Fall Series – Fixed On Jesus

Diversity is Great but has Some Challenges

We live in a time of immense diversity. Every subject imaginable has a myriad of opposing viewpoints – from politics, economics and science, to arts, religion, sports and more. As if that weren’t enough, adherents to virtually any opinion can find facts and figures to back up their position, adding emotional horsepower to whatever position they hold. Of course, the church isn’t immune from this. Theology can be politicized to the point where it manifests itself in people doing ugly things in the name of truth. How should the church hold to what is true in times like this? What are we to believe? How are we to behave toward each other and toward those who are not yet following Jesus? What are we to do with diversity within the church?

Thankfully, the church has always lived in diverse times.  It is true that today we may face some new challenges, but ever since the birth of the church there have been controversies they’ve had to work through. In fact, much of the New Testament contains stories, advice and even warnings to the early church regarding how to conduct themselves in the mist of differing ideas. Furthermore,  the New Testament church didn’t figure it all out and usher in a period of unity and uniformity (those aren’t the same, by the way!). The past 2,000 years of the church is full of all kinds of controversy. At times, this diversity has led to divisiveness – in the extreme it’s even become violent. In other instances, the church has managed to stay true to what its called to do: to love God and love each other like we love ourselves (Mark 12:30-31) and to make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son

the church has always lived in diverse times
and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all Jesus commanded (Matt 28:19). But how does one actually do this in such turbulence? What are the keys that the early church held that can help us through our times? What mistakes have been made that we can avoid? And, what authority does the Bible have in all of this?

This Fall we’ll be exploring how to hold the centre in the midst of tremendous diversity – we’ll be attempting to speak to these and other important questions for our time.

A Model:

In the 17th century a German Lutheran pastor named Peter Meiderlin lived during incredibly difficult times.  The infamous 30-Year War was raging and all of Europe (almost literally) was fighting (literally) over theology. Doctrine had become politicized to the point that Christians were killing each other over points that might seem ridiculous to us today. In the midst of this, and with the help of a God-dream, Meiderlin coined a catchy little phrase (well, it’s catchy in Latin) which reads: “In essentials, unity.  In non-essentials, liberty.  In all things, charity.” In other words, keep the main thing the main thing – everything else that is not essential to salvation, even though it’s important, should not be given central priority – and love each other through it all. While this rubric didn’t put an end to the fighting of his time, it has become helpful to many Christians since.

We’re going to use Medeirlin’s phrase (although mix up the original order) as an outline for this series.  

What are the essentials that we must hold on to?

What are the “essentials” that we must hold on to? Far from nailing down a set of theological ideas, our centre is a Person – Jesus – who is both fully God and fully human. We must always keep him at the centre, and anything or anyone who begins to displace him must be named and put back in its proper place. This means that good ideas, moral ideas, holy ideas, even good theology is not our centre. They are all good, but we are not to anchor ourselves in them. Like the writer of Hebrews says, we are to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 11:1-2). Next we’ll explore how to have charity in “all things”.  In other words, how do we listen well to those we may disagree with over non-essentials? How do we love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ amidst diverse opinions, theologies, experiences and values?  Lastly, in the new year, we will begin to explore some of the many ways our community is diverse – the “non-essentials” – which may still be important, but just not our centre – not what defines us. At our annual retreat in the Spring, the elders identified 12 issues (and there are likely more) in our church that people will deeply disagree with others about. However, before we get there, we must keep the centre in view and always posture ourselves in love.

Resources:

We will be compiling some additional resources for those who want to go deeper.  For now, here is an article by Gary Best (former director of Vineyard Canada) called “Unity and Truth – A Historical Reflection”. We’ve found Gary to be very helpful in setting the tone for this conversation. In this article, he articulates how one should be concerned with taking a good posture before taking a position on any given topic. Check it out and let us know what you think either in the comments below, or by contacting any of the pastors or elders.

Notes:

>> This series may bring up some anxiety in some of you. If this is the case, please, please, please find a healthy place to process. The Pastoral and Lay Elders have been praying for this process for some time now and are all prepared to provide support and care where needed.

