Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Final assembly

 


Jacob
took his final school assembly at St James's School today before his move to Northern Ireland.
 
The school tweeted 'Thank you Jacob for a final act of Collective Worship this morning at St. James’. We’ll all miss you and your terrific assemblies. Good bye and good luck for your next venture'
 
(Jacob's farewell service is on Sunday at 11am in St James Church).

Friday, 22 April 2022

Invisible divides

 

Paul Brown oversees evangelism and community activities at City Hope Church in Bermondsey and now he has co-authored a book.
 
A packed gathering for last night's book launch, heard Paul and co-author, Natalie Williams, both from working class backgrounds, explain how they got the opportunity to write their book, 'Invisible Divides', about 'class, culture and barriers to belonging in the church'.
 
Why is the church so middle class? Why aren't there more working class church members? How can the church become more representative of the nation? 
 
These are key questions and its wonderful that Paul and Natalie, with all their experience, have got the chance to address these questions head on.
 
Knowing Paul as I do, I am sure 'Invisible Divides' will be a great read
 


 


 

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Back to school

 


Back to school Easter service for St James's School in church today.
 

We heard how the name 'Jesus' in British Sign Language is done by pointing the finger into the palm of the hands, remembering the scars in his hands after the resurrection, where the nails had been.
 
We heard how Jesus appeared to the disciples on the evening of the first Easter Day ALIVE. He showed them his hands. 
 
The message of his hands with the scars was: this is what they did to me - they killed me. But look at what God has done for me - I am alive.
 

 

Friday, 15 April 2022

Good Friday


 

Open Air Service for Good Friday at St James today in brilliant sunshine.
 
They crucified him beside criminals. They nailed his hands and feet. Then they taunted him. They abused him. They insulted him. 
 
If he really was the Messiah, if he really was the king, why did he not save himself, they said.
 
The truth is he chose not to. 
 
He could have saved himself. He could have summoned an army of angels to rescue him, but he didn't.
The reason he didn't save himself was that he had come to save us.
 
'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.' 
 
It wasn't the Roman nails that held him to the cross, but his love for the world.
 




 

 


Good Friday

Find out why Jacob is behind the shops by the bins for our Good Friday message 

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Dinner at Bethany: John 12.1-8

 


There’s never been a dinner like it. Just look at the guest list – Jesus is the guest of honour. Also included in the party is Lazarus, newly raised from the dead, his sisters Martha & Mary, and Judas the man who is about to betray the Lord. The whole event occurs under the shadow of the cross. In less than a week Jesus will be dead.

 It was an extraordinary event and it contained the most extraordinary contrasts. We see first:

 1. The contrast between the life and death

 Jesus is the one who brings life; his enemies are those who plot death

 The bare fact of Lazarus being there is a miracle. Twice in a few short verses John draws our attention to this. It is not just ‘Lazarus’ but in verse 1 and 9 it is ‘Lazarus, the man he had raised from death.

 There sitting, eating, laughing and talking is a very ordinary man, who has the most amazing story to tell. How the Lord Jesus raised him from the grave by a simple word of command, four days after his body had been buried. Lazarus is a living, walking, talking demonstration of the power of Jesus over death

 Lazarus is living proof that Jesus is the one who has come to give life to the dead, just as he promised in John 5.25:

 25 I am telling you the truth: the time is coming—the time has already come—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will come to life.

 The presence of Lazarus is the evidence that that time has come and that Jesus has begun his ministry of waking the dead

 Jesus stands before us as the giver of life, but in stark contrast are the enemies of God who are plotting death. It is of the nature of evil to seek to destroy the life of God


Already by this time Jesus is leading a virtual undercover existence because of the plotting of the Jews, the high priest has declared that one man must die for the people, and the Jewish leaders have begun to plot his death, so that in John 11.54 we read: 54 So Jesus did not travel openly in Judea, but left and went to a place near the desert, to a town named Ephraim, where he stayed with the disciples..

