Twenty years on...
Can you believe it? It’s been two decades since the Vine Community Church started to worship in Cherry. In the past twenty years there have been over 960 Sunday services, more than 4320 songs sung, and countless prayers sent up and thanks given.
Started in 2004 by Rev. Veronica, her husband Dave and a small group of Christians from other local churches, the Vine’s first meeting was on 21st March 2004 at the Cherry Willingham and Reepham Village Hall. For the first few years after that, the Vine alternated its meetings between Cherry Willingham and Fiskerton Village Halls before moving to the library building in 2015.
As well as being a vibrant place to worship and explore life with Jesus, making a positive impact on the community has been at the heart of the Vine. Even before the church started to meet in Cherry, we were busy providing youth and children’s work at the Secondary School. This theme has continued with the Vine funding a school’s worker for a number of years and now running activities for primary and secondary age children in the form of That Saturday Thing (TST) for 5-11 year olds and That Tuesday Thing (TTT), our youth drop-in.
Our community focus isn’t solely on the younger generation. For the last decade, Assist, our service providing 1-2-1 support, wellbeing, and specialist dementia groups, has been open to anyone in need. Since October 2013 Assist has been a lifeline for over 1007 people including 220 people living with dementia (or caring for someone living with dementia), more than 737 people who have received 1-2-1 support and over 50 people who have attended or continue to attend the well-being group.
The most amazing part of this story is that although organised by the Vine the majority of the 60 Assist volunteers, the 30 additional volunteers who stepped up during lockdown and the 31 plus volunteers who have helped run the library are not from the Vine but are made up of other Christians from a range of churches in the area as well as members of the local community.
Jenny and I took the reins of the Vine a little over five years ago, and we are thrilled to be part of this church, the family of nearby churches and the wider Cherry community.
Join us in raising a cheer for the Vine’s 20th Birthday! 🎉
The importance of justice
I don’t suppose anyone can have escaped the surge in news covering the story of the Post Office Horizon software scandal and the hundreds of Sub-postmasters. If you have been living in a media blackout for the last few weeks or so, then I would highly recommend watching the ITV drama, Mr Bates versus the Post Office. It clearly lit the ‘blue touch paper’ on exploding this issue to the attention of the public, and seemingly forcing individuals, and government to do the right thing.
At the heart of the postmasters’ claim and the public response was an overwhelming desire for justice.
The emotional need for justice is visceral. Just watching the drama and the subsequent news interview left me feeling the same emotions as when as a child I was told off for something I had not done. Except for these people it wasn’t about a broken greenhouse window, it was about livelihoods, unsafe convictions, prison sentences and the loss of life of some concerned.
Justice and mercy are key attributes of God. We cannot fully appreciate the mercy of God without understanding His justice. Biblical justice is all about making things right. The parable of the widow in Luke 18:1-8 highlights the importance of victims getting justice. Like the widow in Luke 18, who kept demanding justice from the uncaring judge, victims want things to be put right. They seek for their voices to be heard and to not be seen as powerless.
Jesus spoke about justice but with a different emphasis. He advocated a personal approach to justice. A personal approach to justice sounds, on the face of it like vigilantism or an expression of the much misunderstood ‘eye for an eye’ but Jesus’s focus was more about our individual responsibility. A duty to bring justice by loving our neighbours and doing good for those around us, especially the poor and marginalized. He talked more about the responsibility of individuals than of authorities to promote good. Jesus defines his gospel as having a social component, which means the impoverished being lifted up, the “captive” to society’s wrongful norms being released, the physically hurting finding healing, and the, emotionally, spiritually or physically oppressed finding freedom. Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, these are laudable things to strive for.
From the news articles of the day, I write this, it appears the sub-postmasters are one step closer to seeing their justice, I pray that each of us will be able to promote good and see justice in our own lives and for those around us. Justice may be blind but Jesus calls us not to be blind to injustice.