A Season of Discernment

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to let die and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
… God has made everything beautiful for its own time. (Ecclesiastes 3.1-9)

An author I admire says that a disciplined person “does what needs to be done when it needs to be done.” Very true. Yet determining exactly what needs to be done often requires wisdom, and wisdom, although freely given by God, comes with its own price-tag. It’s acquisition requires self-abnegation, the deconstruction of pride, a turning away from all expressions of selfishness and inordinate ambition. That’s the first step of the dance. The second step is (re)turning in humility to both God and people as the only viable resource for the kind of wisdom we so desperately need: wisdom that’s marked by purity, peace-making, gentleness, mercy, good deeds and yielding to one another. This kind of wisdom produces what we secretly or openly desire: “a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3.17)

So wisdom is acquired by orienting ourselves in a particular way toward God and the community, and by our community then orienting itself in a particular way to the wider world. Wisdom is, therefore, deeply relational in God’s economy. It is kneaded into us over time by holding fiercely to a specific way of living with each other in full view of God.

Because wisdom is relational, every person holds a piece of it, and only by contributing our various pieces do we gain a larger understanding of what God is doing among us. We offer our various scraps of wisdom when we come together humbly, share truthfully, listen carefully, pray fervently, and reflect deeply on all that emerges. If our scraps are given in this atmosphere of humility, mercy, and deep respect, we slowly begin to see. We discern a larger tapestry, something that transcends the smallness of our individual scraps. We find the Opus Dei, the “work of God,” work that draws us into a richness of life we could never experience singly.

What time is it for Vineyard Central? In what season do we find ourselves? If in fact “God has made everything beautiful for its own time,” then let’s ask God together to show us what this season is all about so that we can participate in the beauty of it. Let’s come together with open hands in a posture of humility. Let’s listen. And let’s take as much time as we need to gain this discernment rather than expect or demand the Spirit of God to be subject to our anxiousness and impatience. (Trying to force God’s hand is an exercise in futility, anyway, so why bother?)

For the welfare of the church, the pastoral council would like to initiate a season of discernment starting with the next festival — February 6. We have no idea how long this season will last, but it will be carried forward by a weekly rhythm of worship together on Sundays. (The exact time of that meeting is still being worked out and will be announced this Sunday, Feb 6. Feel free to contribute your thoughts on this between now and then.)

Furthermore, we’ve asked Tom and Karen Wuest to oversee this time of discernment. The Wuest family is dear to many of us who have been around from the beginning. They played a pivotal role in the earliest years of Vineyard Central’s founding before moving first to Colorado and then to Vancouver, B.C. to pursue God’s calling on their lives. During their time away they held us in their hearts and prayers, and recently they felt called to return, bringing two children (Isaiah and Arbutis) and a wealth of experience in tow. They love us deeply and have experience in guiding churches through the discernment process. We think they’re a great fit and would like to recommend them to the community. We’ve also asked them to draw in others from our community to help with the discernment, so this won’t be a solo effort.

The pastoral council is hopeful for this time. We believe it will be a turning point in this long, beautiful and sometimes confusing and bittersweet journey we’ve had together. I personally hope that someday, years from now, many of us will look back on this time not only with affection but with a sense of awe and gratitude toward the great and beautiful God who is always desirous to give us our daily bread.

Peace to you,
Dave Nixon
(on behalf of the pastoral council)

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