Sunday, 18 November 2018

Thank you, Penny

Penny Molyneux (on the right) receiving a Long Service Award today in church from Marion Watson, representing the Southwark Diocesan Association of Readers.

Penny became a Reader twenty five years ago and has been our Reader here in Bermondsey for the last fifteen years.

Today was an opportunity to say a big thank you to Penny, for her upfront work of preaching and teaching, and her work of caring and encouragement that so many have benefitted from, not to mention all her work for so many years at St James's School. 

The church clock


With the scaffolding starting to come down from St James's belltower, the restored clock faces can be seen in all the glory - and the clock is once again telling the right time. Very soon it will start chiming the hours again, too.


The four clock faces hav been completely stripped back and painted; the numbers have been regilded; and the clock mechanism has been overhauled, all thanks to a grant from the Heritage for London Trust, who also funded the restoration of the dragon weathervane.

We are very grateful for their support.



Saturday, 17 November 2018

Year 5's Remembrance tribute


Hear Year 5 from St James's School's tribute for Remembrance Day in a medley of WW1 songs in their performing arts class here

Friday, 16 November 2018


Sir Simon Hughes; the head boy and head girl of St James's School; vice-chair of the school governors, Jim Hutchinson;  and the vice-chancellor of London Southbank University, at the recent installation of Sir Simon as chancellor of LSBU.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Thank you Simon

Yesterday evening governors and friends of St James's School gathered to say thank you to Sir Simon Hughes for his 24 years service as a school governor, during which time he has been our devoted and enthusiastic Chair of Governors.

Here is Simon receiving from Acting Chair, Jim Hutchinson, a thank you gift from the governors of two historic prints - the first of Southwark Cathedral and the second (shown in the picture) of a nineteenth century parliamentary hustings in Southwark, the two gifts symbolising Simon's active involvement in the religious and political life of our community.

There are many things that I have appreciated about Simon's service to our school, but there is one thing that was in my mind especially last night.

Colin Powell, Director of the Diocesan Board of Education speaking words of appreciation for Simon's service to church schools, in the diocese,  St James, in particular

It is that event that Simon has attended without fail, even with his many responsibilities as a Member of Parliament and, eventually, as a Government minister, and that is our Annual School Leavers service in St James's Church held each July on the last day of the school year.

Bibles and other gifts are presented to each leaver personally by Simon in front of the whole school. What really strikes me is the time that Simon takes in doing it. He is not content with a brief handshake, but says a few words of encouragement to each child individually.

The children presented Simon with paintings they had done of the two school buildings

Simon demonstrates what all of us involved in education actually believe, namely, that the children are the most important people in the school. It is their school. It exists for them and to give them the very best start in life that is possible.

Simon by his actions showed us that every child mattered. That each individual was a precious person, made in the image of God.

His actions and his dedication to the school, made me think of those words of the Lord Jesus, which are surely the inspiration of every church educator: 'let the children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these' (Mark 10.14).

So, thank you Simon, for all you have done for St James's School.

Monday, 12 November 2018

The new world coming

The New World Coming: This year's sermon for Remebrance Day and First World Centenary at St James:


The First World War started on 28th July 1914 and ended exactly a hundred years ago today on 11th November 1918. 70 million people fought in the war. 9 million combatants and 7 million citizens died. Here (above) is a famous photo from 1914 of the Bermondsey Boys taken at the Wellington Barracks in London.


How many of them returned? We don’t know. What we do know is that no less than ten members of the St James Bermondsey Young Men’s Bible Class gave their lives in the conflict between 1914 and 1918, and are commemorated by this brass plate in our church narthex.

Today we remember them: Robert Brittain, George Benson, Stanley Blake, Leonard Cornwell, Owen Giles, Harry Hill, George Moore, Thomas Piper, Thomas Pidgeon, Herbert Talbot.


Under their names on the narthex memorial are these heartfelt words: Those Who Knew Them, Loved Them. And the same could we said by the families and friends of the 16 million who died in the First World War, the 50 million who died in the Second World War and the thousands of who have died in subsequent conflicts.



The scale of the suffering is more than we can take in. And much as we honour and remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the freedom we now enjoy, we must wonder whether there is any end to war, to the pain and suffering this troubled world?



That is where the Book of Revelation comes in. The last book in the Bible is like a window into the future.To a sinful, broken, and suffering world, it speaks its message of hope about the new world that God will bring in in the fullest of time. Let’s look through that window:


We see a new world, and a new people:  


John sees a whole new world, a wonderful replacement for the damaged, polluted, war ravaged, fallen and broken world that we live in.


