Dear St Mary’s,
It was such a gift to worship together last week, to hear more about the Learning Community and to consider the invitations of Epiphany. We continue our worship this Sunday with Holy Communion at both 9am and 10.30am with supervised children’s groups at our 10.30am service.
Revd Vanessa Conant leads and presides, and Revd Alan Moss preaches at both services.
All are welcome to join us.
At 6pm, there is evening prayer in the church.
Join us for Sophie’s Giant Litter Pick: Saturday 27 January at 1.30pm
We’re excited to bring to fruition an idea from our Vision Sunday. Sophie Elgie, a young member of our congregation, suggested a giant litter pick as part of our life as an EcoChurch and so we are gathering on Saturday 27th January at 1.30pm to clean our area and care for our local environment. We have over 30 pickers but if you have a litter picker and could bring it, that will mean even more people can get involved.
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.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on 14 February
The season of Lent – a time of deep reflection, prayer and penitence – begins with the powerful and moving service of Ash Wednesday where you are invited to receive an ash cross on your forehead as a sign of humility and repentance and also of devotion to God. We offer two services: one 45-minute service at 7.30am (for those who are commuting) and an evening Ash Wednesday gathering at 7.30pm – a service of stillness, music, reflection and Holy Communion. You are very welcome to either service.
Learning Community: Deepen your faith and meet others in January and through Lent
Last Sunday, Revd Alan Moss set out how we can each take the next steps in our discipleship and grow in our faith. In the coming weeks, there are three options you may like to consider:
- Everyday Healing: four online sessions on Tuesday evenings, 7-9pm, starting 31 January. Run by the Guild of Health, explore the potential of the Christian faith to bring real healing and hope to the world. Whether you have a clear vision for ministry, or whether you simply feel drawn to explore this way of understanding the Christian life, deepen your confidence to be a healing presence. We have reserved five spaces, so book early to avoid disappointment. Sign up here.
- Lent Course: Spiritual Disciplines, running six Thursday evenings and starting 15 February, 7.30-9pm in church. Join with others in church as Revd Alan Moss leads this course on the spiritual disciplines. As you consider things such as prayer, fasting or meditation there will be an opportunity to consider how these ancient practices can nurture and nourish your faith. It’s also a great way to meet others and connect. If you would like to be part of the course, sign up here.
- Gospel Pairs: five meetings held at a time and location convenient for you. Read the Gospel of John with one other person in church. Sign up with a friend or be matched with someone to read John’s Gospel during Lent, at a time and location convenient to you both. You don’t have to have any advance knowledge or expertise in the Bible – resources are provided and the programme is designed so that each person can notice what stands out to them and then to explore and discuss these things. If you would like to be part of Gospel Pairs, you can sign up here.
One of the great joys of our restored building is being able to keep it open throughout the week. Every day we meet so many people who are coming into church for the first time, sometimes for a drink and sometimes looking for information, help or advice. Our staffing capacity means that on Fridays, we have fewer people around and available, and so we are exploring whether we could build a team of Friday chaplains who might be able to spend some time in the coffee shop (with a free coffee on us!) and be available if anyone needs a point of contact with the church. The role might be simply to share information, to signpost to other services or just to listen. Training and support would be given. If you might be interested in being a Friday chaplain, please complete this form.
EcoTip of the Week
Our Just Transition campaign is looking to help community buildings transition to cleaner, greener and more cost-effective energy. If you are interested in taking part in this campaign, contact our curate, Revd Jacintha Danaswamy ().
- Please pray for peace and an end to war, remembering especially civilians in Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan, the DRC and praying for no escalation of conflict in the Red Sea or between Iran and Pakistan
- Please pray for all those without homes or shelter during these coldest of days, remembering the work of the Night Shelter and praying for all those who will visit it in this season
- Please pray for all those campaigning and working to arrest climate change, to transition away from fossil fuels and to restore our world
- Please pray for all children and young people, especially remembering those who are struggling in school
- Please pray for our work across the Parish, remembering especially the people of St Luke’s as they prepare for the thanksgiving service and to discern the future
I don’t find it easy to ask for help. I can ask for volunteers to serve at a church event or to be part of a team, but when it comes to my own life, it can be a real struggle. I’m not sure if it’s pride or embarrassment or fear that I might trouble or inconvenience someone, but I have often muddled through situations which might have been much easier had I simply reached out.
Just before Christmas, I found myself staggering from Tesco, overly-laden with food for an event which we were hosting in church. I happened to pass my neighbour who offered to help and I, of course, said, ‘No it’s fine, I’m not far now.’ Thankfully, she didn’t listen to me – she grabbed bags from my hands and piled them onto her bike. Then she walked with me (she was going in the opposite direction), delivered them to the hall and went on her way. Perhaps it seems trivial, but there was something so moving to me in that moment: the physical sharing of burdens, the companionship and kindness of that encounter.
Some weeks later, as many of you know, Cameron had to spend a few days in hospital. He’s fine now for which we give thanks. But I was confronted again with my struggles in asking for help. Friends and family offered instantly and generously, but my first instinct was to try not to bother anybody. On the uncomfortable chairs of A&E, after many long hours, I found myself tentatively asking, ‘Actually, could you bring us some food..’. Friends cycled food to the hospital, packaging it up with such love and generosity. Later, more friends from church brought Cameron a toothbrush when it was clear he wasn’t going home and all the shops nearby were shut. And so it went on: lifts and meals, and texts and prayers and comfort and advice, visits with cake and cards.
I am filled with thanksgiving and profoundly humbled.
One of the most powerful and yet the most confounding things about Jesus Christ is the way in which he upends our understandings of power and strength. The Son of God, King of the Universe, is born into vulnerability and lives a human life which is marked by dependence and relationship. He begins in dependence on his mother and parents, like any other child. And in his ministry, he receives and appreciates the help of others, even while he is redeeming the world.
Just before his crucifixion, the Gospels tell us of Mary of Bethany, anointing Jesus’ feet with her hair – an act which some disciples dismiss as extravagant and unnecessary. But Jesus receives this gift of tenderness, not out of pity for Mary, but out of an understanding of his own needs. She anoints him for his death and he is not impervious to the suffering he will endure neither to his own longing for comfort and preparation. On the cross, he will cry out to God in his suffering, even as he conquers death. Later, in his letter to the church in Corinth, St Paul urges the Christians there to understand the power of strength made perfect in weakness.
So may we discover the many gifts of vulnerability, the possibilities which arise when we admit that we cannot do it alone, the ways in which community deepens and grows and we are blessed when we reach out. Thank you for helping me. May we be a place where we can ask for help and receive it, so that we might lean more fully into the power of Christ and learn from the weakness that heals the world.