Monday, 20 June 2022

Sunday catch up

Bermondsey mural

I love this new mural celebrating the history of Bermondsey - the dockers and the docks, Peek Freans biscuit factory, the invention of the tinned can and tinned food, Millwall, market traders, Ada Salter beautifying with flowers, the Joyslide and much more besides.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Estates ministry

This print was made and given to me by my fellow area dean, Jonathan Roberts, in connection with my role as an advocate for estates ministry in our diocese. 

It shows five twenty-storey GLC tower blocks from his parish which were replicated at several points around London in the mid 1960s, including Camberwell, Rotherhithe, Clapham and Battersea. 
It is with the two Battersea towers that I have the closest connection as we were one of the first families to move into Selworthy House (left), overlooking the Thames at Battersea, where we lived on the nineteenth floor.
I am touched by Jonathan's gift, by its representation of those distinctive blocks by Colin Lucas, and by the words from the psalm 'God keep the city.'
(Below: the towers of the Wyndham and Comber estates in Jonathan's Camberwell parish)


Sunday, 12 June 2022

Baptised today

 Catherine and Naomi have recently completed our Simply Christianity course and today were baptised by Paul along with Naomi's baby daughter. Congratulations and blessings to all three

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Jubilee celebrations

(Click on photo to see enlarged version)
Wonderful to toast Her Majesty the Queen after our Jubilee Thanksgiving Service today.
The toast was proposed by our very own knight of the realm, Simon Hughes, and was followed by a resounding three cheers for Her Majesty. 
Simon also paid tribute to retiring councillor, Eliza Mann, and then at the end of Jubilee Banquet (with tons and tons of food) it was time to cut the Jubilee Cake (thanks Abiola)



A Sermon for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee


There she was:  a tiny figure, a little frail, holding on to her walking stick, emerging on to the balcony at Buckingham Palace.

 Ruth and I were very privileged to be there on Thursday. It was a scene that we shall never forget.

 The crowds cheered. Countless flags waved creating a sea of red, white and blue that stretched the length of the Mall. It was a profoundly moving moment.

 Each year on the anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne the Church of England prays that that the Sovereign will ‘always possess the hearts of her people.’

 It was plain as I stood on the Mall among that vast throng of people that the Accession Day prayer had been well and truly answered. There was no doubt Queen Elizabeth the Second possessed the hearts of her people.

 Here she was, 96 years old, still reigning after seventy years of service, our good and glorious Queen, the centre of the love and affection of her people, having abundantly kept the promise that she made an astonishing seventy-five years ago at the age of 21 when she said:

I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service...

 For me that attitude of service was summed up by that scene in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where the Queen sat quite alone, wearing a face mask, in a near deserted chapel at the funeral of her beloved husband, Prince Philip.

No for her the special treatment she could easily have requested. Instead

she opted to live under the same restrictions that all her subjects were experiencing as a result of the pandemic. She acted in solidarity with her people. She was one of us, sharing in what we were all facing at this time of national crisis, as her parents did at the time of the Second World War.

 In our second reading Jesus says: ‘the greatest one among you must be like the youngest, and the leader must be like the servant’ and he said to the disciples ‘I am among you as one who serves.’

 Jesus showed a different way of being a leader. By being a servant. The Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the eternal Son of God, declared ‘I have come not to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.’

 He was the true servant king who gave his life for his people.

Surely our nation, surely the Commonwealth, has been blessed to have as its head someone who follows her master, the Lord Jesus Christ, in having that attitude of a servant.

On numerous occasions the Queen has testified to her own deeply held Christian faith that has strengthened her, sustained her, and guided her through her life.

 In her 2014 Christmas broadcast she told the nation

 For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace….. is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness

And the following year she said

 Billions of people follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives

 And then she added ‘I am one of them...”

 Thank God for our servant queen, Queen Elizabeth.

 Thank God for all that she has given to this nation. Thank God for the Queen’s constant faith in Christ and her willingness publicly to testify that faith.

 In the many decisions she must make, in all the responsibilities she bears, may it be that God’s Spirit inspires her and his wisdom guide her.

 May it be that the wisdom described in our first reading will be the Queen’s guiding light in her life, and may it be ours, too:

“I am Wisdom, I am better than jewels; nothing you want can compare with me.
I am Wisdom, and I have insight; I have knowledge and sound judgment

 I help kings to govern and rulers to make good laws.
Every ruler on earth governs with my help,    officials and nobles alike.

God save the Queen. Long live our noble Queen.  

Let us pray


Thursday, 2 June 2022

A new start for Jacob

 It was very special to be at St Brigid's Church, Mallusk, for Jacob's licensing as priest-in-charge and to be invited to preach by the Bishop of Connor.

Here is a picture of the new priest in charge leading the prayers

And here are some pictures of the clergy and readers who were attending, along with George, the Bishop of Connor

Saturday, 28 May 2022

Jubilee celebrations

 London is definitely getting into the Jubilee spirit..

And so have the children from St James's School:

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Ascension Day message

Today is Ascension Day, the day we celebrate the entrance of Jesus into heaven, and his reign at the Father's right hand. 