 Death is in the air. Soon the giver of life will himself be dead and not just Jesus, but Lazarus too, if the plotters get their way. See verses 10-11:

 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus too, 11 because on his account many Jews were rejecting them and believing in Jesus. John 12.10-11

 How utterly perverse and wicked! What an awful irony! Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead so the chief priests plan to kill him.

 Why were they doing that? Because Lazarus’s very existence was a living testimony to the power of Jesus so they needed to destroy not only Jesus but the evidence of his power too

 2. The Contrast between Devotion & Deceit

 On the one hand we have the two sisters both expressing their love and devotion to Jesus in different yet characteristic ways.

Martha, the practical one, is serving at the table, expressing her devotion, her worship, in a simple down-to-earth manner whilst Mary, perhaps given to more dramatic gestures, pours a pint of finest perfume over Jesus feet

 It was an extravagant act of love – the value of the perfume was equal to a year’s wages - but Jesus commends her for it

 Mary and Martha’s heart-attitude contrasts strongly with that of Judas. Outwardly his concern is an entirely laudable concern for the poor, but his real motive is rather different

 Judas is not concerned for the poor at all – he’s looking out for No. 1. Judas was a thief. He nicked money from disciples common purse on a regular basis, so you can see why he preferred cash in the hand, his hand, to all that perfume that had quite literally evaporated into thin air

 Judas is already leading a double life and soon his treachery will lead to betrayal, the death of his master, and his own suicide

 At that dinner we see the contrast between the true devotion of Martha & Mary &  deceit of Judas. We see the contrast between the giver of life and the plotters of death, and thirdly we see:

 3. A common act with an uncommon meaning

 It was not uncommon for honoured guests to be anointed with perfume. It was perhaps the first century equivalent of laying out the red carpet or getting out the best china but Jesus gives a common act, a very uncommon meaning, for it is the death of the guest of honour that is being celebrated and foretold

 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Let her keep what she has for the day of my burial John 12.7

 Jesus indicates that Mary’s action has a kind of prophetic quality - it points forward to the events of the cross in a few days’ time. It is a sign of what is going to happen

 The very fact that such a prophetic sign is given indicates that events are not running out of control. Wicked men are planning wicked things, but the sovereign Lord is in charge

 That’s why Peter will be able to say on the day of Pentecost about the events of the first Good Friday: 23 In accordance with his own plan God had already decided that Jesus would be handed over to you; and you killed him by letting sinful men crucify him. Acts 2.23

 Even in the midst of the deceitful scheming of Judas and the murderous plotting of the chief priests, God’s purposes for your salvation and mine are being worked out. It’s not that God is the author of their wickedness, but rather than he can use it to achieve his loving purposes

 Mary’s prophetic action in the beginning of the week that leads up to the death of the Messiah is a message to the world that God is in control and that the ultimate act of salvation is imminent

 * * * * *

 But what about you and me? Mary showed her estimation of Jesus true worth in a costly, extravagant act. Some regarded it as wasteful – but it is never wasteful to give of yourself in worship and service of Jesus eg doctor ‘wasting his medical training’ in becoming a minister

 In his song I will offer up my life, Matt Redman speaks of a whole life offered to God in thanksgiving and devotion, in terms of ‘pouring out the oil of love’, recalling Mary’s anointing of Jesus with fine perfume in John 12, may we pour out the oil of love, in gratitude to the Lord who gave his life for us

 I WILL OFFER UP MY LIFE

In spirit and truth,

Pouring out the oil of love

As my worship to You.

In surrender I must give my every part;

Lord, receive the sacrifice

Of a broken heart.

Jesus, what can I give, what can I bring

To so faithful a friend, to so loving a King?

Saviour, what can be said, what can be sung

As a praise of Your name

For the things You have done?

Oh, my words could not tell, not even in part,

Of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart.