Public worship is suspended

It’s less than 24 hours since our worst fears were confirmed and public worship was suspended in all our churches. It has been a dizzying day of managing the questions and the many unknowns, and trying to come to terms with what it means to care for a parish without church. But of course church is not the building, or even the gathering (though that is hard to imagine) – it is the network of relationships between people, and it is Christ who is the Good shepherd, Christ who cares for the flock, and leads them to still waters that will refresh their soul. 

We can serve one another by pointing each other to Christ, and by fellowship – even if that is virtual and online. That most beloved of Psalms says that the Lord is our shepherd, I shall not want. We all live with deep seated fears and anxieties, sometimes well buried, but when we are most vulnerable they often emerge. We want to be in control and know what the future holds. But sometimes, and perhaps especially at times such as this, we simply have to take hold of our courage and say – the Lord is my shepherd, he will lead the way, and he holds the future in his hands. I am not in charge – he is, and he is trustworthy.  I won’t always know where we are going, and sometimes we will pass through dark valleys and I will be afraid. And in times like that I will learn to trust the shepherd. And I suspect that I will need that trust because on the narrow road ahead there will be harder times than this. Stay close to the shepherd, seek the stillness and green pasture of his presence. Put trust into practice.

If you would like to talk about this and pray with others this evening, you are invited to join one of our virtual small groups. email helencodling@churchonthecorner.org.uk to join in. And if you can print off the attached prayers that will help a great deal.

The Lord’s Prayer

Winter 2020 Teaching .001

During advent we had a clergy quiet day with the wonderful Jane Williams. One story that she told was of a fast growing underground church in China. She was in conversation with the leaders, and she asked them how they discipled the many people who were coming to faith. Did they have a particular course or programme of teaching? They looked a little confused, and said we just teach people to pray.
It’s quite a striking contrast to the cerebral and doctrinal faith that we value in the west. Those things are very good, but the heart of the life of faith is prayer, and that is often the thing we struggle the most with.
I’m struck that we need to learn to pray. Jesus’ disciples watched his remarkable life of prayer and asked him to teach them to pray like that. We need to be  serious students of prayer throughout our life. So join us over the coming weeks for a series of sermons not just about the Lord’s Prayer, but seeking to put into practice Jesus teaching on prayer.

In the beginning

Autumn 2019 Teaching - Genesis.001.jpegOur new series starts tonight. Throughout this term we will be studying some of the most famous stories in the Bible, stories which have shaped our culture, and still have the power reshape our understand of ourselves and our world. We are haunted by Genesis – the Promised land, Forbidden fruit, The Garden of eden, ashes to ashes, my brother’s keeper, be fruitful and multiply, breath of life, fire and brimstone – words and ideas that have this deep resonance, and all all have there origin here.

Join us on Sundays at 7pm

 

Lent 2019

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Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which is of course the start of Lent. As we said on Sunday, Lent is intended not to be a time of hardship, but instead an invitation to follow Jesus into the wilderness and find restoration for the soul. “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” If you weren’t with us, or would like a recap, you can find the notes on the sermons page.
Ash Wednesday Service.We will be holding a service of  signing with Ashes and Communion at 7.45pm at St Andrews.
Daily Prayer during Lent. This is the order of Morning prayer that we will be praying together in the Parish during Lent. You would be welcome to use this each day or whenever you can as a structure for your prayers.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book. In a time of division and conflict on all sorts of levels in our society this is a wise suggestion for Lent reading by ++Justin.
Reconciliation by Muthuraj Swamy is a rich series of reflections on that central theme of the Bible and how it can be worked out on a personal, communal and global stage. It is broken into 40 short daily readings – one for each day of Lent. Highly recommended.
Prayer before Church. As Helen said on Sunday, some of us will be gathering in the chapel each Sunday evening before church at 6.15 to pray for church, parish and community, and for ourselves each week. Do join us if you can.

Christmas Services 2018

We have some amazing event lined up for the festive season, from the big event of our beautiful Carol service, our Christmas meal, Carol singing at our local care home, Beer and Carols at our local pub and our creative advent project which will be revealed each day through advent. Further details below.

Sunday December 2nd – 4pm Decorating the church, mince pies and delivering Carol service invitations.
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Sunday 9th

3.45pm – Muriel Street Care home Carol Singing
7pm – Church followed by Beer and Carols at 8.30pm [Facebook invitation]

Saturday 15th – Christmas Meal (Email Helen to sign up)

Carol Service Invitation 2018.001

Sunday 16th 7pm – Carols by Candlelight [Facebook invitation]

 

Advent project 2018

Our Advent project is now live. Click here to open a new door each day.

Advent is a time of beginnings. It is the start of the church calendar, and a time for hoping and praying. It is the fast that enriches the feast of Christmas.

Our annual advent project will begin in December, and as usual  the COTC extended family near and far will contribute to our reflections.

As usual we are exploring a theme you are invited to sign up for one of the 25 days to contribute and image you have created or curated, along with a short descriptive text. Over the month we will create an online advent calendar of these images.

The theme is one which has come out of our sermon series this autumn. It is

Redemption

Spend some time prayerfully reflecting on that theme and get to work creating or finding an image. Perhaps you can find some inspiration here. If you would like to participate, drop us a line, and you will be allocated a day. We will start the unveiling when Advent starts on 2nd December.

Navigating the Wilderness

Navigating the wilderness.jpeg

Theology is not an academic exercise, it is about survival in a chaotic world.
It is how we make sense of the brokenness and the beauty, how we discover who we truly are and what we are called to, and ultimately find our way home. This term at COTC we are doing practical theology, wrestling with essential questions – identity, meaning, freedom, love, hope and redemption. We will be sharing tools for survival and learning to navigate well though the wilderness of this life.

Join us every Sunday at 7pm

Lifting the Lid

LIfting the lid

This term at COTC we’re going to be hosting a parish project called Lifting the Lid. It is a six-week Bible study course that focuses on our faith and mental health.

We’re going to start with the Bible; seeking to gain a better Christian perspective on mental health. We’ll be looking at well-known Bible stories to understand how God treats those who feel exhausted, rejected, hopeless and heartbroken. We will take what we learn about God’s approach and use that as a way to explore the mental health challenges faced by our community.

We’ll try to get as practical as possible – thinking about concrete ways we can support people in our church and neighbourhood. Finally, we’ll be spending some time in prayer together.

One in four of us will have a diagnosable mental health condition in our lifetime. Even in the healthiest community, there can be a lot at stake in opening up about mental health. People can sometimes be wary of sharing their experiences, or feel that only those with visible difficulties are in need of support. Opening up positive discussions can be challenging, as churches we can play a key role in lifting the lid on mental health, by creating spaces that listen and welcome.

If you come to studies, you’ll be encouraged to come with a listening ear, and to share only what’s comfortable for you. We’re inviting people from all three churches in the parish to come, to make for a positive experience of building community together.

We’d love to see you there.

Wednesdays at Church 7.30pm-9pm – upstairs in the Cloudesley Room

5th September
12th September
18th September
26th September
3rd October
10th October

For more information, or to register your interest email Mark at COTC, Corin at All Saints or Jess at St Andrews

Church weekend away 2018

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We’re now taking bookings for our Church Retreat in May. It should be a wonderful weekend and an amazing opportunity to get to know people at church better, and to deepen your relationship with God. We will be staying in the Cathedral close at Salisbury, and our theme is going to be a gentle introduction to the themes of pilgrimage, retreat and silence, with time to explore the Cathedral, city and get out into the countryside.

You can find all the information you need here COTC Church Weekend Leaflet

And the Programme and Map are here.

Any questions drop me or one of the organising team a line. To book your place  email administrator@churchonthecorner.org.uk, or sign up at church, and if you are coming by train, book your tickets asap to get the best prices.

Mark, John, Susanna, Georgie. 

