Christian Aid

Pray for the Morgan Family

We’ve recently heard from Sarah that there has been some low level unrest in Malawi, following their recent elections. The results were very close, bringing some tension and resulting in some sporadic violence.

 The opposition continue to contest the results through the court, which is only a 100 metres from Sarah and Andy’s home. She says, “whilst at no point really fearing for our safety, the past few weeks have been quite draining. Over the past week or so, schools and offices have had to shut, due to security concerns, on short notice. I have had to spend a lot of time gathering and assessing updates and making decisions about field trips and keeping staff and overseas visitors safe and updated, at the same time as making sure my own kids are ok. Andy developed cabin fever being stuck in the house for days with said children.”

 Please pray for Sarah, Andy, Evie and Ben and the situation in Malawi.

Thy Kingdom Come

You may recall this global initiative from last year – a focused 9 days of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost. The emphasis of the prayer is that God’s Spirit would empower his church to greater works of evangelism. We want to join in with this movement, so here are some of the ways to key in:

 ·         Write down the names of 5 people you know who are not Christians and pray for them every day during this period;

·         Every day at 9:30am, between Thursday 30 May to Friday 7 June, there will be prayer meetings at Coney Hill Baptist Church for all the churches across town;

·         We will post daily prayer prompts on our Facebook page during this period.

For further ideas, go to https://www.thykingdomcome.global/

All You Cricketers

Are you interested in releasing that inner Ian Botham (or Jos Butler, for a younger generation) for an afternoon? Fancy dusting off those cricket whites, which don’t quite fit any more? Haven’t unleashed a Shane Warne googly for a while…possibly ever?

 

Well, here’s your chance. We’re trying to arrange a cricket match at the Warren. Unfortunately, we have to put a minimum age limit of 13 years old for participants, as it is a hard ball game. However, the idea is to make a family afternoon of the whole event – with picnics and plenty of banter from the sidelines.

 

If you're interested, please ring John Johnes on 0208 462 4728 or speak to him in church.

Team Refresh

If you were unable to make the APCM last week, it was mentioned that in the coming weeks we will engage in a process to renew our Teams. Some of the steps will include:

 

i)                    Asking individuals if they are willing to step into Team Leader roles;

ii)                   Putting together a clear explanation of what each Team aims to do and how people can be involved;

iii)                 Give everyone an opportunity to step away from / step up to involvement in a particular team.

Please commit this to prayer – both for us collectively as a church family and how it impacts our mission, but also the individual response that you might make.

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.

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

Happy Father's Day

One of my favourite stories that Jesus tells is the parable of the Prodigal Son. You’re likely to be familiar with it – it’s one of his better known yarns. I love it because for a long time I could identify with the younger son’s waywardness and his disbelief at the reaction he receives when he sheepishly returns home. As I’ve got older, and my children move into their teen years, my love for the story has not waned, but my focus has shifted more to the Father.

Which I think is probably the point!

Tim Keller, in his book, the Prodigal God reminds us that “prodigal” does not mean “wayward”, but “recklessly spendthrift” – to spend until you have nothing left. This is as appropriate for describing the Father, as it is his youngest son.  He welcomes his son back recklessly, not holding anything against him.

It challenges me as I recognise my own shortcomings as a Dad. But equally encourages me as Jesus told the story so that we might recognise the true nature of our heavenly Father. Happy Father’s Day.

A Call to Exercise...

This week we step into our new sermon series, ‘You Asked For It’.

Over the next 6-7 weeks we’ll be looking at some topics that can be emotive, and may well have been a source of pain for a number of our church family in the past. It’s healthy to acknowledge that, but we don’t want it to mean that we duck consideration of these subjects.

As we delve into them though, it will require us to sharpen our understanding of something dear to the gospel, which also has the power to soften our hearts. It is something with which Paul invariably tops and tails his letters to the churches. It can be easy to miss, but one way or another, ‘grace’ forms the bookends of all that he wishes to communicate with the people for whom he cares.

This series will cause us to consider the very nature of this ‘grace’ thing, but more than that I pray it will propel us to exercise its healing power.

