News from David

Talks, thoughts and stories from David Flowers20170817 - dsf at sherratts cr
 


 

Work, Rest and Pray MusicStaffNotes

Remember the advert ditty? "A Mars a day helps you work rest and pray". Well almost!
Here are some thoughts on work and rest and prayer - some dates and helpful information too.

Prayer

I’ve been a follower of Jesus for nigh-on 50 years and throughout that time I have prayed. At least I thought I prayed. As we have centred our thoughts on prayer this year it has become clear to me that I have been paddling in the shallows and that I needed to learn to swim. I need to learn what prayer means and how to do it. I need to increase my understanding and faith in how prayer changes things. I need to learn how to pray more and to pray more effectively. Lots to do and learn and together we have been doing and learning this year but there is a way to go!
 
Please check out the website resources for podcasts of all the “Prayer” teaching, and recommendations for good books and websites.
 
During next term we will have one of our regular times of Prayer & Fasting. It will be called “14 Days to Pray and Fast” and, as usual, although you can take part as much or as little as you wish, I’m inviting you to join in from Sunday 30 September until Sunday 14 October. During this time we’ll focus on three things:

  1. Fasting – this time we’ll be fasting food (for those who are new, we have sometimes fasted “screens” or “phones”);
  2. Praying – for our friends and particularly about the development of Vineyard House;
  3. Inviting our friends to: “Try Praying”. 


We’ll be using the www.trypraying.com resource during this time. It is a really helpful way of introducing friends to the idea of prayer, and thus into a relationship with Jesus. We’ll speak about it at weekly worship, investigate it in small groups and do it with our friends! You can download a great App from the website and start checking it out. Nearer the time we’ll have some booklets for those who prefer something tangible to work with. In the meantime, start asking the Lord about which friends he may want you to talk with about praying!
 

Baptisms

At the end of June we had a lovely Sunday afternoon by the river in Ilkley when we baptised six of our brothers and sisters. Such great testimonies, all so different. We really do have some better stories to tell – ones of radical life change and new life.
 
On 23 September we’ll be baptising some more of our friends. If you would like to be baptised please let your small group leader know as soon as possible or talk with one of the pastoral staff.
 

Men’s Getaway

Also in September (14-16) but please book now! A relaxed couple of days camping near Harrogate – great to invite friends to!
 

Vineyard House – Next Steps

I trust you are receiving regular updates from Cath Storey – if not please check your Church Suite settings! You can catch up on the website (JOIN IN/STEPS 2017 or search for Vineyard House).
 
For some two years we have been focussed on praying that we get this building and figuring out how to pay for it (thank you for your gifts!). Now that we have exchanged contracts (with completion due in December) our focus is on the core decisions about what we are going to do in the building and therefore what planning permission to apply for and what renovation work will need to be done. This in turn will cost money as well and we will be working on how to raise those funds in due course.
 

Equipping & Training

Sally, Jos and Helen have been doing Hub with some of our local Vineyard churches. This is aimed at developing leadership skills and is a must if you have a calling to church planting or pastoral ministry on staff. It consists of excellent practical training in a “flipped learning” environment, with a monthly evening commitment and is led by Ian & Hannah Ripping who lead Bradford Vineyard.
 
If you are looking at theological training, then the Vineyard offers distance/web-based courses around which we build cohorts of students.

An alternative is the Leeds School of Theology Gareth, Howard and Sophie have been attending this year (I did it last year). Here is what Gareth says about it: "Attending the Theology course at LSOT had been immensely rewarding. The quality of teaching has been excellent throughout and has shown me how to look at the Bible in new ways (especially from the context of the Early Church). All in all it has strengthened and deepened my faith and I am so glad I have embarked upon this particular journey."

So we commend it to you if you are looking for some basic but high quality theological training and would like to do it in a flipped learning environment with only one Saturday per month to which you need to commit.
 
Finally, in September we launch our intern programme which is based around a year long commitment to Leeds Vineyard. 
 
If you would like more information on any of these please talk with the pastoral staff or contact Matt & Anne Button.
 