There is no longer any sea. Why? Because in Revelation the sea symbolises the distance between a holy God and a sinful humanity. In this new world that separation is gone forever


 In this new world, are a new people: God’s people, his church:  






The holy city, the new Jerusalem is the church, the people of God. It comes down from heaven, indicating that the church is God’s creation and God’s idea in the first place. He called it into being, he purchased it with his blood, he guards it by His Spirit, he now brings it to its final earthly home


At any wedding there is a special moment when the groom looks round and for the first time sees his bride beautifully dressed for her big day. In the same way the church, God’s people, is his bride and she too is beautifully dressed. All her sins have been washed away and the church, the people of God, is new, and radiant, and holy


With all this comes: A new way of living for the world:




 As it was at the beginning so it will be at the end. As the Lord walked in the garden of Eden with Adam & Eve  so once more he will dwell on the earth with his people, he will live with them says Revelation. All rebellion, all sin, will have gone: He will live with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God


 And with his presence comes a whole new way of living for the world:





Everything that has disfigured and spoilt this life: death, mourning and pain will be banished from God’s new world


And it a lovely picture of the tender love of God we are told that He will wipe away all tears from their eyes.


How we need to hear that message on Remembrance Day. How we long for that day when God wipes away every tear from our eyes.


And with the new world, the new people, the new spiritual reality, and the new way of living for the world comes:


A new announcement of an old message


Jesus speaks: 



 ‘It is done’ All God’s purposes have been accomplished. All God’s promises have been fulfilled. The great act of redemption and re-creation has been completed.

And then comes an invitation: To anyone who is thirsty I will give the right to drink from the spring of the water of life without paying for it


That invitation has gone out into the world for 2,000 years whenever this book is read this invitation is proclaimed, the living Lord Jesus makes it again this morning to everyone who has not yet responded


It is a drink without cost, because he has paid for it

It is a drink from the water of life because it is do with eternal, life


It is available to everyone who knows their need of it – ie who is thirsty. 

Have you responded? Have you come to the reigning Lord who has done everything for your salvation and now calls you to come to receive it?


If you haven’t may I urge you to respond to his call without delay




Sunday, 11 November 2018

Bermondsey remembers

Here at St Anne's (left) is the magnificent veil of knitted poppies made by St Anne's members and their friends for today's Remembrance Sunday service and Commemoration of the Centenary of the End of the First World War.

In Old Jamaica Road at the memorial of the Queen's Regiment, where the names of over 900 Bermondsey men who died in the First World War, are inscribed, we has our traditional Act of Remembrance in the presence of veterans, the Army cadets, local residents, councillors and former MP, Sir Simon Hughes.

There was a bumper turnout this year, perhaps in view of the WW1 centenary.

It was good to give to all those who attended at Old Jamaica Rd, as well as at St Anne's and St James, a copy of the booklet Silence (you can view it here) which 'invites readers to look back with gratitude for the sacrifice made by many in war, and to reflect on eternal themes of faith hope and love.'


In St James after the service we laid a wreath of poppies at the Boer War Memorial and at the Memorial to the ten members of the St James Church Young Men's Bible Class who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 war.


Here is Michael, one of the young men currently in the congregation, laying the wreath to the members of the Young Men's Bible Class.

In the service it was good to remember those Bermondsey boys by name and to ponder the inscription below their names on the brass memorial tablet which reads 'Those who knew them, loved them.'

That was true of course not just of the ten lads from St James, but of every one of the sixteen million who died in the First World War. The scale of the suffering and the grief that followed is literally unimaginable.

But each person who died was a precious person made in the image of God. Each of them was loved by their families and precious to them, and that's why it is good each year to remember, and then to hear God's message of comfort and hope from his word.

North Bermondsey Ward councillors lay a wreath at the Old Jamaica Rdmemorial



Friday, 9 November 2018

St James's remembers

St James School came to the church today for their annual Armistice Day service.

We were especially thinking of the centenary of the end of the First World War, and, looking at Revelation 21, of the new heaven and new earth that God will bring into being by grace, on the day when he 'wipes every tear' from our eyes.

The children stood in complete silence for the Two-Minutes Silence and then filed out silently on their way back to school to the haunting sound of Elgar's Nimrod.


Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Wipe every tear

Like churches all over the country, St James and St Anne's, will specially be thinking this Remembrance Sunday (10am at St Anne's; 10.30am at St James) about the centenary of the end of the First World War which took place at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918.

Here is a taster of part of a video from the Bible Society which we will be showing in our services.

