Thursday, 29 November 2018

On Earth as in Heaven

I remember being enthralled as a small boy by the Apollo missions (which first produced this view of the Earth from space) and by the moon landings in particular.

Here is the latest video from Speak Life released for this Christmas. It tells the remarkable story of the men who travelled to the moon and the even more remarkable of the Man who travelled to the earth.

Have a look at it now and share it with your friends about it.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Remembering Jean

She was a St James's regular, a stalwart, that familiar smiling figure in her place at the back of church on her motorised scooter, dishing out cheery 'hello, loves' to all and sundry.

Today we said goodbye to her.

There many tributes, much laughter, and many tears as her devoted family, and extended family and friends, including her church family, came to say farewell to the lady a former churchwarden fondly called 'the duchess.'

We remembered her love of her family and her husband Joe, her love of dancing, and her involvement with C.U.M. (now Salmon Youth Centre).

We remembered that special day when she was confirmed - I have the photo on my study wall above my desk of all the candidates with the bishop, and right in the centre, beaming, is Jean herself.

For years she had thought she wasn't 'good enough' to be confirmed but then she took the plunge and what a difference it made to her to be confirmed and receive communion. It made her feel fully part of the family, Jean told me, which, of course, was exactly what it (Holy Communion) was designed to do.

We shall miss her but we thank God for her.

Friday, 23 November 2018

St Anne's by night

Atmospheric shot of St Anne's at night taken by churchwarden Graham.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

The Disciple Ship Explorers set sail

Our Discipleship Explored course came to an end last night at St James with session eight of our studies in St Paul's Letter to the Philippians and an early Christmas Dinner, with turkey, mince pies and all the trimmings.

Here is course member, Asha, with the cake she baked for the occasion - in the shape of a ship.

On the sails are the memory verses we have been learning during the course and the ship in a nice pun on the course name is called the  'Disciple Ship Explorers.'

Thanks Asha for your lovely gift which rounded off a wonderful evening for us all.

We're having a break for Christmas now but a new Wednesday night course starts on 23rd January.

Course members watching the last Discipleship Explored video

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Remembering Lilian

When Lillian at the age of 93 asked Stewart, my predecessor as vicar of St James, if he would take her funeral, he wasn't expecting that it would not be for another eight years - but in the plan of God it was. So today we had the joy of welcoming Stewart and Rosemary back to Bermondsey as we bade farewell to a remarkable lady.

Lil was  101 years old and a life long resident of Bermondsey.

From the age of 4 she was a member of the Gedling Mission in Bermondsey. She met her husband there and she continued a faithful member of that congregation until the mission closed a few years ago.

She remained a firm, clear, joyful Christian until the day she died.

Today we gave thanks for her life in St James's Church, where her husband's funeral had taken place, and where she was a regular member of our monthly Monday Fellowship.

Stewart & Rosemary Hartley back today at St James
Lillian, and Ernie, were a living embodiment of the verse that urges us to 'give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord.'

They did it to the very end of their long lives.

Now they are both with the Lord they loved and we thank God for every remembrance of them.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Thank you, Penny

Penny Molyneux (on the right) receiving a Long Service Award today in church from Marion Watson, representing the Southwark Diocesan Association of Readers.

Penny became a Reader twenty five years ago and has been our Reader here in Bermondsey for the last fifteen years.

Today was an opportunity to say a big thank you to Penny, for her upfront work of preaching and teaching, and her work of caring and encouragement that so many have benefitted from, not to mention all her work for so many years at St James's School. 

The church clock

With the scaffolding starting to come down from St James's belltower, the restored clock faces can be seen in all the glory - and the clock is once again telling the right time. Very soon it will start chiming the hours again, too.

The four clock faces hav been completely stripped back and painted; the numbers have been regilded; and the clock mechanism has been overhauled, all thanks to a grant from the Heritage for London Trust, who also funded the restoration of the dragon weathervane.

We are very grateful for their support.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Year 5's Remembrance tribute

Hear Year 5 from St James's School's tribute for Remembrance Day in a medley of WW1 songs in their performing arts class here

Friday, 16 November 2018

Sir Simon Hughes; the head boy and head girl of St James's School; vice-chair of the school governors, Jim Hutchinson;  and the vice-chancellor of London Southbank University, at the recent installation of Sir Simon as chancellor of LSBU.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Thank you Simon

Yesterday evening governors and friends of St James's School gathered to say thank you to Sir Simon Hughes for his 24 years service as a school governor, during which time he has been our devoted and enthusiastic Chair of Governors.

Here is Simon receiving from Acting Chair, Jim Hutchinson, a thank you gift from the governors of two historic prints - the first of Southwark Cathedral and the second (shown in the picture) of a nineteenth century parliamentary hustings in Southwark, the two gifts symbolising Simon's active involvement in the religious and political life of our community.

There are many things that I have appreciated about Simon's service to our school, but there is one thing that was in my mind especially last night.

Colin Powell, Director of the Diocesan Board of Education speaking words of appreciation for Simon's service to church schools, in the diocese,  St James, in particular

It is that event that Simon has attended without fail, even with his many responsibilities as a Member of Parliament and, eventually, as a Government minister, and that is our Annual School Leavers service in St James's Church held each July on the last day of the school year.

Bibles and other gifts are presented to each leaver personally by Simon in front of the whole school. What really strikes me is the time that Simon takes in doing it. He is not content with a brief handshake, but says a few words of encouragement to each child individually.

The children presented Simon with paintings they had done of the two school buildings

Simon demonstrates what all of us involved in education actually believe, namely, that the children are the most important people in the school. It is their school. It exists for them and to give them the very best start in life that is possible.

Simon by his actions showed us that every child mattered. That each individual was a precious person, made in the image of God.

His actions and his dedication to the school, made me think of those words of the Lord Jesus, which are surely the inspiration of every church educator: 'let the children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these' (Mark 10.14).

So, thank you Simon, for all you have done for St James's School.

Monday, 12 November 2018

The new world coming

The New World Coming: This year's sermon for Remebrance Day and First World Centenary at St James:

The First World War started on 28th July 1914 and ended exactly a hundred years ago today on 11th November 1918. 70 million people fought in the war. 9 million combatants and 7 million citizens died. Here (above) is a famous photo from 1914 of the Bermondsey Boys taken at the Wellington Barracks in London.

How many of them returned? We don’t know. What we do know is that no less than ten members of the St James Bermondsey Young Men’s Bible Class gave their lives in the conflict between 1914 and 1918, and are commemorated by this brass plate in our church narthex.

Today we remember them: Robert Brittain, George Benson, Stanley Blake, Leonard Cornwell, Owen Giles, Harry Hill, George Moore, Thomas Piper, Thomas Pidgeon, Herbert Talbot.

Under their names on the narthex memorial are these heartfelt words: Those Who Knew Them, Loved Them. And the same could we said by the families and friends of the 16 million who died in the First World War, the 50 million who died in the Second World War and the thousands of who have died in subsequent conflicts.

The scale of the suffering is more than we can take in. And much as we honour and remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the freedom we now enjoy, we must wonder whether there is any end to war, to the pain and suffering this troubled world?

That is where the Book of Revelation comes in. The last book in the Bible is like a window into the future.To a sinful, broken, and suffering world, it speaks its message of hope about the new world that God will bring in in the fullest of time. Let’s look through that window:

We see a new world, and a new people:  

John sees a whole new world, a wonderful replacement for the damaged, polluted, war ravaged, fallen and broken world that we live in.

There is no longer any sea. Why? Because in Revelation the sea symbolises the distance between a holy God and a sinful humanity. In this new world that separation is gone forever

 In this new world, are a new people: God’s people, his church:  

The holy city, the new Jerusalem is the church, the people of God. It comes down from heaven, indicating that the church is God’s creation and God’s idea in the first place. He called it into being, he purchased it with his blood, he guards it by His Spirit, he now brings it to its final earthly home

At any wedding there is a special moment when the groom looks round and for the first time sees his bride beautifully dressed for her big day. In the same way the church, God’s people, is his bride and she too is beautifully dressed. All her sins have been washed away and the church, the people of God, is new, and radiant, and holy

With all this comes: A new way of living for the world:

 As it was at the beginning so it will be at the end. As the Lord walked in the garden of Eden with Adam & Eve  so once more he will dwell on the earth with his people, he will live with them says Revelation. All rebellion, all sin, will have gone: He will live with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God

 And with his presence comes a whole new way of living for the world:

Everything that has disfigured and spoilt this life: death, mourning and pain will be banished from God’s new world

And it a lovely picture of the tender love of God we are told that He will wipe away all tears from their eyes.

How we need to hear that message on Remembrance Day. How we long for that day when God wipes away every tear from our eyes.

And with the new world, the new people, the new spiritual reality, and the new way of living for the world comes:

A new announcement of an old message

Jesus speaks: 

 ‘It is done’ All God’s purposes have been accomplished. All God’s promises have been fulfilled. The great act of redemption and re-creation has been completed.

And then comes an invitation: To anyone who is thirsty I will give the right to drink from the spring of the water of life without paying for it

That invitation has gone out into the world for 2,000 years whenever this book is read this invitation is proclaimed, the living Lord Jesus makes it again this morning to everyone who has not yet responded

It is a drink without cost, because he has paid for it

It is a drink from the water of life because it is do with eternal, life

It is available to everyone who knows their need of it – ie who is thirsty. 

Have you responded? Have you come to the reigning Lord who has done everything for your salvation and now calls you to come to receive it?

If you haven’t may I urge you to respond to his call without delay

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Bermondsey remembers

Here at St Anne's (left) is the magnificent veil of knitted poppies made by St Anne's members and their friends for today's Remembrance Sunday service and Commemoration of the Centenary of the End of the First World War.

In Old Jamaica Road at the memorial of the Queen's Regiment, where the names of over 900 Bermondsey men who died in the First World War, are inscribed, we has our traditional Act of Remembrance in the presence of veterans, the Army cadets, local residents, councillors and former MP, Sir Simon Hughes.

There was a bumper turnout this year, perhaps in view of the WW1 centenary.

It was good to give to all those who attended at Old Jamaica Rd, as well as at St Anne's and St James, a copy of the booklet Silence (you can view it here) which 'invites readers to look back with gratitude for the sacrifice made by many in war, and to reflect on eternal themes of faith hope and love.'

In St James after the service we laid a wreath of poppies at the Boer War Memorial and at the Memorial to the ten members of the St James Church Young Men's Bible Class who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 war.

Here is Michael, one of the young men currently in the congregation, laying the wreath to the members of the Young Men's Bible Class.

In the service it was good to remember those Bermondsey boys by name and to ponder the inscription below their names on the brass memorial tablet which reads 'Those who knew them, loved them.'

That was true of course not just of the ten lads from St James, but of every one of the sixteen million who died in the First World War. The scale of the suffering and the grief that followed is literally unimaginable.

But each person who died was a precious person made in the image of God. Each of them was loved by their families and precious to them, and that's why it is good each year to remember, and then to hear God's message of comfort and hope from his word.

North Bermondsey Ward councillors lay a wreath at the Old Jamaica Rdmemorial

Friday, 9 November 2018

St James's remembers

St James School came to the church today for their annual Armistice Day service.

We were especially thinking of the centenary of the end of the First World War, and, looking at Revelation 21, of the new heaven and new earth that God will bring into being by grace, on the day when he 'wipes every tear' from our eyes.

The children stood in complete silence for the Two-Minutes Silence and then filed out silently on their way back to school to the haunting sound of Elgar's Nimrod.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Wipe every tear

Like churches all over the country, St James and St Anne's, will specially be thinking this Remembrance Sunday (10am at St Anne's; 10.30am at St James) about the centenary of the end of the First World War which took place at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918.

Here is a taster of part of a video from the Bible Society which we will be showing in our services.

It is based on the bible reading we will be using on that day, from Revelation 21, and it speaks of the great hope for the world, of the day when God 'makes all things new', when he brings in by his grace the new heaven and the new earth, where suffering and death is no more and where God wipes every tear from our eye:

Friday, 2 November 2018

At LSBU (continued)

From St James School Twitter Feed: Two Year 6 children accompanied Governors Jim Hutchinson & Gary Jenkins to Sir Simon Hughes' inaugaration as Chancellor of London South Bank University. It was a proud day, especially when Hannah & Nathaniel received a name check from the man of the hour! Congratulations to all!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Simon at LSBU

Bermondsey's very own Sir Simon Hughes was today installed as the Chancellor of London South Bank University.

It brought together some of his great passions, south London and the cause of education. The ambassadorial role of the chancellor will play to one of Simon's great strengths - his amazing ability to network and connect with all kinds of people in all walks of life.

Today's ceremony included (with a nod to the Hughes heritage) the choir of the Welsh Chapel at Borough, the choir of Bacon's College (the CoE school in Rotherhithe of which he is chair of governors), and the LSBU singers singing 'Waterloo Sunset'

Sitting there in the Purcell Room of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the foot of Waterloo Bridge, and thinking of LSBU's origin and location on the South Bank, it seemed strangely appropriate to hear that song by the Kinks;

Dirty old river, must you keep rolling, rolling into the night
People so busy, make me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright
But I don't, need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo Sunset, I am in paradise
Every day I look at the world from my window
Chilly chilly is the evening time, Waterloo sunset's fine

An enormously wide range of people had been invited by Simon to the event - from the community in Bermondsey, from Parliament, from other places where he had served and lived, including MPs from all three main parties, Lords, Ladies, and an Olympic champion.

In his speech he welcomed the Head Boy and Head Girl of St James's School (who were present with vice-chair, Jim Hutchinson), and in thanking all those who had loved and supported him over the years he gave thanks for 'my God and my church family.'

It was a very special occasion, a mixture of formality and informality, all marked by that wonderful Hughes care and concern for everyone.

LSBU have a worthy ambassador for their university in their new chancellor.