Ashburnham 2019 – My Story

Every other year a whole bunch of us join with friends from several other churches to spend an idyllic week at Ashburnham Place in East Sussex (that's the website for the venue). The dates for 2019 are the 10–17 August and the theme is: “My Story”. Karl & Nicki Martin (Senior Pastor, Central, Edinburgh), Stephen & Helena Ibbotsen and Jenni Entrican (President of the European Baptist Federation) are some of our guest speakers. It will be a great week – book the dates and start saving! Booking will open soon.
 

REST

It’s not a pool-side page-turner but a book I enjoyed reading on holiday is REST by Alex Soojung - Kim Pang (let’s call him Alex). He’s a secular researcher out of Silicon Valley who has compiled some fascinating research about the brain and sleep. His compelling argument is that we should think as carefully about how we rest as how we work. You can get it as an audiobook too.
 
I believe that God made us for work and rest but that we have got confused about what is good and what is not and how work and rest relate to each other. Alex’s book has persuaded me to make some significant changes in how I work – not least to recognise in which parts of the day I work best and in which parts I rest well. It is also liberating to realise that some of my non-work hobbies are not only good for rest but also good for work!
 
Alison and I are praying that you have a really good summer with plenty of rest!
 
Peace,
 
David


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Next Steps 

Alison and I are about to go on holiday – we take ours before the school holidays and so expect to be around most of July and August. Holidays are good things, well they’re essential things actually, as is a day off each week (a “Sabbath day”) – but before we go I wanted to bring you up to date with some fresh news:
 
Vineyard House Phase II – Next Steps
Since my last newsmail we have indeed exchanged contracts (high fives and celebrations all round!!!!!). This is such good news. It means we are legally committed to buying (and Jim Harris, the vendor, is legally committed to selling) Vineyard House. We have paid a significant deposit and will pay the balance of the purchase price in December when we get the keys. This gives us 6 months in which to plan the Next Steps – the renovations and getting further funding in place. Perfect. Twelve months later than I first hoped for but actually, in the big picture, much much better.
 
I had lunch with Jim yesterday and we were both very happy with where we have got to. He is delighted that the building is going to “come alive” (his words) and has promised to help us with preparing over the next months. Look out for opportunities to visit and check it out – which we will publicise from time to time. I am looking forward to inviting Jim to the grand opening!
 
Through his gentle persistence Phil Hicks has got us to this point (thank you Phil) and now hands over Project Manager responsibilities to Cath and Sam and you can read all about them and the Next Steps on the Vineyard House blog.
 
Engine Room
I would love you to get along to the Engine Room on 8 July (7.00pm – 8.30pm at HMC). This is going to be such an important time of prayer, waiting on God for guidance about Vineyard House and specifically about what shape the Rocks (and primarily the Business Rock) should take. We’re about to make final decisions about these things – decisions which will guide our Next Steps: the spending of money and the use of the building for years to come. Your participation and prayers are really important – the Lord is waiting for us to meet together to pray and knock on heaven’s door.
 
Baptisms
The World Cup organisers didn’t check our calendar before they scheduled England against Panama – but fortunately you can watch it on catch-up! There’s an even more exciting event taking place in Ilkley after church on Sunday afternoon (24 June 2018) when Cath, Dawn, Karzan, and Nicky step into the River Wharfe to be baptised. We’ll meet them on Sunday morning and then drive up to Ilkley. It promises to be a lovely day: bring a picnic and games and come and support these obedient disciples as they make their public commitment.
 
Church Suite
If you are reading this it is quite likely that you are registered on our administration App, Church Suite. But some people have had a little difficulty figuring out how to get into their account and update their data or look for information. Some of you may not realise that you can download the App to your smartphone. Please call the office and speak to Sue or Hannah if you need help with any of this.
 
Prayer
As we continue in our fascinating studies in Prayer I would point you to the resources page on the website for some reading and watching. I’d also add Philip Yancey’s book, “Prayer, Does It Make A Difference?”, to your summer reading - Anne Buchan strongly recommends it.
 
