Wilkins served as West London's solo pastor, and then its Senior Pastor, since he and his wife Deb moved to London (and this church) in 1984.
In these past few years (beginning November 2011,) Mike's various health challenges, particularly a serious and ongoing case of cancer, has added another layer to the "long run" metaphor, and lots to blog about. Mike is currently on an extended Sick Leave, but generally worships with the church family on Sunday mornings.
With the publication of a book he wrote in 2016 entitled "Glory in the Face" (now available electronically and in paperback from Amazon.ca, and other online venders), Mike has just launched a new website, which will serve as a sort of scrapbook for readers of the book, with relevant background photos, for example, of That Last Final Solo Canoe Trip in May, 2011, as well as additional information about the book, and--coming soon--a new set of blog posts, mostly about the peace of God and the joy of the Lord and the face of Christ and the strength to face anything. You'll find the new website now at www.gloryintheface.com.
Dec11WedDecember 11, 2013
In a post on April 28, 2010 ["Walking through graveyards"], I wrote: "It's been two weeks since, in the launch of a short sermon series, I talked for a bit about walking in 'my' graveyard." That was 3 1/2 years ago, and since then, not to put too fine a point on it, Death has twice come "knock, knock, knocking on my door." I am more convinced now than I was then that "being clear on the fact of my own mortality increases my sense of the value of a day." Christmas Day, for example: today just two weeks away.
This Christmas Day will be the 40th that Deb and I have experienced together. A big round biblical number. As we've been working our way through our preparations for this particular edition of the Big Day, the unspoken (but not always unspoken!) awareness we share is that this Christmas Day actually might be our last. The reality is: if this cancer of mine IS going to win this war, it's likely do so in 2014.
And how does this startling possibility affect this year's Christmas? What I am finding is that, to varying degrees, the possibility makes every piece of Christmas preparation and celebration taste sweeter. At least, it's the sweetness of each Christmas thing that I'm noticing. As usual, we bought a Christmas tree. As usual, we arranged with our next-door neighbour to help us carry it into the house and stand it up in the usual place. (We always buy a tall and therefore heavy tree.) With the usual decorations, we decorated the tree and the room in which the tree always stands. And every December day, I pour the tree a large jug of water. And this Christmas, what I am noticing is that every celebrational step we take has a sweetness to it. Not a new sort of sweetness. Not even a new amount of sweetness. I'm just noticing the sweetness more.
My 3 1/2 year old "graveyard" post included the famous words of the 17th century preacher Richard Baxter. "I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men." I first came across this sentence 3 1/2 decades ago, long before any life-and-death health problems began to knock, but it has ever since been a good guide to me, strongly encouraging me to see any and every opportunity to preach (and for that matter, every opportunity to do anything of merit or worth) as an opportunity not-to-be-wasted-because-quite-possibly-my-last-such-opportunity, and also in regard to preaching in particular quite-possibly-the-last-sermon-that-somebody-or-other-in-the-audience-will-ever-listen-to. I have found that being again and again reminded of my own mortality has always been worthwhile, and has never soured but always sweetened the experience of standing before a group of people as the preacher. This Christmas, the same thinking is having the same sweetening effect on every traditional and celebrational move I make.
We human beings are fragile creatures. People are struck down unexpectedly every day of the year, sometimes in the most unlikely and least predictable way. The same 2010 blog post also included a reference to one of the "resolutions" of Jonathan Edwards, written in 1722 at the age of 19! "RESOLVED: To live with all my might while I do live."
The sobering fact is, this Christmas might be anyone's last. So let us all prepare for this year's Christmas with all our might, being careful to notice and to taste and to treasure the sweetness of every detail. And let us once again celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Ruler of the kings of the earth -- as never sure to celebrate it again.