Last Sunday we launched a new series called Jubilee 2011 here at VCD we kicked it off with a time of celebration, giving thanks to God for what He has done with us during the past three years through our Leaving a Legacy campaign. When we launched Leaving a Legacy in April 2008, we believed that God was going to do something amazing. It wasa huge deal for us here at the VCD, we only had around 80 adults connecting and the project seemed huge, it was for our kids, our town and our future. I don’t think we knew how big a net God would give us, but this is what I’ve learned through Legacy, that our reality is bigger than our dreams when God initiates.
We changed our morning celebration around so we could throw a surprise party half way through. So after I'd finished my talk we had the Vineyard kids bring a party into our gathering. We have three entry points so they used all three as they entered the room with balloons, party blowers, party poppers and sweets. We had a few people primed to bring out crisps (chips if you’re from North America) and drinks and then we worshipped. We can be very conservative here at VCD but the whole place jumped into celebratory worship that was loud, fun and a little chaotic.
I was planning to write here about our Legacy deal and connect it to the idea of Jubilee but I can't get past how we, as pastors and churches, call out to God for our community, our church and our world and when God delivers (always bigger than we expect), we behave like the lepers that Jesus healed when only one out of ten returns to say thank you. It just doesn’t seem right. I get so focused on the 'next move' that I rarely stop and celebrate and say thanks, I mean really intentionally plan a celebration to thank God for His faithfulness and goodness.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I'm from a Pentecostal background and Lent really wasn’t up there on our holiday calendar though we did Easter and Christmas. Lent started around 325 AD when the Church decided to set aside 40 days before Easter, a time to go on a spiritual journey towards Easter and particularly holy week. Lent simply means to lengthen, relating to Spring time and day light getting longer. It's a time for a spiritual check up, a spiritual spring clean deal.
It’s a great time to check what needs to go, the stuff that keeps us back from a richer, intimate, authentic relationship with Jesus. I wonder how the 9 lepers justified not coming back to thank Jesus, they weren’t given any advice or instructions to return, just to go the priest. I’d guess they got on with life, they had so much to do now that they had lost the untouchable label.
Let’s take the time and the space to enjoy God and what He’s done. Over the last three years God has been so good to us here at the Vineyard and so at this ancient period of time we call Lent, let’s take time and space to thank God and enjoy and maybe throw a party!