Peace,
 
David


David Flowers, 23/06/2018


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Times of Application, Times of Celebration 

To Leeds Vineyard
 
There are times when life in the community of faith just bumbles along, moving happily from one regular event to another, experiencing some difficulties here and some merriment there but without any particular peaks or troughs. We see God at work among us, we continue to learn about growing as disciples but our story smooths out for a while. And then, all of a sudden, lots starts to happen – and we enter a season of excitement.
 
Well the last couple of weeks have given us some excitement with two causes for prayer and application and four causes for prayer and celebration!
 
The more challenging things have been getting on top of GDPR and closing in on the purchase of Vineyard House.
 

GDPR

Whilst being, in my view, a GOOD thing, has caused us, along with everyone else, a deal of head-scratching, small-print reading, deep discussion and lots of extra communication. The fact that you are reading this means that you have responded to our requests to stay in touch. Thank you! It would be really helpful if you could ask around your friends and family within the Vineyard and check whether or not they received “News from David”. If they didn’t it means that either they haven’t responded or that they have - and they don’t want to hear from us ever again!

 

Vineyard House

The team have been hard at work behind the scenes with last minute negotiations and the tying up of legal loose ends. I’d continue to value your prayers over this in the next few days and I’m looking forward to reporting back with good news very soon.
 
The matters of celebration have been many but here are FOUR:

  1. We welcome Ezra James Button to planet earth. The family are doing well, learning the startling rhythms of life with child no.3 - each day bringing something new! Please pray for Anne, Matt, Reuben and Amy, as well as baby Ezra. If you’d like to support them by making meals please contact Sue or Sally at the office.
     
  2. We welcomed Dave & Rachael into marital bliss at a wonderful wedding last Saturday. They were ministered to by 3 different denominations (Rachael’s father who is an Anglican minister conducted the wedding vows; Tim Boocock, the Methodist minister at HMC took charge of the signing of the register; and Alison and I led the service, preached and prayed - with help from Richard & Sally Pollard). Nevertheless, it was a wholly Vineyard wedding with many of you turning out to serve them in many ways throughout the day. We were so proud of the way in which the Vineyard community supported and celebrated with Mr & Dr Bratley.
     
  3. The weekend before that the leaders had their annual retreat, this time at Ampleforth Abbey. Apart from being a gloriously beautiful weekend in a stunning setting, it was also a super- beneficial time away for the leaders to kick back a little, learn some really helpful stuff (from Tom and Helen Murphy of Derwent Valley Vineyard), worship and pray together. There were also reported sightings of Harry & Meghan late on Saturday night and dancing into the early hours. You’ll have to ask the people who were there but suffice to say there was lots of fun and laughter too. One of our best ever weekends. A BIG thank you for the team who stayed behind in Leeds to ensure that weekly worship went ahead as usual.

    The talks have been recorded and we’ll issue a notice when they are ready to download or listen to. The theme was “Leading into a New Era” and if you’re a leader (or just interested) I commend Tom and Helen’s talks as inspirational preparation for Vineyard House and my final session when I explained about how buildings are sometimes very important to God as a way of providing an Epiphany – a demonstration of His presence – and what that means for us.
     
  4. And then we also celebrated with Pie Chart Sunday last weekend – remembering what God had been doing with us in the last year and being grateful for the way He had provided for us in people, money and resources. As we looked at 1 Peter 2 I reminded you that this isn’t just a social club with therapeutic tendencies. No, you are a Chosen, Royal, Holy, Special people – not because of what you have done but because of what has been done for you. You have been given a new identity and it is time to let people know! 


Lots to give thanks for,
 
David


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A very unusual thing is happening tomorrow

A very unusual thing is happening in Leeds tomorrow. 99 council seats are being voted upon in the 33 wards around Leeds. In a constitutional quirk every single councillor is being elected in one go and so there is every likelihood that Leeds City Council will look very different on Friday morning.

What do they do, these councillors?

