Weekly Newsletter, 11 January 2024

Dear St Mary’s,

It was so wonderful to see so many at the Epiphany service last week – a great start to a new year. Join us this Sunday (14 January) for a service of Holy Communion at 9am and a service of Morning Worship at 10.30am with Revd Vanessa Conant preaching and leading. 

Please note: our children’s groups return this Sunday at 10.30am with craft, games and activities for children aged 2-11, while youth group returns for Year 7+ on Sunday at 5pm in the Welcome Centre.

At 6pm, there is evening prayer and Bible study in the church. 

Church Office Closed Tuesday and Wednesday Next Week

Please note that the church office is closed on Tuesday (16/1) and Wednesday (17/1) of next week while the staff team are on a planning retreat. The cafe and church building will remain open. We will still be responding to emails so please don’t hesitate to be in touch, but do be mindful that it may take staff members longer than usual to respond. Please pray for the team as we meet to plan and pray. 

Join us for Sophie’s Giant Litter Pick: Saturday 27 January at 1.30pm

At our Vision Sunday, we asked our congregation to offer ideas and thoughts about how we could live out our commitments at our church. One of our younger members, Sophie Elgie, suggested that the church care for our local environment by doing a giant litter pick of the area and we thought that was a brilliant idea. We have over 30 pickers to clean the area, we’ll be serving hot chocolate afterwards and everyone is welcome. Please feel free to invite friends and family. 

St Luke’s Service of Celebration and Future Discernment: Sunday 28 January at 4pm

Please join us for a service of celebration and thanksgiving for more than 15 years of ministry on the London Farmers’ Market. We will be giving thanks for all that has happened, the people who have been part of St Luke’s and all that God has done in and through the community.

In the coming weeks, we will be beginning the process of discerning next steps for this part of our Parish (particularly the area around the High Street). If you sense God might be calling you to explore ministry to and in this area, please consider joining the discernment group. More details to follow. If you would like to speak to someone about this, please contact a member of the clergy. 

New Year, New Commitments?

If you are thinking about how you would like to connect with church in the New Year, here are some simple ways to be involved:

EcoTip of the Week 

It’s clear that we need the highest level government and corporate action to avert the worst climate outcomes. However, collectively, small changes in our own lives can contribute to a significant difference in the world. Could you do one of these in the coming year? 

  • Eat less meat. You don’t have to veganuary or become vegetarian, but simply reducing the meat you eat can have a significant impact on carbon emissions.
  • Make a ‘no-fly’ pledge. Every year, Flight Free UK invites people to commit to not flying. Whilst not possible for everyone, if you can take the flight-free pledge, sign up here: https://flightfree.co.uk/
  • Buy fewer clothes. The fashion industry contributes to about 10% of global carbon emissions – avoiding fast fashion, buying second-hand and simply buying fewer items can make a difference. 
  • Campaign for change. There are many ways you can do this, but a key one is to campaign for renewable energy rather than more fossil fuels. Check out Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace or Power for People for ways to take action. 

Please pray: 

  • Please pray for our children’s groups as they return and for our schools at the beginning of a new term 
  • Please pray for those who are unwell or in hospital, particularly praying for those who are receiving difficult treatment 
  • Please pray for those who are bereaved, remembering all those who are overwhelmed with grief
  • Please pray for places of ongoing war and violence – remembering especially civilians in Gaza, Ukraine and Sudan and praying for all who broker and work for peace
  • Please pray for our world, praying that those with power and influence might make good decisions to steward the earth with care and wisdom 
  • Please pray for the Church, remembering especially those who are persecuted for their faith

Last Sunday, Cameron and I found ourselves worshipping at a Salvation Army church where they were celebrating Covenant Sunday. Other denominations (especially the Methodist Church) also mark the first Sunday of the new year with a focus on Covenant, a recognition and affirmation of all that God has done for us in the year and a commitment to give all that we have in the coming months. 

The covenant service we attended was simple and straightforward: people told stories of how they had experienced the love of God in the year, we prayed and sang and listened to scripture – it was ordinary and everyday as well as beautiful and powerful. It was a helpful reminder that whether your new year has begun brilliantly or badly, God is present. Whether you feel as if you are off to a roaring start or dragging yourself through the first weeks of January, God’s love never ceases. Whether you are full of energy or feel as if you have little to give, God receives your gifts with grace. 

Covenants are one of the most important themes of the Bible. In our everyday life, the word may only resonate as a legal term – but in Scripture a Covenant is a promise of profound love. Covenants are key to God’s redemptive plan to restore humanity to its divine calling. Over and over again, God enters into formal partnership (with promise and commitment) with different people in order to rescue the world – until we reach Jesus, the ultimate divine-human partnership. 

In the sermon, the preacher reminded us that not only is this a good time to reflect on the ways in which God has been in partnership in our lives and to renew our commitment and longing to love God and to serve God, whatever that may look like for us. But it is also a good time to remember our covenant to one another, the power and strength of doing this together as a church community. 

At the end of the service, each person received a postcard with the Covenant prayer for the year – I copy it here in case you would like to pray it too. Let us pray for one another as we renew our Covenant with God and one another.

Love, Vanessa

Loving Father,
The depth of your unconditional and unceasing love is beyond my understanding, but today I respond to that love.
As your love lives in me, may my thoughts, words and actions reflect you at all times and in every place.
May my soul be a place we meet – where all I am becomes all that you want me to be in heart, mind and spirit.
That in being one with you, I might see you, know you, and show you in every part of my life.
That in me and through me your Kingdom may come now.
May this Covenant of Love draw me deeper and bring others closer to you. Amen.

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