Autumn Scheduling

We’ve got an exciting few weeks coming up, with a few changes to our usual schedule. So here you go:

 28 October          We begin a new series exploring hospitality called ‘Table People’. We hope to demystify hospitality and recognise that so many encounters Jesus had happened around a meal table.

 4 November       We will be meeting in the Assembly Rooms for our 10:00am service. We’ll let you know nearer the time what we’ll be thinking about together, but for now, please note the change of venue.

 18 November    George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilisation, will be preaching at our 10:00am service. George is known for his passion for Christ and will challenge us in what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome

The greeting extends to one and all as we gather this morning to celebrate Harvest together. We make a couple of special mentions though. One, to our Uniformed Groups as they help us celebrate this annual festival – as always, it’s great to have you with us, and thank you for all the contributions that you make towards our collections.

 Two, it’s great to have the Simpson family and their friends in our midst, as they give thanks for Aaron and mark that with baptism. We hope you’re able to jump on board with the celebrations today, and it’s our privilege to share this special occasion with you.

 All of that makes for a fairly full service, but we hope the unifying mood is one of giving thanks to God for all that’s good in our lives.

Autumn Fair

Hopefully you’ve all grabbed a flier about the Autumn Fair, if not posted some of them around the parish. We’d now like you to come along - this Saturday, St Francis Hall, 11am-3pm.  It’s a great opportunity to pick up some early Christmas gifts, with lots of new and unusual gift and craft stalls this year!  You can also support Link to Hope by visiting one of our church-run stalls including refreshments, the loot bag tree and re-gifting.  

 There are things people can help out with:

-          Please bring any cake donations to St Francis Hall on Saturday morning (from 9am) or drop to Angela at 124 Copse Avenue on Friday evening. 

-          6 volunteers to do half an hour each of handing out Autumn Fair flyers in the high street (on corner of Ravenswood Crescent) between 11am and 2pm.  It’s an ideal job for families (who would refuse a flyer from a cute child?)

-          Help on stalls for an hour or so between 11am-3pm

-          Setting up and packing away.

If you’re able to help, please speak to Angela Walters. Thanks.

Harvest Update

Here are further details of the arrangements for our Harvest Celebrations this year:

 Harvest Service: 7 October followed by a ‘Bring and Share’ lunch in the grounds of Wickham Court. If your surname starts with a letter A-R, please bring something savoury, and if S-Z, then please bring a pudding.

 Money Collection: We are asking people to donate to the charity Hope4Malawi, which we recently heard about from Julia Cernoch. Speak to Julia, or google search them for more details.

 Food Collection: We are going to collect for the Bromley Borough Foodbank. They are currently asking for the following items – rice pudding, custard, cold meat, men and women’s deodorant, washing up liquid and washing powder.

 Slip it in the diary and let’s celebrate God’s goodness together.

Harvest Celebrations

We will be celebrating Harvest at our Sunday service on 7 October. To continue the thanksgiving that begins in the church building, we’ll also mark God’s goodness by enjoying a ‘bring and share’ meal immediately after the service. We’ve got the use of Wickham Court’s gardens and hall, which provide a great setting to share some grub and each other’s company.

 

So ping it in the diary and let’s really rejoice in God’s generosity.

 

As in years gone by, we’ll take a food collection in our service to support one of the local charities (details of which foodstuffs to bring will follow). We’ll also ask you to donate financially to Hope4Malawi, the charity we recently heard about through Julia Cernoch.

Who is God?

It may seem like a daft question to ask, especially in church where surely we all know the answer is a five letter word beginning with ‘J’.

But that’s part of the problem. In church particularly, we can act like the English word ‘God’ puts us all on the same part of the map. It certainly doesn’t anymore, and arguably never did.

This week we are starting a new Sermon Series with that very title – ‘Who is God?’. We’re going to reach right back into the Old Testament to trace the answer. We’ll explore the nature of God’s fundamental character to unearth what God has to say about what he is really like. You might be surprised at what we discover. It might just shift the way you understand this person we call God, and who knows where that might lead…

Volunteer Evening

If you help in any way with our work with children or young people, then our new Families’ Worker, Amber, would like to invite you to a get together. Even if you’re not yet involved, but think that it might be something you’re interested in, then come along.

The evening will be a chance for Amber to hear from you all, an opportunity to introduce herself in more depth, as well as some space for her to outline some of the things that she anticipates she will be getting her teeth into in these early days.

Time & Venue: SJ’s, 7:30pm on Monday 17th September.

If you would like more information, then contact Amber on 07988 082 267.

Some Welcomes

First up, welcome back to all of you who have been away over the Summer and you’re returning to some of your normal rhythms – hopefully it’s not too much of a shock to the system, and it’s softened by coming together as a church community to worship.