Role of Councillors

Councillors are volunteers who play a leadership role in their community, both catching the vision for the city and sharing it in their neighbourhood, and also taking the neighbourhood’s vision to the City. A councillor represents their ward and gives a voice to the citizens. They have to make knife-edge decisions about where scarce resources are applied, seeking to protect the vulnerable whilst serving the whole community. And they vote on the changing laws and regulations of the city, being led by their values, hopefully good ones!

So we should do two things:
Firstly; pray for them, Here’s a useful link if you want to know more. And then pray particularly for the three in your ward and the three in the Headingley Ward. Pray that God’s kingdom will come amidst the discussions and decisions and that we will see more glimpses of heaven in Leeds! You could use the graphic above to pray into their role.

Secondly; vote. If you haven’t already cast your postal vote then I urge you to take the time to wander down to your local polling station and place your three crosses on the ballot.

Tour de Yorkshire

Another big event over the next few days. Watch out for road closures although the bicycles don’t get to Leeds until the afternoon so it won’t affect us on Sunday morning.
 

Another crazy event this weekend

Our young people are off to DtI (Dreaming the Impossible) with 1,000 other young people from around the movement. Liz Harden and her team are thankful for a warming weather forecast but need our prayers and best wishes as they look after the youth in their care. Every year we see God at work in mighty ways amongst the young people and we look forward to hearing all about it in the following weeks.

Baptisms

On Sunday June 24 we are looking forward to baptising some folk in the River Wharfe in Ilkley. Book a sunny day out in your diary and let those around you know so that if anyone else would like to be baptised they can take this opportunity. It’s a great celebration and a fun way to have a picnic together.

Turning Ecological

It is without doubt a Good Thing to serve people refreshments on a Sunday morning but we do end up using quite a lot of paper cups which are difficult to recycle. So if you have a favourite travel mug you could bring that with you (empty) on a Sunday and we’ll gladly pour in some delicious beverage!

Leaders’ Weekend

Over the 18-20 May, many of the current leaders will be away at Ampleforth Abbey for the weekend we take out every couple of years. This year our guest speakers are Tom & Helen Murphy from Derwent Valley Vineyard.
Until this year Tom and Helen were Associate Pastors to John & Debby Wright and bring a wealth of experience and expertise to us from their time at Trent Vineyard. Helen was, for many years, the leader of the Arches, a quite incredible compassion ministry. We’ve asked them to help us prepare for the future as we take on Vineyard House – how can we wisely invest our time and labour to make the most difference for God’s kingdom?

Vineyard House

Speaking of Vineyard House, we are hard at work behind the scenes negotiating the final parts of the contract. It’s been a long wait but we are getting nearer and nearer to exchange of contracts all the time. Keep praying that God’s promises to us will be fulfilled.

Peace

David


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Brilliant!

Prayer

So we are well into our theme for the year of Prayer. What have you learnt so far? We have spent a month thinking about Waiting – and most of us are realising that waiting is easy to say, much harder to do. It’s in the waiting that so much happens. We hear, we receive and we change - less as a consequence of answered prayer; and more during the waiting in prayer.
 
We’ve thought about what prayer is: a response; emotional; turns theology into experience; you are your prayer life. We learnt about being watchmen and setting a guard and the two dynamics of the gardener’s prayer (protection and abundance). We’re going to look at  some practical aspects to prayer in the next few weeks and then return to the theme in June/July with a series on the Lord’s Prayer. There are podcasts, resources, video links, book recommendations here.
 
Elaine shared this with me recently about how prayer is changing for her, “My impatience is leaving me. There is more time in my day, as I am slowed down by Jesus. I want to pray, and I have always craved that time to be completely alone with God, but always feel I have to go away to be by myself to do that. Now I just close my eyes wherever I am and He is there.”
 
Brilliant.
 
I think the Lord has spoken through these weeks and has made it very clear that we are to be, first and foremost, a people of prayer. We are a people of action, yes indeed, Vineyard House is testament to that, but activity has to be preceded by prayer. There is kingdom power in activity that emanates from prayer and as we wait in prayer we become aware of our inadequacy and of his supremacy. He can do supernatural things through a prayerful people.
 
Here is an illustration of what happens when we pray. Alice, one of our wonderful students, is training to be a social worker. She was sitting in on an early intervention meeting on a complex family law case. Here she describes what was said about the Child Contact Centre:
 
“I was in a room full of different professionals, all of whom recognise the Vine (as our Child Contact Centre is known) as a service they can and do use….. The contact centre is having a massive and far reaching impact on families and the work you are doing is being recognised by a range of professionals from school teachers, family outreach workers and the CAMS team. In big multi-agency meetings the Vine is being brought up in conversation as a possible intervention and being spoken very highly of. 
 
“I asked my supervisor afterwards if she had used The Vine before. She gave a glowing report. She said that: the contact she had with Elaine from the referral process; the setting up of contact; and then the feedback she got from the parents and children afterwards was brilliant. She said that the contact centre is a really valuable service that is needed because that contact between the parents and children is so valuable and there are not enough places that offer it. She spoke of it being a real lifeline for some of the families she works with.  
 
“I found it so exciting to be in this placement setting and to hear that professionals are turning to the Vine as an intervention to support families and to know that it is being run by the local Church.”
 
Brilliant.

Vineyard House

We are about to enter Phase 2 and are ready to appoint a Project Manager for the renovations and/or fund raising. You’ll find the job advert on our website in the staff section. Please spread the word and prayer that the right person or people read it and get in touch.
 

Baptism

We are already looking forward to our next baptisms – this time on Sunday 24 June. It’s one of our favourite days of the year! If you have not yet been baptised and would like to be please talk with your small group leader or one of the pastoral staff. Two people have signe up already!
 
Brilliant.

Leaders’ Weekend

All current leaders should have received an invitation to the Weekend over 18-20 May. This year we are heading for the wonderfully peaceful and prayerful surroundings of Ampleforth Abbey. We have a real treat waiting for us because our guest speakers are Tom and Helen Murphy who were, up until the end of last year, John and Debby Wright’s associates at Trent Vineyard but who have now planted the Derwent Valley Vineyard. Places are limited so please book up soon (via Church Suite).

Global Day of Prayer

If you would like to join in with a Leeds-wide prayer event please put Sunday evening 20 May at 6.30pm at Bridge Community Church.

Finally, an encouraging word (prophecy)

By prophecy I mean that God speaks to us through others. Prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit and I would encourage you all to grow in receiving it. Sometimes it includes or sounds like scripture. Sometimes it is addressed to all of us, at other times to individuals. Prophecy is part of a mature prayer life.

A few weeks ago John received these words and graciously shared them. I think they bear repeating:  “I did not make a mistake when you were born (in fact I knew you as you grew in your mother’s womb). Your Nationality is not a mistake (I love the country of your birth). I did not make a mistake putting you into the family you were born into (In fact I placed you in family). Your name is not a mistake. I did not make a mistake giving you the personality you have. Your passions and dreams are not wrong. Embrace these things they make you who you are. You are a Royal Priesthood, A Holy Nation, set apart and belonging to me.”

Brilliant.

David


David Flowers, 31/03/2018


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It's been a while, here's some news 

Dear Leeds Vineyard

It’s been a while so a little more to share with you than usual:

I have a splendid picture in my mind. As you may know both my parents died in the last few months and then this week we learnt that Billy Graham too had been “promoted to glory”. In my mind’s eye I can imagine my father and my mother sitting in a garden with a cup of Yorkshire Tea and Mr Kipling Cake chatting with Billy Graham and C.S.Lewis. I know that my father would have been one of millions who want to tell Billy and C.S.Lewis how significant they had been in the early years of his life. But it is heaven and somehow they all have time to chat and drink tea together! Can’t wait:-)

In the meantime we have work to do here and whatever else God has for you to do I know that it will include prayer. This month is time which we have allocated particularly to prayer and to fasting. Many of us have been using Andrew Murray’s “Waiting on God” to focus our devotions and to mature our prayer life. Many of you have been fasting too. How is it all going?