>> Both the Upstairs Gatherings and Downstairs Gatherings will be exploring the same topics throughout this series.

“…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” 

Hebrews 12:1-2

 

Baptisms – Apostle’s Creed

We’re going to be celebrating baptisms July 3 in the Greenspace (weather permitScreen Shot 2016-06-29 at 5.49.46 PMting).  In case you want to know beforehand what we’re going to be doing, below are the call and responses of those getting baptized.  Also, together we will publicly declare our trust in Jesus by saying the Apostle’s Creed – an old statement that has been affirmed by the vast majority of the church throughout the centuries.  Let’s use this time to re-affirm our own trust in God as we witness and participate in this sacrament which speaks to the reality of dying to our sin, being raised to new life, and joining the community represented in the church.

PS. Afterwards, we’re going to have a BBQ, and set up the Bouncy Castle and have a few other fun activities as well!  If it’s nice the children may want to bring a swimming suit for the slip-n-slide.

 

Elder:        Do you reject Satan?

Person:   I do.

Elder:        And all his works?

Person:   I do.

Elder:        And all his empty promises?

Person:   I do.

Elder:        Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?

Person:   I do.

Elder:        Do you turn to Jesus as Saviour?

Person:   I turn to Jesus.

Elder:        Do you submit to Jesus as Lord?

Person:   I submit to Jesus.

Elder:        Do you come to Jesus, the way, the truth and the life?

Person:   I come to Jesus Christ.

 

 

The Apostle’s Creed

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 5.52.21 PMI believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.  He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended to the dead.  On the third day he rose again.  He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy universal Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Amen!

 

Elder: Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer?

Person: I will, with God’s help.

Elder:      Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

Person: I will, with God’s help.

Elder: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

Person: I will, with God’s help.

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Vineyard Metanoia: Dwelling in the Borderlands

June 16 – 18, we’re hosting a National Metanoia event.  Make sure you sign up soon, since space is limited.  All are welcome (including children and youth)!

Here’s an invite from Brian Doerksen, who will be joining us:

Join Michael Raburn, David & Anita Ruis and many other Vineyardites from across our family as we set our hearts to “Think Again”.

Besides prayer & worship we’ll explore together:

  • Lectio Divina – rhythm of lectio divina (Colossians 4) centering around the Eucharist
  • Academic engagement – with Michael Raburn, a theologian and Vineyard pastor from North Carolina
  • Interview sessions – fun and engaging interview sessions with our National Catalysts with Michael responding in “TED talk” style presentations we describe as “here’s what I heard you say, and here’s what I think
  • Connection – great opportunities to connect share pray/listen with one another

Schedule:

JUN 16 Thursday: 6:30 PM (doors open at 5:30)
JUN 17 Friday: 9:30 AM / 2 PM / 6:30 PM
JUN 18 Saturday: 9:30 AM

JUN 18 Saturday: 6:30 PM
Saturday nite worship (open to public – no registration required)

Register:

Make sure you register soon, because space is limited.  Children and youth are welcome!

Register here: Vineyard Metanoia.

Vineyard Metanoia

 

 

 

Nepal Sunday

April 25 marks one year since the first big earthquake rocked Nepal.  The nation was shaken – our friends and family were among the thousands displaced.  This coming Sunday, we are going to look back and see what has been accomplished in the relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts and we will look forward to what still needs to be done.  We are going to host a special screening of a documentary jointly produced by World Vision Canada and Vineyard Canada which features many of our Vineyard people in Nepal.  And, we are going to pray for them as they continue to rebuild their country, their homes and their lives.

After worship and the kids are released, the Upstairs Gathering will join the Downstairs Gathering in the Main sanctuary to watch the documentary.  Here’s a trailer:

Rebuilding Nepal // Trailer from SJ Finlay on Vimeo.

Lent – Becoming Fully Alive

Today is Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of the Lenten season in the Western Christian calendar. These 40 days (excluding Sundays) culminate in the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.09.16 AMLent is about preparation, self examination and meditation on Jesus’ life and suffering. It’s about journeying with him to become like him. It’s about taking up our cross prior to being raised with him.  Before being raised to life on Sunday, Jesus was lifted up on Friday.

