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.

Moldova

In July a group from St John's joined a Link to Hope working party working in rural Moldova. They spent their time with lonely. elderly, isolated and impoverished people, sharing God's love through practical work, including painting and mending things for them.

In this video clip Roger & Rosemary talk about their experience.

The working party will be speaking about their experiences at the prayer meeting at SJ's on Monday, 25th September.

Moldova Map.jpg

Young People & Families' Enabler

I hope that over the Summer you’ve had an opportunity to mull over and pray about the possibility of employing someone to the above post. Don’t forget that if you have any observations or questions about it, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

 From 10 September, I will be asking you to indicate whether you support the proposal by completing the tear-off part of the flier that we distributed before the Summer break. In the meantime, please continue to commit this to prayer. Raising the necessary funds is a necessary aspect of the process, but the more exciting prospect is God unearthing for us a person of calibre with the right character and gifting to help us as we engage with this element of our mission. 

 Thank you, Jon.

Big Welcome to Lucas

It was just over 2 years ago that Lucas’ older sister, Ellie, was baptised here at St John’s and now it’s his turn to take the plunge.

 Whether it’s your first or fifth, there is something special about having a public platform to express your gratitude for the gift of a child, not to mention receiving prayer for help in the sometimes-daunting task of being a parent. 

 We hope that all of you who’ve come to support Ben and Anna, and cheer on Lucas, feel at home. We are aware that there are elements of gathering in an old building on a Sunday morning which may not be immediately familiar. Don’t feel you need to put on any airs and graces -  we simply encourage you to soak up what’s going on and join in with whatever you feel comfortable with. God Bless.

May I Never Become 'Too Busy' To Pray

This was the headline from a letter recently written by the Chief Executive of CMS – a sentiment which I suspect few of us would contest.

 I wonder though if you have had the privilege of a break over the Summer, you were struck by the contrast of the pace of life ‘on holiday’ and the speed of your ‘normal’ existence. There is something about that which is right and natural, but as you resume your usual activities (and even if that is a few weeks off yet), I hope that it’s not your prayer life that gets the squeeze.

 It is a singular blessing of being part of God’s family that we get to pray for one another. As I write this, I can think of many members of St John’s who are facing tough times, and I know how much they value being held up in prayer. Let’s continue to uplift each other in this way, and never find ourselves with so much on that we haven’t got time to pray. God Bless.

Your Skin's Got a Beautiful Glow

Some people just seem to be blessed with flawless skin and a natural glow, whilst the rest of us have to rely upon resigning ourselves to our genetics or trying to circumvent nature with an array of astronomically expensive cosmetics.

 

Yet for everyone, even for common folk like me, there seems to be an even greater glow when we are doing what we are made to do. When we are doing what we are passionate about there seems to be a certain je ne sais quoi about us, a sort of glow from within. Just think about how your Grandad just seems to light-up when he starts talking about trains.

 

Today the church celebrates the Transfiguration of Jesus, when he is revealed to his disciples in His glory. Not a soft, natural glow, but a dazzling, brilliant light as He is revealed for who he is: the one to whom the scriptures testify, the one to whom the Law points, the one of whom the prophets foretold, the one to whom the Father declares, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’

 This is not just a fun story, or a spiritual make-over, but a reminder of who the Jesus we worship is, and who is with us even at the bottom of the rope.

 Read the story of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17: 1-13 and Mark 9: 2-13

'I Told Them of the Gracious Hand of God Upon Me.' Nehemiah 2:18

Youll hear this verse come up a lot in todays service. Without wanting to steal too much of Sallys thunder, its a cornerstone of Nehemiah.

 We tend to be drawn to successful people. It used to be people who were rich but I think most of us are a little too cynical of that now. Instead I think we tend to be drawn to people with power and fame. We are drawn to the pop stars and the politicians. Were drawn even more so to the revolutionaries and the movement starters. Just look at all the T-shirts with Che Guevara or Steve Jobs on. As Christians we are drawn to the big names with the big churches. Its them that get invited to the festivals and sell the books.

 When Nehemiah went to Jerusalem he didnt tell them about his power, but of the gracious hand of God on him. What if instead of looking for the next big name, we look at who has Gods hand upon them? Sometimes that can be the same person (after all, Nehemiah was a cup-bearer), but it is not always a given. I doubt I need to list Christian ministers that have flown on power, then crashed and burned!

 And what about you? Where in your life can you see Gods gracious hand at work? What would never have happened without God working in you?

Inquisitive?

There is a study that looks at whether poverty can be eased by giving money. It looked at claims that giving money is a waste as the poor would only squander it. Better, they say, to spend it on their behalf. However, the study had a different outcome. It suggested that if you give poor people money, it allows them time to think about things other than what seems most urgent. It is then that people get an education, a good job, and get themselves and their families out of poverty.

 I think this parallels with faith too. People are often so busy trying to sort out what they feel is most urgent: food, rent, the next gizmo, that they don’t stop to think about if there is more to life than this. They are trapped in a cycle of spiritual poverty.

 Inquisitive? is a chance for your non-christian friends and colleagues to take time out, to think, and to express their opinions. Together we pray that we can think together, and use it as a step in the way out of spiritual poverty.

 Over the summer, have a think who you might like to invite. Who do you know that needs some time to stop and think about what really matters? See the flier, or talk to Peter, Jon, or Nick for more information.

Welcome to Jackson's Fan Club

It is almost 3 years to the day that Sophia was taking the plunge here at St John’s, and it’s our pleasure to rally behind her younger brother as he follows in her footsteps to be baptised. We extend a particular welcome to all of you who have made a special trip to be here and lend your support. Baptism is intended to be a ‘family occasion’ in the widest sense of the meaning and it’s a perfect opportunity to come together and celebrate.

 As it says in the introduction to the ceremony:

 ‘Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to God’s love. For all involved…it is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ, making serious promises and declaring the faith.’

 We hope you experience and bask in that joy today.