In the next week our prayer culminates with a planned time of prayer together. There are three ways to join in this week:

  • Sign up to pray for an hour during this week. It doesn’t matter which hour, any hour will do, it doesn’t matter where, anywhere you happen to be is fine – we just want to have 24 people committing to pray for an hour on one or more of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
  • Sign up to pray - on your own or with your small group or with your friends or family – for an hour or two, in the sunshine room at North Lane House, between Friday evening and Sunday morning.

You can sign up on Sunday morning or on line – here.

  • ?Engine Room - Saturday 3rd March 8.00pm - 9.30pm at Headingley Methodist Church (enter through the side door on Chapel Street). This will be a time of stillness, worship and creative prayer with a theme based on “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles.” Isaiah 40:31.

 

Nigel Hyde

This Sunday (25 February 2018) Nigel and Susan Hyde are our guests. They have an amazing track record in mission work particularly in Sierra Leone. You’ll be inspired as Nigel shares about his faith and work with Home Leone. If you would like to talk with them after the service please stay on  for discussion over a lunch of pizza.

 

Vineyard House

The wheels are turning, be they turning oh so slowly! Our solicitor is doing final searches and contract checks. Thanks to the generous giving of the people of the Vineyard we have also been able to submit a pragmatic mortgage application. Please pray that these last few very important steps result in us being able to exchange contracts in March with an expected completion date toward the end of August.


In January Bethanie shared an amazing vision for one of the ministries we may be able to run out of Vineyard House as part of the Hungry Rock, you can read about it here. We’ll be sharing the vision for part of the Community Rock on Mothering Sunday.

If you would like to give to STEPS for Vineyard House you can find out how to do so here.


EASTER

Easter comes early this year. Maundy Thursday is 29 March! If you would like to join in with a Passover there will be several run by various groups. If you would like your group to do a Passover service there are resources available to show you how and Tania can explain what to do!

On Good Friday we will have our traditional frolic across Ilkley Moor with eggs and fresh air in abundance. If you prefer something more demure then you may wish to join the Headingley Churches Together Walk of Witness which starts at Headingley Methodist Church at 10.30am for the opening hymn and short reflection, then you walk round to the Rose Garden (outside the Arc), ready to start the main event at about 10.50am, after which coffee and Hot Cross Buns will be served at Headingley Methodist church hall. If you'd like to help with the music please let me know.

Our Easter service is always a good time to extend an invitation to your friends and family (who has the Holy Spirit put on your heart to pray for?). Our theme will be “Just Imagine”.  


National Leaders’ Conference

A whole bunch of us went to the National Leaders' Conference at the end of January. What a great time we had with some inspirational teaching and worship and opportunities galore to get to know our brothers and sisters from around the Vineyard. I’d recommend investing some time in listening to the podcasts – particularly Pastor Agu Irukwu speaking about Prayer (the talk is titled "Interceding for the Nations").


GDPR

This might be a teeny weeny bit boring but it is very very important! GDPR stands for General Data Protection Register and it represents a whole wodge of legislation that means: (1) organisations will find it harder to use and abuse your data; and (2) we (at church) have to jump through some significant hoops to ensure that our record-keeping is lawful. So please respond promptly to any requests you get from our office to change your preferences or amend your personal information.


Ralph

If anyone happens to have a second (or third) car which they don’t need for a few weeks Ralph is in need of one to borrow. Let me know if you can help.


Personal Update

Alison and I have had a difficult few months and we are grateful to everyone for your prayers and support – it has been a very real solace during a harrowing time. Our bereavement is now a fact, I am getting used to being an orphan, but as you know grief has many phases and stages to negotiate and we are only just starting that particular trek.

One thing I have learnt so far is the importance of praying for those closest and dearest to us. Don’t wait until a crisis emerges but pray for them now, take them to Jesus, say thank you, present your petition and leave them with Him. The other thing I have learnt, or rather, experienced, is that grief affects your memory. I’ve been embarrassed several times having forgotten things which I would never normally lose from memory.

Although I read the Waiting on God book last year as I prepared for our Prayer theme this year I have been really glad to have it to read again this last month – it has been a real help to spending time with the Lord when other things don't seem to be working very well. I have also loved listening to Samuel Lane's new worship album, The Difference. He really is one of my favourite song-writers and worship leaders. It's also got a brilliant CD cover.