Our culture shuns anything that remotely hints of denial. “Why should I have to give up anything?” we ask, if not with words then through how we conduct our lives.  Examining the deep inner contours of our hearts is not something we do naturally – yet it is what followers of Jesus have done for centuries during this season and have found deep life in the process. This, of course, is the point.  Lent is about finding life – finding the true source of life – the very author of life himself.  In Lent we give up other embraces to make room to be more fully be embraced by Jesus.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.23.07 AMThis season, you may want to embark on a journey asking the question, “what in my life is crowding out the very source of life?” This is the essence of fasting – another practical marker of Lent.  Jesus wants to bring us to a place of being more fully alive and yet he won’t do it without our partnership.  As we posture ourselves toward him, the Holy Spirit will transform our self-centred lives into new lives of community and justice. Lent prepares us to live worshipful lives of compassion, generosity and all embracing love.  This sounds like a good definition of being fully alive to me – how about you?

 

Here are a few resources that may help you on the journey:

Lent: the road to the Cross  – a booklet prepared by the Vineyard UK.

Pray As You Go – a daily contemplative podcast that leads the listener through a series of meditative prayers and scripture readings.  Each episode is about 10 – 13 minutes long.  You can listen right from their website or subscribe to it via iTunes podcasts.

Lent for Everyone – this is an online devotional created by N.T. Wright.  It includes daily scripture and a well crafted and thoughtful devotion by one of the foremost New Testament scholars of our time.  (You have to sign up to view it)

Living Lent Daily – features prayers, thoughts and more each day to inspire you throughout your Lenten journey. A new article will become available daily throughout Lent.  These are quite short.

Kids Helping Kids – Nepal

Hey kids and youth (and parents of them too!).  Here is a great little initiative that we are spearheading that is going to build a youth centre in the village of Gatlang in Nepal.  The whole village was destroyed in the earthquakes last Spring.  Many of the people in the Gatlang Vineyard did not own land, so the Earthquake fund has purchased new land for homes to be built on.  One of the plots of land has been set aside for a small building to be built in which children can have a safe warm place to play and for the youth to hang out.  There are a number of other Vineyard churches in Canada who are also contributing to this project.

Jodi will be letting all the children and youth know that they can contribute to this project during the next two Sundays.  Collections will be taken on Sunday, January 31 – so make sure your children and youth remember to bring some donations at that time. Every little bit helps!

nepal final2

A Good Word for a New Year

Dear WCV,

We wish you all God’s best this holiday season.  May you be filled with peace and joy as we enter 2016 and may you be rooted in his nourishing love in every circumstance.  We are so privileged to serve this amazing community.  God has done so much in and through WCV over the years and we are honoured and humbled for what has gone before us and excited for what’s in store!

Here’s a blessing we pray for us all now – you can pray it too!:

“May God make your year a happy one!  Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain, but by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes; not by making your path easy, but by making you sturdy to travel any path; not by taking hardships from you, but by taking fear from your heart; not by granting you unbroken sunshine, but by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows; not by making your life always pleasant, but by showing you when people and their causes need you most, and by making you anxious to be there to help. God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.”

With love and gratitude – the Pastoral Elders.

Pastoral Elders 2015

John, Violet, Nathan, Jodi & Andy (and Chewy – the hairy one)

 

 

 

School of Justice Info Night

We are hosting a public information night for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the Vineyard School of Justice and about our upcoming school (Oct. 2015 – Apr. 2016).

We’ll share the who, what, where, why, and how of the school, have former and current students share their experiences, and facilitate a time of questions and answers.

Vineyard School of JusticeTea, coffee, and baked goods will also be available on a payment-by-donation basis with proceeds going toward future student sponsorships.  All are invited!

Thursday, March 26, 7pm at 782 Main St.

Where’s the Fruit? – series feedback

We began our current series by referencing Isaiah 27:2-3.

“In that day,
    sing about the fruitful vineyard.
I, the Lord, will watch over it,
    watering it carefully.
Day and night I will watch so no one can harm it.”

