Sunday, 29 July 2018

Bermondsey bird's eye

Photos (thanks Pat) from a recent climb to the top of the church tower:

Friday, 27 July 2018

Let me ring your bell

Daily Express
See what happened when Daily Express journalist, Dominic Utton, had a go at bellringing at St James, with tower captain, Louise Booth (left in picture), showing him the ropes.

Go to this page on the Express website and scroll down to 'Let me ring your bell'

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

St James's Day

With today being St James's Day we began tonight's Building Committee with the Collect (or special prayer) for the day:

Merciful God, whose holy apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all he had, was obedient to the calling of your Son Jesus Christ and followed him even to death, help us, forsaking the false attractions of the world, to be ready at all times to answer your call without delay; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.

The collect, of course, is based on this incident from Matthew 4: ' As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him' (verses 21-22, and it is a poignant thought, that James's following of his Lord led to martyrdom and an early death as recorded in Acts 12.

St James on radio

Appropriately enough as it is St James's Day today, BBC Radio 4's Today programme was broadcasting live from St James's, Bermondsey this morning in an item about a national campaign to we recruit more bellringers. The programme concluded with the sounds of the bells ringing out from the bell tower, thanks to our dedicated band of ringers who came in specially for the event.

You can listen to it  on the BBC website here (from 2.57) 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

The lamb that defeated the dragon

With the Bermondsey dragon about to return to its traditional perch on top of the bell tower, it is good to remember that in Christian theology, the dragon, is a symbol of evil defeated.

Both in Revelation 12 and in the legend of George and the Dragon, the dragon is defeated by the power of the cross.

In the legend, it is the saint, the soldier and servant of Christ, bearing the sign of the cross who defeats the dragon. In Revelation 12 the dragon is 'overcome by the blood of the lamb' that is, by the death of Christ on the cross.

The cannons you can see outside the Wellington Barracks in the Tower of London (right), were captured from Napoleon's defeated army at the Battle of Waterloo. They are the symbol of an enemy defeated and the spoils of battle. They witness to a great victory - as does the Bermondsey dragon.

It speaks of evil defeated, of a great victory won by the blood of the lamb.

As we met as our Church Council tonight, we remembered that victory of Christ who 'having disarmed the powers and authorities...made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross,' and prayed that our newly restored dragon, displayed for all to see, would ever proclaim that victory to the people of Bermondsey.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Remembering George

George Dunk (1951-2018) was a councillor for Riverside ward here in Bermondsey from 1990 to 1998.

Today at St James we hosted a service of thanksgiving for his life attended by the Mayor of Southwark, current and past councillors, the President of the Liberal Democrats, Baroness Brinton, Sir Simon Hughes, Lord Rennard and many of George's family and friends.

We sung some fine hymns - six in all - and heard the familiar words of John 14.1-6, on which Revd Katy Hacker Hughes, family friend and vicar of St Paul's Lorrimore Square, based her sermon.

What came over most strongly from the tributes to George was that he was a man of love and compassion, and a true servant of local people. He embodied the idea of civic responsibility as he worked for the people of Bermondsey.

George was a convinced internationalist and a convinced European, too. It was fitting that the service ended with the South African national anthem, in view of  George's long term opposition to Apartheid, and  his late wife's country of origin.

After the service, George and Sandra's ashes were strewn in St James's Garden of Remembrance, a trumpeter from City Hope Church played, and we all sang the great Liberal anthem 'The Land' : The land, the land, twas God who made the land/the land, the land, the ground on which we stand/Why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand?/God gave the land to the people.

The best line of all is the last but one: 'why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand.'

Thank God for the day when the working people of Bermondsey gained the right to vote and thank God for the men like George they were able to elect when they had the ballot in their hands.

After the service the Mayor of Southwark placed a memorial plaque to George and Sandra on the memorial board on the church narthex. She spoke warmly of George and the spirit of civic service which guided him in his life.

The Mayor with Councillors Eliza and Hamish

Friday, 20 July 2018

The Archdeacon and the Dragon

Archdeacons are adept at inspecting things. It's part of their job, in addition to encouraging and caring for the clergy and people of their area, so when our excellent archdeacon, Jane, heard that the dragon was back from the repairers, she thought she would pop round to see the dragon at ground level, before it returns to its perch.

Interestingly, Jane had the same question that the children from St James's School asked: 'has it got a name?'

