Young People and Families Enabler

YOUNG PEOPLE AND FAMILIES ENABLER

 

This week we completed the Job Description and Application Form for the post for which we are looking to recruit.

From the beginning of February, the Job Advert will be going on-line with New Wine and Church Drum, and into the newspapers of Southwark, Rochester and London Dioceses. Obviously, we’ll also place it up on our own Website and Facebook page. When that happens, we’ll ask as many of you as possible to share it through your contacts, so that it is circulated as widely as possible.

Far more importantly, please can you all commit to praying in earnest about this position – individually, and in the church groups to which you belong.

This is a significant step for us as a church, and we want to continue to underpin this whole venture with prayer. Thank you.

New Alpha Course Starting Soon

Alpha UK has recently revamped their materials and we’ll be running the new look course at SJ’s from Thursday 25 January, 7:45pm, including food and drinks.

Alpha is a natural follow-on from our Inquisitive evenings – equally relaxed, but looking in more depth at the claims of Christianity. Alpha have produced a series of high quality films, which tee up discussion around a subject for each evening. You can get a taste by following the link on our website.

If you’re wondering about Jesus, intrigued why people believe, or simply feel you want to cement your understanding of the basics of the Christian faith then Alpha could be for you. Feel free to come along and dip your toe, and if it’s not for you, don’t worry there’s no binding contracts!

If you are interested follow the link on the website, or notify Margaret directly at the Parish Office (see email address inside).

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

Here’s a Christmas prayer of praise that fits well with our ‘Worship’ theme for the end of our Advent Series. Happy Christmas one and all.

Shout for joy

the whole earth,

and everything within.

Rejoice!

For Light has come into the world

 

The mountains sing,

the seas resound

to the praise of your name.

Salvation

once promised is here on earth

 

The angels' song

rings in the air,

a child has been born.

Hallelujah!

The Saviour of the world is here

The Pain of Waiting ...

I wonder how the Advent season has been for you?

If you’re like me, you might be a little disappointed that it hasn’t been all that different to normal, save for a spike in things to do. Whilst some of us might have used the period to reflect more deeply on Jesus’ arrival, my hunch is fewer of us will have dwelt on the other focal point of Advent – the ‘end times’. I am acutely aware that plenty of you have been living in the tension of those two perspectives – often referred to as the ‘now and not-yet’ of God’s rule. God’s kingdom has broken out, but not completely. We have a vision of the world as God yearns it to be, but not the ability to bring it about in full. We see glimmers of God’s glory in the world but have to wait for the time when that glory will suffuse the whole of creation.

That reality for some of you has meant living with the pain, fragility, and yes, disappointment of life, whilst trying to hold on to Christ’s promises.

That’s not easy, and my prayer for you all is that God’s Spirit allows you to see the ‘end’, in a way which brings real hope and peace for your ‘now’. God Bless.

Christmas Collections

This Christmas we will be taking collections across different services for the following organisations:

(i) The Children’s Society (Christingle Services)

A national charity that runs local projects, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn.

(ii) Bromley Night Shelter (Carol Service / Christmas Day)

This is a project run by the ‘Churches Together in Central Bromley’ to help homeless people with a connection to Bromley Borough.

(iii) Missionary Aviation Fellowship (Carol Service / Christmas Day)

Working in partnership with hundreds of other relief organisations MAF reaches some of the most remote people on our planet who struggle with malnutrition and the effects of displacement, bringing practical help, physical healing, and spiritual hope.

 

You can find out more about their respective work by visiting their websites.

Christmas at St John's

We would love to see you at one of our services over the Christmas period.

Here are all the details you'll need:

Carols by Candlelight

Sunday 17 December, 7pm

Join us to celebrate with carols, mince pies and mulled wine.


Christmas Eve

Christingle services - 3pm & 5pm

A wonderful time for all the family to gather together, hear the story of the first Christmas and sing carols.
 

Midnight Communion - 11:15pm

A chance to reflect at this special and peace-filled service to bring in Christmas Day. Not only recalling the birth of Christ but sharing communion together to remember the reason that Jesus came.


Christmas Day

Holy communion - 8am

An opportunity to share communion early on Christmas morning.
 

Family Worship - 10am

A short service for us to come together as the whole church family and celebrate the birth of Christ!

Advent Assessment

Assuming you’re reading this on Sunday, then you’ve got 22 days left until Christmas Day. That’s 528 hours to squeeze in all that’s required to pull off the sort of Christmas that you, or perhaps more significantly, those around you are expecting. I don’t know whether that makes you breathe easy, or feel the pressure? Continue the same course, or draw up a new to-do list?

What if I said you’ve got 22 days until Jesus returns to this earth once more?

