Thursday, 13 February 2020

Imagine a world...

Last week our curate, Jacob, took part in a week long mission event at Leeds University (left) and three other colleges.

Jacob was leading the lunchtime events which included a free lunch, talk on subjects such as 'Imagine if pain wasn't pointless,' Imagine a world with no climate crisis,' and 'Imagine a government without all the politics', followed by a question and answer session.

Evening events followed every day, with more food, with live performances by Christian students, an interview, and a talk about following Jesus, with follow up events organised for those who expressed an interest in finding out more about the Christian faith. 

Lots of people came to the events. the Christian students worked well together, many prayers were answered, and the news from Leeds is that there was a really good turnout at the first follow up event which took place this week.

We're looking forward to hearing more about it all from Jacob this Sunday. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Synod observer

The General Synod of the Church of England, comprising bishops, clergy and laity from across the country, is meeting in Westminster this week from Monday to Thursday.

There is a full and varied agenda which includes debates on the relationship of the Channel Islands to the rest of the Church of England, clergy well-being, the governance of cathedrals, human sexuality, the Windrush legacy, safeguarding, the climate emergency, paupers' funerals, children and youth ministry, diocesan boards of education, synod elections, legal aid reform, and the church's effectiveness at communicating with those who live in disavantaged communities.

All this is interspersed with times of prayer and worship, and a refreshing cuppa in the synodical tea room .

Synod meets next in July in York and that is the end of its five year term (or quinquenium). Elections will follow and a new synod will be opened by the Queen in November.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Transforming love

Fernando (left) was the speaker at our Men's Breakfast today at St James.

I first met Fernando when he was working for the London City Mission in Bermondsey.

Currently he is a student pastor at Holy Trinity, Brompton, whilst training for the ordained ministry of the Church of England - as part of which he is currently doing a placement at St James. In the summer, God willing, he will be ordained at St Paul's Cathedral.

Today Fernando told us his story.  When he was born his mother was in prison for drugs offences. As a teenager he got into drugs himself, and drug dealing himelf, and spent some time in prison.

It was the man who came up to him and said 'Fernando, God loves you and has a plan for your life' that set him on a journey that involved rehab, some relapses along the way, and a growing understanding of who Jesus was and what he had done for him, that changed his life.

Fernando knows what it is to be a criminal in the dock facing a judge. Every criminal hopes the judge will be lenient but the judge has to be just, said Fernando. He discovered that Jesus is the judge who stands in the place of criminals (all of us) and bears our punishment, giving us new life.

That's why Fernando wants to give his life telling others about the amazing love of Jesus that transformed his life and can transform any life.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Including all

Each year the clergy of the Woolwich Episcopal Area (our third of the diocese) gather for a study day.

This year's event at St Lawrence, Catford had a special focus on disability and including every one, of all abilities, in the life of the church.

We heard from a number of excellent speakers, including a number who were themselves living with disabilities, had a good chance to catch on with old friends, enjoyed a delicious meal, and had the opportunity to greet Bishop Karowei, at present recovering from illness.

It was a good day with much food for thought.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Having your say

So we've done it. We have brexited.

BermondseyVicar is a non-political blog so I haven't commented on the referendum and the months of debate and controversy that have followed it or the ones that preceded it.

In Bermondsey itself there are remainers and Brexitteers and the borough as a whole, like the whole of London, has been firmly on the remain side.

A class analysis of voting across London and Bermondsey would be interesting, because there is a lot of evidence that working class people are particularly well-represented nationally amongst  Brexiteers. Here's the bit that really troubles me: they have been particularly singled out to be insulted, mocked, and patronised for their decision.

It has been suggested that there were either mislead, misguided, or simply too thick to come up with the 'right' answer.

That's what I find offensive:  the denigration of millions of working class people who have as much right to express their views as anyone else.

Back here in Bermondsey, when I went to cast my vote in 2016 there was a family in front of me: mum, dad, and two teenage kids. They looked like a typical Bermondsey family. 

Of course, I have no way of knowing how any of them voted, but what struck me was their quiet dignity and their determination to have their say. They knew they had as much right to vote as anyone else. And they knew that their vote counted as much as anyone else's.

The Government had asked them their views and they were giving them.

There's one thing that Christians should love about referenda;  every single person, made in the image of God, counts, and everyone gets exactly one vote. I love that biblical equality.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Estates evangelism

To Launde Abbey (left), a retreat house in Leicestershire,  for a two day meeting of the national Church of England estates evangelism project.

An estate parish is described as one with more than 500 units of social housing.

They are reckoned to be 2,500 such parishes in England, of which 185 are in the Diocese of Southwark (the second highest number in the Church of England).

The goal of the estates evangelism initiative is to have a living, worshipping, Christian presence on every social housing estate in the country.

The goal of the two-day meeting at Launde was to draw together partner organisations, represents from the dioceses with the highest number of estates, and members of the project's task group, to review progress and make plans for the future.

The residential ended with each member making a personal commitment to the work of sharing the good news with the people of the estates in our country.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

To the Bridge Theatre in the shadow of Tower Bridge for a magical production based on CS Lewis's novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Brilliantly transferred to the stage, the production tells the story of the four child WW11 evacueess who enter through a wardrobe into  Narnia, a land  under the evil rule of the White Witch, in which it is forever winter but never Christmas.

