Church News

Love Conquers Hate

At the time of the recent tragic events in New Zealand the word “love” was used constantly. People said “love conquers hate”; The NZ prime minister advised Mr Trump to “love Muslims”. NZ Muslim leaders said how much they felt loved.

Love of God and love of neighbour is central to the three great religions. Devout Jews recite the words of Deut 6 twice a day. “Hear O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might.” In other words, love God with all your being.

When Jesus was tested about the greatest commandment, he quoted that verse but added another from Leviticus. “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”  In other words love of God needs to be manifest in tolerance, care and support of others.

With so much tension in society at present perhaps we should be saying this daily:

“Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might. The second is this: love your neighbour as yourself”.

The Bishop's Lent Appeal 2019

The theme for this year’s appeal is ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’. The Bishop of Southwark has asked if we can support projects not only in our own Diocese, but others in Sri Lanka, Kenya and Zimbabwe, including:

-          Work of the Leprosy Mission in Sri Lanka;

-          Church Army Africa’s Carlile College in Nairobi, which trains people for mission and evangelism;

-          The Diocese of Central Zimbabwe, who continues to work in very challenging circumstances, with many struggling without enough to live on, or pay for school or medical fees.

-          Sutton Women’s Centre who provide a space for women, who have often been the victims of domestic violence.

 We will take a collection for this Appeal next Sunday (14th) - Palm Sunday.

Good Friday

There is a different format to our Churches Together activities this Good Friday.

 We’ll meet at St Mark’s Church at 10am as we have in years gone by, but rather than the ‘walk of witness’ and gathering in the Swan, there will be reflections taking place at 6 stations at different points in the High Street.

 Different Cafés and shops have agreed to put up posters in their window during Holy Week, depicting some of the themes of Good Friday – Fear, Betrayal, Forgiveness, Hope, etc. Groups will gather at these points to distribute Hot Cross Buns to the public, but also partake in a reflection around the theme that is at their venue. This will then be followed by a service at St Francis, with Children’s Activities in the church hall.

 The more people who opt to support this event, the more effective it will be, so we hope you can join us on this day which lies at the heart of our faith. 

Churcher Family Farewell

Hopefully, you have all registered the fact that Peter’s last working day in the parish is on Easter Sunday.

 To give him and the family the send-off they deserve, we’ll be having a big tea and cake party immediately following the service on that day. We recognise that Easter will mean commitments for many of you, so we will bring the shedding of tears to an end in plenty of time for you to make it to any lunch engagements.

 That’s about all we can give away publicly (wink, wink), but it’s also worth reminding you of the date of Peter’s installation at his new job in Ilfracombe – 13 May, 7pm. If you were thinking of making the trip, or hoping to but weren’t sure how you might get there, please can you let Jon know so we can think about travel arrangements.

Maundy Thursday

In a change from our usual Maundy Thursday activity, both Coney Hill Baptist Church and St John’s have been invited by West Wickham & Shirley Baptist to join them to see the Riding Lights Theatre Company present ‘The Narrow Road’.

 If you haven’t seen any of the Riding Lights productions you are missing out. They are one of the UK’s most successful independent theatre companies, with international renown. Amazingly, we’re being offered tickets for free, so if you’d like to come please can you sign the sheet in the Information Point.

 As an alternative, there will still be a communion service taking place at St Francis at 7pm on Maundy Thursday evening, to which there is also an open invitation.

Assembly Rooms 24th March 2019

As we do at intervals through the year, we will be gathering for our 10:00am Sunday Morning Service on 24 March at the Assembly Rooms on Gates Green Road. 

 As a way of drawing our series on gifts to a close, we will consider a self-assessment tool which helps us to consider our personality and how that affects the way we do things. It really complements the Spiritual Gift Assessment Tool (which can be found on the website, if you haven’t yet given it a go!) and helps us work through a different aspect of our gifting – how we tend to exercise our gifts, and in particular, when our way of being can hinder the best expression of those gifts. It’s really helpful, and there will be plenty of laughs along the way, so don’t miss out.

 The young people, up to Year 9 will be doing activities together with Amber in the hall next door to help them understand more about themselves and how they relate to other people. There will also be creche available.

Finding God in the Wilderness

Come and be Refreshed

Saturday 23rd March 2019 at St. John’s, 2:00-4:00pm

 This afternoon will provide an opportunity to spend quiet time with God, as part of our journey through Lent. Why not give yourself the opportunity to hear from God, experience His presence, see His beauty and quench your thirst?