I wonder what steps you would take to put your ‘house in order’ for that particular date of destiny. Of course, I don’t know if Jesus is planning his comeback in 22 days’ time – it could be much longer, but it could be tomorrow. One of the points of advent is to remember the urgency Jesus attaches to being prepared; ensuring we don’t put off the things which will matter when that moment arrives. No small part of that will be the state of our relationships – firstly with our Maker, and then with the people around us.

How about putting relationship repairs at the top of your advent to-do list this year?

Waiting for God

The word ‘Advent’ only really enters the public conscience at one point these days – Advent Calendars.

And my, it’s a booming industry.

Long gone are the days when a chocolate advent calendar was the height of decadence. Nowadays, you can now get cheese advent calendars, beauty product versions, and the ‘Ginvent’ calendar competes with its Malt Whisky rival. Retailers, it would seem, have left no calendar door unopened to flog their wares. Advent Calendars originated in Germany in the mid-nineteenth century. The basic idea was to build a sense of anticipation. Opening a door each day to count down the numbers to Christmas is a small way to build suspense and increase expectation for the approaching celebration. The latest offerings rather miss that point, extending instant gratification, rather than the delayed sort that can make the final festivities all the sweeter.

Will we forego anything this advent to draw deeper into the waiting that comes with following Christ?

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Brother Andrew, also known as God’s Smuggler, once stated that “only through mobilizing the church to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith in Christ, will we see a significant shift in the involvement in their plight.

This why we would like to invite you all to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ during today’s service, and at the Prayer Meeting tomorrow at 8pm at SJs. “To suffer with the suffering no longer is something just for specialised agencies or special-interest groups in congregations. More and more, it has become an ongoing interest for every Christian, just as it should be according to the New Testament.”

There is also an even broader political aspect. Beyond praying for Christians, IDOP has highlighted the plight of people who belong to other religious groups and of adherents to non-religious worldviews in countries of concern. It has done more to make this situation known to millions around the world than has any other tool. So even though it is a Christian worship service, the effect has been positive for many other people of good will.

Remembrance Sunday

We don’t always air the entirety of Binyon’s well-known Remembrance poem, ‘The Fallen’, so here it is in all it’s poignancy.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;

They sit no more at familiar tables of home;

They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;

They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,

Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,

To the innermost heart of their own land they are known

As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,

Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,

As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,

To the end, to the end, they remain.

Thanksgiving Service for Jenny Gaved

It has become increasingly apparent over the last couple of weeks that Jenny touched the lives of many, many people with her ‘no edges’ kindness and love. It is an honour to host a Thanksgiving Service in memory of her on Friday 17 November at 2:00pm, here at St John’s Church.

All are welcome to come and join in this celebration of Jenny’s life.

If you have memories of Jenny you would like to share, the family would love to hear from you, and they will help form the tribute to her. Please email them to sue.rogers2051@gmail.com

The family have also indicated that black was not a favourite of Jenny’s, so you are encouraged to wear alternative colours at the service! Afterwards, everyone is warmly welcomed to the upstairs room (Regans) at the New Inn in Hayes (BR2 7EA) for refreshments and an opportunity to chat with all who remember Jenny.

Advent Quiet Morning

ADVENT QUIET MORNING

Advent is a time of year that we stop and reflect. We plan to stop because life can be so frantic that if we don’t do it on purpose we rush through life barely stopping to breathe. We reflect because otherwise we can fail to notice what we are doing and why.

At Advent we particularly remember the waiting that people did before Jesus came, and the waiting we do now for His return. As we rush into Christmas it is easy for Advent to become a time of stress and frantic activity. Buying the presents, writing the cards, planning Christmas dinner, going to all the events. There always seems more to do. You tell yourself, “I’ll stop after New Years”, but you don’t even convince yourself of that.

We know Advent can be like that and so we would like to offer you a chance to stop and breath. A chance to think about the reason for the season. A chance to get your priorities in order. A chance to spend some time with God as we wait together.

Come and join us here at St. John’s for an Advent Quiet Morning,

25th November, 9am-12noon.

Put it in your diary now before it fills up!

If you want to know more, please talk to Peter

Reformation 500

2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 theses on the door of a chapel in the German town of Wittenberg – an event that has become known as the starting point of the Reformation.

It may seem like it’s just something for those with a passion for History, but whether we are aware of it or not, it is a period that has shaped the faith we express today. Luther’s challenge to the church touched on issues of grace, repentance and forgiveness, and took on a life that affected many countries across Europe.

This Sunday, there is going to be a Churches Together celebration of this anniversary at Emmanuel at 6:30pm. It will be both a time of worship and an opportunity to discover a bit more about the impact of these old events. If you’re really keen, a good read on the subject is, ‘Why the Reformation Still Matters’, by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester.

Church Weekend Away

It may seem a long way off, but we would like to start planning for a weekend in Autumn 2018 to offer the church family time to get away. There can be untold benefits to stepping out of our usual context together for refreshment – both spiritual and social.

