Living daily for Jesus… Anywhere in the world

My name is Brodie Jane, and this is the Sunday of my baptism. I live in Virginia, United States and am married to an American soldier. Even though the country I reside in has no shortage of churches willing to baptize me and welcome me into the faith, I felt compelled to return home to England to complete this important part of my spiritual journey, and to Isleworth where my parents still live. My life often takes me to many parts of the world, therefore I felt it important I remain connected to England and the church.

My journey with Christianity began long ago, when I was a child, despite coming from an agnostic family. The idea of prayer and kindness, which are two very important pillars of Christianity have always been a source of strength for me.

I believe Jesus saw everything with love; a message our world is in great need of and one I hope to share with others. His true message was one of lovingkindness, gentleness and doing the right thing. I believe he saw the world with a kind eye, but was a practical man too, well versed with the human condition and the importance of forgiveness.

Even as I enter the Christian faith officially now, I don’t yet know a great deal about Christian theology, but what I feel very deeply within me is the same love and peace Jesus felt and shared. The same feeling we all experience when we enter a church; a euphoric kind of peace, as we connect to the holy spirit through prayer and contemplation. Therefore, it is these simple but profound teachings that will guide me forward as I continue to learn; gentleness, prayer, tolerance, love and forgiveness and living daily by our lord Jesus Christ’s example.

I have made a decision to become baptized because I wish to strengthen my faith and belong to it wholeheartedly, and am thrilled to be able to do this at St John the Baptist church, the very name of which honours this sacred ritual.

Brodie Jane Nela

 Brodie will be baptised after our St John’s service on the 17thJune.  Please remember her and her family in your prayers.

Halfway up the stairs

“Halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit
There isn’t any other stair quite like it
I’m not at the bottom, I’m not at the top
So this is the stair where I always stop”
                                                                               A.A.Milne

‘Halfway up the Stairs’ is the title of a conference that I attended recently. The event was organised by a group who call themselves ‘Continuing the Journey’ – a temporary community of people who work and minister on the overlapping edges of society and church, theology and psychology – edges that sometimes complement, and sometimes clash.

In-between spaces can be extremely uncomfortable – times of uncertainty, for example, when we need to leave one thing behind but are not sure what the next step might be, or instances when we struggle to arrive at a shared understanding and find common ground. Often there is a need to wait and tolerate uncertainty until the way becomes clear. Sometimes we find ourselves challenged to learn from others and allow our preconceptions to dissolve so that new insights can emerge.

Yet the in-between places can also be opportunities for rest and refreshment – times when we can connect with the child within, and rediscover our ability to rest, to play, to wonder and to just ‘be’.

These times can be also be moments, or seasons, when we are most open to hearing God speaking to us, or perceiving God’s presence in our lives. Like Jacob in the wilderness (Genesis 28: 10-22), we might find ourselves waking up in a new way to the wonderful awareness that God is with us always, in the depths, in the heights, and in the places in between.

“Surely God is in this place and I was not aware of it.” Gen. 28:16

Rachel Michael

Photo taken by Suzanne Chapman and available on freelyphotos.com

This year’s Summer Fair

All of my kids have always loved the Summer Fair, especially the chance to buy or win anything, such as acquiring a jar full of sweets when their parents aren’t looking!  It’s also our chance to show the wider community what being part of St John’s and St Mary’s is all about and importantly, to raise some funds for the church.

For my part, over the last few years I have been in charge of the raffle; believe it or not this process starts in late February as getting the prizes takes time. So far this year people have very generously donated goodies such as wine, toys and other luxury gifts but with a few weeks to go we still hope to get a few more.

I have once helped to organise the Summer Fair itself and know how much hard work it takes Rachel and her team to bring everything together and make the day so successful. It is great to see everyone pull together to help out.

This year we have Gary Street opening the Fair, who was the England Woman’s Rugby Coach. Gary will also be running a Didi rugby session at 12.30pm for children between the ages of 18 months to 6 years. We also have a dog show and some amazing stalls lined up to guarantee fun for all the family, no matter what age.

We like to include everyone in helping in the Summer Fair, no matter how small your part in running, donating prizes/ books etc  and helping on the day. As a collective, it’s what makes the St. John’s Summer Fair such a special day…

So please if you can help to make this a very special day – we would love to hear from you!

Jonathan Palmer

Bishop Michael Curry – and that sermon

Bishop Michael Curry from the American Episcopal Church preached a sermon at the Royal Wedding last Saturday which divided opinion. It was a “marmite” sermon – you either hated it or you loved it. It was either inappropriate and too long for a Royal Wedding, or it was just what we all needed to hear, especially in a week where we marked the anniversary of the Manchester bombings and Grenfell Tower. Whatever your opinion, Bishop Curry’s sermon is perhaps the most talked about sermon in recent world history. In case you missed it, here’s an extract on the theme of the love that Jesus offers.

They said if you cannot preach like Peter and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus how he died to save us all.  He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t—he wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life. He sacrificed his life for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the well-being of the world, for us. That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish sacrificial redemptive love, changes lives and it can change this world.

If you don’t believe me, just stop and think and imagine, think and imagine, well, think and imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families when love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when love is the way. Imagine this tired old world when love is the way.

When love is the way, unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive, when love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the Earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more. When love is the way, there’s plenty good room, plenty good room, for all of god’s children because when love is the way, we actually treat each other well, like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that god is the source of us all and we are brothers and sisters, children of god. My brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new Earth, a new world, a new human family.

Sarah Mullally, the 133rd Bishop of London

I had the privilege of being invited to the Installation of Dame Sarah Mullaly as our new Bishop of London in St Paul’s Cathedral last Saturday (12 May). Bishop Sarah is 56 and was educated in Surrey and London. For five years (from 1999) she was the UK’s Chief Nursing Officer and the NHS’s director of patient experience for England. Recently she has been Bishop of Crediton, a bishop in the Diocese of Exeter. As she mentioned in her sermon, 12 May is a significant day for her as it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale and also marks International Nurses Day.

Several hundred clergy were present including our Area Dean, Richard Frank. As well as various representatives of the City of London, the Masters and Prime Wardens of many livery companies processed in their finery to their seats under the dome. Bishop Sarah struck the Great West Door three times with her pastoral staff and the door was then opened to permit her to enter. The main procession, which included Archdeacon Stephan and Bishop Graham, moved through the nave to “Christ is made the sure foundation”. It was quite an emotional (and historic) moment to see our first woman Bishop of London, who was literally beaming with joy.

After the legal parts of the service, the Dean of St Paul’s, Very Rev David Ison, said “Brothers and sisters in Christ, I present to you Sarah, our Bishop, duly installed as Bishop of London” to which there was rapturous applause which continued for around one minute.

Bishop Sarah’s sermon was on the theme of “being subversive for Christ,” taken from John 21 – the story set by the sea of Tiberius of Jesus calling Peter into a new ministry. In her sermon, Bishop Sarah said “Today as I respond to the call of Christ to a new ministry I recall my first calling to follow Christ; to know him and make him known to the world. In the words of St Augustine ‘For you I am your Bishop but with you I am a Christian.’”

Bishop Sarah ended her sermon with the words “A church which is rooted in scripture and tradition but not afraid to reimagine the future. This is the sort of church and community that I believe the Lord has called me to assist in fostering, here in this Diocese. Will you join me?”

Brian Grumbridge

Bishop Sarah, photo taken from London.anglican.org