Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The three nails

It was good to welcome Robins class from year 3 of Southwark Park primary School to St James this afternoon, and we are looking forward to welcoming Sparrows class next week.

It was their first visit to St James's Church. We started off in the gallery to get a panorama of the church.

Then downstairs we gathered round the font to see how we do baptisms. Then we saw the big book with stories about Jesus - the Bible. Then the picture of Jesus ascending into heaven.

Then we talked about Communion, the special meal Jesus left us to remember him, and how we eat the bread and drink the wine. Then they had LOTS of questions. They were a lively and inqusitive group.

Everyone got to handle the special cup and the special plate, dating from 1829, that we use for communion, and we noticed that on the cup and the plate, in addition to the cross, there are three nails (I wonder how many of the congregation have noticed them?)

Why are there three nails?  Because the nails were put through Jesus hands and his feet.

One of the children then noticed that in the Ascension picture you can still the nail marks in Jesus hands and on his feet.

It seems strange that we want to remember something so horrible, but we do, because it shows us how much Jesus loves us, dying for us on the cross, I told the children.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Men's breakfast

Martin Davy (left), the curate at St Lawrence, Morden, is our speaker at our next Men's Breakfast on Saturday 3rd February at 8.30am at St James.

A full cooked breakfast plus the chance to hear Martin speak about the story of his faith - what could be better?

To book a place please email the church office

Monday, 22 January 2018

Getting ready for Alpha

The Alpha course starts at St James on Wednesday 7th February at 7pm.

Alpha is a great way to explore your faith and deepen your faith.

To join the course please email the church office here

To get the flavour of the Alpha course, have a look at this video of session one of the film version of the course. (We will be giving live talks at St James, not using video, but the film gives you the idea of what the course is about): 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

At school assembly, understanding about the loaves

When Jesus came to them walking on the water (as I told the children at assembly at St James's School this morning), Mark reports that the disciples were 'completely amazed.'

Or we might say, gobsmacked, or, what one of the children said with disarming honesty about how they would have felt: 'scared.'

Then Mark throws in that marvellous one liner by way of explanation: 'they had not understood about the loaves' (Mark 6.52), he tells us.

What is there not to understand about a loaf, you might ask, and what connection has that got with a man walking on water?

The clue is in the previous incident in Mark's Gospel: the feeding of 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish and then you can begin to see how Mark's brilliant bible logic works.

The feeding of the five thousand reveals Jesus's divine identity.

He is the creator, clothed in human flesh, doing only what the creator can do - make stuff from nothing.

Once you understand about the loaves, or rather what they reveal about Jesus, you can take a bit of water-walking in your stride (pardon the pun).

The one who made the waves can walk on them also (if he so wills it).

The disciples amazed reaction at Jesus walking on the water, shows, in Mark's wonderful logic, that they had not yet really understood about the loaves. In fact, he said their 'hearts were hardened.'

What they needed, and what we all need, and what I pray for all the lovely children at our school, is that God will soften our hearts, enlighten our minds, and open our eyes to see who Jesus really is, fully God, and fully man.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Bermondsey Deanery

Coat of Arms of the old Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey
A Deanery Synod has been described as 'a group of Anglicans waiting to go home', but our deanery here in Bermondsey is a lot better than that.

It helps that we are a small deanery, seven parishes, plus the Norwegian Church and the Finnish Church. We get to know each other. and enjoy each other's company.

We just about cover the whole spectrum of the Church of England, but we get on well, and we all have in common the fact that we serve this unique corner of God's world, called Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

Yesterday it was announced that Bishop Christopher had appointed me as Area Dean of Bermondsey, to succeed my next door neighbour, Mark Nicholls, our previous dean and Rector of St Mary, Rotherhithe.

It's a great honour and I am looking forward to continuing to enjoy friendship and fellowship with my fellow clergy in the chapter, and working alongside, Adrian Greenwood, Lay Chair of the Deanery Synod, who does so much to ensure our deanery synods are worth attending.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Joy & the community

I was sitiing in the community council meeting feeling very warm to Southwark Council, and it wasn't just because they had given a grant to the Joyslide project - more about that below - rather it was the sight of our ward councillors for Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

They are drawn from two different political parties and they don't agree on everything but I am impressed by their commitment to the area, their public spiritedness, and by their desire to make Bermondsey a better place.

People often criticise 'the Council' - I have done so myself on occasions - but let's have three cheers for local democracy and our local councillors of both parties. Thank you for all that you do, for your hard work, and dogged persistence. 

And then while we are still cheering, here's the good news about the Joyslide project. At last night's Community Council, thanks to the support of our councillors in Riverside Ward, the Bermondsey Joyslide project was awarded a grant of £12,000 from the Council's Greener, Cleaner, Safer project. Meanwhile plans for the new joyslife for the twenty first century are advancing and you can see further details here and even make a donation here

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

When the Queen came to Bermondsey

I love this video because it shows what I really love about Bermondsey: its people; their warmth and their welcome. And in terms of royal patriotism, second to none.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Remembering Mary-Jane

To All Saints Church, Milford on Sea, in Hampshire for a service of thanksgiving for the life of Mary-Jane Donaldson.

Mary-Jane and Ed had been members of St James for a number of years before they relocated to Hampshire, and a group from Bermondsey including Sir Simon Hughes and many from the ladies bible study group, travelled by train to give thanks for Mary-Jane's life yesterday.

Always active in God's work, full of God's love and compassion, Mary-Jane was a great encourager and a great enthusiast.

It was good yesterday to hear about the differnt strands of Mary-Jane's life and to consider the impact she had had on so many people, many of whom were present in All Saints Church for the occasion, as we sang some great gospel hymns (Great is thy faithfulness; the Lord's my shepherd' See what a morning; Love divine all loves excelling) and heard the Gospel promise: 'Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. my Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?'

We left with thanksgiving in our hearts for 'a wonderful lady' and a true Christian servant of the Lord, wife, mother, and grandmother. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Ed, Abigail and the whole family.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Following the wise men

It was the first day back at term at St James's School today and first thing this morning the children poured into church for the beginning of term service, with an Epiphany theme.

We talked about the wise men (above) on their long journey from the east  and we completed the church Nativity Scene, adding the wise men to angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus and the angels who were already there:

We thought about two different reactions to Jesus.

There was Herod who was afraid of Jesus and wanted to kill him.

There was the wise men who recognised who Jesus was and worshipped him.

The wise men led the way in showing us how to respond to Jesus, the Son of God, and king of kings, who is uniquely worthy of our worship. Following their example is a great way to start a new year and a new term at school.

(Picture right: reading the story of the wise men from Matthew chapter 2).