Looking Through The Cross

This week I re-discovered a book with the above title, which a few years back was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recommendation for Lent. Essentially, it is an invitation to allow the impact of the cross to seep into the marrow of who we are, so we might see our whole world through that prism. That’s important for us individuals, but equally so as a church body. As Justin Welby himself remarks in the foreword,

 The impact of the Cross has to be felt and reflected in each generation. Cross-shaped churches may be the architectural norm – but they are also the spiritual exception. Just as we each find the pattern of our lives too easily conforming to contemporary culture, so the pattern of the life of the church tends to do the same. We need to rethink what a cross-shaped church means in a very non-cross-shaped culture.’

As we hurtle towards Holy Week, I hope you take time to ponder afresh on that which stands central to Easter and our faith.

Roll Up, Roll Up!


Excuse the awful pun, but today is the last day for returning application forms to be included on St John’s electoral roll. You can either drop your form in the box, or return it to Paul Kingman or Geoff Batten.

 That’s part of the preparations for our APCM which will be held on 23 April @ 11:30am. Another element is for people to put themselves forward for one of the various posts that are up for election. These include:

  •  PCC Members – helping shape the direction of St John’s.
  • Deanery Synod Member (which gives you an automatic right to sit on the PCC) – see the leaflet on the new noticeboards for further details;
  • Welcomers – we refresh our welcome rota annually, and if you want to become part of the welcome team, we will provide training.

 Nomination Sheets will be available in church from this Sunday. If you want to find out a little more about any of these then chat to Jon, or the wardens.



It has been said that those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it. This is usually applied to our national history, and especially wars, but I also think this applies to the church.

 When Christians forget those that have gone before us, we often repeat the same mistakes. Likewise, when we are attentive to learn from those who have gone before us, it helps us follow God. The author of Hebrews reminds us of this in chs 11-12. After listing the works of the patriarchs, he says:

 ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us’. (12:1)

Perhaps the idea of looking at church history seems dry and dull, but it doesn’t need to be. Our history is filled with great stories of God’s mighty works, and faithful people, ready for us to delve into.

 Here is a great place to start: 5minutesinchurchhistory.com

5 minute long podcasts about events in church history. Easy to listen to, perhaps on the way to work one day each week, to help us look at the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us, and point us to Jesus.

Remembering to Receive

For all the virtues of marking the season of Lent, there is a risk that all our efforts of self-denial deplete us, rather than animate us with the life of God.

 This might be true of life generally, and can be compounded by the service we give to the church. We become martyrs to how well we can bear the burden of an overworked existence. But the fast we choose is not intended to be a self-destructive sacrifice. It might just be that some of us need to recall what it means to be a Receiver. It’s possible to become so used to being the Giver, we forget to put our hands out for ourselves.

 God will often bless us through His people, if we but allow it. To put it another way, ‘being loved well reorients us’. There is an opportunity this evening to be a Receiver – we have Ruth Fazal ministering to us, and she would love nothing more than for us to receive God’s Blessing through her.

 I hope you’ll receive the chance with joy.    

Want to Join In?

We are fast-approaching that time of year when we conduct some of our official business and hold the church equivalent of an AGM (scheduled for 23 April).

 Some of the formalities include ensuring that our church membership list, called the electoral roll, is up to date. Having your name on the roll gives you the opportunity to vote at the APCM, as well as stand for election to our leadership body, the PCC. It’s by no means an absolute requirement to be a part of St John’s. But as well as helping us gain a feel for our numbers, it’s a good way to indicate your intent – that you wish to be viewed as someone with an appetite to partner in God’s mission here.

 So, if you’ve joined us more recently, or you didn’t get round to it last year, we encourage you to submit an application form. 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. Application forms will be available in church. Please return one either by putting it in the box in the church, or by giving it to Geoff Batten or Paul Kingman by Sunday, 26th March.  

New Website

It doesn’t seem so long ago that we updated our website, but such is the pace of change in the digital world that we’ve gone live with a refreshing of our online ‘Welcome Mat’.  

 We hope you’ll like the feel of the new site. You will notice that we’ve moved to a more pared back, uncluttered look. This means that certain information has been removed, and we’ll be using other, more efficient tools for things like calendars and rotas (more of which to follow in due course).

 Please note, it’s not the finished article. It is an evolving project and there are still a few gaps to fill and developments to come, but it’s at a point which we feel represents a real improvement over the previous incarnation.

 We’ve also set up a St John’s Facebook page which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/StJohnsWW/ We’ll be using this to share a variety of news, encouragements, links and reminders about things going on.

 Give it a visit and ‘like’ us.

Looking To Lent

Lent is fast approaching and there are several different ways we are suggesting people might engage in this season of preparation for Easter. These include:

  •  Foodbank ‘40 for 40’ Challenge - The challenge is to give up 40 pence a day for the 40 days of Lent, which along with Gift Aid, comes to £20 to support people in crisis. For some of us 40 pence a day isn’t much to forego but this small act of kindness can transform lives. Taking part is easy, simply find an old jam jar or similar container and start collecting! At the end of Lent you can pay by cheque to Bromley Borough Foodbank or online via our website (www.bromleyborough.foodbank.org.uk) For more information speak to Jackie Barter.
  • Open Doors’ ‘Fast Food’ Resource – An opportunity for Home Groups to do something a little different and show some solidarity with the persecuted church. It involves sharing a meal, hearing some stories about the persecuted church and taking on a ‘fasting’ challenge. More information will go to Homegroups shortly.

  • Bishop’s Lent Appeal – The theme is ‘I was hungry…I was thirsty’. A selection of projects in Zimbabwe which concentrate on food security will be the focus for support this year.

Prophetic Imagination

As we continue with our ‘Firm Foundations’ series, this week we consider prophecy in the Old Testament.

The richness of the prophetic biblical voice has oftentimes been reduced to one of a couple of caricatures:

  1. The prophet as a fortune-teller, a predictor of things to come, often in an ominous tone, or with specific reference to Jesus; or
  2. Righteous indignation at the status-quo, so prophecy becomes equated with social action.

These two understandings could do worse than hold hands, but there is something deeper at stake in the OT view of prophecy. One theologian put it like this, ‘the task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to…the dominant culture around us.’

The challenging question for us to imagine: where have we become so like our surrounding culture that we’ve lost our Christian distinctiveness?

Click here to download   Weekly News 12th February 2017

The 'MEH' Month?

A lot of people find February a difficult time of year. The high of Christmas is long forgotten, Spring hasn’t yet sprung, and well, the great British weather doesn’t offer much to lift the spirits.

It’s not so easy this month to give a hearty ‘Amen’ to Paul’s charge to ‘give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

But we lose sight of the power of gratitude at our peril.

Someone once said, ‘the only medicine for a life turned in on itself is rediscovering the art of saying thank you’. To utter the words ‘thank you’ is to recognise your dependence on another person, to say ‘you’ve made this possible’.

Of course, that is no more true than the ‘Thank You’ we extend to Jesus, who has made all things possible. When we return our gaze His way, express our thanks to Him, we become people who reveal His glory. And possibly, February doesn’t become quite so uninspiring…

Click here to download   Weekly News 5th February 2017

Firm Foundations

We have started our new teaching series surveying the main contours of the Old Testament. If it has raised questions that you wish to look into further, here are some resources that may help. You can borrow these from Jon, Geoff or Peter if you would like to, and of course feel free to ask if you would like to discuss anything.

A Scenic Route Through the Old Testament  -  Motyer
Book that sermon series is based on
All preachers and Home Group Leaders

How to read the Bible for all its worth  -  Fee & Stuart
Understanding the bible better
Geoff / Peter

Is God a Moral Monster? making sense of the OT God  -  Copan
Tackling some of the tricky moral questions some have with the OT

Joshua in 3D  -  Hawk
Good commentary on Joshua, with modern (USA) applications

Digging Deeper  -  Beynon & Sach
Understanding how one reads the Bible (tools)

The God I don't Understand  -  Wright
Reflections on tough questions

Click here to download this weeks News Sheet - Weekly News 29th January 2017

'It Takes Two'

‘It Takes Two’ is an event Run by Care for the Family for any couple who want to invest a little more in their relationship. Billed for couples at any stage in their marriage - whether things are in good shape, or feel tough right now; whether married a few months, or you’re celebrating your Golden Wedding Anniversary - it is intended to help all couples unlock the potential of their relationship.

With refreshing honesty and plenty of humour, speakers Katharine Hill and Philip Jinadu explore seven essential areas of any lasting marriages, built around the 4 Cs – Communication, Connection, Conflict and Commitment.

There are no group sessions or cringe-worthy audience participation to put you on the spot! Simply go along with your partner and discover afresh what it takes to build a lasting marriage together. This event is coming to Orpington on Wednesday 3 May (7:30pm-10:00pm) at Orpington Baptist Church. Early Bird tickets are only £4 – call 029 2081 0800 or go to the Care For the Family Website.

Click here to download this weeks News Sheet -  Weekly News 22nd January 2017

Children & Youth Questionnaires

We are starting the distribution of questionnaires this week for leaders, parents and young people as part of our review of our C&Y activities. Please take some time over these questionnaires, and give as full a response as you can. Please return them to Margaret in the office or in the box at church. If it’s more convenient, there is an online version of the parents questionnaire, which can be accessed by going to:


5-10 CYM Questionnaire V 2

11-13 CYM Questionnaire V 2

14+ CYM Questionnaire V 2

LEADERS CYM Questionnaire v 2

PARENTS CYM Questionnaire V 2

Firm Foundations

If you find the Old Testament intimidating, obscure, troubling…all of the above…then don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people do. And it’s no great surprise – the first part of our bibles is made up of 39 books, of differing styles and genres, with large sections seeming remote from present-day concerns.

So we’re starting a new teaching series this week, surveying the main contours of this significant chunk of God’s word.

We’ll track several key themes to help us navigate the history of God and His people. These include Story, History, Religion, Prophecy, Wisdom and the Voice of God. This isn’t just a series about increasing our knowledge. Yes, we hope to gain a better understanding of the OT, but more significantly, we want to encounter the God of salvation history and see afresh His unfolding purposes as they build towards Jesus.

