Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A year in view

From tonight's annual meeting, a video of the year's highlights for St James and St Anne's churches:

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Old Bermondsey

Click on the picture for an enlarged view

A friend sent me a photo of this map of Bermondsey showing St James's Church surrounded by fields in the days before the railway criss-crossed the parish - and that is the clue to the date of the map.

The railway came in 1836. The church was built in 1829. So the map shows Bermondsey sometime between 1829-1836, a country village on the banks of the river, dominated by a pristine new church.

Just a few years later and in the picture below, the church peeps out from behind the railway viaduct, but the foreground still suggests a predominantly rural scene.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Queen's faith

On the occasion of her 90th birthday, ten quotations from the Queen, reflecting her heartfelt Christian faith ((From Christian Today) and happy birthday, Your Majesty:

1. "I have been – and remain – very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for his steadfast love. I have indeed seen his faithfulness." (Foreword for The Servant Queen)

2. "It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it'... Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ's unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another." (Christmas message, 2015)

3. "For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ's example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none." (Christmas message, 2014)

4. "For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God's love, as we strive daily to become better people. The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach." (Christmas message, 2013)
5. "This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son 'to serve, not to be served'. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others. The carol, In The Bleak Midwinter, ends by asking a question of all of us who know the Christmas story, of how God gave himself to us in humble service: 'What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part'. The carol gives the answer: 'Yet what I can I give him – give my heart'. (Christmas message, 2012)

6. "Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive... It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord." (Christmas message, 2011)

7. "One of the things that has not changed all that much for me is the celebration of Christmas. It remains a time when I try to put aside the anxieties of the moment and remember that Christ was born to bring peace and tolerance to a troubled world." (Christmas message, 2006)

8. "For me, as a Christian, one of the most important of these teachings is contained in the parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus answers the question, 'Who is my neighbour?' It is a timeless story of a victim of a mugging who was ignored by his own countrymen but helped by a foreigner – and a despised foreigner at that. The implication drawn by Jesus is clear. Everyone is our neighbour, no matter what race, creed or colour. The need to look after a fellow human being is far more important than any cultural or religious differences." (Christmas message, 2004)

9. "To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ's words and example." (Christmas message, 2000)

10. "I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning, I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God. Like others of you who draw inspiration from your own faith, I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel." (Christmas message, 2002)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Bishop and the holy angels

Bishop Michael came to St James's School today to dedicate the four new classrooms at Old Jamaica Rd, to meet the children, and to speak at assembly.

Sir Simon Hughes, our chair of governors, and some of the other governors were there, too.

In each of the new classrooms Bishop Michael prayed a prayer of blessing and all the children said a loud 'Amen'. Each time he prayed: 'may he send his holy angels to watch over you.' That was a nice touch.

One of the Reception class children asked Bishop Michael how old he was. The Bishop confided that he had just had his 58th birthday. 'You don't look that old' said one of them. 'You look 27' said one of the others, making the bishop's day.

You can watch a video of one of the classroom blessings by clicking on the picture below, and you watch a video of today's assembly by clicking on the picture under that


Monday, 18 April 2016

Worship night & much else besides

It's been a busy few days at St James's.....

Sunday night and the church rocked with the Worship Night (left), organised by Fernando and Tim who are working locally with the London City Mission.

I think it was the loudest worship band I have ever heard (or am I just getting old?) but it was great to see the church packed with young people, praising the Lord and hearing his word.

A much calmer atmosphere prevailled the previous day when the ladies of the parish sat down for their latest Women's Breakfast, with Jenny Deeprose (right), the 'Cheese Lady' from Redhill, for an intriguing cheese-themed talk, that included not only samples of various cheeses, but references to cheese in the Bible, Jenny's work as a cheese judge, and the story of her own spiritual journey. Excellent.

Meanwhile this morning, it was the first day of term at St James's School, and the children poured into church for their beginning of term the rigours of the coming term.

Welcome back everybody and have a great term.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

A churchfull of preachers

Readers are official Church of England lay preachers and service leaders. They aren't 'Revs' but they are trained and licensed by the Bishop to minister in parish churches as lay ministers.

Here at St James and St Anne we are fortunate to have two: Penny and Adrian. Nationally there are more than ten thousand of these excellent people.