Next, a special welcome to the Lotto family and their friends, as they celebrate Arabella’s baptism this morning. It’s great to have you with us. We hope you cope with anything that is less than familiar, and can bask in the joy of the occasion.

And finally, an equally special welcome to all of those from Hope Church joining us this morning. It’s possible you may discover some unfamiliar stuff too! But it’s a genuine pleasure to gather as brothers and sisters in Christ, and praise our Maker together – we hope you feel at home.

Oooh, Fruity

Over the summer we’ve been looking at the fruit of the spirit, but have you noticed that it is singular? Sometimes we think about fruits, as if each characteristic was a different fruit that we can choose from like a fruit bowl.

Instead, all Christians are meant to produce all these characteristics in our lives as we are led by the Holy Spirit. Some might come more naturally, others might take more work, but by the power of the Holy Spirit God enables them all in all of us that we can say that it is the fruit of God working in us, changing us more and more to the likeness of Christ.

Why not try to learn the verse (the kids are!) and explore with God to what extent you are producing this fruit.

 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:

 love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Galatians 5:22-23

Fruits of the Spirit - Peace & Patience

This week we continue to explore the fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5 v22 says (amongst other things) that “the fruit of the Spirit is...peace and patience....”  What does this mean?

Dictionaries give various meanings for the words

peace: no dissension

peace: a time when there is no war

peace: freedom from disturbance; tranquillity; inner calm

“Peace”: a greeting on meeting or parting!

patience: quality of calm endurance of misfortune, suffering or discomfort.

patient: one who suffers...is ill.

Patience: feminine name created by Puritans in 1600s derived from the virtue “patience”.

being patient: putting up with provocation, irritation or annoyance etc, without complaint.

 

How close do these definitions take us to a Christian understanding? Charlotte will be speaking to us about these “fruits”. If you miss her talk catch up with it on our web site.

 

Fruits of the Spirit - Joy

We continue our Summer Series exploring the fruits of the Spirit, and this week we focus our attention on ‘joy’. People don’t often employ that three letter word, but the search for happiness is something that most people understand. A lot of us run after it…chasing the things we imagine will bring it…not always finding it.  We’re going to look at what Jesus has to say about the matter. But in the hunt for joy, it’s worth starting with this realisation:

“The greatest moment of your life is now. Not because it's pleasant or happy or easy, but because this moment is the only moment you've got. Every past moment is irretrievably gone. It's never coming back. If you live there, you lose your life. And the future is always out there somewhere. You can spend an eternity waiting for tomorrow, or worrying about tomorrow. If you live there, you likewise will lose your life.

This moment is God's irreplaceable gift to you.”

Possible Openings

This week we have a selection of possible mission/job opportunities. Firstly, OM (Operation Mobilisation) are putting out a plea for people to deploy their everyday work skills in the mission field. It could be as a career break, or those moving towards retirement, but their Africa director is looking for people in the following areas:

  • Financial Developer
  • Personnel Manger & Personnel Officer
  • Administrator
  • PA to Associate Area Leaders

The place of work would be either South Africa or Zambia. They’re also looking for a financial manager and administrator in OM Malawi and OM Mozambique. If you’re interested then speak to Jon.

Southwark Diocese are also advertising a number of jobs at Trinity House and Southwark Cathedral via the Church of England Pathways Jobsite:

 http://southwark.anglican.org/about-us/vacancies/ The jobs include:

  • Property Administrator & Part-time Admin Assistant
  • Finance Officer & Choir Chaperones

 

Bishop's Certificate in Discipleship

The Bishop’s Certificate is a Southwark Diocese initiative to help people grow in faith and life.

The course is designed for you if you want to gain confidence in speaking about faith, deepen your prayer life, read the bible with more understanding and application, or simply reflect on your Christian journey and make increasing connections between life and your faith. There are six modules to the whole course. You can take individual modules or the whole course, and also decide whether or not to complete assignments. 

It is filling up fast so take a leaflet and look at the options. It has been revised and updated recently with a wider range of ways to tackle it, so its not as daunting as it sounds! Penny or Sybil can fill you in more, and leaflets are in the information point.

Just pick one up and see if its for you!  If not this year, maybe in the future.

The Happiness Course

Wellbeing is a concept that is in vogue at the moment, not least of all because contentment appears to be increasingly elusive for people.

‘The Happiness Course’ hasn’t simply jumped onto the latest social trend though. It is a course designed by the Christian charity, Livability, who have been working in some of the country’s most deprived areas for a long time. Forged out of their engagement with local communities, the course encourages people to grapple with what’s really important in life to help them discover a sense of wellbeing that is deeper than a fleeting good mood.

Dawn and Penny have been on training with Livability and would like to ‘test drive’ the course with you. The plan is to run it at SJ's, 7:30-9:30 pm (coffee from 7:15 pm) on the following Thursday Evenings – 19 & 26 July, 2 & 9 August. You don’t need to attend all 4 sessions on this taster series, but if you are interested please ring or text - Penny (07912 870528) or Dawn (07985 943158).