 We are looking for a small team of volunteers who might be interested in beginning to shape such a weekend. It would involve trying to source an appropriate venue, consider who we might invite to speak, and begin formulating a programme. It would be beneficial to have a good age-spread on the team, so whether in your teens or your nineties, don’t hesitate to put your name forward.

 If you are interested, please let Jon or Peter know in the next couple of weeks. Thank you.  

Admission of Children to Communion

You may recall that back in May we sought permission from the Diocese to administer Communion to some of our young people. It’s taken a wee while, but we’ve received the green light from the Bishop to proceed.

 We are encouraging parents to have a conversation with their children as to whether this might be something they wish to pursue. Please note that your child needs to have been baptised for this to happen, and there will be some tailored preparation and teaching for them to undergo before they are admitted.

 You can either email Jon directly, or sign the Sheet in the Information Point, to put your child’s name down for the preparation (please include your name, as well as your child’s name and age). It may well be that you wish to use the preparation to help you weigh the decision as a family, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.   

Harvest Thanksgiving

A German guy known as Meister Eckhart is reputed to have said that if the only prayer you make is ‘Thank You’ that will suffice. Expressing gratitude is a healthy reminder that many of the things we enjoy in life do not come our way simply as the product of our own endeavours.

 We are dependent on others and God. 

 Thanksgiving also helps us to remind us that we are in this together, and our blessings, gifts and talents are to be shared out for the well-being of others. As we celebrate God’s goodness to us today, we will look to ‘pass it on’ by giving to the following two causes:   

 i) Christian Aid – for those who have been affected by Hurricane Irma;

 ii) Salvation Army in Bromley - tinned fish, meat and vegetables, as well as Fray Bentos pies and ravioli are much appreciated.

 

Nearly There...

A big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has responded to the plea for financial support for a Young People and Families Enabler. So far, 22 people have made pledges and I’m aware that there are still some outstanding

 Encouragingly, we also received confirmation this week that our application to the Diocese for a grant towards the post was approved. When we combine the pledges, with the 2 grants and significant gift we have received, we are close to having three quarters of the amount needed to employ someone for 3 years.

 That’s really heartening!

 We’re not quite there yet, and I’d love to see a greater proportion of the church family respond – even if it’s only the cost of a couple of coffees per month. It all helps, and offers reassurance that there is an emotional investment in this step, which will be critical. If you’re struggling to understand the vision for the post, then grab one of our leadership and find out a bit more.

Prayer & Healing Service

We like to provide space for people to receive prayer for anything on any given Sunday.

 However, it feels timely to hold a complete service directed towards prayer and specifically, an opportunity to receive prayer for healing and wholeness. Our time together will include some teaching and sung worship, but will offer plenty of space for people to ‘Be Still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46: 10). There is something special about coming together as a church family in faith in this way, so we encourage you to put the date in your diary now – Sunday 1 October, 6:30pm.

 ‘But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness

will rise with healing in its wings.’

Malachi 4: 2

Link to Hope - Mission Focus

Exciting times at Link to Hope! Through the Shoebox Deliveries, relationships with new communities in Moldova and Romania are being established. In impoverished, isolated villages we are gently beginning to work alongside trusted people to establish new projects to bring hope.

This year’s Working party sprang out of a clear vision of a man – Vasillee Istrati, and a building in Dubovca. On Monday 25th September 8pm @SJs, some of the Working Party team will be sharing experiences, photos and prayer needs of the trip. Please come and hear about their amazing week.

The shoebox collection and distribution is itself dramatically changing. Milly will have c 5000 shoeboxes (about 3500 more than usual) to sort and pack. Please prayerfully consider whether you can be part of the much needed ‘Shoebox Army’ to show people that somewhere, someone cares. We need:

  • Drivers to collect shoeboxes locally (13-17 November)
  • Sorters & Packers (13-24 November)

 

To help raise funds we are running the LTH/St John’s Autumn Fair (7 October 11am-3pm) – see inside for more details. We’d love the church family to be involved. If you would like to know more read a copy of Newslink on the MOP table, speak to Milly or come to SJ’s on 25 September.

Summer Spruce Up

The long Summer holiday can be a good opportunity to have a bit of stock take and consider any adjustments you might want to make to your house, work, life…

 As you walk into church next week, we hope that you’ll notice a few changes. Over the Summer we’ve been putting together various materials, largely aimed at providing newcomers with a better sense of what’s goes within our church family. Without giving too much away, there will be different ‘packs’ on display, ‘Connect’ cards, and the area around the font will become an ‘information point’ for our Vision, Home Groups, and Teams.

 Of course, all that is simply window-dressing if it is not matched by a ‘de-cluttered’ people (John 15:2), who take time to assess how they are walking with their Maker. If you haven’t yet done so, there are still a few weeks of Summer left.