Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Into the Lion's Den

A really good summer production from the year 1 and 2 children at St James's School, this afternoon, retelling in word and song the story of Daniel.

Was it just coincidence or a piece of inspiration that the boy who played King Darius was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan 'I Make My Own Rules?'

Well done to everyone who took part.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Thank you, Stan

After a lifetime in Bermondsey, Stan and Pat Catton have moved to Sidcup to be close to their children and grandchildren, and so today we had a special united service of St James and St Anne's to say a big thank you to them, and to send them on their way with our fondest love and heartfelt prayers.

In his sermon, Stan spoke about how God called Moses, about how God called him to be an ordained local minister in Bermondsey, and how God's call reaches out to everyone.
Stan & Pat and the churchwardens

It was a powerfully moving sermon that was greeted with a spontaneous round of applause by the congregation.

Later we presented them with gifts; they cut the cake that we shared later; and the congregation gave them a standing ovation.

Then, with the sun shining, we all sat down to a bring and share lunch in the churchyard.

There were piles of food. There was lots of happy laughter - and lots of reunions with old friends, including my immediate predecessor as vicar, Stewart and Rosemary, his wife, who were with us for this special celebration.

With members of the Rhema Church who share our building
The good news is that the Cattons aim to keep in close touch and Stan will still assist with services from time to time at St James or St Anne's, but today was the moment to say a very big thank you to them for all they have contributed to God's mission in Bermondsey and all that they have meant to us.
We shall miss them. May God bless them!


Saturday, 25 June 2016

Barry remembered

A few days after his death I received a letter from Barry Albin-Dyer (which he had written a year or so before) and which, along with a number of other such letters, has been stored  in the Albins safe, pending his passing.

I already knew about the letter because Barry had told me about it one day when we met for lunch.

It contained his wish for his memorial service to be held at St James's Church, where he was married and where he had had close links over the years, not least through being chair of governors at St James Primary School.

And so today, a year after his death, his family, his work colleagues and the many members of the local community who treasure the memory of 'Mr Bermondsey,' met for a service of thanksgiving in the church this morning.

We heard the story of an amazing life that had touched thousands of people in Bermondsey.

Barry's sons, Simon and Jon, spoke of 'Barry the Family Man', Greg at Albins told us about 'Barry the Guv'nor' and Sir Simon Hughes led us in thinking about 'Barry the Community Man.' And three of his young grandsons delighted the congregation with their wonderful memories of a beloved grandad.

At the end of the service Bishop Michael brought greetings from the Bishop of Southwark and gave the blessing. It was good to have him with us before his move to Lichfield.

In my address I spoke on John 14.1-6, a favourite passage of Barry's. Here Jesus speaks of the 'Father's house' and of himself being 'the way the truth and the life.' It speaks of the reality of heaven, of life after death.

It proclaims the truth that death is not the end and that Jesus is the way to the Father and to eternal life.

It brings us hope in the face of death and bereavement.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Lights, camera, action

While the nation was coming to terms with the result of the referendum, rejoicing or reeling, (depending on your viewpoint),  St James's Churchyard, was the location for the filming of a scene for the Sky drama 'Lucky Man.'

Watch out to see the churchyard and the church appear in due course in the crime drama, starring James Nesbitt.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Baptised, confirmed, farewelled

It was a special day yesterday for our churches.

In the morning at St James two children, Mia and James, were baptised, alongside two adults Katie and Joanne (left) who were going to be confirmed later in the day.

In the afternon it was time to bid a fond farewell to Bishop Michael at a special service at St Mary's, Lewisham.

Sir Simon Hughes (right) gave an excellent tribute, Bishop Christopher led the service, and Bishop Michael preached.

Now Bishop Michael moves to his native midlands to be Bishop of Lichfield. We shall miss him and wish him God's richest blessing in his new role.

From Lewisham it was a quick dash to St Katharine's, Bermondsey for the Bermondsey DeaneryConfirmation, presided over by Bermondsey's resident bishop, Graham Kings, Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion and, when he's not travelling the world, a member of St James.

There were ten candidates from St James and St Anne's (below). May God bless them.

Friday, 17 June 2016

In Parliament Square, praying

Earlier this evening, before the main vigil, there was a vigil of prayer and Scripture readings held in Parliament Square at the foot of Winston's Churchill statue, organised by the Christian groups from the main parties.

The Lib Dem Christian Fellowship, the Conservative Christian Fellowship, and Christians on the Left, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, joined together in remembering Jo Cox and in praying for her family.

To be there in that place on this day made me profoundly grateful for our parliamentary democracy and for all our elected representatives who serve us both nationally and locally.

I was reminded of Bishop Michael's prayer when he visited St James's School: 'may God send his holy angels to watch over you.' That's a good prayer to pray for our politicians, too.

Jim, servant of the Lord

Sad news from the Salmon Youth Centre about the sudden death of Jim Guild, a great Christian man who served the children and young people of Bermondsey for more than 26 years both in his official capacity as Administrator at Salmon and in his extraordinary work in a voluntary capacity with the 6-9 year old clubs.

The Salmon website has this message:

"It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden death of our beloved co-worker and brother in Christ Jim Guild, Administrator and HR Manager at Salmon Youth Centre since 1990. Jim was taken ill on his way to work on Thursday 16th June and died in Barnet Hospital.

