Imagine all the people, living life in peace
I was prowling the streets of Headingley sometime back looking for someone to pray for. Eventually I got into conversation with a couple of guys and I thought we were doing quite well so I asked one of them what they would like me to pray for – “If Jesus were standing in front of you right now what would you ask Him?” A miracle question they sometimes call it. Quick as a flash he replied, “World peace”.
Desiring world peace also seems to be the self-descriptor of choice for X factor finalists and Miss World contestants because they know it is a dream which we all hold dear - as we hum along to John Lennon’s “Imagine”. But we don’t seem to be very good at doing it. Within a month of wearing poppies and remembering those who have died in war we have been victims of - and are about to be deliverers of – more bombs and bullets.
This dialectic of desire and disaster reveals the need for Immanuel, God with us. We try and imagine Lennon’s “All the people living life in peace” but don’t really know what it is except by its absence (when the guns stop firing, when my neighbour stops raging, when I escape into sleep and briefly suppress the stress of the day). Something tells us that over the crest of that hill lies a peaceful land without conflict but all we seem to be able to do is - imagine. The passing centuries reveal our inability to walk over the brow on our own.
But when Immanuel comes, when the Prince of Peace rules, hope rises, a mysterious anticipation that He can make a difference. We sense, no, we grow to believe, that He has come to take us to this place of peace. Not somewhere that is defined by what is not, but somewhere which is gloriously rich in vibrant peacefulness. What the Jews call shalom – profound well-being. A place, just over the brow of the hill where those deep desires for world peace are not forlorn cravings but are fully satisfied.
This Prince of Peace takes a dark and violent route from the Christmas crib through death on the cross to resurrection glory. And now, certain of His authority and power we hear Him say, “My peace I leave with you” as He promises to return one day and take us with Him. This is the wonder of advent – there is light in our darkness because the Prince of Peace has come and has conquered and has promised to come again. Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.
Immanuel – God with us
This is our theme for the Christmas season. This is the message we will be sharing on Sundays. People are open to hearing the Christmas message at this time of year so please pray carefully but urgently and ask the Lord whom you can invite – particularly to our Carol Service on Sunday evening 13 December or to our Christmas Family Service on Sunday morning 20 December. Don’t worry if they say “No”. It is the invite that is important. And if they do come they will hear about the difference it makes when God is with us.
New Year’s Day
After all the festivities you may be in need of some fresh air and exercise. Join us for our traditional promenade across Ilkley Moor with friends and family. Full details on the website.
Families – fostering and adoption
Supporting families and children has always been a characteristic of our Reach Out ministries. Thankyou for your extensive generosity in joining with Love in Action over the last couple of weeks. As a result many, many families and others will receive a gift which points them toward a God who loves them.
Latterly the Lord seems to be drawing our attention to fostering and adoption. If this is something you feel He is stirring in you I’d like to encourage you to step forward! For a start, can I point you toward this event (and the website as a whole) on Thursday December 10 in Guiseley. It is about fostering unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
Byebye to the Bayanas
Mary Bayana (nee Gunn) has been part of Leeds Vineyard, on and off, for a long time. Becks has been with us for a year or so. Last Easter we rejoiced in marrying them off (to each other!). But sadly, we now have to say goodbye to them. They write,
We have some sad news, we are moving house...Not literally - we are moving from the Vineyard, but remaining in the wider family of the church in Leeds.
Since getting married we have continued to think and pray about where both of us could chase Jesus as hard as we can and both get plugged in and be switched on for God's glory. We would like to thank you for your prayers, meals, words from God, encouragement and welcome. Our house remains open for anyone who fancies a bite and we will stay in touch concerning our progress.
Special thanks to Matt and Anne who have fed us more often than possibly Becks has cooked, and for the children who have hung out with Mary and taught her how to look after little ones and see how powerfully God can work and speak through the tiny.
With love, Mary and Becks.
We’re going to miss them both enormously. Mary has served and ministered to us in many ways, not least through her leadership and gifting with the children. We had only begun to get to know Becks and were generally amazed at his ability to play every instrument offered (some of them at the same time) and lead us in worship. We wish them the very best wherever they end up and they go with our blessing.
Back to world peace. So I prayed for world peace with the young man. But in the now I would have prayed with more faith for his healing - for the future I prayed that he would know the Prince of Peace too.
And to reward you for reading this far, here is a new favourite limerick I have recently enjoyed:
A lion was learning to ski
In the Alps just outside Chamonix
But he ruined his hopes
Of mastering the slopes
When he had his instructor for tea
(From A Lion was learning to ski by Ranjit Bolt, published by Gibson Square).