Friday, 15 February 2019

Moses: Early Years

Jacob was the speaker in the second instalment of our new Wednesday evening course: Moses: This is Your Life.

We looked at the events of Moses's early life, how he was found in a basket in the river by the king's daughter, and how he was adopted into the king's family, growing up as a prince of Egypt.

Then there was the moment when he killed the Egyptian who had killed a fellow Israelite, followed by a flight into exile, marriage, and the birth of his son.

Many years were to elapse before Moses would return to Egypt. In the meantime the Israelites continued to groan under the yoke of slavery. The cry went up to the Lord and he 'remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.'

Soon he would act and Moses would have a pivotal place in God's plans - but that takes us to after half term when our course resumes.

Monday, 11 February 2019

St Anselm's at St James

Pictured about: the members of St Anselm's Community at Lambeth Palace with Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.  Community members have been spending some time with the archbishop hearing about the joys and challenges for the worldwide church and praying for God's work in the church and the world.

Our very own Simon Lewis (back row, far right), honorary curate of St James and St Anne, is Dean of the Community which draws together young people from all over the world for 'a transformative year of shared life, prayer, study and service.'

As well as organising another deanery outing to Lambeth Palace, scheduled for July, Simon will be bringing some members of the Community to St James on Sunday 3rd March to tell us more about the life and work of this new Christian community, based at the London home of the archbishop.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Men's breakfast

Will Cookson (left) was the speaker at today's Men's Breakfast at St James.

Will is the Dean of Fresh Expressions in the Diocese of Southwark. This means he has the task of encouraging new forms of church life throughout the Diocese.

Today Will was speaking to us about his own story of faith. It was as a teenager, from a non-churchgoing home, that Will began to be aware of God drawing close to him.

He started praying, and reading the Bible, and reading Christian books from the public library. And he phoned the local vicar and asked if he could be confirmed.

People often come to faith through a friend  but that's not how it was for Will. It seemed God contacted him direct.

In time he met up with a Christian group at university and his faith grew through this. Later he worked in the world of business before sensing the call to ordination.

A key thought here was: if I am sharing the Gospel with someone I am involved in a work, the results of which will last for eternity.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Thanksgiving service

To mark the completion of the restoration work on St James's Church we are holding a Service of Thanksgiving at 10.30am on Sunday 17th March, at which the Archdeacon of Southwark, Jane Steen, will be our guest preacher.

Stonework repairs on the bell tower and portico, and the restoration of the clockfaces and dragon weathervane, together with earlier repairs of the church roof means that the external fabric of the building is now in good shape.

The church is not the building, but the people, but it is nonetheless a cause of thanksgiving that this work on our beautiful heritage building at the heart of Bermondsey has been completed.

Please note the date and aim to join us on March 17th.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Pharaoh, watch out!

Our new Wednesday evening course, Moses: This Is Your Life,  for St James and St Anne's got off to a great start last night.

We started with a delicious chicken curry cooked by Jacob, and then we got stuck into the first episode in the story of Moses from Exodus chapter one, looking at how a place of refuge became a prison, how a midwife became a secret agent, and how death came to the Nile.

The people of Israel were flourishing in the land of Egypt, but the were doing just a bit too well, and they were starting to alarm the king who was becoming fearful of their numbers, their power and influence.

He sets out on a horrible genocidal plan to kill all the new born Hebrews boys. He is initially outsmarted by two  wily and God-fearing midwives, but that only leads him to step up the pressure all the more.

Tables laid, ready for everyone to arrive

What the Hebrews are going to need is a saviour - and that's where this story is going...

Last night in our discussion groups we asked people this question at the end: 'If you could say something to the King of Egypt, what would you say?'

There were some great answers: 'let my people go;' 'never underestimate a woman' (a reference to the heroic midwives);' 'watch out;' 'don't mess with God;' and, my favourite: 'you'll be sorry.'

The good news man

Saddened today to hear of the death of Michael Green, a great man of the Gospel.

I only heard him speak on a couple of occasions but I have gained so much from his books, particularly as a young Christian.

He was a great,wise, and warm hearted evangelist, who loved nothing more than to share the good news about Jesus - something he was still doing as a hospital patient in the last days of his life. (According to Twitter he wrote from hospital saying: 'I want you all to know that I am full of inner joy and have lots of  opportunities to share the gospel')

He could write weighty, books of  theology. I particularly remember his book, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, and his 570 page blockbuster, Evangelism through the Local Church.

But he also had the knack of communicating the Gospel clearly, simply, and humourously to those outside the faith. One of his best books in this area was 'You Must Be Joking', subtitled 'Popular excuses for avoiding Jesus Christ' in which he answered the common objections to Christianity that had been posted to him by the 'jokers' he had met during his long ministry.

It was a model of how to communicate Christian truth.

So, thank you Michael, and thank you God for your wonderful servant who proclaimed with boldness and love 'the unsearchable riches of Christ.'

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Good news for the poor?

To St Laurence, Catford for the annual Woolwich Area (our third of the Diocese) clergy study day. This year's theme was 'Mission to the Poor.'

In the morning we had talks by Dr William Atkinson, an Elim Pentecostal theologian, and Liz Adekunle, the Archdeacon of Hackney, both encouraging us to engage with the Bible's teaching on mission and ministry to the poor.

Before lunch and mid-day prayer we had the chance to hear from two agencies, Mercy Ships and Peckham-based Pecan, engaged in sharing God's love in practical ways with those in need.

After lunch there was the chance to hear from the Diocesan Vocations Team speak about their work in encouraging vocations to lay and ordained ministry. It was good to hear of a big increase in those coming forward for ordination, particularly younger people.

Great strides forward are being made in encouraging a greater diversity in terms of race and gender of those offering for ordination but one senses that class is a harder nut to crack.  How many people from working class backgrounds are offering for ordination?

In the Q&A time one questionner recalled the Ordained Local Ministry scheme (now abolished) which sought to foster vocations among those from non-traditional backgrounds.

It was suggested in reply that the OLM scheme was abolished because it made people feel they were second class citizens.

Actually, your blogger believes it was the abolition of the scheme that made a whole group of  people feel they were second class citizens - but don't get me started on that one.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Bringing back the joy

The Bermondsey Joyslide (above) is much missed by the generations of Bermondsey children who, from 1921 until the 1980s, loved to play on it.

But, plans are afoot for a new Joyslide for St James's Churchyard and architect Fergus Carr (right), great great grandson of the original donor of the slide (Arthur Carr, chairman of Peek Freans Biscuit Factory), is greatly assisting in this project with all his skill and ingenuity, and we have just heard of a further grant of £4,000 from Southwark Council's Cleaner Greener Safer project towards the project.

So a big thank you to Councillors Anood, Hamish, and Eliza, to Fergus, and the Friends of St James's Churchyard who are sponsoring the project - and look out for Bermondsey's new joyslide for the 21st century.

Arthur Carr at the opening of the first joyslide