It is based on the bible reading we will be using on that day, from Revelation 21, and it speaks of the great hope for the world, of the day when God 'makes all things new', when he brings in by his grace the new heaven and the new earth, where suffering and death is no more and where God wipes every tear from our eye:

Friday, 2 November 2018

At LSBU (continued)

From St James School Twitter Feed: Two Year 6 children accompanied Governors Jim Hutchinson & Gary Jenkins to Sir Simon Hughes' inaugaration as Chancellor of London South Bank University. It was a proud day, especially when Hannah & Nathaniel received a name check from the man of the hour! Congratulations to all!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Simon at LSBU

Bermondsey's very own Sir Simon Hughes was today installed as the Chancellor of London South Bank University.

It brought together some of his great passions, south London and the cause of education. The ambassadorial role of the chancellor will play to one of Simon's great strengths - his amazing ability to network and connect with all kinds of people in all walks of life.

Today's ceremony included (with a nod to the Hughes heritage) the choir of the Welsh Chapel at Borough, the choir of Bacon's College (the CoE school in Rotherhithe of which he is chair of governors), and the LSBU singers singing 'Waterloo Sunset'

Sitting there in the Purcell Room of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the foot of Waterloo Bridge, and thinking of LSBU's origin and location on the South Bank, it seemed strangely appropriate to hear that song by the Kinks;

Dirty old river, must you keep rolling, rolling into the night
People so busy, make me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright
But I don't, need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo Sunset, I am in paradise
Every day I look at the world from my window
Chilly chilly is the evening time, Waterloo sunset's fine

An enormously wide range of people had been invited by Simon to the event - from the community in Bermondsey, from Parliament, from other places where he had served and lived, including MPs from all three main parties, Lords, Ladies, and an Olympic champion.

In his speech he welcomed the Head Boy and Head Girl of St James's School (who were present with vice-chair, Jim Hutchinson), and in thanking all those who had loved and supported him over the years he gave thanks for 'my God and my church family.'

It was a very special occasion, a mixture of formality and informality, all marked by that wonderful Hughes care and concern for everyone.

LSBU have a worthy ambassador for their university in their new chancellor.

Monday, 29 October 2018

The Rylands Fragment

A half term trip to Manchester provided the opportunity to view again one of the treasures of that city's John Rylands Library.

Measuring just 9&6cm, this small piece of papyrus (left), dates from between 150 and 200AD and is believed to be the oldest surviving fragment of the New Testament anywhere in the world.

It contains seven lines from John 18.

It's a reminder to us that God's word has been handed down to us through numerous manuscripts that have been patiently copied and passed on for future generations of readers of the Word. From these manuscripts we have our modern English translations of the Bible.

The fragment on display in the John Rylands Library


Friday, 26 October 2018

Through the roof



An extract from last Sunday's sermon from Luke 5.17-26 about the paralysed man who was lowered throught the roof :

'You can imagine the scene.

You can imagine the crowd waiting to hear with baited breath what Jesus would do or say.

I don’t think anyone would have predicted Jesus’s response (VERSE 20): When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the man, “Your sins are forgiven, my friend.”

Isn’t Jesus missing the point? (What about the paralysis?)

Like a good doctor treating a patient he went to the very heart of the problem – to the most serious aspect of their disease – and treated it first.

The skill of the doctor dealing with an accident victim is to deal quickly and effectively with the life threatening conditions first. Other things have to wait till later

This explains the startling response of Jesus to the paralysed man. Jesus said to the man “Your sins are forgiven, my friend.”

Not because the man’s disease was caused by his sin – Jesus scotches that idea elsewhere in the Bible

But because, like an A&E doctor dealing with a road crash victim, he deals with the life threatening, life destroying problem, at the heart of this man’s life first: sin

Paralysis is a horrible condition but sin is worse – it cuts you off from God and separates you from him for eternity

If we had been there we would have seen a sick man; Jesus saw a sinful man, and he knew that that man’s greatness need, as it is mine and as it yours, is forgiveness

Jesus strategy was clear. Deal with sin and then deal with the physical condition after

However, the religious teachers were scandalised by Jesus’s claim to be able to forgive sins.  They said “Who is this man who speaks such blasphemy! God is the only one who can forgive sins!”

They were completely right and they were completely wrong. They were completely right to say only God can forgive sins. If I said to you ‘you’re sins are forgiven’ it would mean nothing. If God says to you ‘your sins are forgiven’ they really are forgiven.

They were completely right to say only God can forgive sins, but they were completely wrong to say Jesus was committing blasphemy in saying it. Why? Because what their blind eyes could not see, was that Jesus, standing there in front of them, was God incarnate, God in the flesh, the Living God, standing there in their presence with the power to forgive sins.  