Over the last three days, the Readers in our three episcopal areas in our diocese (Woolwich, Kingston and Croydon) have been meeting for their annual meetings and rededication services.

Invited by Bishop Michael (the Warden of Readers), Wilma, a vicar from Balham and me have formed a kind of travelling roadshow, giving a bit of training input to the Readers, first at St Mary, Peckham (on Thursday night) and today at St Mark's, Wimbledon, and St Mildred's, Addiscombe.

Its been great to meet the Readers, and both a privilege and a challenge, as preachers ourselves, to speak to a whole churchfull of preachers - three times over.

For me, it was the chance to speak about a personal hero, Charles Simeon (right), a great preacher from the past, still able to encourage and challenge preachers today.

A few years ago, I wrote a booklet about Simeon, a man from the 20th century strongly influenced by him called John Stott, and the impact that the Simeon-Stott tradition of preaching still has today. You can order a paper copy here or get the ebook version.

Simeon was a brainy fellow but he was also a very humble man and I like the way he approached God's word in the Bible. This is what he said about how he started off as a young vicar and a new preacher at the age of 23: 

In the beginning of my inquiries I said to myself, "I am a fool; of that I am quite certain." One thing I know assuredly, that in religion of myself I know nothing. I do not therefore sit down to the perusal of the Scriptures in order to impose a sense on the inspired writers, but to receive one, as they give it to me. I pretend not to teach them, I wish like a child to be taught by them.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Battersea to the Barrier via Bermondsey

A video of the recent consultation held at Lambeth Palace, Battersea to the Barrier, about the huge developments planned for the nineteen riverside parishes that stretch from Battersea to Thamesmead, and which include St James's parish:

Battersea to the Barrier from LMedia on Vimeo.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The bride came by cab

Congratulations to Kate Greenwood, daughter of Adrian and Marian, and James Lush who were married today at St James.

Bill Garlick, former Ordained Local Minister at St James, preached (great sermon); current Ordained Local Minister, Stan, led the prayers; I led the service; and St James organist, Nick, did a brilliant job on the organ including, prior to the service, a medley of Beatles songs.

It was quite a service. We wish Kate and James every blessing in their married life together.

And the bride came by cab? Yes but her chaffeur was a knight of the realm - near neighbour and long term family friend, Simon Hughes:

Friday, 1 April 2016

Empty tomb, full church, Easter joy everywhere

It was the end of term service in church for St James's School today, the second service to be planned by the Junior Faith Committee, and the time to announce the winners of the Easter Egg Competition that the children had been taking part in over the Easter weekend. Judging was hard because the standard was so high, but in the end we chose four winning entries from Key Stage 1 and four from Key Stage 2, with prizes for the most artistic creation and the best representation of the true meaning of Easter.

There were some very imaginative entries including a beautiful tortoise made from an egg box - lift up the shell and you could see eggs inside - and an envelope with a picture of Jesus's tomb including a stone with the words 'Open me!' written on it.

It was so good I used a bigger version for my talk.

So what happened when we followed the instructions to 'open me.' 'What was inside the envelope? Who wants to come and see?' I asked. Five hundred hands shot up.

I chose a girl from key stage one. What's inside it? I asked. 'Nothing' she replied 'it's empty.'

'What's that got to do with Easter?', I asked the school.

They got it immediately. When the women went to the tomb, it was empty. Jesus was alive. Hallelujah.

During an action packed service there were prayers by the children, a memory verse from Paul, and an amazing set of songs by the school Gospel Choir (right) that had everyone tapping their feet and praising the Lord with Easter joy.

It was a great end to the term and now everyone, teachers and children alike, can enjoy a well-deserved REST.

See you all on 18th April.

St James Gospel Choir

Freedom for Bermondsey?

If Scotland can leave the UK, if the UK can leave the EU, why can't Bermondsey leave the London Borough of Southwark?

That's the daring thought of a group of local activists in a new campaign, to be launched today (1st April) at well-known local pie and mash shop.

Their aim is to restore independence to the borough of Bermondsey.

It's a move commentators are already calling Bermexit.

Watch this space for developments.
The Evening Standard reporting on Brian Hayes' funeral at St James here