Our intentions were to revisit who we are, explore the characteristics that mark us, and call us to embrace our identity that God has set for us.  We’ve heard from a number of people sharing personally what it was about the Vineyard which initially drew them to this worshipping community.  We’ve also explored a number of distinctive characteristics that, like a good tattoo, mark all Vineyard communities around the world.  Of course, our ultimate intention is to bear good fruit – that is, to be a people who are indelibly marked by Jesus, and a community that invites others to this same reality.

We’re wondering what you’ve taken from this series.  What has stood out to you?  What have you learned?  What has God done in your life as a result of this “A Fruitful Vineyard” series?  Please take a moment to respond via the survey below.  It’s only one page and can take as much or as little time as you want.  Alternatively, you can use the comment section below which is publicly viewable.

Thanks!

A Fruitful Vineyard – winter series

As the pastoral staff and elders have been praying and seeking direction for the coming year, we’ve been drawn to the idea of knowing who we are and who we’ve been called to be as a Vineyard family.  It’s important to tend the roots of a plant if you want to produce good fruit.  So, we’re going to be taking the beginning part of this year to explore not only our history but the soil in which we’ve been planted.  We’ll ask:

  • What is a Vineyard?
  • What are the particular distinguishing features of the Vineyard?
  • What shape of church has God called us to be?
  • What role are we to play in the body of Christ?
  • And, what is our particular calling as Winnipeg Centre Vineyard?

We’ll explore all these questions and hopefully posture us to continue to grow into the kind of people God would like to visit!  In the end, we want to be a Vineyard that is fruitful – one that both encounters God in real and tangible ways, and extends this awareness and reality to those around us.

Isaiah 27:2, 3 & 6

“In that day,
    sing about the fruitful vineyard.

I, the Lord, will watch over it,
    watering it carefully.
Day and night I will watch so no one can harm it….

The time is coming when Jacob’s descendants will take root.
    Israel will bud and blossom
    and fill the whole earth with fruit!

Let this be said of us!

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Prayer Challenge – Day 30!

The End (or is it just the beginning?)

Congratulations, you’ve made it to day 30! Take a moment and reflect on what has happened during the past month. Go over your notes. What have you learned about God and his vision for you, for the city, for WCV, for your friends and family? Where has your heart been moved? Pay attention to those times, days and situations in which you felt moved. God was probably speaking through those circumstances.

The Challenge:

The challenge for today is to share what God’s done in your life through this Prayer Challenge with someone. You can write it down and send it to the office or talk with a friend – it doesn’t matter as long as you somehow verbalize what has happened.

3 times a day 30 days

Prayer Challenge – Day 29

 Advent: the appearing

Today is the first day of the Advent season – the four weeks leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It’s an acknowledgement of Jesus’ incarnation – his coming – his appearing in human form. This is a wondrous mystery. The Advent season orients us to receive this mystery. It also beckons us to see Jesus’ appearing in the present world around us. At the same time it also points us towards his final appearing when he comes again.

The Challenge:

Where will you perceive Jesus today? Ask God to open your eyes to his presence in your life and in the lives of those around you. As you pause throughout your day, reflect, and look for his hand at work, his face reflected, his heart expressed.

3 times a day 30 days

Prayer Challenge – Day 28

 Healing

Healing does double duty. It is both a sign pointing towards the Kingdom of God, and it is also part of its in-breaking reality. When healing happens, whether physically or any other kind of healing, it points to the day when Jesus will return at which time there will be no more tears and no more pain. It’s a sign pointing us forward. At the same time it is also part of the reality to which it points. In other words, when healing happens, God’s Kingdom comes in the here and now!

If that’s not enough good news, followers of Jesus are commissioned and given authority to heal the sick.

What Jesus did, we get to do!

The Challenge:

As you go about your day, keep your eyes and ears open to those around you who are sick. They may be friends, family members, colleagues, or complete strangers. As someone tells you that they are feeling unwell or sick, take it as God’s invitation to pray for them. Be brave and ask Jesus to heal their body and bring his kingdom to them, right then and there.

Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.  Heal the sick…” Matthew 10:7-8

3 times a day 30 days