Lent

Morris Minor

Our first car was a beautiful 1959 Morris Minor. It was a design icon, but it did have some drawbacks. It had none of the technology we now take for granted; certainly no aircon or airbags or ABS.  It wasn’t exactly watertight and when it rained there was a regular drip from the ceiling light. Also it was draughty, the wind would get in but you could never work out where from. It did have a heater, but there were only two settings – on and off, and on was a blast furnace directed at your legs. In the winter you would toast your feet while the rest of you froze.

However we look back on it with great fondness. It was one of the family, and it was a delight to drive. Certainly not fast, but somehow you were much more in touch with the journey than in a modern car. And it was so cheap and easy to fix. All the parts were either reparable or replaceable. I learned about all sorts of things like alternators and solenoids along the way.

Now I’m remembering all this because it struck me as an interesting metaphor. We sort of imagine that life should be like a trouble free journey in a modern car. But in reality it is much more like our old Morris rolling along in the slow lane while everyone overtakes. But this thing about the Morris is that it could always be repaired, and carefully looked after it would run forever. My suspicion is that the Christian life is more like that than the gleaming modern version. And that is because what God is gently calling us to is a life more connected to his creation and to one another. God’s plan isn’t cruising along in a gleaming modern car, it is the long journey of growing in wisdom and a character, of understanding ourselves and others.

So how is that going? How are you doing at coming to terms with who you really are. Your unique character and strength, and your struggles, doubts and fears, and the demons that you fight.

This is what is at the heart of Lent.

Lent re-enacts Jesus 40 days in the wilderness, immediately after his baptism and before the start of his public ministry. It is a slightly daunting idea – emulating Jesus in an act of ascetic self discipline. But if we understand what is going on with Jesus, then we can ask the question what does that mean for us.

Jesus is led into the wilderness immediately after his baptism. A wonderful affirming moment – perhaps the point in his life when his calling and identity was most clear. A voice from heaven says ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’

And that love is the foundation of all he does. But the remarkable thing is that if you are in Christ the same can be said of you. Lent begins not with the need to prove something, or to earn something, but with the unconditional love of God who says to you, ‘You are my child, beloved, with you I am well pleased’. We need to start our Lenten journey there.

But after that Jesus is led by the spirit into the wilderness. And once there he fasts for 40 days. Now anyone who has fasted will know that hard though it is, the benefits of it are enormous. The physical benefits have long been known and increasingly are being recognised by medical research. But the most immediate  benefit is the mental clarity that it brings. The capacity to see clearly and act decisively. Fasting certainly can mean giving up food for some time, but it can mean other things too. The goal is to clear away the distractions and the noise. One idea is a digital fast. To restrict the amount of time we spend in front of screens, and to use that time more productively; to break the addiction and to embrace silence and even boredom, to allow your mind to wander, contemplate scripture and nature, and perhaps to face up to our own temptations.

The Bible account gives fascinating insight into Jesus’ temptations. In some ways these are unique to him, but some aspects of these are common to us all.

He was tempted in three ways.

The first was directly connected to his hunger. “Command these stones to become loaves of bread”. It was the temptation to use his power for his own ends and choose the easy road. The way of the cross is not the narrow road, not the self serving way or comfortable way.

The second was to demand proof from God, and to turn away from the path of faith. To throw himself into the abyss and demand that God catches him.

And the third was to choose worldly glory instead of humble servanthood. He is offered a shortcut to Glory instead of the path of sacrifice.

Jesus responds to each of these temptations with scripture, and that is an encouragement to us to know our Bibles. But it is very interesting  that the verses Jesus quotes are all from the Exodus story; Moses leading the people from Egypt through the wilderness to the promised land. It seems that each one is a shorthand for one of the stories in Exodus about how the people of God were tested.

“Man shall not live by bread alone” is easiest – a  reference to the Mannah story where  God humbled them, causing them to hunger and then feeding them with manna to teach them that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

“Do not put the Lord to the test” is a reference to a story in the desert at Massah (which means testing) where the Israelites quarrelled saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:10 which is very telling “When the Lord your God has brought you into the promised land, a land with cities that you did not build and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget the Lord.”

So Jesus sees that what he is going through in terms of the 40 years that the people of God spent in the wilderness, and the temptation and failure they faced. He leads us through the same wilderness but trusts God and does not fail. But we need to beware of the same temptations:

The need for humble dependence of God day by day, living without securing our future, but trusting that God will provide what we need (rather than what we want).

The importance of living by faith, and trusting rather than demanding constant proof of Gods love.

And the very real danger of getting comfortable and forgetting God.

So Lent is 40 days of changing gear and traveling more slowly. Not simply self denial but re-finding your identity in God. Of stripping away the distraction and some of the comfort

What do do? Here are some suggestions

  • Start with Love. Hear those words of the Father to you. ‘You are my child, beloved, with you I am well pleased’. And allow them to transform your anxious heart.
  • Make some time each day. Find a park bench or an old church. Just sit and be.
  • Join us in Morning or Evening Prayer.
  • Cut out the distractions. As church we encourage a digital fast which we call [Dis]Connect – essentially to limit your screen time to ~30 minutes a day.
  • Take a sabbath day.
  • Go on retreat. There is something amazing about living alongside Monks or Nuns for a few days.
  • Read Exodus and mediate on the stories of liberation. And over the course of Lent, allow the word of God to challenge you about particular temptations you face.

If the Wilderness experience was a process that Jesus had to go through to reveal his demons, his temptations and his vulnerabilities how much more do we need this? I think the more as you go on in the Christian life. There is a great danger we settle, we become comfortable. To know your temptations and your weaknesses, to understand  them, and own them is the first step to overcoming them. And perhaps find others who are going thorough the same things so that the genuineness of your faith—which is more precious than gold may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Christmas 2017

There is no lovelier time of the year. Our festivities start next week with our now legendary Beer and Carols, after the service at 8pm.

Beer and Carols 2017

Then the following week is our delightful Carol service. Arrive early to guarantee a seat.Carol Service Invitation 2017

Angel-Tree-logo
And once again this year we are supporting Angel Tree – an excellent charity which supports children who’s parents are in prison at Christmas.

Advent Project 2017

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One of our favourite traditions at Church on the Corner is our annual Advent Project, now in its eighth year, where we work together to create something a little bit magical to mark this Advent season of preparation and anticipation.

Our theme this year is Wisdom.  There are moments in life when you hear words so wise and true that they speak to your very soul. And we we need to be better at holding on to them.

Wisdom gives a better return than gold . It is more valuable than precious stones; nothing you could desire is equal to it.

So members of our community have been asked to hunt out wisdom and we will share  proverbs, inspired by scripture and experience. Some are profound, others wry, some even humorous. And each day we will share one online and collect them at church.

Autumn 2017 – Studies in 1 Samuel

Truth to Power

Our sermons this Autumn will be on the book of 1 Samuel. It is the story of the rise of the greatest King of Israel, and is full of familiar tales. But there is much more going on than the slightly Sunday school feel that many of them have. It is God’s perspective on the nature of leadership, the responsibilities of those in office, and the corrupting effect of power. And as such may just have something to say to our world today.

 

Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit postcard

Our sermons this term have been on the lovely theme of the Fruit of the Spirit. We’ve really enjoyed exploring this theme, I’m struck that we spend so much time saying that Christianity isn’t about being good (and it isn’t) that we forget that God really does transform us little by little into something wonderful.

Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness.
Anne Frank

And if you would like one, we have made a little commemorative postcard for you to remind you something of what we have learned.

Easter Services 2017

Holy Week 2017.001

As well as our usual services we will hold our lovely service of Shadows at sunset (7.45pm) on Good Friday. This very simple moving recounting of the final hours of Jesus life in stillness and growing darkness is one of our most memorable events of the year. Be on time.

And for the first time this year we’re joining together with others in the Parish for a Maundy Thursday Seder meal. More information below.

Maundy Thurs 2017

 

 

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