Friday, 22 June 2018

Lord, have mercy

The attack happened just outside St James's School (Alexis St site) and for several days the area was cordoned  off by the police.

Now we have heard the sad news from the Evening Standard that Joshua Boadu has died after his family have been keeping an 11 day vigil.

Our hearts go out to his family as we remember them in prayer.

Earlier this week I spoke to the children about this at assembly, with the attack having been so near to the school.

Poignantly our theme, in our cycle of readings for assembly, was 'Love One Another' and in particular  Jesus's New Commandment to 'love one another as I love you'.

On this sad day for Bermondsey, and for Joshua's family in particular, let's pray for that Commandment to be heard and heeded on the streets of our City and for this appalling epidemic of knife crime to come to an end. Lord, have mercy.

Tributes to Joshua at the Blue. Photo from Southwark News

Monday, 18 June 2018

Getting ready for the baptisms

It will be a special day next Sunday when Gareth, Asha, and Daniel are baptised at St James in our morning service.

Later that day they will be confirmed by Bishop Karowei  at St Mary Magdalen Church in Bermondsey Street, alongside other candidates from the Bermondsey Deanery churches.

Yesterday we met for the final preparations for the big day, which will include the baptism of Asha's son, Daniel's twins, and two other children.

The youngsters will all be baptised at the font, but the 'grown ups' will be baptised by immersion in a pool in the Churchyard with the congregation gathering round to watch - and then we will all join in singing  'To God be the glory, great things he hath done' as we conclude our service.


Sunday, 17 June 2018

Living like a monk?

Good to see our very own Simon Lewis ('nattily dressed 38-year old dean') featuring in an Evening Standard Magazine article about the St Anselm's Community: 'These millennials have left behind their friends, families and jobs to live like a monk for a year.' You can read it here

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Come on England...

Lots of coverage in the Saturday papers of Bermondsey's Kirby Estate, where the residents are leaving no one in doubt who they will be supporting in the World Cup.


It's not the first time they have put on such a patriotic display, but this time it has gone viral on Twitter, and this great community effort has been picked up by the national press.



Thursday, 14 June 2018

Riches in Christ

To the Barbican Conference Centre in the City of London for the annual Evangelical Ministry Assembly (below) - my twenty-ninth year at the excellent EMA.

This year's conference theme was: 'The Unsearchable Riches: Preaching Christ from all Scripture.' 

As well as providing a great opportunity to meet up with old friends, the EMA is especially designed to build up and encourage ministers in the vital task of teaching and preaching God's word.

Highlights this year included Vaughan Roberts, from St Ebbe's, Oxford, in two sessions entitled 'From Study to Pulpit,' showing how he prepared messages from the Old Testament book, Habbakuk, and James Hamilton, from the southern USA, speaking on biblical theology - tracing the storyline of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

We also heard a fascinating talk on Charles Spurgeon, the great Victorian Baptist preacher at the Metropolitan Tabernacle at the Elephant, particularly focussing on his conversion as a 15 year old, driven to attend a small country Methodist chapel by a fierce snowstorm, that led to a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ.
The 'apostle to the grocers' at the Elephant & Castle

In time crowds flocked to the Elephant to hear Spurgeon, the prince of preachers.

Some high churchmen mockingly called him the 'apostle to the grocers' as they snobbishly  sneered at Spurgeon's congregation of tradespeople and ordinary working people - but Spurgeon with his powerful down to earth biblical messages could reach the very people the established church struggled to reach.

When he died, thousands lined the street, and on his coffin was a Bible opened at the verse from Isaiah that had changed the course of Spurgeon's life when he had heard it expounded in that country chapel by an unlearned preacher who was filling in for the minister who was stuck in the same snowstorm that, in the providence of God, had led the young Charles himself to be there.


The Barbican Centre

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The descent of the dragon

The golden dragon weathervane of St James is safely on its way to be repaired. It will be displayed at ground level for the public to view when it returns regilded (watch this space for details).

Thanks to Sandra Price for these photos of the descent and departure of the dragon:






Tuesday, 12 June 2018

A prayer for Bermondsey

 After last night's knife attack, a prayer for the young people of Bermondsey; 'Lord, keep our young people, precious in your sight and made in your image, safe.'

Monday, 11 June 2018

Remembering Les

See Southwark News report for today's service at St James, led by Paul, 'a send off for Fisher legend and biggest fan', Les Rowe here

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Following Jesus all the way to Bermondsey

It was his second Bermondsey engagement in under a week when Jay Colwill (left) came to speak at today's men's breakfast at St James. 

Earlier in the week, Jay, who is the new Director of Mission and Evangelism for our diocese, living (as it happens) in Bermondsey, spoke to the Bermondsey Deanery Synod at St Katharine's Church, Eugenia Rd,  Bermondsey.

He told us a bit about the story of his life  and about his work for the Diocese, as well as encouraging the parishes of the deanery to get stuck in to the work of the deanery, all done with great passion and an infectious enthusiasm that had us raring to go.

Earlier in the week: at the deanery synod
Today at the Men's Breakfast Jay told us a bit more about the story of his faith.

He told us what happened when as a new Christian, and a 15 year old boy in a toughish school, a teacher asked all those boys who were Christians to put their hands up. No one did, until Jay realise he had to. So he did. (And the teacher kind of mocked him but he did it anyway).

Next he signed up with the Mission to Seamen, expecting an exotic far east posting, but God sent him to work among the dockers and seamen of Southampton,  and then one day said to Jay: 'I want you to be a priest.'

A fruitful ministry in several parishes followed, and then came the posting to Southwark.

To the men at the breakfast Jay encouraged everyone to take one step further in their journey with Jesus or to Jesus, wherever they presently were.

Here comes the bride

The church was ready:


The bridegroom was ready:


There was a great welcome message for the guests:


And then she arrived - and she looked wonderful. And then Anthony and Louise made their marriage vows to each other, and we heard from Genesis chapter 2 of marriage, God's made to measure relationship for the people he has made: 'A man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh' and they were pronounced man and wife and we prayed for God's blessing on them, today and always:


God bless you both

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The (non) flight of the dragon

Lifting the dragon from its perch
They came today to take away St James's golden dragon weathervane  for repair and regilding as part of the £350k works on the church tower, currently taking place.

The dragon was successfully removed from its perch, but seemed curiously resistant to come down to ground level.

The height of the tower, the weight of the dragon, and the configuration of the scaffolding temporarilly defeated our gallant band of workers.

So the dragon remains on the top of its tower and the workmen must return with some new equipment, to safely lower the dragon to the ground.

Then the restoration work can begin, and when it is finished, the newly gilded weatherwave will be
displayed at ground level for a few days for the public to view - before its returns to its regular roost, high above Bermondsey.

Right: the church tower encased in scaffolding, pending stonework repairs, about to start.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Road safety

I don't think you could accuse them of being over hasty, it's probably taken the best part of two years, but today the new one-way system around Thurland Rd and Old Jamaica Rd came into operation.

There will be teething problems, and no one actually welcomes new traffic restrictions, but the reason for this one is a good one.

It all began when a child from St James's school was hit by a car on their way home from school. Then school governors, councillors, and the traffic planners at Southwark put their heads together. Traffic flows and speeds were measured, Residents were consulted about various options - and today it came into operation.


It makes it a lot safer for children and others to cross the junction with Thurland Rd and Spa Rd, and one-way traffic on Thurland Rd, means that vehicles no longer need to drive on the footway to pass other vehicles, making it much safer for pedestrians, and especially the children and parents.

So, thank you, Southwark Council for making the area just a little bit safer for our children.

Obeying the Lord

Church assembly at St James's School today and we were thinking about the call of Levi, with the aid of Caravaggio's famous painting.

It was part of a series on 'obeying God' and we noticed how Levi was called by Jesus to follow him, how he obeyed and how he began a new life, following Jesus, and keeping his commands.

As part of this assembly we learnt the verse John 14.15: 'If you love me, you will obey my commands.' The children came up with some great examples of things Jesus had commanded.

I was momentarilly thrown by the lad who in responses to the question 'what did Jesus tell us to do?' said 'go fishing' - but he was spot on when he went on to say that Jesus told the fishermen to stop trying to catch fish, but now to catch men.

Here are two of the visuals we used today from Caravaggio's 'The Calling of Levi' - Jesus calling Levi, among the other tax collectors seated around the table (above) and Levi's astonished response that Jesus should actually calling him to be a follower.

Finally, at Key Stage One, the children were learning a very catchy and very appropriate new song, all about obeying.

Here are some other children dancing along to it.

Perhaps, the next thing at St James is for us to learn these actions.


Friday, 25 May 2018

Celebrating the creation

Hot foot from church last Sunday we headed for the station and a train to Cambridge to visit the village of Coton (with our friends from theological college days, Simon and Anne)  where Alan Storkey, a lecturer from Oak Hill College, had an exhibition of his artwork.

Alan is a man of many parts: economist, sociologist, philospher. At college he taught us Sociology, Family Perspectives, and Pastoral Studies. He has a knack of looking at things in a fresh way, and of bringing a biblically informed Christian mind to any topic.

On top of this he is a thoroughly nice bloke - and an artist.

Various paintings by Alan were dotted around the college in our time (including this one on the right), but here in the village where he lived, was a wonderful display of his creativity (I'll come back to that) displayed in the church, the village hall, and the churchyard.

What was really good, in addition to seeing Alan, and his wife, Elaine, again, was hearing Alan's explanation of his work.



In his terms, it is not so much his creativity that is on display, but God's. What Alan has been trying to do is to display the infinite creativity of the creator God.

