Church on the Corner

Church on the Corner is an Anglican church in an old pub in Islington, London. Service at 7pm every Sunday.

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

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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. 

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.

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

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

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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.

We do love our Christmas at COTC, from our beautiful Carol service with choir and candles to our 9 course Christmas Meal, or our new tradition of Beer & Carols. We’re still finalising some of the details of our other Christmas programme for this year, but I thought I would get the main events up. Can’t wait.

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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 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.

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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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A Prayer for Lent

Father you call us to learn
to trust you in famine as in feast,
and to seek your kingdom before all things.
As we begin this season of Lent
give us joy in the simple things
gratitude for what we have
rather than disquiet over what we don’t.
And may we discover in your presence
a peace that the world cannot give.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Lent is a season in the year of the Church which follows Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days. It is a time of stripping things back and choosing a simpler quieter life, so better to encounter God.

One of the things we will be doing together is reading a book as a Church family. The book for this year is by ++Justin Welby called Dethroning Mammon. It is an examination of the place that money plays in our society, and what it looks like to genuinely trust in God rather than finance. There are 6 chapters, and we plan to read one a week, you can reflect on it in the comments below, or after church each Sunday.

To get hold of a copy obviously you can buy it from Amazon. But given the subject matter it might be a thought to buy it from somewhere that treats its staff better.

If you are near Westminster my favourite bookshop is here.

 

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New years resolutions come and go. But there are some resolutions that endure. These are God’s resolutions for you. No matter who you are. These three resolutions, simple yet profound are what God requires.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Over the next 3 weeks we are marking the beginning of a new year by reflecting on what it means to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.

 

 

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We have a busy and exciting few weeks running up to Christmas.
Here is what is going on at Church
4th December 8.30pm –  As part of our ‘Just Cause’ advent project there will be a screening of ‘Before the Flood’ after church on Sunday 4th December
beer-and-carols-2016-001 11th December 8pm – Beer and Carols is a new thing this year – a post church beer & carol-fest. We will have a slightly shorter than usual service which will be finished in time for Beer & Carols at 8pm.
17th December at 7pm – Christmas Meal Always a fabulous night and a culinary tour-de-force by John Lewis. This year will be an 8 course Italian tasting menu. Tickets are £10 and all proceeds go to our Childrens & Youth work.
18th December at 7pm – Carol Service. Our biggest service of the year, a beautiful candle lit service of carols and Christmas goodness. Invite your friends, and be on time!

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Were putting the Barn dance into Barnsbury. Our annual Parish Cèilidh is a fundraiser for our Children and Youth Work, and it is a fabulous event with food and drink, dancing and laughter. Whether you are a seasoned Do-si-do-er or a squaredance-o-phobe, we promise you will have a great time. Bring your friends.Tickets are £10 on the door. It is one of the highlights of the year.

Day of Prayer.jpgOne of our commitments this year has been to pray more as a community, and as we approach Advent, and all the joys and wonder and opportunities that the Christmas season brings, we are planning to spend another day in prayer on the 30th October.

We would encourage the whole community to set aside time that day for prayer. But specifically we will have a continuous cycle of prayer in the chapel. And you can sign up to take an hour during the day.

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As before the chapel will be set up to be a place that helps you to pray, with creative ideas and lots of inspiration. Praying for an hour might sound intimidating. But once you get there, the time really does fly by. And time in the presence of God is never dull.

Update.

Thank you all for your contributions to this lovely day. The chapel is a blaze of creative prayer, and we had people joining in our hour by hour prayers from all over the world.

If you want to keep the prayer, or use them again another time you can download them here: COTC Book of hours.

Images from the day.

 

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On Saturday 29th October Church on the Corner are proud to be hosting the 25th Anniversary celebration of Operation Restoration Bolivia.
This amazing charity has been working with kids who live full time on the streets of Bolivia, supporting them, providing an education and helping them build the resilience that they need to live well.  Our own Susie Procter volunteered with them in 1993/94 and it had a massive impact on her life including defining her choice of career working with the homeless and disenfranchised.

The London celebration and thanksgiving for 25 years of the work will be taking place at COTC starting at 4pm.

4pm – Gathering
5pm – Food & fellowship
6pm – Presentation and Celebration – Roger and Isha Hulford
Please join us for this celebration of all the Lord has done through Operation Restoration over the last 25 years and look forward to many more.

 

Church on the Corner, 64 Barnsbury Road, London, N1 0ES

How to get here.

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What’s on this term…

Sunday 25th September – Folk on the Corner. The first session of this monthly Folk music gathering hosted by Tadz & Ruth starts tonight. More information on their Facebook page

Monday 17th OctoberN.T. Wright at St Mellitus College
You have probably heard of Tom Wright and even if not you have almost certainly been influenced by his work (whether you realise it or not). He is a brilliant New Testament Scholar, and someone who has done more to deepen our understanding of the NT than (I think) anyone in the last century.
Tickets are free, but need to be booked in advance

Friday 28th October – Pumpkin Carving & Pizza
at Church on the Corner.

Sunday 30th October – Day of Prayer

Saturday 5th November – Bonfire Night

Saturday 12th November – Parish Ceilidh. After the triumphant success of last year’s Ceilidh, which raised £5000 towards our youth and children’s work, we are going again. It will be even bigger and better than last year. So dust off your Barn Dancing skill and your cowboy boots* and come along. (*Cowboy boots optional)

Sunday 27th November – Advent project begins

Saturday 17th December – 4pm Bemerton Carols. Community Carol concert at the Padget Centre on the Bemerton estate.

(Note the change of date) Saturday 17th December 7pm- Christmas Dinner. Will it be a Christmas roast with all the trimmings or a 9 course italian tasting menu? We don’t know yet, but this is not a lovely annual tradition, and a great event to bring your friends along to.

Sunday 18th December – Carol Service. Our biggest service of the year, and always a treat, with traditional carols and mulled wine. Invite your friends.

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This weekend we will be praying for 24 hours in response to the Archbishop’s call to prayer for Pentecost. Members of church will sign up to pray in the chapel for an hour through the day and night.

Our chapel room has been transformed into a creative prayer space, and will gradually be filled with creative expressions of prayer.

 

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Holy week is the most solemn week in the Christian year, marking the days leading up to Good Friday and the crucifixion. It begins with Palm Sunday and then enters into the last days of Jesus earthly ministry and ending with the great celebration of Easter – traditionally the time for Baptism & Confirmation.

Fittingly we celebrate these events alongside the other Christians in our community and so there is a different pattern of services at church.

March
20th – Palm Sunday – 7pm at COTC
24th- Maundy Thursday – “The Last Supper” 7.45pm at the Padget Centre
25th – Good Friday
Walk of Witness – 12pm in the Angel Centre
The Service of Shadows – 6.30pm at COTC

26th – Easter Sunday
10.30am Family Service at St Andrews
2.30pm Baptism Service at St Andrews
No evening Service at COTC.

 

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