APCM Preparations

Hopefully you’ve noted the date for our church AGM – 22 April.

Today is the last day for returning forms for joining the electoral roll. They can be put in the box in church, or given to Paul Kingman / Geoff Batten. For those of you less familiar with Church of England procedure, this is a way of keeping track of our membership. It also gives you the right to vote at the APCM. More positively, it indicates that you view St John’s as your spiritual home, and you’d like to be involved in the shaping of our future.

We also want people to consider whether they might wish to become:

·         A PCC Member - we refresh a 1/3 of the elected members of our leadership each year, so if you’re interested in helping steer the church, speak to Jon.

·         A Welcomer - we refresh our welcome rota annually, and if you want to become part of the welcome team, we will provide training. Please do speak to one of the wardens.

Easter Baptisms

There is a long tradition, stretching all the way back to the Early Church of baptising people on Easter Sunday.

It’s not hard to see why.

As the baptism liturgy states the water of baptism is a “sign that we are buried with Christ in his death, we share in his resurrection, and we are reborn by the Holy Spirit”. So as Christians around the world celebrate the risen Christ, what better time to welcome newcomers into His family!

This Easter Sunday we are going to do just that. We are hiring the baptism pool and at least 2 of our young people will publicly embrace their first identity as children of God. It promises to be a great celebration.

We want to extend the offer of baptism to anyone who hasn’t yet taken the step.  If you are interested, but not sure what’s involved or whether you’re allowed, please don’t hesitate to speak to Jon or Peter.

The Bishop's Lent Call

Since 1986, successive Bishop’s in Southwark have issued a ‘call’ for parishes to use Lent as a time of prayer and contemplation, as well as raise money for specific projects here and abroad. In that time, over £1 million has been raised for more than 150 projects. We will take a collection over the Easter weekend for the projects chosen this year, which include:

The Holy Land – The Al Ahli Arab Hospital & The Al Shurooq School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Zimbabwe – The dioceses of Masvingo, Matabeleland & Manicaland and their involvement with many schools.

Southwark Diocese – Bede House, The Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health & The Spires Centre.

Further details of these projects can be found at the MOP noticeboard in church.

'Let's Go to a Quiet Place and Rest A While'

What an invitation from Jesus, and perhaps one we rarely recognise as being made to us in such a personal manner.

Yet there it is.

But it comes as an open invitation, not an edict from on high. That means we’ve got to make the RSVP. There is a chance on Saturday 3 March to take up the offer to refresh yourselves during this season of Lent. The church will be open from 10:00am to 2:00pm with creative aids for prayer, reflection and meditation.

You can step in and out of the ‘peaceful space’ at your leisure, for as much time as you wish. Refreshments will be available throughout the time.

We hope it’s a blessing to you. 

Life in Lent

Lent is often associated with denial of one sort or another, but it’s not always accompanied by such a great understanding as to why we’re foregoing the Cadburys.

Here’s a simple, but great quote from a vicar this week to motivate you to embrace Lent:

The idea of Lent is that Easter is so mind-blowing that to hope to engage with it we need to get in training. So, we make space for God by 6 weeks of forgiving, saying sorry, reading the Bible, caring for and standing with those in need, fasting and praying.

 To help you along the way, our Lent series called ‘Seven Words’ begins this Sunday. We’ll take a look at some very simple words, which will invite us to embrace some practices to prepare for Easter, but which also have the potential to help us adjust our long term approach to life and faith.

LENT 'Seven Words'

With Christmas feeling like a recent memory, it seems a little premature that the season of Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday. The phases of the moon have thrown up some humorous timings for God to work with this year - with Ash Wednesday falling on Valentines Day, and Easter Sunday on April Fools’ Day! 

Diary quirks aside, Lent is a great opportunity. Before 2018 gets into it’s full stride, there are some creative steps we can all take to allow more space for God in our everyday. Next weekend we’ll be starting a new series called ‘Seven Words’. We’ll look at a different ‘gospel’ (think gospel glasses!!) word each week and explore what that word signifies, as well as the practices attached to it, which might allow God to reshape us.

There will also be a quiet ½ day on 3 March from 10.00am - 2.00pm for further opportunity to step away from your usual routines for prayer and meditation (more details will follow). 

Let's Talk About Sex...(maybe)

We recognise that engaging with our children and young people on this subject is not always easy. But without being too alarmist, if you’re not doing it, you can guarantee that someone, or something else, will be.

As they did last year, Amber Crisis Pregnancy Care are hosting an evening for parents, carers, teachers and youth workers at SJ’s.

The aim is to provide an insight into what it is like growing up today in our digital-laden world and to encourage and support adults in talking with their children and young people about some of the issues attached to that. We can’t recommend this evening highly enough, so grab your tickets, and invite your friends along as well.

When:                  March 13th, 7.30pm at SJ's

How:                     Free tickets available at www.bit.ly/amber-event

Survey for 18 - 35

At St. John's, West Wickham, we are privileged to have you as part of our church family. This survey is the beginning of a process to understand your gifts and needs so that we can better equip you to live out your faith 24/7.

There are just 9 questions, so please be as thorough as possible. There is also an 'Any other comments' box at the end which we encourage you to use too. If you would like to speak more about this topic then please contact Jon or Peter who would be happy to meet up with you.


Marriage Resource Closes

As faithful supporters of Marriage Resource we wanted to share this news with you as a season changes.

The work of supporting couples and training will continue in different ways, without the overhead of Marriage Resource, a registered charity. The couple-to-couple marriage support will continue under St John’s with Mike and Sue Watson heading up this work, with Barry and Chrissy supporting. If there are couples you know who may need support in the future, please contact us or the church office. Barry and Chrissy will continue to train trainers for Pastoral Care UK so that marriage support can flourish around the UK and abroad.

We wanted to take this opportunity to say a massive THANK YOU to God and our St John’s family for their faithful and generous support of us and Marriage Resource over the last 18 years.

'Gospel Glasses'

I’m reliably informed that a leader should keep repeating an organisation’s vision ‘ad nauseum’ for it to stick. So, here’s a reminder of our church vision:

‘We aim to help anyone and everyone ‘do life’ with Jesus so that individuals, our local community and beyond can flourish.’

 Hopefully, that doesn’t induce feelings of nausea, but has an appeal all by itself. However, it sometimes helps when it’s made a little more specific. Last Sunday, we talked about how we are going to run after this vision in 2018 by referring to ‘Gospel Glasses’ – seeing people and situations with ‘Jesus eyes’.

So, this week, I want you to pray for God to lead you to someone who on the surface may look a long way from Him. Ask God to reveal the masterpiece in them that lies beneath the surface and engage them in conversation. Your only goal is to ask questions, listen and learn about them as people. Just one person you don’t know well, or at all.

See what God starts.

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.


For Light has come into the world


The mountains sing,

the seas resound

to the praise of your name.


once promised is here on earth


The angels' song

rings in the air,

a child has been born.


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.