Here is our Bermondsey Weekly Message for Ascension Day.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

90 years of St Peter's in St Helier

Twenty eight years I became the vicar of St Peter's Church on St Helier, south London's biggest council estate. 

Today Paul (who also served there) and I went back with our wives to celebrate the 90th birthday of St Peter's Church, to meet the new team there and to see some of our favourite people in all the world. 


So good to be there and so good to see the church in such good heart, after some recent hard knocks, full of life and passion to share God's love with the precious people of St Helier.


Thursday, 12 May 2022

Prayer for Ukraine

Two and a half months after we first issued this message, the suffering of Ukraine goes on, so we return to it again and to its call for us to pray for that troubled nation that the warfare that is currently afflicting it may come to an end:  

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

The boots return

When St Crispin's Church in Southwark Park Road closed for worship, St Crispin's boots were brought to the Diocesan offices and placed on the top of a cupboard where they have stayed ever since, until last week when they came back to Bermondsey and will now be displayed in St James Church (whose parish now includes the St Crispin's area)
St Crispin is the patron saint of cobblers, tanners, and leatherworkers, and with Bermondsey such a centre historically of the leatherworking industry, the dedication of the Southwark Road Church was quite apt .
The pictures show the boots, suspended from the ceiling, being admired by local children during the St Crispin's Day celebrations at St Crispin's in October 1956, and in 2022 with St James churchwarden, Pat O'Connor, in St James.
Welcome back to St Crispin's boots.


Monday, 9 May 2022

Sunday Catch Up

 The videos will return next week, but here is the text of yesterday's sermon in our new two-part series of giving to God's Work:


The Giving God: 2 Corinthians 8.1-15

I don’t suppose a professional fundraiser would have bothered with the churches in Macedonia.

For one thing everyone knew they were as poor as poor could be. What could they possibly contribute to the appeal to help the struggling church in Jerusalem?

And because they were going through such hard times, because they were people who were well and truly going through the mill themselves, most people would have felt a bit uncomfortable about even broaching the subject of money with such suffering and needy people

But here’s the remarkable thing: God had been doing something amazing in the churches of Macedonia so that in the very midst of their extreme poverty and severe trials, there was something else going on in their church. It is what Paul calls ‘overflowing joy’

The very last people on earth who had anything to sing about were in fact overflowing with joy, not with self-pity, but joy.

So when he is writing his letter to the Christians in Corinth (our 2 Corinthians in the Bible) Paul says in effect: consider the Macedonians:

VERSE 1: Our friends, we want you to know what God's grace has accomplished in the churches in Macedonia. They have been severely tested by the troubles they went through; but their joy was so great that they were extremely generous in their giving, even though they are very poor

And this was the astonishing outcome

Verse3  I can assure you that they gave as much as they could, and even more than they could. Of their own free will they begged us and pleaded for the privilege of having a part in helping God's people in Judea.

No one thought there was any point in asking the Macedonians to help out with the collection for Jerusalem but here’s the big surprise: they ‘pleaded’ to be involved

Instead of Paul going begging to them, they came to Paul begging to be allowed to give

So says Paul to the Christians in Corinth – and to us – if you’re thinking about giving; if you’re reviewing your personal giving budget, think about the Macedonians, and while you’re doing it you could consider another remarkable example of giving:

 Consider the example of the Lord Jesus

VERSE 9 You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; rich as he was, he made himself poor for your sake, in order to make you rich by means of his poverty.

It is pretty well accepted by most people that if you get the chance to live in a better area than the one you live in now you should seize the opportunity with both hands. Its called being ‘upwardly mobile.’

Thank God the Lord Jesus didn’t adopt the same attitude.

Instead he left the glory of heaven – a really nice district to live in – and he came to earth where people mocked him, spat upon him, nailed him to a cross and killed him

Our downwardly mobile God gave up everything for our sakes

It was and is the greatest act of giving in the history of the world

And says Paul, when you’re thinking about giving, consider Jesus, he was rich, he became poor for us in order to make us rich towards God

That’s what the Bible calls grace, the extravagant self-giving love of our great and generous God

And it means that the best way to decide what to give of your time or money or talents as a follow of Jesus is to first consider what your Master did for you

Thermometer outside church: the thermometer shows the state of the Church’s financial appeal, but to decide your giving, don’t look at the thermometer, instead, look at the cross

That surely brings us to Paul’s final point to the Corinthians and to us:

Consider your response

 At this point the Apostle Paul is very practical

12 If you are eager to give, God will accept your gift on the basis of what you have to give, not on what you don't have.

Firstly Paul says its all about willingness. Its where your heart is. Its what you want to do in the light of what God has given for you.

 Secondly, he says no one can give what they don’t have. You can only give from what you have. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t give a lot because you haven’t got a lot.

 Our financial circumstances vary enormously and so the amount we can give will depend from person to person

 But each of us can give generously from whatever it is that we have.

12 If you are eager to give, God will accept your gift on the basis of what you have to give, not on what you don't have.