 

Commissioning Amber

Amber will soon be starting her new role as our Young People & Families’ Enabler – yay!

She begins on 1 August, but before then we’d like to officially mark her taking up of this post in a 10am service. So, next weekend (15 July), we are going to dedicate part of time together to just that. We’ll have a chat with her, refresh our memories of the role she will be playing, and most importantly pray for her - that God’s Spirit will equip her for all that lies ahead.

It would be great to have as many of you there as possible to cheer her on and lend your support. If you can’t make it, please continue to hold Amber in your prayers. Starting in a fresh post is exciting, but it’s also draining adjusting to lots of ‘new’ things.

 

Remembering our Purpose

You might think it’s a slow news week to cover the front page with this – but sometimes a bit of poetry is simply good for the soul. Enjoy.

The place He gives us to inhabit.                               carrying on with

The few things                                                              what they were made for,

He gives us to do in that place.                                   the night craft of

The persons He invites us to know there.                    unnoticed faces,

These our days,                                                             with our wings unobserved,

Our lingering.

                                                                                        until He walks again

It is enough then,                                                            in the cool of the day,

this old work of hands                                                    to call our names once more.

His and ours                                                                      

to love here,                                                                      And we then,

to learn His song here,                                                      with our stitched white flags,

                                                                                           will from behind his evergreens

like crickets that scratch                                                   finally unhide ourselves,

and croon,                                                                          unblushed with Him to stroll

from nooks unseen,                                                            once more.

From ‘Sensing God’, Zach Eswine

Sprung

Even if you’re not one of the lucky ones who will soon be wrestling canvas and tent poles, I hope that you are aware that our home-grown Summer Camp takes place next Friday at Downe Activity Centre.

I appreciate that if you don’t have kids going, or you’re not part of the organisational team, then it might feel hard to get too excited by it all. However, I’d encourage you to try and see it as something of real spiritual significance. These camps are more than just great fun. They often represent times when our young people take real strides in their faith, or when those on the edge of church life make a commitment to Christ. The value of those sort of things cannot be quantified, but they will only happen if the church family rallies in prayer.

So whether or not you’re going to be at Downe next weekend, you can be involved in the crucial work of praying your socks off. Pray for the leaders, the young people, our guest speakers (Anna and Josh), and most significantly that God’s Spirit would be at work in the thick of all the activity, drawing new followers to his side.

Happy Father's Day

One of my favourite stories that Jesus tells is the parable of the Prodigal Son. You’re likely to be familiar with it – it’s one of his better known yarns. I love it because for a long time I could identify with the younger son’s waywardness and his disbelief at the reaction he receives when he sheepishly returns home. As I’ve got older, and my children move into their teen years, my love for the story has not waned, but my focus has shifted more to the Father.

Which I think is probably the point!

Tim Keller, in his book, the Prodigal God reminds us that “prodigal” does not mean “wayward”, but “recklessly spendthrift” – to spend until you have nothing left. This is as appropriate for describing the Father, as it is his youngest son.  He welcomes his son back recklessly, not holding anything against him.

It challenges me as I recognise my own shortcomings as a Dad. But equally encourages me as Jesus told the story so that we might recognise the true nature of our heavenly Father. Happy Father’s Day.

A Call to Exercise...

This week we step into our new sermon series, ‘You Asked For It’.

Over the next 6-7 weeks we’ll be looking at some topics that can be emotive, and may well have been a source of pain for a number of our church family in the past. It’s healthy to acknowledge that, but we don’t want it to mean that we duck consideration of these subjects.

As we delve into them though, it will require us to sharpen our understanding of something dear to the gospel, which also has the power to soften our hearts. It is something with which Paul invariably tops and tails his letters to the churches. It can be easy to miss, but one way or another, ‘grace’ forms the bookends of all that he wishes to communicate with the people for whom he cares.

This series will cause us to consider the very nature of this ‘grace’ thing, but more than that I pray it will propel us to exercise its healing power.

One-Bit Word Game

‘Do you know the One-Bit Word Game? It’s a game where you may not use words that have more than one bit’ [syllable]. It’s a kid’s game but one that can help us be clear. When we talk of God we can use big words to make us sound smart. We can use big words – some may be in Greek – to make sure that what we say is true but when we do this we can hide the truth – make the light turn dark.

Can you tell the good news of God in one-bit words? Give it a go. It is hard! Make sure that you do not miss bits out. It’s not that we should use one-bit words all day, but it can help us drop big, smart words for clear, plain ones. It can help us think more of what the good news of God is and share it more but not with bunk words. Why not write it down and share with folk at church? Pete C would like to see too.

Is it a cinch? Then try this: How do you tell that God is one in three?

Inspired by tinyurl.com/ybg8lwrg