 The church will be open to welcome all who would like to come - families too, with reflective activities suitable for children alongside the adult ones.

 We look forward to meeting you to celebrate God’s love for us and our love for God.

Lent Book

Believe it or not lent is fast approaching (6th March).

That means at least 2 things:

  1.  You need to go and get things ready for Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake day – 5th March - I take mine with lemon and sugar)

  2. You need to make sure you’ve got yourself a copy of ‘The Resilient Disciple’ by Allain Chapman which is our lent book for 2019.

 There is a chapter for each day in lent, except Sundays as they don’t count although there is a introduction to each section the can be read on a Sunday if you get withdrawal symptoms. They are really short so only a few minutes of reading leaving plenty of time for prayer.

 For those that want to there is a lent group to discuss the book and encourage one-another at Peter’s house (7 Woodland Way) every week starting on the 13th March from 7:30 – 9pm. It is by no means compulsory but is open to everyone.

 You can get the book online at your retailer of choice for c. £7.53, although Peter has a few copies for £6 on a first come- first serve basis.

 For more info talk to Peter or call on 07803253286

ChurchSuite

No, I’m afraid it’s not a new, fancy-shmancy room installation in the church. You may recall a while back we mentioned that we hoped to move to some cloud-based, church admin software. Churchsuite is that. In slightly less technical language, this is a computer/mobile phone based system that we hope will improve our church organisation and communication.

 The intention is to use it for things like rotas, calendars, contact details and organisational communication. Further down the road, it has the capacity to be used for event bookings, payments, training modules and targeted emails. We’re all signed up and most of the database has been populated, but at this point we might need this from you:

i)      If you suspect the email address we hold is out of date – your latest contact email;

ii)    Without a GDPR Consent form for us, we can’t include you on the system.

 Please send either/both to Margaret at the Parish Office and we will shortly let you know what the next steps are for getting the system up and running.

NB The photos of the crocuses above and snowdrops and crocuses below were taken in St John’s churchyard on 14th February. They can be seen in the top part of the churchyard. A stroll up there to see them will lift your spirits.

Snowdrops & Crocuses in St John's Churchyard.jpg

Crocuses and snowdrops in St John’s Churchyard.

Electoral Roll Fun

You’re right – they’re probably not three words that you readily sandwich together. But we’ve reached that point in the administrative cycle when  we have to create a completely new Electoral Roll. The fun part is that everyone gets to join in – yay! No matter how many years we have been on the old roll, we all have to submit a fresh application form to appear on the new roll, so please take an application form and fill it in today (preferably), or return it the next time you come to church. Alternatively, you can give it to Paul Kingman, Jackie Barter or Geoff Batten, our three Electoral Roll Officers.

 If you are not already on the Electoral Roll, please consider adding your name. You must be baptized, at least 16 years of age (or sixteen on your next birthday), and live in the parish, or have worshipped at St. John's for at least six months.   Membership indicates you view St. John's as your spiritual home and you'd like to be involved in the shaping of our future. It gives you the right to vote at our APCM on April 28th, or to stand for election to the PCC.

Good Mental Health For All: Through All the Changing Scenes of Life

Southwark Diocese are continuing their hard work to promote awareness of mental health issues, and how we might best support one another through them.

 The above day conference will be held on Saturday 23 February, 10am-3pm at St Mildred’s Church in Addiscombe, CR0 7EB. It includes the involvement of organisations like Mind, The Children’s Society and The Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health. It will be a great opportunity to hear from experts in the field, as well as local churches who run projects aimed at mental health and wellbeing. There will also be a market place of resources.

 If you want to book, please email – Marlene.Collins@Southwark.Anglican.Org

 

Discerning our Gifts

This is the next subject in our ‘Gifts’ series that Dan will be speaking about on Sunday.

 In the coming weeks, we’ll be suggesting a few different tools that are available to help us work out together what our respective gifts might be. We are also giving thought to a ‘personality test’ that we could do as a whole church – to help us get to know one another better, and understand how we each might exercise our gifts. So watch this space…

 Another aspect of this whole arena is the idea of ‘calling’. Exploring vocation often takes time and space, and so the Diocese offer regular Quiet Days to facilitate this. The next one is on 8 February, 10:00am-3:30pm. It offers a mixture of short talks, reflections, prayer and plenty of room for personal prayer and reflection on the ways in which God might be calling. If you are interested please let Jon know.

