Survey 18-35 age group

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.

One-Bit Word Game

‘Do you know the One-Bit Word Game? It’s a game where you may not use words that have more than one bit’ [syllable]. It’s a kid’s game but one that can help us be clear. When we talk of God we can use big words to make us sound smart. We can use big words – some may be in Greek – to make sure that what we say is true but when we do this we can hide the truth – make the light turn dark.

Can you tell the good news of God in one-bit words? Give it a go. It is hard! Make sure that you do not miss bits out. It’s not that we should use one-bit words all day, but it can help us drop big, smart words for clear, plain ones. It can help us think more of what the good news of God is and share it more but not with bunk words. Why not write it down and share with folk at church? Pete C would like to see too.

Is it a cinch? Then try this: How do you tell that God is one in three?

Inspired by tinyurl.com/ybg8lwrg

Wardy Summer Garden Party

Hopefully you’ve already got the date in the diary, but here are some more details. The get together will be on 10 June from 3pm, at the Rectory (30 Coney Hill Road).

For those of you who are newer to the church, it’s an open invitation - all are welcome. Feel free to bring family and friends, and you can come and go as you please through the afternoon. We’ll provide a selection of drinks, including Pimms and afternoon tea, as well as some nibbles. However, it’s as a ‘bring and share’ occasion, so if you could come with anything suitable for an afternoon feast - cakes, sandwiches or savoury nibbles - that would be great.

If you are in it for the long haul, you might want to bring something to sit on. We’ve got a few things to keep littlies amused, but no doubt sugar levels will be high, so don’t hesitate to arrive armed with your distraction tool of choice.

We look forward to seeing you.   

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. 

 

Happy Easter

It may well be that you’re picking this up on Maundy Thursday, so I hope you allow yourself to journey through the trauma of Good Friday before arriving at the celebration and wonder of Resurrection Sunday.

When we do arrive at Easter Sunday, I can think of few better ways to mark the weekend which is central to the Christian faith than having up to 8 of our church family come forward to re-affirm their baptismal vows, or be baptised for the first time.

It’s an utterly fitting response to the reality of Jesus’ death and his defeat of death, and one that I trust will spur us all on in our journeys of faith. I hope you are looking forward to worshipping the risen Lord together.

Happy Easter!

Calling All Young(ish) Adults

Thank you once again to all those in the 18-35 age category who completed our on-line survey. The PCC recently collated the responses and looked to identify any strong, common threads running through them. As a follow up to this, we’d like to invite anyone in this age group (whether or not you completed the survey) to a get together at SJ’s. The aim is to check that we’ve accurately heard what you were expressing, to dig beneath the comments and start thinking about what we might do in response.  

The meeting will be at 10am on Saturday 21 April. Childcare will be provided along with some bakery goodies.

We’ll try not to rob too much of your Saturday, but real value will come from having a good number contribute to the conversation, so do try and carve out the time.

Thanks, Jon.

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.

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). 
 

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.