In my view, he has done that brilliantly. Scroll down for a bit more of the wonderful exhibition we enjoyed last Sunday:




Jesus teaching the crowds

John Stott, bible teacher



And finally the artist himself (middle):


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Christ the worker

Just back from a three day residential at the diocesan retreat house, Wychcroft, in beautiful Surrey countryside, a few miles from the M25, and an amazingly tranquil spot.

The incumbents (ie vicars) who are receiving new curates this July were there for a bit of intensive training and preparation.

Here in Bermondsey we are very much looking forward to welcoming Jacob Mercer as our new curate after his ordination on 30th June at Southwark Cathedral.

One of the joys of Wychcroft is worshipping in the Chapel of the People of God, with this wonderful picture of Christ the Worker, so relevant for our largely urban diocese.

It is the resurrected, possibly even the ascended Christ, that is portrayed. The wounds in his hands and feet are clearly visible, but here's the bit that really struck me: he is still wearing his carpenter's apron.

I love that testimony to the humanity of the risen and ascended Lord, fully God, fully human, reigning in heaven but still bearing the wounds of his saving death for us, and still wearing his workman's robes, as a reminder that he lived and worked among us for thirty years before he began his ministry of teaching and proclaiming the kingdom of God.



Saturday, 19 May 2018

When Harry married Meghan

The BBC man kept saying 'this is unlike any other royal wedding there has ever been,' but that was almost the opposite of what struck me, namely, how similar Harry and Meghan's wedding was to every other wedding that takes place in the Church of England, and that's what I liked best about it.

OK the guest list, the trumpeters, the horses and the location were something special, but the really important bits, the words, were the same, which is just as it should be.

And when it came to the vows (above) it was one man promising to one woman for life, and then one woman making the same promises to one man for life.

They used their Christian names at that point, not their titles, because they were two individuals making their promises to each other in the sight of God.

And the words they used, based on those ancient words of the English prayer book, deeply rooted in what the Bible means by 'love' and what the Bible means by 'marriage' are the words used by every couple: I take you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.

Unusually the sermon made no reference to marriage, but the vows preached their own sermon about the union of one man and one woman for life, according to God's wonderful plan.

So, may God bless Harry and Meghan, today and every day, and, here's some really good news: if you're not yet married you can have a wedding at St James, just like Harry & Meghan's, minus the royal bits, of course, but including all those wonderful words from the wedding service.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Here comes the bride at Alexis St and OJR

On the eve of the royal wedding, St James's School, was busilly getting ready for tomorrow's celebrations.

First up, we had a special Royal Wedding assembly at both sites.

We had children playing the part of bride, groom, best man, the bridesmaids and the bride's father, and at Alexis Street we all had the Queen and a gaggle of royal princesses.

The children clapped as the bride walked down the aisle to the Bridal March, and, again at the end, when bride and groom walked out the Wedding March followed by the wedding party.

We also practised the wedding vows, the special promises at the heart of the service.


Before we began I asked the children what they thought was important about marriage. They said it was about making a promise and trying to keep it for your whole life. They said it was about trust. They said it was about starting a new family, with the bride taking a new name, and being called Mrs instead of Miss.


In the afternoon, at both sites the children were having a Royal Wedding picnic, complete with crowns and cucumber sandwiches, before giving a resounding three cheers to Harry and Megan.

Above are the younger children at Old Jamaica Road, and here is Year 2 Austria toasting the royal couple with apple juice:


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Walking with Jesus in Bermondsey

Starting from a be-scaffolded St James, tonight we had our Thy Kingdom Come prayer walk around our two parishes.

It was good to stop and pray for the local churches, the schools, the people who live on the estates, the people who stop at the Blue, in fact, anyone and everyone who lives or works in Bermondsey.

Along the way we read from Mark's Gospel about the ministry of Jesus: how John the Baptist came crying 'prepare the way' - praying that God would prepare the way into people's hearts in Bermondsey.

Lucey Way
How Jesus proclaimed the Good News and called
for the fishermen to lay down their nets and follow him, praying that people in our community would hear and respond to Jesus's call to follow him.

How the people of his day were astonished at his teaching, 'for he taught them as one who taught with authority',  praying especially from this passage for the children of St James's School that they would learn from Jesus.

St James's School

How he reached out with love to the leper, touched him, and made him clean, praying that the people of our community would feel the touch of Jesus in their lives.

How he met with sinners and tax collectors, because he had come 'not to call the righteous but sinners,' praying for the places where our community comes together, such at at the Blue.

How he walked on the water and said to the terrified disciples: 'take heart, it is I, have no fear', praying that we would be courageous, not fearful, in engaging in God's mission, knowing Jesus is with us., as we came to the River and prayed for the city of London as a whole, with its thousands of churches and millions of people: Thy Kingdom Come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

St Anne's
The Blue

Thy will be done in London as in heaven