New Sermon Series: "Gifts"

Back in November, we met in the Assembly Rooms and discussed ways we might come to a clearer understanding of what our individual/joint strengths and gifts might be.

 Part of the fruit of those discussions is this new series, which we will be running up to Lent. It will start by drawing us right back to our purpose/vocation as humans, but will consider how we discern, exercise and grow our gifts, and reflect on the relationship between ‘spiritual’ and ‘natural’ gifts. Through the series we will also offer different tools to help people gain a clearer insight into their gifting.

 On 24 March, we’ll get back together in the Assembly Rooms with a view to re-invigorating some of our Teams, and thinking how we can give expression to our gifts for God’s kingdom. 

New Alpha Course

Our 2019 Alpha Course starts on Thursday 24 January, 7:45 pm at SJ’s.

 

We’ve already had three people from the community sign up on the back of our Christmas Services, so we’re encouraging you all to extend an invitation to the people you know. There will be some postcard invites available next week, but you don’t need one of those to make a good, old fashioned face to face offer to someone who may be interested.

 

You can point them to our website for further details about the course. But as usual, we will  provide a meal, there will be a short video clip, and the opportunity to knock around questions on the subject matter of that evening.

 

Make it one of your 2019 resolutions to pray and ask someone!

Merry Christmas & a Joy-Filled New Year

This is a 2 week edition of our News Sheet, so you might be reading this waiting for the cork to pop on the imminent Christmas celebrations, or the festive frenzy has passed and you’re picking yourself up for the arrival of 2019.

 Either way, I hope there is opportunity to breathe deeply and take a moment to reflect and give thanks. 2018 might not have taken shape as you hoped, but the Christmas narrative reminds us that amidst real pain and insecurity, God continues to sprinkle reminders of his presence and promises to us. As we pull together the aspects of our Advent series, I hope you experience the faith, hope, joy, and peace that are found in Christ with us. God Bless.

Christmas Connections

In the next couple of weeks we will host more people from our community than at any other single point in the year – with possibly over a thousand visitors coming through our doors.

 That’s both a great privilege and responsibility.

 I’m guessing you’re not surprised to receive a plea from your vicar to pray about all these ‘hospitality moments’, but I’m going to get specific and ask you to send up a prayer every time you do something ‘Christmassy’ – eat a mince pie, wrap a present, listen to a festive tune, hang a bauble…

 It would be a true Christmas blessing if all the people who were joining us made a connection not just with St John’s, but with the Christ we worship. Amen. 

A Prayer for Advent

Lord Jesus, 
I give you my hands to do your work. 
I give you my feet to go your way. 
I give you my eyes to see as you do. 

 

I give you my tongue to speak your words. 
I give you my mind that you may think in me. 
I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. 

 

Above all, 
I give you my heart that you may love in me your Father and all people. 
I give you my whole self that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Lord Jesus, who live and work and pray in me.

 

Lord Jesus, I give you my spirit that you may pray in me.

I give you my heart, Lord that you may love in me.

Advent Encouragement

We are often invited during the season of advent to step away from the bustle of the season and run from the maw of the monster mammon – all with a view to connecting more deeply with God. It’s good advice, and supposed to offer encouragement. But I suspect many of us struggle to follow the guidance. Instead, the advent invitation can leave us with feelings of guilt and frustration. Control of our diary at this time of year seems laughable, and we’re often running to stand still…

 If that strikes a chord with you and your spiritual pulse feels like it beating a little faintly, then draw some advent solace from these words from C S Lewis:

“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God's eyes, our best. Those which are least supported by devotional feeling…these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.”

Are You Ready?

That’s not supposed to read as some panic inducing question, querying whether you’re geared up for Christmas. It is however one of the lingering thoughts shot through the season of advent – what does it mean to be prepared for an encounter with Jesus?

 On one level, we hope that is a daily experience. On a different scale, advent reminds us that there will come a time when there will be an even greater immediacy to that encounter. In the meantime, prayer and stopping to take breath are good ways to ready ourselves – so that when the time does come, we will meet a friend, not a stranger.

 To help, there will be an Advent Quiet Evening on Tuesday 11 December, 7:00-9:00pm. Take the opportunity.