Calibrating Compass '24 - Prophetic Presence

David Ruis, Dec 13, 2023, 3:56 PM
David Ruis National Director
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Back in the spring of 2015 we gathered some of our key leaders from across the country in Cambridge, ON for our first ever Metanoia Gathering. Amidst the awesome meals we shared, catered by the Cambridge Vineyard team, and the great vibe created by our very first attempt at a Vineyard Canada 3rd Space, we were able to lean into some thin places in worship, reflection and listening to the Spirit of God with us.

One of the significant things that we felt we were to learn and explore coming out of this time, was a growing understanding that the churches call in society was actually more about being a "prophetic presence" than that of simply trying to be "culturally relevant." This initial prompting of the Holy Spirit has found its way into much of our discussion, prayer and planning in these ensuing 8 years.

Our continuing understanding of what this means for us in Vineyard Canada is captured quite well by OT theologian and scholar Walter Bruggemann, a quote we have often turned to:

"The prophetic tasks of the church are to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society that lives in despair."

Our desire in Vineyard Canada is to carry this type of presence and influence in all the neighbourhoods, cities and contexts our communities find themselves in across our nation. As we think about heading into another year ahead of us, I want to invite thoughtful attention to how we may engage in these prophetic tasks, and how they inform the way we journey together in 2024. Getting this right seems as important as any other time in our history, if not more important than ever.

Tell the truth.

So much of religion, pop culture and even the realm of politics and economics, can be built on illusion. Rather than resonating with the prophetic essence of speaking and living out of truth, somehow we can be seduced by a gnostic, dare I say, "false prophetic" approach to life and living. We have been witnessing at an alarming rate the derailing of many leaders and institutions where self preservation, the lust for power and metrics of success that require a measure of "smoke and mirrors" to sustain, has been operating. This modus operandi creates a corrosion of character, authenticity and accountability that  ends up eating away at anything being "real" after time. Vulnerability and authenticity are sacrificed and the end begins to justify the means. Truth and truth telling are lost.

However, blessed are the sincere, the "pure of heart, or even a better translation of Jesus' original words, the "single hearted." The use of the concept of purity here connotes integrity, rather than outward conformity to behavioural standards, which the stand opposed to deviousness. It is those committed to this heart pursuit of authenticity that will see God.

So, what does it look like in Vineyard Canada then, to tell the truth right across our national family in these times? From the grass roots need for accountability in relationships and leadership practices, right across our regional spaces and on our national team, let us be engaged in the diligent work of speaking and living out of truth. We must not be afraid to speak into the realities and pain of our world as well. Being truthful about things such as the terrorism of Hamas and the unrelenting and devastating response of the Israeli IDF. Being a voice of reason and clarity as we give voice to those who are voiceless and marginalized in the changing landscape of our Canadian society. Not shrinking back from giving clear articulation of, and expression to the words and works of Christ, while not being ashamed of the gospel.

Truth, for us in the Vineyard, is often found in what we have come to know as the "radical middle." Our desire is to avoid the polarizing poison that extremism and fundamentalism foments. Far from compromise, it is a reach for wisdom more than answers and stepping out in the courageous and costly call of what it means to actually walk the Jesus Way. The narrow way. The eternal way.


This is not the despair of those who "grieve as those with no hope", but rather a robust walk deep into the pain and suffering we all experience, knowing that Emmanuel is with us. Always. Each step.

Rather than the avoidance of suffering through the various analgesics we use to self medicate, we need not fear brokenness and can discover, and re-discover again and again, beauty in ashes, dancing in the midst of mourning, and the mysterious joy that sustains us in suffering. Not just at a personal level, but even for those in the killing fields of the Ukraine, on the First Nation Reserve that has just experienced yet another child gone missing, or in the shadow of death that lurks in the sadness of yet another loss in our streets to fentanyl or some other evil that has taken life from us. We are not alone, for God is near to the broken hearted. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. And, yes, we need to come together, for we are created to live and love in a community that carries each other's burdens.


Could it be that this is the quality that lies at the heart of the "good news?" How should this fragrance of grace impact how we engage with the society and culture around us in these times? Hope for those in despair. Hope for those who are anxious and fearful. Hope that there is value and meaning beyond ourselves and our circumstance and far beyond what power, politic, and prestige can offer us. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, justice, for they will be satisfied. Those who attune their perception and discernment to see and engage where the Father is at now at work, and who turn their longing and lift their eyes to the appearing of the Son of Man at the final, and full, consummation of His kingdom coming. They will be crowned with justice.

Desmond Tutu once said, "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."

Ah yes, light in the darkness.

Given the seasonal context of this posting, in this "season of light",  may I say that we, now perhaps more than ever, are called to not only celebrate Advent, but to become Advent. To be a "prophetic presence." A people, a new social order that is a sign post of the kingdom come and coming, living out of a place of hope, peace, love and joy.
"Christians were never meant to be normal. We've always been holy trouble makers, we've always been creators of uncertainty, agents of dimension that's incompatible with the status quo; we do not accept the world as it is, but we insist on the world becoming the way that God wants it to be. And the kingdom of God is different than the patterns of this world." (Jacque Ellul)

May it be so for Vineyard Canada this coming 2024.  Step by step.

David Ruis