One of the words the Lord gave us when Kate & I took on the leadership of South West London Vineyard was some verses from Genesis 26:
18 And Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
What we’ve always taken that to mean is that there’s a mandate on us and on this church, as one of the founding churches of a national movement of Vineyard churches – the first Vineyard in the UK and indeed Europe – that there is much that we hold dear, that there are things that the Lord requires of us to remain faithful to and to cherish.
As a church, as we both return home to the same location where we met on Sundays for over 20 years and at the same time move forwards, mindful of all that the Lord has done in our midst over these past 30 years, it’s a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves of some of those, what one might call, ‘distinctives’ that the Lord has called us to as a Vineyard church.
This week we turned our attention to the one thing that is absolutely central to who we are, that lies at the very foundation of all we stand upon, and that is the Scriptures – the Bible – the Word of God; our gold standard, our yardstick, our plumb line.
If you want to hear this week’s sermon again you can listen here, but our very own Judy Mayhew recently wrote of an encounter she’d had in a London antique shop, which beautifully illustrates our heart and passion for the Scriptures.
“One day I was in Piccadilly with an hour to 'kill', when I wandered into an antique shop in one of the smarter shopping arcades. I browsed around for a bit and wandered downstairs, and then suddenly something hanging on the wall on the far side of the room caught my eye. It was a picture, about A3 in size, in a gold frame.
At that distance I couldn't really make out exactly what the subject matter was, apart from the fact that it looked like a human figure and the colours were beautiful, but my reaction was extraordinary: I felt a very strong sense of the presence of God and my eyes welled up with tears. I was deeply moved but I didn't know why. It was a case of my spirit knowing something before my mind did. I went over to the picture to see if I could find out what it was.
The image was beautiful. It was of an elderly, rather frail looking man crouched over and tenderly cradling something in his arms, in the manner of someone holding a precious baby. Behind him, a brooding deep purple and red sky and to the right at the back, some pencil drawn faces.
On closer inspection, I discovered that this was an original print entitled 'Jeremiah' from a series of illustrations of the bible painted by Marc Chagall. The 'baby' in his arms was a scroll of the Torah, and to me the deep colours of the sky spoke of the anger and grief of God at the Israelites’ (the faces at the back) rejection and neglect of the scriptures
I was overwhelmed. I felt deeply the sadness of God and His longing for us to listen to His word. The picture moved me so much that I tracked down a copy of my own, which now hangs in my bedroom and I have included a photo of it here.
I wish I could say that since that day the Bible has never been out of my hands. Sadly, that's not the case, but Neil's sermon recently about the scriptures, forcibly reminded me of how important our knowledge of them is, not just for us, but to God.
Neglecting them can break His heart because we miss out on so much of what He wants to tell us and teach us, and of the life ‘IN ABUNDANCE’ that is ours if we would only dare trust Him.
Do let's encourage one another to read more. I give you all permission to ask me how I am getting on – I need to be prodded! Perhaps we could even start texting each other with the odd verse that has spoken to us that day, and build a culture of exchanging encouraging words?
Love and Blessings, Judy”