Friday, 18 September 2020

Life in a pandemic

 

I've been reading these novels alongside each other, one from the 18th century by Daniel Defoe, one from the 20th by Albert Camus. Both explore life in a pandemic. 

 
Neither could be recommended if you're wanting to cheer yourself up, but they are full of so many insights and points of contact with our current experience.
 
This from Camus is particularly powerful:
 
 'A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogey of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn't pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away.....
 
Our townspeople were not more to blame than others, they
forgot to be modest - that was all - and thought that everything was still possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible. 
 

 They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like a plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views? 
 
They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.'

Bermondsey Daily Message 150

 Wow! We have reached our 150th Bermondsey Daily Message:

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Get ready for the Bermondsey harvest festival

Today we have been out filming for our online Bermondsey Community Harvest Festival which will go live on YouTube during the first weekend in October.

From Russell's fish stall at the Blue, to Maltby Greek under the arches, to Nancy's flower shop in Jamaica Rd, to all the things we buy and enjoy from the local supermarkets, like the Co-Op in Thurland Rd, all the benefits of God's wonderful harvest will be celebrated in our online harvest festival.



Harvest is also a time, not just for giving thanks, but also for sharing and this year, as every year, we will be collecting non-perishable foods for the work of the Manna Society at London Bridge in its work among homeless people - so our last visit was to Manna to speak to the director, Bandi Mbubi.

I first got to know Bandi in 1991 when, soon after he became a Christian, he joined the congregation at St Luke's, West Norwood, where I was the curate. It was excellent to see him again and wonderful to think of all the good work that Manna does and how our harvest gifts can make such a difference to so many people.

We've still got some filming to do down at the allotments, but it looks like our Bermondsey Community Harvest Festival is going to be a great event - look out for it here, on Facebook, and on YouTube during the first weekend of October.


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Blitz over Bermondsey

Eighty years ago this month the bombs started falling on Bermondsey and they continued to fall for 57 consecutive days.

The first day of the Blitz, 7th September, was a terrible one for our community with 23 people killed on Linsey Street and 29 dying when  Keeton School, which was being used as a rest centre, was hit. In all, in 1940 Bermondsey experienced 395 air raids in the space of three months.
 
Here is today's Bermondsey Daily Message from the crypt of St James's Church which was used as an air raid shelter during the war:


 
 
On the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the blitz Sir Simon Hughes said this on Twitter: 'We must never forget the price paid by our communities at home during WW2, always be thankful for the transformation of Germany into a great, democratic and peace-loving ally, & always be watchful & prepared should others use force to take freedom from their own people or others.' Wise words.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Bermondsey Daily Message 147

A Bermondsey Daily Message special about a special couple who had a big impact on the people of Bermondsey:


Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Church Assembly at St James School

Every Tuesday at St James's School the church ministry team lead acts of collective worship for all the children on both sites of the school, Old Jamaica Rd and Alexis Street.

Covid regulations mean that assemblies have to take place in 'class bubbles' and, for the time being, whole school or even half school assemblies are a thing of the past.

So our weekly church assemblies are going online and here is the first one from Jacob - in their classes the children will have the opening words of worship we use for every assembly, will say the Lord's Prayer and will sing God's praose - but here is the talk with the Bible message for today:

Monday, 7 September 2020

Remembering the Mayflower

 

On Friday night we were privileged to be part of a wonderful Mayflower commemorative cruise along the Thames to Blackwall (where the pilgrims embarked in 1620), that included 17th century music, an escort through the precints of the Tower of London by the Yeoman of the Guard, the scattering of roses on the river in memory of the 102 pilgrims and the reading of their names, together with prayers and readings from the King James Bible, just 9 years old in 1620.
 
 
 There were two boats, the sailing barge shown, and a larger City Cruises vessel that carried most of the party, including the group from St James, from this boat I and the other ministers led the act of commemoration and thanksgiving. A most memorable evening.




And here is our Bermondsey Daily Message about the voyage of the Mayflower:


Bermondsey Daily Message 144

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Mayflower: the London dimension

I have just finished this book.by local author and historian Graham Taylor.

Graham's book is full of insight and interest, not least the focus it gives to the crucial London dimension of the Mayflower story, and its brilliant explanation of who the pilgrims were, what motivated them, and what they bequeathed to us in terms of the freedom of religion and the right for individuals to live according to their conscience. 

 It's an excellent read, full of fascinating detail. I particular enjoyed reading the names the pilgrims gave to their children: eg Humility, Resolved, Desire, Wrestling, Love (a boy),  and the baby that was born on the voyage, Oceanus.

Back to church Sunday

 Here's the scene at St Anne's, ready for our first socially-distanced, Covid-friendly Sunday service since the lockdown began.

It's been twenty four Sundays since we have been together, and it was good to be back at St James and St Anne's, even if the Covid regulations made the seating arrangements and the content of the service somewhat different from usual.

 

Socially distanced worship in St James, downstairs and also in the gallery upstairs

 Recognising not everyone would be able or comfortable to attend live worship, our online services continued as usual, and here is today's service: