We have just put together some resources on prayer for use by our homegroups. Our approach to prayer can be like our attitude to food – we keep eating what we know because it is easy and familiar, and in the same way we get stuck in one pattern of prayer. But just like food there is a rich variety if you are willing to try new things. So for starters here are 6 different models of prayer, all good in different ways and all worth exploring.
“Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest”
I’m not sure what it was that Jesus saw in his disciples that moved him to say these lovely words, but in our treadmill of a culture, constantly taught to believe that life isn’t all we hoped for because we aren’t trying hard enough, they are always timely.
But then along comes Lent, with its demands that we give up some of our few remaining comforts. It is no surprise that when life seems hard, the last thing we want to do is to make it harder. But the call to self denial is not what we think. The goal is to say no to our inhumanity, to our failure to be what we are created for. To say no to the nonsense and choose a simpler, richer life. Instead of seeking distractions from our boredom we seek life in all its fulness.
Lent starts in a week’s time, on the 13th February. So you have time to talk, and make some plans. And our challenge is to make some choices to bring more balance to our lives, to reconnect with God, with creation and with your own creativity. Below are a list of suggestions, or suggest some of your own. Do one of them regularly or try lots of different one. Comment below to share your experience.
- Get a good night’s sleep. It sounds so simple, and yet we so rarely do it. I love the very poignant Pete Doherty quote that says “The rush that you get from having a good night’s sleep is so exotic: to feel powerful and clean, capable and potent”.
- Make a meal for yourself or a friend. Eat slowly.
- Listen to people. Don’t interrupt, and don’t be afraid of the silences. They are an invitation.
- Disconnect – Read our pledges to disconnect from technology.
- Read the wonderful “Do nothing to change your life” – a manifesto of simplicity.
- Learn the joy of silence. Just sit and enjoy the presence of God. Tell your chattering mind to take a break.
- Read all 4 Gospels, by reading two chapters a day. Reading plan here.
- Perform simple acts of kindness – sign up to 40 Acts.
- Make something instead of buying something. Draw, paint, pick up an old hobby. Sing.
- Clear out the junk. We get trapped by clutter. Simplify, give things as gifts or to a charity shop, stop saving things ‘just in case’.
- End the day with Evening Prayer.
[Image of Jesus in the Wilderness from the '40' Series by Si Smith]
One of the biggest projects we are involved in every year is the Islington churches winter nightshelter, which kicked off last night. 15 guests, warm beds, a hot meal and a cooked breakfast. It doesn’t sound too complicated, and it’s a privilege to be part of, but it takes a lot of volunteers.
If you are in a homegroup you will already be allocatd to a sunday night, but there are planty of opportunities to get involved, particulalry if you can help with breakfast on a monday morning, or with an overnight.
Find out more here churchonthecorner.org.uk/nightshelter
Sunday 16th is our biggest service of the year. Our carol service is a celebration of all sorts of Christmas goodness, with beautiful singing, quiet reflection, simple worship, warm community and mulled wine and mince pies. It is a lovely event whether you are a regular or haven’t been to a church for ever.
And there is lots more going on.
4th December – The Big Sing 7.30pm at COTC
9th December – Bemerton Carols – community carol service on the Bemerton Estate. Find out more here.
16th December – Carols by Candlelight
22nd December – Christmas Dinner. Tickets £10. Email Martin for details.
24th December – Midnight Service at St Andrews here.
Our sermon series this Autumn will be on the book of Exodus. It is an iconic story, and deeply formative not just for the rest of the bible, but for recent human history. We will start this sunday looking at the significance of this book in the bible and in our culture, and then work our way through following the journey of the people out of Egypt and through the desert, towards the promised land.
We’ve been using fairtrade products since the beginning, but now it’s official, and everyone loves a certificate. Fairtrade is just one aspect of trade justice, and members of Church on the Corner are involved in many others, but what we chose to spend our money on does have a meaningful impact on the world we live in, and we are pleased to be part of a fairtrade Diocese.
Our familiarity with the Lord’s prayer often distracts us from its enormous significance. One of the key things which set Jesus apart was his prayerfulness, such that the disciples said to him teach us to pray like you. And his response was the prayer we know so well.
It is a remarkable point of unity – 2 billion christians across the world pray this prayer. And my conviction is that it is intended to be a prayer which we grow into, allowing it to form and frame our relationship with God. With our busy lives, prayer is all too often the thing which is missing. This term we are going to be carefully studying this prayer together, asking just as the first disciples did, that Jesus would teach us how to pray.
This evening we are watching the film ‘Into great Silence’. A remarkable piece of cinema, probably not an easy watch, but a telling a insight into the lives of the Carthusian Monks.