Click here to download    Weekly News 15th January 2017

Vision 2017

As many of you will be aware, we often begin the year by focusing on what might lie ahead. This Sunday, I intend to outline some of what the PCC wrestled with in the latter part of 2016 in our efforts to discern our direction of travel in the coming season.

You will discover that this has not been a straightforward process.

Our need to continue seeking God’s heart for our future remains as keen as ever. I am aware that it has been nearly 5 years since we engaged in the ‘Listening to God’ process, which helped us formulate priorities as a church. The time is right for us to sharpen our vision again. I will be encouraging you all to re-engage in the ‘double-listening’ of paying attention to one another and God, as we look to discern to what God might be drawing us.

All of this will form one of the areas which we will focus on at the first ‘Prayer Evening’ of 2017 – tonight at 6:30pm in Church. Hopefully see you there. Jon.


Click here to download   weekly-news-8th-january-2017

Weekly News 25th December 2016 & 1st January 2017


FOR UNTO US IS BORN A SAVIOUR… This publication of the News Sheet is 2 editions rolled into one.

Whether you are reading it as you ready yourself for the celebrations of Christmas Day, or as you stand on the cusp of making resolutions for 2017, I pray you know what it means to have received a Saviour.

The root of the biblical idea of salvation involves the idea of becoming spacious, enlarging, literally ‘to be broad’. It carries the sense of deliverance from an existence that has become confined and cramped - God wants to set us free, so that we might live open and loving lives. As the psalmist says, ‘I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free’(Psalm 119:32).

What greater Christmas present or outlook for the New Year? Praise God for his saving grace, and may you all experience a peaceful Christmas and a joy-filled New Year. God Bless, Jon.

Click here to download   weekly-news-25th-december-2016-1st-january-2017

Weekly News 18th December 2016/ Presents to Give Away


PRESENTS TO GIVE AWAY What better time of year to share a simple, but encouraging ‘good news’ story:

Earlier this month, one of the uniformed groups, the Beavers, who join us for our Parade Services recently made use of SJ’s for some of their midweek activities. They were so appreciative that as a ‘Thank You’ they have put together two bags of beautifully wrapped Christmas Presents for us to distribute to whomever we think would cherish it most.

It’s a small thing, but it’s a wonderful illustration of how the growing use of SJ’s can naturally ripple into our community in an affirming way. So, if you know of someone who is unlikely to have a gift to unwrap this Christmas, then please let me know and we’ll make sure that they receive something to let them know they haven’t been forgotten.

Thanks, Jon.

Click here to download   weekly-news-18th-december-2016

Weekly News 11th December 2016/ Christmas Collections


CHRISTMAS COLLECTIONS This Christmas we will be taking collections across our services for the following organisations:

  • Christingle Services – The Children’s Society  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.


  • Carol Service & Christmas Day Services - Church Urban Fund  A national network of organisations that look to bring positive change in local communities, including setting up night shelters for the homeless;


  • Carol Service & Christmas Day Services – Medair  An international Christian organisation aiming to bring relief to human suffering in some of the world’s most devastated places. We will be collecting specifically for their work with families fleeing violence in Iraq.


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

Click here to download   weekly-news-11th-december-2016

Weekly News 4th December 2016/ Welcome Ethan


WELCOME ETHAN It only seems like yesterday that we were baptising Isaac. His younger brother has since arrived on the scene, and so we join with James and Vicky as they celebrate the baptism of their second son, Ethan. The welcome doesn’t just extend to the newest Simpson family member though! We hope that all the family and friends who are here in support of Ethan feel an integral part of today’s service.

Here are some words from the French Reformed Church’s liturgy on baptism – Ethan’s a wee bit small to digest them at present, but we pray that he will some to know the truth of them in time.

‘Little child, for you Jesus Christ has come, he has fought, he has suffered…For you he uttered the cry “It is finished!” For you he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and there he intercedes – for you little child even though you do not know it. But in this way the word of the Gospel becomes true. “We love him, because he first loved us.”’

Click here to download   weekly-news-4th-december-2016

Weekly News 27th November 2016/ Advent Enquiries


ADVENT ENQUIRIES In the New Year, we are hoping to use SJ’s to host a series of ‘hot topic’ evenings for people outside the church. With drinks and a bite to eat, the idea is to give people a relaxed space to knock around aspects of faith and life without having to sign up to the commitment of an 8 week course, such as Alpha demands.

Rather than making assumptions about the subjects which might be of interest to our community, we are going to ask. In the run up to Christmas, we are encouraging you as part of your normal interaction with friends and family to ask them what questions, topics, challenges would they be interested to explore, given the chance.

We’ll draw together the responses and tailor a run of monthly evenings around the most sought after areas of interest. We’ve included an insert in the News Sheet as a gentle reminder and a means to provide feedback, but you can simply email Jon with people’s answers.

Click here to download   weekly-news-27th-november-2016      spiritual-welfare-2016     advent-enquiries-2016