Finally, I am glad to say that in the last month Alison and I have felt much better, emerging from a run-down sort of place with more energy and lightness of spirit. Thanks again for your prayers.

Peace,
 
David
 


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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).

Vineyard House
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.

David

Jenny’s story
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


David Flowers, 29/12/2017


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Favour 

A young girl called Mary who lives in a strict and conservative society has an angel tell her that she is about to find herself somewhat compromised – her reputation and upcoming marriage are about to get trashed by a mysterious miracle pregnancy. Her reaction? She humbles herself before God saying, “May it be done to me according to Your will” and then she is able to say, “The Lord has done this for me, He has shown me His favour and taken away my disgrace”. You can read all about it in Luke 1.

Nine months later, to the shepherds of all people, the mighty angels made the declaration, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.” You’ll find this in Luke 2.

That word, favour, strikes me. It means showing goodwill towards, the giving of unmerited honour, inclining towards. It is often accompanied by gifts. And in these stories favour is directed toward the disgraced and the lowly – not toward the well off, successful or beautiful.

We’re used to bracing ourselves to be laughed at, told off, spurned or rejected - on account of our looks or age or awkwardness or intellect or ethnicity or weakness. It’s startlingly different when we approach the God of the universe. He offers favour. Awesome. This is our theme for the Christmas season in 2017: favour.

Please pray for and invite your friends and neighbours to celebrate Christmas and to hear a wonderful story of grace and favour, a story which transforms lives!

What’s happening over Christmas?

  • Christmas Service: 11.00am on Sunday 17 December, all ages celebrating Christmas together. Check the website for the dress code! Followed by festive lunch.
  • Carol Service: 7.30pm on Sunday 17 December. A traditional service of carols and readings followed by festive snacks.
  • Christmas Eve: 11.00am on Sunday 24 December. Weekly worship as usual.
  • Christmas Day: 11.00am on Monday 25 December. A short celebration for everyone.
    We’d love to match up people who are on their own on Christmas Day with those who have a spare chair at the dinner table. If you would like to offer a festive feast – or if you would like to join with others for lunch or dinner – please do let sue.richardson@leedsvineyard.org know.
  • New Year’s Eve: 11.00am on Sunday 31 December. Weekly worship as usual.
  • New Year’s Day: our traditional morning walk on Ilkley Moor. 

If you know people in Headingley who wouldn't want to come to the Vineyard please give them the flyer with details of the other churches' services. And if you can think of places where they would display such information (e.g. the post office or a cafe) please take a supply.

Reverse Advent

Christmas is about giving not just receiving – but some people don’t receive much so if you would like to give something extra do join with us in supporting either the Child Contact Centre or in compiling your own reverse advent hamper for Leeds Foodbank. Full details here.

Extraordinary Current Leaders’ Meeting

If you are leading a group or an area of ministry at Leeds Vineyard I would very much like you to join us on Tuesday evening, if you possibly can, for a special meeting at which we’ll catch up about Vineyard House. If you haven’t received an invitation please contact the office for details.

Carol Singing

The churches in Headingley are joining together to sing carols at the Arndale Centre on Saturday 9 December, 11.00am – 12.00pmish.  Headingley Methodist’s Coffee Morning and Christmas Fair will be on across the road from 10.00am – 12.15pm (I’m told the cake is great!). All welcome to join in.

Buying Books

Leeds Vineyard has been approved for the “More Than A Book” programme with the Bible Society (www.biblesociety.org.uk). Our unique church reference number is: 12154. If you buy your books this way, the church earns a cashback. Nice.

Personal update

As you may know, we gave thanks for my Mum’s life a few weeks ago. The day went well and we felt very supported by the prayers of the saints. Thankyou. As you may also know my Dad is rather ill too. Alison and I continue to be quite involved in his ongoing care and this takes its toll. Many of you will have experienced a similar strain and transition in your lives as you have lost loved ones, so you’ll understand. Bear with us.

May you know the favour of the King!

David


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