To the FATHER, through the SON, in the SPIRIT

Last Sunday at the 10.00, many wrote down prayers which Tom then read them out. Here are most.

Thank you for our relationship with you through Your Son Jesus, that we may speak to you with open hearts. I pray for our church and for Tom and Dave as they move forward in serving you. Thank you for your blessings and goodness each day and for loving us as your children. Forgive the times I am far from you and forget to seek your wisdom.

I want to thank you for all the blessings we cannot see and all that we can see. Please heal the world and make it a better place. Make us more like you, and heal me in body, soul and spirit. Please give me a new beginning with you always by my side.

Thank you for our food and all our friends and family. Please help the poor, help those that suffer. Please bless the Blue School and my church. Please make me like you. Inspire us to know you better.

I pray for more grace and the strength to carry on in life. I pray for peace around the world. Thanks for all the blessings you pour upon us. Forgive those who sin against you. Help us always to give you glory.

For an end to all wars, for all those caught up through no fault of their own. Help them in the suffering. Please bless all people especially all who are suffering at the moment in countries like Syria. Help us to feel your grace, especially those in power. Help us see what is right and what is wrong. We pray for a satisfactory outcome, both for the EU and our country, of the Brexit negotiations and for sensitivity and honesty in the discussions.

For peace in all our hearts. For my daughter, that the hurt will heal, that she can forgive and move on. Remember out godparents on this godparent Sunday. We pray for our local community here in Isleworth, for many people to know your love. We pray for those about to embark on the journey of marriage and those much further down that road. We pray for our children, for those about to do their examinations. Give them strength and aid them in their work.

The Really Difficult Part to Watch

Rob Cobb, with his daughter Olivia have been coming to St John’s for 2 years.

It was my Mum who suggested we all go into town to watch the Good Friday Passion Play in Trafalgar Square. I’ve not been to something like that before. Five of us went along. We sat in a place close to all the action – and even joined in with shouting at the right times, as part of the crowds.

The Passion Play taught me so much about the life of Jesus. The bit that really stayed with me was the crucifixion itself. The actor who played Jesus did a great job of showing the pain and suffering that Jesus went through. He really shouted loudly! That part of the play was difficult to watch, but it was very moving. I don’t know why, I hadn’t really thought about how Jesus was actually nailed to a cross. We see pictures and crucifixes where Jesus is already on the cross, or off it, but the passion play got me really thinking about how it must have been for Jesus himself, to have his hands nailed to a cross. It made it all the more special – that as Christians we say that his suffering, his death, was for us to have life.

I thought the Passion Play was amazing and I would definitely recommend anyone to go along next year and see the one in Trafalgar Square, or another one. The young kids we took to see it enjoyed it and were able to follow the story fine. We all got so involved in the story and lost track of the time!

Things haven’t been very easy for me and my life recently, but I have found praying helpful. I like the Lord’s Prayer – that Jesus himself taught us and we say each week in church – as a really useful place to start praying. It’s good to ask Jesus for forgiveness, and we need his help to forgive others. The Passion play increased my appreciation for Jesus, this man who lived and died (and lived again!) all those years ago.

The Greater Passover Lamb

I’ve been coming to St John’s for nearly four years. I love St John’s and St Mary’s – the people are very genuine and care about your welfare. Life hasn’t always been easy for me but this community have offered a lot of love and encouragement.

As many of you will know, I have been fostering T for 18 months. T will start secondary school in the autumn. We’ve had lots of ups and downs. T naturally misses his family, although he is happy with me and at church. He feels less alone and has made new friends at Flightpath. He knows he is part of God’s family, God is his Father, even if he can’t be with his own family. T likes helping out and he really enjoyed doing the prayers recently. T loves drama, and he’s a very confident speaker with a big voice which is good for being up at the front in church!

This last week we both attended one of the Passover meal, hosted by the Maclures. We had a great time – good food and lovely company of all ages. As part of the drama of the evening, an extra place is set for the prophet Elijah. At a certain point, the kids go and check the door to see if Elijah has come. Well we were shocked when close to that time the doorbell actually rang! It was a rough sleeper that Dave knew, asking for food. So we had our Elijah – the stranger at the door – and even though he didn’t stay to join us, he had some rice and lamb to take away!

The Passover meal has helped me learn something about Jesus. For Christians, the meal points to how Jesus is an even greater Passover Lamb, which we remember when we celebrate communion, His body and blood given for us. The story of the Exodus is one I particularly love. One of my favourite verses in the Bible comes in that story as God’s people face the obstacle of the Red Sea. They are told: “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to remain still.”

Rachel Burnel

Separating Some To Live, Some To Die

Eva Schloss is now in her late 80s, remarkably fit speaking fluently, albeit with a heavy accent. WW2 ended in 1945, when Eva was just 16.

At 8, her happy childhood in Austria ended with the Nazi annexation. The day it happened she went to visit her best friend, a Catholic. This girl’s mother opened the door, refused to let her in, saying ‘never to come here again’. Being a Jew led rapidly to discrimination and poverty.

At 9 years old, her father left for Holland. She, her mother and brother Heinz crossed illegally into Belgium. At 10, she witnessed her second Nazi occupation, so the family fled to Holland.

From the age of 10 to 14 they went from one safe house to the next. The family had to split, father and son, mother and daughter together. Their secret hiding places were often needed.

On her 15th birthday there was a knock on the door. A ‘nurse’ they had trusted turned out to have been a double agent. Her brother and father had also been picked up. They were all transported to Auschwitz. She said they all knew about what went on at this death camp. Dr Mengele stood as they disembarked, separating some to die, some to live.

Forced to work hard every day, a bowl of thin ‘soup’ in the morning, a chunk of bread at night. As people died, she saw them ‘replaced’. She got frostbite that cold winter. One day the Nazis went, leaving 300 women and 500 men alone in this vast camp (10 sq miles.) They had nothing till the Russian ‘liberators’ gave them a hot meal.

I just can’t imagine all that happening to anyone before reaching 17. She never saw her father and brother again, but spoke without bitterness and hatred. These are stories which need telling, of hope when a government turns against its people.

Tom Gillum

Why Is Your Mosque So Old?

I met someone this week who remembers school visits to St John’s when a child at Isleworth Town. The feeling that this church somehow belonged to them remained and they said it felt natural to come back to this church as an adult. As this indicates, faithful investment in our local community and children over many years can have unexpected and happy results later. This is part of letting others know this is “your church, at the heart of Isleworth.”

This week a new generation of children from Isleworth Town came to visit, wide-eyed and energetic yr1 students. As usual the donkey was a huge attraction, as was the stained glass window picture of John the Baptist without his head!

They then had some questions. Some of these were quite funny: “Are the screens for watching TV?”, “Is it true Christians have bread and beer each week at church?” And my favourite: “Excuse me, why is your mosque so old!?” Other questions got to the heart of belief and faith. “Why do you read the Bible?”, “Why did Jesus have to die?”, “Do you think Jesus really came back from the dead – or was he just sleeping and some people gave him some medicine?”

I did my best to at least begin an answer to these posers, but I was struck again at how the Christian faith makes some astonishing claims and how kids are very astute at spotting these things which might be familiar to us, and calling them out with fresh wonder. We say that God sent his son to live, walk, teach and heal. His body broken and blood shed on a Roman cross brings new life available to all. A dead man lives again and leaves an empty tomb, death defeated. How do you feel about these claims? Do you have similar questions? How would you have answered the children? Children can help lead the way for all of us this Easter with fresh questions, conversations, insights and wonderings as we attempt to grapple with the truths and mysteries of Jesus.

DAVE MACLURE