Yesterday, arriving in Arizona was just like being at home in Virginia, except for the desert with its brown everything, the palm trees, the cactus, and the absence of humidity. Last night, arriving at the Vineyard Church, Phoenix North, was a real surprise. It was just the same as the in-person/Zoom meetings we’ve had! The only difference was that there were 2,000 or so people in the room around me (plus Sue and Joan and Bryon) and the 1,000+ people on Zoom screens! (well, OK, not on Zoom but on one of those other IT things called livestreaming). The Vineyard, I realized afresh, is one great big, slightly loopy, grinning-from-ear-to-ear family and the reunion atmosphere was dumping boatloads of joy into joy tanks.
In our welcome packets, we found three different colored wristbands: RED means ‘I love you a lot but please keep your distance.’ YELLOW means ‘I love you a lot but fist bumps are as comfortable as I get.’ GREEN means, ‘I’d like a hug!’ It was a colorful evening!
The theme of the conference this week is from a John Wimberism: “The way in is the way on.” By which he meant the way you get into this Kingdom living thing is the way you keep living from that point onward till you meet Jesus face to face. The theme, then, is simply, The Way On (we’re already in so the only direction is – on!
There was a great audio clip of Wimber from 1988 as a reminder of the early days, then the stage was shared by Phil Strout (the outgoing National Director of Vineyard USA) and the incoming one, Jay Pathak. These two guys are passionate about the ‘on’ part of the Vineyard! Phil reminded us of the Scripture about taking the ancient paths (first things first) and Jay cautioned of the tendency of altars becoming idols. Just before an extended ministry time, Jay, sporting a brand-new Hawaiian shirt, his very first, chosen by one of his teenage daughters (the old is new again!) told us of his prayer, like that in Habakkuk, ‘in our day, in our time, make them new.’ One of our Vineyard worship songs adds, ‘what you did before, come and do once more.’ AMEN!
I sure hope my expanding joy tank fits on the plane next week. I might have to dole it out to the other passengers! Aloha, y’all! PD