Any suggestions from blog readers? 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

When the Deanery went to Lambeth

Main gatehouse, Lambeth Palace
The Annual Bermondsey Deanery Social can take many forms, but rarely has it taken place in such splendid surroundings.

Thanks to Simon Lewis, Dean of the St Anselm's Community at Lambeth Palace, and Honorary Curate at St James, and St Anne's, this year we had a private tour of the Archbishop's London residence, a fascinating insight into the life of the St Anselm's Community, and the chance to round off our evening with a service of Compline in the crypt chapel at the Palace, a truly memorable and informative evening. Thank you, Simon.

Here are some pictures:

Briefing on arrival by Simon

The newest wing of the Palace - just 200 years old. Some parts date from the 12th century
The main corridor, lined with portraits of past Archbishops

John Bird Sumner. a particularly fine archbishop. As a theological student I spent some time in Lambeth Palace Library researching his life
Getting ready for a big event
The main chapel

Modern depiction of the growth of the church in England from earliest days
Hearing about the Community of St Anselm in the community room
Compline: concluding with prayer

God bless & farewell

End of term and the whole school poured into church for our Leavers Service.

It was time to say a fond farewell to our Year 6 leavers (left) before they go off to secondary school next term.
Bibles ready for the Leavers

A school year book, a CD of photos, and a Youth Bible (paid for out of the School Governors fund) were presented to each of the 72 leavers by Chair of Governors, Sir Simon Hughes, who made it very personal as usual, by saying a few words of encouragement to every child individually.

This year, very sadly for us, Sir Simon himself was one of the leavers, because after 24 years as a governor of St James's School, and 23 years as chair, he is standing down, as he takes up other responsibilities in the community.

It was our chance to say a very big thankyou for our devoted Chair of Governors and friend of St James's School, and the whole school showed its warm appreciation and affection for Simon with prolonged applause.

Simon then made a brief farewell speech (left) where he drew attention to the true meaning of the word 'educate' and referred to the Bibles the children had been given, urging them to read regularly this, 'the most important book in the world.'

So, thank you Sir Simon, and God's blessings to all our leavers, and best wishes to staff, pupils, and governors for a restful and relaxing holiday.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Meeting the dragon

The children from St James's School have been visiting the dragon today before it returns to its perch on top of the bell tower.

Here is the information sheet that we have been giving visitors to the church over the past weekend when they have come to view the dragon: 

The famous golden weathervane on the top of St James's bell tower has been a local landmark for nearly two centuries. It has an interesting link with the City of London, just across the river.

The City's coat of arms features a shield with the cross of St George, supported by two dragons (famously defeated by the saint).

This has led to the dragon itself being seen as a symbol of London, and to it being immortalised in a least one City church, namely, St Mary-le-Bow, whose dragon bears more than a passing resemblance to that of St James. (It also has two red crosses of St George painted on it, confirming the link with St George and the City coat of arms).

Whether the founders of St James had a link with St Mary-le-Bow or whether they were city businessmen wanting to make a link with the City of London across the river, it seems that the dragon of St James is a link to the City. Via the City, it is a link to St George, and via St George, to the triumph of good over evil. As such it makes sense as a symbol on top of the church.

The City's motto itself is instructive: Domine Nos Dirige, or, Lord, Guide Us.

As well as featuring in the legend of St George and the Dragon, the dragon features in the Bible in the book of Revelation (chapter 12). Here the dragon is a symbol of the devil, of evil and of everything that is opposed to God. But Revelation 12 describes the dragon being defeated by the Archangel Michael and the angels of heaven.

Verse 9 says ‘The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.’ The victory came from Christ’s death on the cross - Revelation 12.11 says ‘They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb.’

Although, evil continues in the world, the Bible tells us that it has been defeated by Christ on the cross. In due time it will be completely eradicated from the world (1 John 3.8).

Now refurbished and repaired, St James’s dragon, will soon return to its perch on the top of the tower.

It stands there as a reminder that the church exists to proclaim the word and works of Jesus Christ, who has defeated the devil, and will return to this earth to take up his reign and ‘make all things new’ (Revelation 21.5), ushering in a new world where  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21.4).                                                  

Sketching the dragon

Sunday, 15 July 2018

On top of the world (2)

Local resident, Dave Fisher, baptised in St James in 1950, was one of those intrepid people who claimed the church tower on Wednesday and has kindly shared these pictures of the view, the work still needing to be done, and the work completed. Thanks, Dave.

Portico ceiling restored

Portico ceiling restored

Restored stone

Clock face, awaiting restoration

Dave on the top