Church Weekend Away

Following the details we provided at the APCM about the above, we can confirm that we are fixing the date for 17-19 May 2019 (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon). The venue will the be the De Vere Horsley Estate Hotel, which you can find at https://www.phcompany.com/de-vere/horsley-estate/

Our hope is to get as much as the church family there as possible. We do not want cost to be the limiting factor, so we are inviting you to indicate whether you would like to go, irrespective of whether you think you can afford it or not.

There will be a sign up sheet in church, or you can contact Margaret at the Parish Office. Please state the names of everyone in your group and the ages of any children, what type of room you would prefer (Family, Twin, or Double), and if you would be prepared to share with someone.

Further details of the theme and speaker(s) will follow.

Welcome to our Guests

This morning we extend a particular welcome to two sets of people marking special occasions:

Firstly, we join with Tracey and Lee, as they bring their children, Erin and Ethan to be baptised. They come with the support of family and friends and we look forward to celebrating this great occasion with you all.

Secondly, Ian and Allison Ayres are all the way over from France, as they remember the anniversary of a particular event which took place in St John’s a number of years ago (more details to follow in the service…).

It is our privilege to host you both and be a small part of notable moments in your lives. We wish you God’s richest blessings, as you give thanks in different ways.

For Everything There is a Season

This week we’ve been catapulted into tropical weather. With snow on the ground only a few weeks ago, you could be forgiven for thinking that Spring was overlooked and we moved from Winter to Summer in a single bound. The more typical transition through the seasons gives us space and time to adjust.

An abrupt change can be disorientating.

This is equally true for the changing seasons of life. Most of us understand that with the long view, different periods of life have their own distinctive hue. But when we are jolted into change unexpectedly, it can feel like we lose our bearings. If you’re weren’t ready for the season you find yourself in, or you’re simply not sure what season you’re in, I hope you can draw on the truth the author of Ecclesiastes arrives at after talking about a ‘season for everything’ – ‘everything God does will endure forever, nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.’ (Ecclesiastes 3: 14)

Gravetalk

Is a Church of England initiative to help encourage people talk about the subject that most of us avoid – death and dying. The idea is to provide a café space to talk around this subject, give people a chance to think about their funeral and generally air their thoughts.

We’ve joined with St Francis & St Mary’s to run Gravetalk at Corza Café on West Wickham High Street. Details are contained on the postcard you should have received at church. We are doing a trial run this Tuesday at 7:30pm, which is designed for those in the church. A free buffet will be provided (a mix of hot and cold nibbles) and we’ll be encouraging people to buy their own drinks. It’s an opportunity to see how it works and for you to provide feedback in readiness to going live for the evening of 24 May, which will be for the whole community.  

We appreciate its short notice, but it would be great to have as many of you there as possible. If you could let Margaret know if you can make it, that will help us keep a track of numbers. 

 

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.

'Children & Youth Review' Update

We hope you are aware that the PCC recently considered the main findings that emerged from feedback we received across our children’s and youth groups. If you wish to see the headlines from the responses, we have posted them on the church noticeboards. One of the immediate challenges is to find leaders to replace those stepping down from 14 plus and Club 2000. We are having discussions with people about this, but if you feel you might be able to help in the future in a supportive capacity (rather than overall leadership), then do have a chat with Jon, as we need more helpers.

 

A natural conclusion from the review is that our work with children and young people cannot flourish in its existing format without someone who has the dedicated time to oversee it. The PCC are agreed that we must act now. We need to decide whether we employ someone to this end, and so an extraordinary meeting of the PCC has been called to pray into this and arrive at some conclusions. We will keep you posted as this unfolds, but in the meantime the leadership values your prayers and welcomes any insights you may wish to share. 

It's OK To Not Be OK

IT’S OKAY

TO NOT BE OKAY

Churches are sometimes very adept at bandying around the idea of ‘authenticity’, but aren’t always so great at creating an environment in which those who are finding life tough can feel safe enough not to ‘have it all together’.

 The above is the title of the teaching series that begins this Sunday. A sermon series will only take us so far. However, it’s intended to be one element to help us consider what it means to be faithful Jesus followers, but followers who are honest that faith doesn’t sweep away the impact of the struggles that life throws up. 

 Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at things such as doubt, anxiety, fear, busyness and loneliness, trying to avoid superficial sticking plasters, but inviting God’s Spirit to be at work in the places which ail us.

 Everyone’s welcome – unless of course, you’ve got it all sorted.