Empty Chairs at the Dining Room Table
To Leeds Vineyard
For a square, red brick building it felt homely, warm, safe, friendly. Usually just an adjunct to the car park and serving as a suite of offices, this day the Vineyard Centre radiated something special. Inside were families teetering on the edge of uneasy reunions, fathers who hadn’t seen their child for months, mothers anxious about false hopes and promises.
But somehow, well we know how – through God’s loving grace and through the care and attentiveness of Elaine, Fi and the team – the bland surroundings of the VC are transformed. I only popped in on an errand but I could sense the nervous joy of fathers and children re-connecting over lego and seesaws. Upstairs mothers were comparing notes but with smiles not frowns.
Generosity had also enabled the team to distribute Christmas presents to the children and their parents. In just a few seconds I could tell that the Vine Child Contact Centre had made it a truly Happy Christmas for some struggling Leeds families whose empty chairs at the dining table speak of absence and loss..
It’s a privilege to be involved in this ministry. The reputation of the Vine means that there is a waiting list and Elaine and Fi are therefore going to be doubling up the capacity in February. If you have an occasional Saturday morning or afternoon to give, I think this will be one of the most satisfying things you could do with your time.
Waiting on a promise
Last Sunday I spoke about how Elizabeth (John’s mother), Mary (Jesus’ mother) and the disciples heard a promise from God and then sat back to wait. Waiting and praying for God to prepare them for what he had prepared for them. I went on to outline how we, Leeds Vineyard, are going to wait in January. This won’t be straightforward or without cost, but it will be worth it. I will post more detailed information in the next week or two. In the meantime, if you missed the talk, you would probably find it helpful to listen to it or read it.
Good News – our Carol Services
Next Sunday at 11.00am and 7.00pm we are looking forward to singing our hearts out with the help of the choir, enjoying the traditional readings, a non-traditional drama and video, hearing about Good News then sharing festive cheer. All at the Headingley Methodist Church. Everyone I speak to seems to be bringing someone along so it looks like being a lot of fun (if necessary we will open the balcony but, for reasons of health and safety, we will ask you to keep your younger children on the ground floor).
Contact with the pastoral staff over Christmas
We give most of the staff a break over Christmas and New Year with the office swinging back into action on 6 January. If you need information the website is a good place to start. Otherwise the office ansafone will redirect you to whoever is available. If that doesn’t work please email me at email@example.com or call 07501 720666.
A break in our activities and a spare chair at the dining room table
After the Carol Services there will be a break in our normal programme until we go for our traditional walk on Ilkley Moor on New Year’s Day. I hope that this period gives you some rest and time to enjoy festivities and family.
One family told me that they have two spare chairs at their dining room table on Christmas Day and they would be glad if someone occupied them. If you will be on your own this Christmas please reply to me and I will see if I can connect you up. Likewise, if you have a spare chair at your dining room table, please let me know by email.
Christ-His Church-His Cause: The Vineyard National Leaders’ Conference takes place in Nottingham from 27-30 January. If you would like to come and need accommodation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org at the office as she may have some rooms at the Premier Inn. Although this conference is aimed at leaders most people would find it a lot of fun, inspiring and refreshing. There’ll be about 1000 people from Vineyards all over the UK and abroad worshiping, learning and ministering. here.