Sunday, 29 January 2017

Jesus issues an Executive Order

From across the Atlantic, Executive Orders, are currently coming thick and fast out of the White House.

Last night on the BBC an expert on the US constitution explained what an Executive Order actually is: a direct command from the President to the rest of the government.

Here in Bermondsey this morning we were thinking, with the aid of Mark's Gospel, about the executive order that Jesus gave to the wind ('Be quiet') and to the waves ('Be still!') at the time of a great storm.

In the US, said the constitutional expert, executive orders often come to nothing, either because the idea is impractical, or because Congress or the Constitution forbids it.

In Mark 4 it was very different.

Jesus gave the command and, says Mark, 'the wind died down and there was a great calm.'

So great was the transformation, that the disciples exclaimed in wonder (and here I paraphrase): 'Who is this man? He gives executive orders to the wind and the waves and they obey him!'

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Bermondsey Community Kitchen

A great new video about the work of Bermondsey Community Kitchen at the Blue, one of our best local community projects here in Bermondsey:

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Refreshing wisdom at Wychcroft

It's certainly a bit different from Bermondsey and the grounds of Wychcroft (left), the Diocesan retreat house, looked pretty spectacular today in the bright January sun.

It's amazing to think this tranquil rural spot is (a) part of our diocese and (b) so close to London.

I was there to lead a quiet day entitled, Refreshing Wisdom.

My brief was to bring some of the wisdom from the letters of Peter and James in the New Testament, to members of churches in the diocese had signed up for a day - of refreshing wisdom from the Scriptures.

They were a great group. The Wychcroft food was, as usual, wonderful and the scenery was

Next to the main house is the beautiful simple chapel with its painting of Christ the Worker (right), which I love and which is so appropriate for the Church of England diocese that covers south London and east Surrey, with its millions of workers.

It was good to have time to be quiet, to think, to pray, to relax and to hear the ancient but ever new message of Scripture, as we focussed on who we are, the people of God, ('But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light') and how we are to live (from James), living out the royal law of neighbour love,  not showing favouritism, guarding our tongues.

And it was a special delight to meet again George, who has just celebrated 60 years in the ordained ministry, and his wife, Margaret, and wonderful to hear that in a few days time they will celebrate their Diamond Wedding anniversary. And dear George is still preaching the word, and still ministering in churches well into his ninth decade.Wonderful.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Night Sky over Bermondsey

From St James member, Irene, some pictures showing the night sky, complete with a silhouette of the church. Thanks Irene.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The deplorable dinner

If he had been in Washington on the night of the inauguration, Jesus might well have gone to the DeploraBall. It's the kind of thing he did in his earthly ministry.

Hillary Clinton famously called some of Trump's supporters 'a basket of deplorables' and then some of the deplorables hit back by organising their very own DeploraBall in DC on the day of the presidential inauguration.

Of course, I don't really know what Jesus would have done, but I do know he made a habit of meeting with 'deplorables' and he himself was roundly deplored by just about everyone for doing so.

I like Caravaggio's painting (left) of the calling of St Matthew.

I showed it to the children at assembly in St James's School recently.

It depicts the events of Mark 2.13-17 where Jesus, having called a notorious deplorable (Levi the tax collector) to follow him, is seen eating with a whole bunch of 'tax collectors and other outcasts.'

It was the ultimate DeploraBall and liberal public opinion was predictably scandalised.

As for Jesus, he was unrepentant (if you can use that word of him). 'People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick' he said. 'I have not come to call respectable people but outcasts.'

Personally, I don't think anyone should be called a 'deplorable' but if there are going to be any deplorables around, let's be clear about one thing: Jesus would make a bee line for them.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Building in Bermondsey

Thanks to Pat for these photos from a few years ago of the construction of the flats that now face St James's Church:

The flats as they are today

Thursday, 12 January 2017

New bells

Southwark Cathedral has a new set of bells and as I passed through the Cathedral today I saw one of them being painstakingly winched up into the bell tower, and joined the little crowd that had gathered to watch the spectacle, and to capture it for posterity on their phones - as I did:

The next bell to be winched into place

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Diving under Bermondsey

On the rail tracks running through Bermondsey Network Rail have been busy building something called the 'Bermondsey Dive Under', a kind of rail underpass, all part of the plan to disentangle the tracks coming out of  London Bridge and speed up train journeys.

The new 'dive under' is now open for business and they have just uploaded this video showing the view from the driver's cab as a train travels through it - watch out for a glimpse of St James's Church on the left:

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

King of all the world

We were a couple of days early but today's start of term service for St James's School today in church took an Epiphany theme.

No one know exactly how many wise men there were. There were three gifts, that's for sure, but how many men, Matthew doesn't tell us.

In the school nativity play the wise men arrive hot on the heels of the shepherds, but in the Bible the wise men's visit comes later, possibly much later

They come to see a 'child' not a 'babe lying in a manger.'

Perhaps by the time they arrive the baby is already a toddler? Who knows?

But one thing is certain the mysterious visitors from the East are a kind of foretaste of what is to come, as all across the world, and all through history, foreigners (people like us!) from distant lands, will come to worship Jesus.

The children's song, It was on a starry night, a favourite with the children in our school, gets it right when it says: 'a boy was born, king of all the world.'