He touched the lives of so many people in Bermondsey, especially through the 6-9's club and was proud to be working with the children of the parents who attended club in the 1990s.

Jim was a committed Christian who served the Lord with every ounce of energy he had. As Christians, we believe that this is not the end for Jim and that he will enjoy the hope of resurrection and experience of meeting his saviour face to face.

Further information about the funeral and thanksgiving will be announced shortly. Jim is survived by his mother and two sisters."

Thursday, 16 June 2016

 A sad day for our country.

It was during this afternoon's meeting of the governing body of St James's School that we heard the horrible news of the death of Jo Cox MP.

At the end of our meeting we prayed for her husband, her children, and all our elected representatives.

She lived on a boat on the Thames, just across the river from us here in Bermondsey. Tonight her family are in the thoughts and prayers of a whole nation.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Gracious and serene

For the Queen's 90th Birthday Celebrations on Sunday in St James's Churchyard, St Anne's member, Alan, wrote this poem:

To celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday

On the occasion of her birthday we people of Bermondsey
send greetings and congratulations to her majesty 
for the longest reign there's ever been
At all times gracious and serene
may God grant you and your loyal
Prince Philip many more years
with little reason for tears and cares
for you and your family royal
May the coming years be years of peace and tranquility
with this your great United Kingdom strong in its unity
and give many further occasions for joy and delight
to show the world that darkness can be overcome by light
So from St James's churchyard green
let's lustily give three cheers for Elizabeth our Queen

Monday, 13 June 2016

Happy Birthday Ma'am

It was a right royal Bermondsey celebration with the congregation overflowing into the galleries to thank God for Her Majesty's 90th birthday.

Orginally planed to be outside - what they call 'the Queen's weather' necessitated a retreat indoors for a wonderful service of thanks and praise.

In my sermon I said 'She has kept her promise.'

As a young woman of 21 the Queen had said: 'I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.' And it has - for the last 69 years, during 64 of which she has been our sovereign.

Quoting Psalm  21.7, 'The king trusts in the LORD Almighty; and because of the LORD'S constant love he will always be secure,' I said the Queen had trusted in God throughout her life, and had witnessed to her own faith in Jesus Christ, most notably in her Christmas broadcasts.

During the service we prayed for the Queen, we heard stories of members of the congregation who had met the Queeen or seen her, and before a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and three cheers for Her Majesty, the whole church was clapping and rejoicing in a wonderful raise-the-roof rendition of  'We are marching in the light of God', complete with our Bermondsey verse ('we are serving God in Bermondsey') and a special new verse for the day: 'We are thanking God for our Queen.'

Prayers of thanksgiving for the Queen

A Right Royal Bermondsey Celebration

After our indoor service of thanksgiving, it was time for the Community Fun Day in the Churchyard.

First the rain eased, then it stopped, and then the sun came out.

There was a barbeque; free copies of the 'Servant Queen'; face painting; crown making; a chance to design a new joy slide; coconut shies; hook a duck; DJ Danny and some wonderful community Karaoke; the chance to visit the Fire Engine and meet the fire fighters of the London Fire Brigade; an ice cream van, kept busy all afternoon; and, thanks to our friends at Grosvenor (owners of the biscuit factory), a full size Helter Skelter which arrived on a lorry at seven o'clock in ther morning - and, everything (except the ice cream) was free.

Queuing for the coconut shies
 It was a right royal Bermondsey celebration.

Meet the fire fighters
A nice bit of Cockney Karaoke: 'Give me a London girl everytime'

Dancing in the churchyard

Coconut shies were a hit with the kids
Bermondsey's definitely got talent
Face painting

Thinking up ideas for a new joy slide

Hook a duck

Some of our wonderful cooks
Isn't that the church administrator?

1200 copies of the Queen at 90 have been given away over the weekend, 
including to our great team from the London Fire Brigade

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Queen at 90

Our weekend of celebrations for the Queen's 90th birthday got off to a great start today when the children of St James's School came to church for a special royal service of thanksgiving.

During the service we heard about
three things given to the Queen at her Coronation: a crown; anointing with oil; and 'the most precious thing that this world affords' - more precious, we told the children, than the Crown Jewels themselves - the Bible.

During the service, Sir Simon Hughes, chair of governors, Mrs Willis, our headteacher, and the Head Boy and Head Boy each received copies of the book The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.

Later we toured all the classrooms to distribute a copy to every child and to every member of staff.

At end of the service the children enthusiastically joined in with the 'special prayer that we sing for our Queen': the National Anthem, and then they really raised the roof as they gave three cheers for Her Majesty the Queen.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Questions for Simon

Who was Simon Hughes's first pet, what is his favourite hymn, and what question would he ask God?

The United Reformed Church's magazine, Reform, asked Simon twenty questions and these were the answers

Making the Bishop's day

From the Southwark diocesan newspaper, The Bridge, this account of Bishop Michael's visit to St James Primary School, when the children made the bishop's day:

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Royal celebration

Not long to go until our celebrations for the Queen's 90th Birthday - in the churchyard on Sunday 12th June.

We start with an Open Air Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving at 10.30am, followed by a Community Fun Day with disco, barbeque, dancing, bouncy castle, coconut shies, a fire engine and, thanks to our friends at Grosvenor, a full size Helter Skelter.

Everything is free. Everyone is welcome.

It will be a great Royal Bermondsey Celebration