So to prove that he has authority to forgive sins, Jesus performs a miracle you can see to prove that he has the authority to perform a miracle you can’t see: forgiveness: 24 I will prove to you, then, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, pick up your bed, and go home

And Luke tells us what happened next: 25 At once the man got up in front of them all, took the bed he had been lying on, and went home, praising God. 26 They were all completely amazed! Full of fear, they praised God, saying, “What marvellous things we have seen today!

What marvellous things they had seen. A paralysed man get up and walk home. A sinful man, cleansed and forgiven, by the Son of God.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Remember, remember

Sunday 11th November marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, which ended at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month in 1918.

St James and St Anne's, like many churches, will have special Remembrance Sunday services this year to commemorate this important milestone (10.30am at St James; 10am at St Anne's).

On the day we we will be giving away copies of HopeUK's booklet, Silence, which you can hear about in the video below, together with their project of 100 days of prayer for peace, leading up to 11/11/18:

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Oi, you....


'What does 'Lo' mean?' asked a member of the congregation after church today, pointing at the famous  inscription  under St James's picture, The Ascension of our Saviour.

A quick reference to the Greek of the New Testament, made possible by a passing curate with a smartphone, shows that the King James translators (the inscription under the painting is from Matthew 28.20 in the King James Version) used the English word 'lo' to translate the Greek word 'idou.'

Idou literally means 'look' or 'behold' and it has the sense of: pay attention/sit up and listen/ open your ears and get ready for something really important.

After church we were thinking of a modern equivalent for 'lo' which is not exactly a word you hear bandied around on the streets of Bermondsey.

After a bit of deliberation we decided on 'Oi you lot.'

The really crucial thing of course is the message itself. It was given at the point of the Ascension when Jesus said to the disciples; “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It set out the mission they were to be engaged in, and it assured them of his continuous blessing as they went out to make disciples.

As we follow in their footseteps, seeking to make disciples of all peoples, we can be confident that Jesus will be with us always, too, and that's the really important thing, the thing to sit up, and take notice as the Lord says to us: idou/lo/look/behold/oi you.

PS The link with the King James version also explains the missing 's' on 'alway.' That is simply how that word was spelt in 1611.


Wednesday, 17 October 2018

A message for Bermondsey

Our repair and restoration project on St James's belltower has allowed us, with the help of a Woolwich Area mission grant (thankyou Bishop Karowei and Archdeacon Jane), to replace the rather faded scriptural panels on the front of the church, with some brand spanking new ones, specially designed to blend in with our Grade 2* heritage building.

Above is the first panel being lifted into place, and here is panel 2 being manoeuvered into position:


And here is panel one being fixed in place by the builders:


To get the full effect we await the removal of all the scaffolding, but here is the finished work on the north side. Soon passersby will be able to see both panels.


The first proclaims who Jesus is (I am the way the truth and the life). The second, extends his invitation to the people of Bermondsey to put their trust in him and find the rest that he alone can give (Come to me and I will give you rest).

Out thanks to the funders from the Woolwich Episcopal Area and St James PCC, and to our architects who have skillfully piloted the scheme through to completion.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Men's breakfast, an AGM & a wedding, too

Our new curate, Jacob Mercer, was the speaker at today's Men's Breakfast at St James.

He told us a bit of the story of his life. How a series of events, starting with first his mum then his dad becoming Christians when he was a child, led eventually to his present role of curate (a.ka. vicar in training).

At University he learnt a lot about English Literature (his subject), but he learnt a lot more about following Christ and being a disciple, and, looking back, that was the best bit about being at Uni.

Meanwhile, this afternooon, it was the last of this year's weddings at St James. 

Our love and prayers to Yannick and Toni-Louise as they begin married life together:


After that it was time for the Annual Meeting of the Salmon Youth Centre, said to be the largest Christian youth centre in the country, founded here in Bermondsey in 1907 as the Cambridge Medical Mission Settlement (later Cambridge University Mission).

The meeting was led by Adrian Greenwood (left), the Chair of the Salmon trustees.

During the meeting we heard on video from the elderly daughter of Rev 'Pa Salmon' the orginal founder of the mission.

Walking back from leading a Bible Study in north London to his home in Streatham, 'Pa' walked through Bermondsey and was shocked by the poverty of what was then reckoned to be the most deprived community in London.

He resolved to do something about it with the aid of Christian students from Cambridge, and the rest, as they say, is history.

110 years later the Youth Centre, now bearing the name of its founder, is still going strong, serving the youth people of Bermondsey in the name of Christ.

The Bishop of Woolwich, Bishop Karowei,  leads the Thanksgiving and Commissioning Service which concluded the meeting