Thankyou's for Christmas, for Healing and for church family
I love this church! It’s Christmas and most have us have got a lot on. Another whole bunch of us have gone down with a cold. Some have a got a lot on and have gone down with a cold. And yet, somehow, enough of you all pull together to turn an old, dark building into a welcoming, celebratory, family, Jesus-centred purlieu (my current favourite new word: “environs or neighbourhood where one may range at large”).
Judy Hardy’s extraordinary animal noises, the enthusiastic entry into the prayer tunnel and the hubbub over lunch were some of my highlights from the Christmas Service. I loved the Joy To The World arrangement in the evening, along with Frank’s Christmas jumper, the shredding response and Greggs’ mince pies.
A guest or visitor (of whom there were many - thank you for making your invitations) would have found it hard not to be struck by the genuine friendliness and care you have for one another and by the conviction that you have that there really is Truth to be heard and embraced. And we, “the regulars”, simply had a great time celebrating God’s favour – even if there was quite a bit of hard work involved. A Moslem lady came up to me at the end of the Carol Service, “are you, like, the Imam?” marvelling that it wasn’t just words but that people were different here.
So thankyou. If you would like to use your gifts or just your energy and availability for next year’s Christmas services please let Anne know straightaway: it could be for general help or lighting, ambience, food, music, welcome, content, technology …. We will need lots of people again!
On Christmas Eve we had weekly worship and communion as usual and one of the highlights there was hearing Andy Poole’s testimony – I recommend that you download it to read or listen to when it gets posted in the next week or so, it is so encouraging. Christmas Day was a lot of fun too. Perhaps too much chocolate, although I have heard it argued that there can never be too much chocolate. Quite a lot of guests but also several church families having a party and worshipping together.
One of my highlights for our gathering together over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was an opportunity to witness and follow up a healing. Jenny Button (that scion of the Button family were in our church some years ago) was visiting with her family. On Christmas Eve she responded to a word of knowledge, came forward with many others and then on Christmas Day, during our Rapid-Fire thankyou’s, gave thanks for her healing. Jenny is a doctor and her story is worth reading – it’s at the end of this article.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
I’ll be finishing off our series on God’s Favour this coming Sunday as we grab onto His promise that “now is the time of His favour” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2). And then on New Year’s Day you are invited, if you are able, to join us in our traditional walk on Ilkley Moor (don’t forget to ring the Cow and Calf Pub if you would like to eat there – you’ll need to book).
If 2017 was the year for STEPS in which we gave financially and sacrificially in order to gather the funds so as to be able to buy the “pearl of great price”, 2018 is going to be the year of Vineyard House in which we actual buy it and start to clean it up and prepare it for ministry. We had originally planned to exchange contracts around about now but that has been put back a few weeks as we work our way through the legal and financial processes. We are not there yet, but we will get there. I’d love you to keep praying and to keep giving when you are prompted by the Lord to do so.
Liz Harden found a great video of what the community of Horsforth are doing to look after their purlieu (that word again). It’s on Facebook here, see if it gives you some ideas of what God may want us to do through Vineyard House.
The Flowers Family
Alison has had a serious bout of flu over the last few weeks (and is still not fully recovered) which is why you may not have seen her around much.
I’m fine, health-wise, but since my mother’s funeral in November our family has been pre-occupied by caring for Michael, my father. You may have seen him on the occasional Sunday when he has been able to visit and will have noted that he is not doing very well. His cancer is aggressive and he has some other chronic illnesses. He is processing the loss of his wife (we would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last week) and his mental faculties are ebbing away.
We have admitted Michael to a Residential Care home nearby which helps but is very draining on us all. Many of you have been through this process and know what I mean. We are grateful for your prayers and support. It looks like the next few weeks/months are going to be difficult so please bear with us. The staff and leadership team at the Vineyard are stepping in and doing a great job of covering for Alison and me. We are very grateful for our church family at these times.
We are looking forward to 2018. Like most years it will contain great joys and some sadnesses, we’ll experience successes and failures. But I believe that, as a church, we will be entering onto an important, long-term, and fruitful new phase as we take ownership of Vineyard House. The Lord will grant us His favour this year as we obediently step out in faith and expectancy.
May His favour rest on you and yours and bring you peace.
When I was a teenager I hurt my back ice skating- I think I fractured a vertebrae but I don’t exactly recall the details as the fracture was missed in the initial assessment of the x rays and my parents received a call afterwards. Anyway, I have had a slightly curved spine and back pain since then. It’s been worse recently and has more significantly interfered with day to day life. I have prayed about it and had prayer for it in the past. Going up for prayer last week wasn’t something I would have done but when someone had a word of knowledge about back pain it encouraged me. Having someone pray when your own faith for that healing is at a low ebb is really special too.
I felt a massive release, the ligaments in my back clicked a lot as I was prayed for. Since then I have felt a massive improvement in terms of reduced lower back pain/numbness/tingling in my right leg. It’s a 95% improvement!
I also felt that this physical healing was connected to a deeper spiritual healing associated with depending on God for spiritual strength rather than going solo a lot of the time. On both physical and spiritual fronts this encounter with God was very special. I feel inspired to pray for that last 5% of healing so joining me in praying for that would be amazing - thank you!
29 December 2017