The children encounter Aslan, the lion, the true king of Narnia who is once again on the move.

When Susan, the older girl, first hears that Aslan is a lion, she is afraid and asks 'Is he safe?' Mr Beaver memorably replies: 'Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He is the king I tell you.'

The story unfolds with betrayal, an innocent victim who gives his life for others, the death of the king, his resurrection, and the children reigning over a renewed Narnia where Spring has come, and those who have been turned to stone by the Witch, come back to life as the lion breathes upon them.

Sounds familiar? To anyone who has read the Bible, this is the best story ever told, transposed to the world of Narnia by CS Lewis, and brilliant retold by the Bridge Theatre.

Here's the trailer for the production which is on  until 2nd February:

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

St James's at the Tate

Steve McQueen's exhibition, A Portrait of London, is based on the idea of capturing a class photo of every year 3 child from the Capital's 2,410 primary schools.

The exhibition is on at Tate Britain until 3rd May and admission is free.

Included in the exhibition are the four year 3 classes from our very own St James's School.

If you want to view them at the Tate they are in section 18 of the exhibition which takes up the whole of the central section of the ground floor of the gallery.

Here are the St James's classes:

Here's the trailer for the exhibition:

An here's just one wall of the exhibition:

Monday, 6 January 2020

Back to school

St James's School started back from the Christmas holidays today with a beginning of term service in church for the Feast of the Epiphany.

We heard the story of the three wise men (left) , and the two kings: Herod and Jesus, as told by Matthew 2.1-12.

We sung some carols for the last time and the children, divided into two teams, took part in an Epiphany quiz on the events described by Matthew.

It was a great start to the beginning of term. Happy New Year everyone and have a great term.

Epiphany quizzing

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Into the New Year

Eighty years ago, in his Christmas Day broadcast to the nation in the first year of the Second World War, King George VI quoted from a poem, The Gate of the Year, which had been given to him by his thirteen year old daughter (our present queen).

As we enter a new year, and a new decade, the words of 'the Gate of the Year' speak again to us:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Congrats Barbara and Lawrence

Congratulations to Barbara and Laurence who celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary at St James today, surrounded by their children, grandchildren, family friends and St James church family.

The happy couple met and married in their native Sri Lanka, before moving to the UK.

Here they are, pictured on their wedding day, New Year's Eve, 1969:

And here is the wonderful cake prepared by their family which was shared by the congregation after the service:

Thanking God for 50 years in St James today

Monday, 23 December 2019

Carols by candlelight

They poured in for Carols by Candlelight at St James last night.

The Sunday School children performed their nativity tableau (left); the music group led us beautifully; Jacob preached and, by general consensus, it was one of our best carol services ever.

Well done to everyone who took part.

Next up: Christmas Eve: Christingle at 5pm; Midnight Communion at 11.15pm.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Friday, 20 December 2019

Fountain restored

Thanks to funding from Southwark Council and the Heritage of London Trust, the drinking fountain in St James's Churchyard has been restored and reconnected to the water mains.

Older readers will remember the days when you could drink from a metal cup attached to the fountain. Then the fountain was disconnected from the mains and for decades has been a purely ornamental feature of the churchyard.

Now, thanks to a desire to cut down on the number of disposable plastic water bottles, drinking fountains are once more being installed in public places, and the Victorian fountains in St James's Churchyard and Southwark Park are the beneficiaries of this movement. 

The St James fountain, which dates from 1886, is a memorial to Nathaniel Montefiore by his widow, Emma, who also paid for the churchyard to be laid out as a public park.

It says of Nathaniel that 'he sought to do the maximum of good with the minimum of notoriety.'

Now the drinking fountain given in his memory is once again in full operation, providing refreshment for thirsty passersby 133 years after it was first installed.

And it is helping the environment in the process.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Pray for Neil

Today in the House of Commons chamber, our newly elected Member of Parliament, Neil Coyle, swore the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen.

You can watch Neil taking his oath here

As we pray for Neil and all MPs it is good to recall the prayer that is used everyday in the House of Commons at the commencment of parliamentary business:

"Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen."

End of term

End of term at St James's School and the whole school came to church this morning for our final Christmas act of worship.

Jacob led the service, Penny gave the talk, the children read the lessons, the children from the Junior Faith Committee led the prayers they had composed for the occasion, and we sang some favourite carols.

It's been a good term and now everyone gets a well-deserved rest. See you all next term and a very Happy Christmas to everyone.

Above: a couple more videos from yesterday's Key Stage 2 carol service. 


Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Joy to the world

St James's Church was packed this afternoon with Key Stage 2 children from St James's School and literally hundreds of parents, grandparenmts, and family friends, for Carols by Candlelight, with contributions from each class and the school choir, the amazing band of forty violinists from year 3, seasonal readings from the Bible telling the Christmas story, and an amazing finale which involved the whole song singing 'O Holy Night' followed by a rumbustuous, joy-filled rendition of Joy to the World which really raised the rafters, and sent us all home rejoicing.

Year 3 violinists - brilliant
Huge congratulations to all the children and all the teachers who made this great celebration of Christmas joy possible on the last but one day of term.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Christmas greetings

Over 5,000 Christmas cards with full details of the Christmas services have gone out around our two parishes over the past couple of weeks.

Here is the St James card:

And here is St Anne's: