I don’t mind being alone. But I am rarely lonely. By which I mean that there are very few times when I wish I had someone to talk to. Or you could say that I bumble along with a fairly constant sense of being a part of Life, a part of Other People, a part of Yorkshire. I consider that to be a huge blessing and I thank God for it.
John Battle (used to be the MP for Leeds West) once described how many of the people who visited his surgery on a Friday morning did so because that was the only time they got to speak with someone during the whole week. My friends who volunteer with Samaritans tell me that many of their calls come from people who are lonely.
And why did the many people who came to our Street Party (Le Tour de Belvedere - on the day the Tour de France whizzed past) keeping remarking not just on the weather and the lycra and the live music but also on the wonder of actually meeting the people who live around them?
There’s something missing – it’s like sponge cake without the jam in the middle or riding a 5 gear bike with only 3 gears working or watching a film with the sound off. We can guess at what is meant to be but we can’t quite get it. And in some societies it’s much, much worse - when neighbours are killing neighbours (think of Syria or Palestine).
The Kingdom of God is different, the Kingdom is where we are gathered together with nothing missing. The Kingdom is where we are gathered together without mourning or tears or goodbyes (Revelation 21:4). And the advance guard of this Kingdom is the church. That is why our gathering together as church is so important. When we gather together we both experience a taste of what is could be - and we also bring into being what is meant to be.
Oh yes, we can give each other grief and hurt each other; gathering together isn’t all sweetness and light this side of heaven, but it is in the imperfect gathering of imperfect people in Jesus’ perfect name that miracles of life happen. That’s why I am always inviting you to get stuck into a housegroup and commit to being with everyone on a Sunday. It is your opportunity to have others gather around you and it is your calling to gather around others. You can be part of the Kingdom battle against loneliness.
So this August, for the first time ever in the life of the Leeds Vineyard, we are going to continue meeting on Sunday mornings for weekly worship and evenings for the Sanctuary. It will be a summer-light version – full details here
Also over August several people are going on missions:
Ben, Kate, Sam and Joseph are currently in the Dominican Republic with Mission Direct.
Anthony and Jane have just arrived in Mexico to work with Ivan, Libby and a charity called M10.
Diana sets off in a week or so to Haiti with Love Haiti (for the third and final year).
David, Sally, Mark & Sarah Wallace, my son Sam & I, are all going to Kenya for the last two weeks of August with Mission Direct.
All these would love to have your support – whether praying, giving or providing resources.
During July, Ben, James, and Sarah have been teaching on Jesus’ parables – you can download the podcasts here
Looking ahead to next term look out for Cause to Live For on 21 & 22 November (for students, 20s & 30s) and for the preparations for Christmas to begin. We’ll soon be giving singers the opportunity to join the choir for the Carol Service. We’ll be changing the format a little this year. We’ll also be meeting for weekly worship on Sunday 28 December (in between Christmas and New Year) – for the first time).
And further ahead still please put March 13-15 in your diaries. We are hosting a “Doing the Stuff” conference with Robbie Dawkins as our guest speaker. I think this will be a sell-out so book your tickets as soon as they become available. The theme will be “Do What Jesus Did”. Robbie is a great speaker but more importantly will inspire you to do what Jesus did and expect to see miracles and healing and salvation. I have just finished his book, “Do What Jesus Did
” and found it a good read with lots of exciting stories as well as explanation and teaching. I recommend that you read it before he comes and also try and watch some of his teaching on You Tube. You can order the book from Vineyard Records
Finally, congratulations to Karen Garvican, Matt Button, Andy Dean and Sarah Green for running the 10K last week on behalf of The Vine. I love the way Sarah described running as an act of worship, and I love the way that, through their exertions, they drew attention to the Vine (and Karen came 3rd in the women's competition!!!!!).
I hope and pray that you have a good summer with time to rest and time to gather.