It sounds more like an endurance test than entertainment, yet this one-of-a-kind experience proves surprisingly immersive.
Read the reviews here on Rotten Tomatoes.
It will start at 7pm upstairs in the Chapel – if you are late, come in quietly!
The events that make up the Easter Story are the most significant and dramatic in the Christian Year. From the 5th-9th April we will join together with fellow pilgrims from our church, our parish and our city at a rich variety of events. Each distinct and beautiful in their own way, each marking one of the great events in the final days of Jesus earthly life. From the Last Supper, through the crucifixion to the amazing events of Easter Morning, join us in celebrating this greatest story ever told. Download the flyer below.
Maundy Thursday – The Last Supper. 7.30 @ All Saints Church
Good Friday – 11.45am Walk of Witness @ N1 Centre
7.30pm Service of Shadows @ Church on the Corner
Holy Saturday - 7pm The Easter Vigil @ St Pauls Cathedral
Easter Sunday 10.30am Family Services at All Saints and St Andrews
Our homegroups are starting a new series of discussions based on the excellent book ‘Surprised by Hope’.
Tom Wright is the former Bishop of Durham, and a leading N.T. Scholar and his work on the implications of the Easter story, not just for the church but for the whole world, is inspiring. You can watch the first session below, and more information about our homegroups can be found here.
Our Ash wednesday service marks the beginning of Lent. It is a solemn and beautiful service of reflection and contrition.
The ashes at the centre of the service are a traditional reminder of our mortality, referencing Genesis 3 ‘for dust you are and to dust you will return’.
It takes place on Wednesday 22nd February at 7.30pm at St Andrews the old parish church. (here)
We love this fast paced hard wired digital world with its breathless rush of creativity, opinion, noise and ideas. But there are addictive qualities to it, when through the constant stimulus we are in danger of losing the ability to sit still, to be quiet, to listen, even to sleep.
For 40 days this lent at Church on the Corner we are exploring a digital discipline. Choosing to switch off some of the forms of media which demand our attention and switch on to things quieter and richer. And you are invited to join us.
Starting this week at Church, we are going to be spending time looking at the riches of wisdom in the Psalms. All too often relegated to source material for worship songs, the Psalmists are actually responsible for some of the most honest and vulnerable writings in the whole bible, they explore the heights and plumb the depths of the human experience. They grant permission for us to look at ourselves a little more honestly, and recognise that our struggles and fears are not failings, but are an essential part of our humanity.
Sunday nights, 7pm. Church on the Corner.
Here is a good idea for the New Year. Some of the books which have had the biggest impact on the shape of contemporary Church are the first Christian books that people read. There is a real art to this kind of writing, aimed at those outside or on the threshold of faith. Their simplicity and clarity makes them great reading.
So the suggestion is that we make a New Years resolution to (re)read some of the classic introduction to Christianity books and aim to read them critically and yet humbly. We should be prepared to learn, but also alert to the errors they make, (for those mistakes tend to take root in the Church in disproportionate ways). Just reading a chapter a day will help to root you (to use the language of Psalm 1) in streams of water that will sustain you through the days ahead.
Here are the top four recommendations;
You can find them on Amazon (often at very reasonable prices if you buy second hand) and we will run this as an online book group, so in time there with be a forum for each of these books to share your experiences and reflections. Get stuck in, and see this as a good spiritual discipline for the New Year.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
Our annual Advent project is now getting started. You can find out more here.
Most of us were never taught how to pray. We just picked it up along the way by listening to those more experienced in the faith. And often the problem is we only learn the outward expressions of prayer. Even for those who have been taught, we tend to have a rather narrow view of prayer, focussed more on asking for things than any real sense of communion with God.
William Wilberforce, the 18th Century social reformer was a man who knew about busyness; he sacrificed his life and his health for the sake of abolishing the slave trade. But he was also by necessity a man of prayer. And he recognised that prayer was not simply a means of achieving an end, it was the source of life. He wrote “The shortening of devotions starves the soul, it grows lean and faint.” If prayer is nourishment for the soul, there is a danger that many of us are essentially malnourished.
Over the coming months we are going to be exploring the riches of prayer in the Christian tradition.
There is something lovely about september. Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year, and I enjoy the sense of new beginnings, getting organised, making plans for the year..
It is a new term at Church on the Corner. We have been doing lots of work on the building, and the old place is looking spruce.
The new teaching programme will be on the book of Genesis. Thinking about minor themes such as the origins of the universe, the nature of God and the meaning of existence.
It all gets started this Sunday 4th September at 7pm.