7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love… 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Here are some prayers from Inclusive Church for Epiphany, which we celebrated on Sunday:
You share your love with every people;
we draw limits of race and creed.
Lord have mercy
You immerse yourself in love of life;
we hold back in fear and shame.
Christ have mercy
You change the water into wine;
we refuse to let our hearts be moved.
Lord have mercy
Christ has broken down the dividing wall that made us strangers to one another;
he has made us one humanity
that God might be all in all;
he is our life, our hope, our peace.
by Christopher Herbert, entitled Hedgehogs:
come snuffling and scuffling
through the garden
like old men walking along a path
Lord, thank you for the strangeness of hedgehogs.
At the beginning of this new year, we thank God for all that comes from the edges of our understanding and experience; and for all that challenges us from the highways and along the hedgerows, pointing us to deeper ways to love and pray. May we walk a wiser path and delight in your presence with us O God. When we feel our own prickliness to difference and put limits on your love, speak to us by your Spirit and immerse us in your love for all you have made and all who seek you. Christ, be our peace. Amen.
Steven Shakespeare, Prayers for an Inclusive Church, Canterbury Press 2008, p.149
Christopher Herbert, Prayers for Children, The National Society and Church House Publishing, 1993, p.48
” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Our Carol Service is this Sunday in the evening, so our next Healing and Wholeness Service will be in January. As we look forward to celebrating the birth of the Christ Child, we pray for all in need of healing – body, mind and spirit – over this Christmas time.
In Church, at the entrance to the Chapel, we have prayer cards and lights for anyone to bring their requests to our Lord, at this time when we can all experience sadness and worry as well as joy. We offer our thanks for the gift of Jesus, and for answered prayer. We also remember loved ones no longer with us on earth, and pray for their eternal rest in God’s Kingdom; and for the tender mercies of our God to touch and heal all those who struggle at this time.
If anyone has prayer requests or would like to talk, please ask our Vicar or a member of the ministry team.
May the Lord Jesus, Wonderful Counsellor and Prince of Peace, bless and us and keep us, and those we love and pray for, over the coming weeks. Amen.
“This is the homely heart of Incarnation, this meeting of God with men and women, this simple face of divine graciousness in ordinary life”
Eugene Kennedy, Joy of Being Human
We were very privileged to welcome Hilary, former chaplain at the Croydon University Hospital, to lead our meditations for Advent. We were able to spend time reflecting on how wholly present in our earthly lives is our incarnate God.
Awaken us, Lord
To your presence in the ordinary,
Open our eyes
To the wonder of your incarnation.
May the Lord make us ready for his coming in glory
Monday 2nd December, 8pm at West Wickham and Shirley Baptist Church, Wickham Road, Croydon, CR0 8EH. Then the first Monday of every month.
St John’s is pleased to be part of Churches Together in Shirley, sharing opportunities for prayer, and working to bring the Gospel of Peace to our varied communities in Shirley.
West Wickham and Shirley Baptist Church is offering an opportunity to join in prayer for our young adults – specifically our teenagers, those in their twenties, and those who may be older but in need of our prayers still. This initiative is part of an international prayer movement, a response to the Holy Spirit in our family and community lives, called Mothers’ Prayers.
Everyone is welcome to come. Although many will be mothers, others will be carers, foster parents, grandparents, people significant in a young person’s life and anyone with the ‘heart of a mother.’ God is our father and mother, and whatever our gender or role, we all reflect part of that divine desire to nurture and protect those in need of healing, guidance and grace.
Mothers’ Prayers follows a simple set format, aimed at leading those who gather to pray to entrust their young adults to the Lord. If you have a mother-heart for young people making their way in life, please do join in with this prayer group.
It meets on the first Monday of the month, in the Lounge at West Wickham and Shirley Baptist Church, arrive 8pm for a 8.15pm start. The next meeting will be on Monday 2nd December.
For more information, or if anyone is interested in setting up a Mothers’ Prayer Group for younger children, please contact Fay at [email protected]
Yesterday was All Saints’ Day, and our sister Church, Shirley Methodists, marked the day with the first of the Revd. Dr Leslie Griffiths’ talks on faith, hope and love. This was a fascinating journey through reflections on the recently canonized John Henry Newman’s life, to the whole of the Christian community St Paul greets and commends at the end of Romans 16 for their friendship and service to others.
St John’s and Shirley Methodists have a long-standing friendship and commitment to work together in faith and mission in Shirley, and it was a pleasure and privilege to share in this exploration together. The series of talks runs throughout November (Fridays at 8pm), and everyone is welcome.
The Revd. Griffiths had that morning led the BBC Daily Service on the same theme, and you can listen to his thoughts and prayers here:
Tomorrow, Sunday 3rd November, St John’s will celebrate All Saints’ Day with a Eucharist at 10am. We will give thanks for the women, children and men in whose lives we have seen the grace of God powerfully at work; and we will pray that we may all grow together in the love and maturity of Christ in both the ordinary and extraordinary ways of our human living.
At 5pm tomorrow, everyone is also welcome at St John’s for our Commemoration of the Faithful Departed for All Souls’ Day. Here we will remember before God those we have known and loved, who have been with us along our spiritual journey, and who have now departed this life to rest in our Father’s eternal arms.
One family, we dwell in him, one Church, above, beneath; though now divided by the stream, the narrow stream of death. (Charles Wesley)
Croydon Churches Floating Shelter offers guests (who are homeless people living on the streets) a hot meal, a bed for the night and valuable companionship in a warm, safe and caring environment.
The Shirley Floating Shelter will again operate this winter from Shirley Methodist Church on eight Sunday evenings, 10th November – 22nd December. As part of our long-standing partnership, St John’s works with Shirley Methodists to help with these nights. Other Croydon churches will be covering other nights, and yet others will be open from January to March, thus covering the five coldest months of the year.
Once more volunteers are needed. Can you help at Shirley?
Those volunteering before have found it a happy, interesting and rewarding experience. We would love to welcome new volunteers – do think about it and contact Brian or Jonathan (details below) to find out more.
The help we need is:
Provisioners – to bring in a pre-cooked main meal
Cooks and servers – to come in and cook the prepared food and serve our guests
Overnighters – to stay with our guests. Four overnighters are needed each night. Two beds are set up in a separate room. There are two shifts of four hours (allowing two to sleep while two while two are awake helping.) Overnighters welcome the guests and spend time with them, eating, talking and listening; playing games, and helping to make it a pleasant evening.
Clearers and cleaners – arrive as the guests leave at 8am
Launderers – to collect a bag of laundry (sheets, towels and flannels) to take home to wash, iron and return by the next Sunday
Reception – sometimes overnighters cover this but it is good to have additional cover during the evening.
There are lists in at the back of Church at St John’s, and in the Welcome Area at Shirley Methodist Church, to sign with offers of help
Matthew 6:19-22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rustconsumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This is an interesting passage, designated for the fourth Sunday of Creationtide. This liturgical time invites us as a church community to look at our consumption of the earth’s resources; how we engage and co-operate with the bio-diversity of the planet; and where we intrude on others’ rights and exploit what is not ours to take. All those aspects are in this short reading – symbolised in the all-consuming rust, the result of our neglect; the moths which are attracted, as we are, to bright consumables; and the thieves, who trespass on land and person, ignore others’ wellbeing, and take what they have no right to, for themselves. It is clear from the imagery that this sense of trespass is social and economic, as well as physical, spiritual and to do with mental and emotional health.
If we look around us, as the next verse of this passage
invites to, with a “sound eye,” “The
eye is the lamp of the body, so, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will
be full of light;”
then we can see that if our heart is not God’s heart, and his Kingdom, then we
are part of the problem; and that affects not just us, but all those with whom we
are connected as God’s children in the world.
And of course, as modern science shows us, we are connected through DNA, through our bodies, with creation itself. A recent Guardian article quoted a ratio of around a three to one of microbial cells and human cells co-existing in the human body. Some key roles of microbes co-existing in our body include programming the immune system, providing nutrients for our cells and preventing colonisation by harmful bacteria and viruses.
A recent article in The
Times (18th Sept) talked about the collaboration we can see in
nature, in sunflowers. The implication
being, in the context of this passage, that if we “treasure” these aspects, and
work with, instead of against them, we can be part of a glorious liberation in
God’s creation that sets his people free.
Headed “rooting for each other,” the article sets out some research by
Susan Dudley, a plant evolutionary ecologist from Canada, showing that
sunflowers co-operate to share fertile patches of soil:
“The natural world is sometimes portrayed as a
vicious gladiatorial arena in which only the fittest, most selfish specimens
Not so for the sunflower: a study has shown that
the plants co-operate below the surface, sharing nutrients and demonstrating
the kind of collaborative behaviour once believed to be restricted to the
This is an extract from a letter from the Archbishop of
the Congo and Bishop of Kindu, written for Creationtide and about the common
good. It is up on the Church of England website,
where there are other resources and prayers about Creationtide:
‘A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it
must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as
to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Everything is
connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere
love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving
the problems of society…Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to
the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as
a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement.
Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect
our own lives and those of future generations.’
– Most Revd Zacharie Masimango Katanda, Archbishop of the Congo and Bishop of Kindu
We can bring our thoughts together in a prayer from Sri Lanka:
God, my Creator,
I open my heart to you.
may it turn to you as the sunflower turns to the
sun. God, my Redeemer,
take away from my heart everything that is not
so that I may reach out to you in my own
unworthiness. God, my Sanctifier,
journey with me along life’s way
so that all that I am and all that I do
may bring greater glory to you the triune God.