Heart to Heart
Our teaching theme for 2021 is called Heart to Heart.
Our vision is to become known as a community of justice and our aim in 2021 is threefold:
To grasp God's heart for Justice
To teach my heart to learn Justice
To change our heart to seek Justice.
The monumental Old Testament prophet Isaiah opens his prophecy (chapter 1:17) with
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
When the young man Jesus announced himself on the world stage, He quoted from Isaiah, ‘Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and He will bring justice to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:1-7) and He goes on to describe more ways in which this becomes reality (not breaking a bruised reed, not shouting, holding our hand, opening blind eyes and setting captives free).
When we think of that same word “justice” 2500 years later we have added and taken away some of its meanings. We talk about: Social Justice; the governmental Department of Justice. Some think about punishing the unjust. For others it means trying to be fair – a just society is a fair society, for still others it’s about freedom. You might think of justice in economic terms or about who has power. Or maybe it is about everybody being happy.
We tend to think about justice in individualistic terms. I must get my rights and you must fulfil your obligations. We talk about a victim and a perpetrator. This individualism is testing our response to the pandemic to the limit. How much are we prepared to sacrifice our own freedoms and rights in order to protect everyone else?
Christianity, based on the bible, thinks about justice in a different way. It has an individual element to it but is also about our relationships with each other. We see justice being worked out in groups of people and between people – which is why this year’s theme is called, Heart to Heart.
We will grapple with this subject three ways:
God's heart – what is God’s heart of justice? Is God the angry judge in the sky making judgements and imposing punishments? Should we live in fear of His judgement? Or is He the defender of the poor and oppressed and bereaved and orphaned? We will try and grasp the truth about who God is and what He is like because that is crucial to being able to do justice. Allowing His heart to transform ours.
My heart – last year our theme of Follow Me sought to encourage us to be with rabbi Jesus, become like Jesus and do what Jesus does. That means our hearts turning toward justice as we receive grace and allow Holy Spirit to teach us and turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Hearts which beat with the same passion for justice as our rabbi Jesus. So we take up the challenge of teaching our own heart about justice. Discerning where our attitudes need radical attention and dealing with our ignorance and sinful ways of thinking. If you want to get a head start on this bit – read the book of James.
Our heart – the heart of Leeds Vineyard, our community’s heart, each of our hearts - turned together toward the poor and the those who experience injustice. That means we start with ensuring justice within our church family and then turn to be ambassadors of God’s justice in the world. As we grasp God’s heart and teach our own heart we will realise that extending the Kingdom (part of our Vineyard vision) means that the heart of the Vineyard has to turn outwards, discover where God is at His work of justice and join in.
Each term we will cover these three angles and introduce some practical ways in which we can express Heart to heart in practical ways.
In particular we will look at the way injustice impacts people as a result of: racial discrimination; the changes to the environment; mental and physical disability; and the rich-poor divide. There are plenty of other issues we could address and which we may touch on such as: sanctity of life issues (abortion and euthanasia); transparency in supply chains; COVID-19; sexuality and gender; class divides; trafficking & modern slavery.
There will be practical things to get involved in. Ask the Lord to show you to which justice issue He would have you turn your heart.
We will build a resource page throughout the year.
In the first instance we recommend Tim Keller’s book, Generous Justice.
We will be studying the books of James in the New Testament and Isaiah in the Old Testament in particular.