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January’s JCFL Prayer Vigil, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016, takes the JCFL Poster 2016 (main)theme ‘Be One’. All are welcome to join us at the Religious of Mary Immaculate Hostel, 15 Southwell Gardens, Gloucester Road, SW7 4RN at 7.30pm (6.30pm Song Practice).

The JCFL Prayer Vigil takes a Christ-centered theme, weaving together readings from Sacred Scripture, music from a variety of Christian traditions, intercession and silence.

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Thank you!

JCFL is delighted to support a Prayer with Taize Chants taking place this Advent at the Church of St. George’s, Sudbury on 30th November 2015. All are welcome!

Taize Prayer - 30th November 2015

 

October’s JCFL Prayer Vigil, ‘Become like Little Children’ took place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street on Thursday 15th October at 7.30pm.

This evening of prayer with Jesus in Word and Sacrament took a ChristChild-centered theme, weaving together readings from Sacred Scripture, Music from a variety of Christian Traditions, Adoration, Intercession and Silence.

Next year the JCFL Prayer Vigil will be continuing in a quarterly basis on the third Thursday of January, April, July & October at the Church of St. Stephen, Gloucester Road.

If you’d like to join follow JCFL on Facebook please click here.
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Thank you! 🙂

Reflection on the Word – ‘Jesus, Name above all Names’
JCFL Prayer Vigil, 16th July 2015
David Watson (The Kings Centre, Southall)
 

Intro

In a house fire (terrible thing), what one thing would you grab? Other than children, wife, etc. What is most important to you?  When everything is falling apart, when you are really under pressure, what one thing do you grab on to? When everything is falling apart around you, what one thing do you hold on to?

Bible…

Peter and John were under pressure. Arrested and beingJesus, Name above all names tried by the very same people who had arrested and tried Jesus, and had him killed only a few weeks before.  Probably the very same court-room, it wasn’t looking good.

But what does Peter do?  He reminds them of what they had done, he points to the death of Jesus at their hands.  What on earth possessed him to do such a crazy thing?

We read in v8 that he was filled with the Holy Spirit, but the HS doesn’t make us some sort of automated mouthpiece, a sort of spiritual robot.  The Holy Spirit breathes through us, through our gifts, through our spirit and out into the world, enabling us to love and serve in a more powerful and significant way than we could possibly do in our own strength.

So why does Peter bring up the very thing that would be most contentious, the thing that may have led quite swiftly to his untimely demise?

Because in v12, “salvation is found in no-one else”.

The one thing that Peter clung to in his most pressured moment, when all was falling apart, was the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, because he knew it was the most important thing, more important than his own life, his own wellbeing, his own security, his own safety, because salvation is found in no-one else.  The only thing he knew he could hold on to when his very life was at risk, was the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  Salvation is found in no-one else.

Because no-one else could have done what Jesus did.  As we read in Philippians 2:5-11.  Jesus was at home in heaven, in intimate relationship with his father, surrounded and adored by the angels, at peace, full of joy, immersed in love.  And he gave it up.  Gave it all up to enter our broken and fallen world, to be born into shame, to be born into poverty, to be a refugee, to be rejected and despised, abandoned, humiliated, tortured and killed.

Only because he had no sin, could he take our sin (2 Cor 5:21).  No-one else could have done it, no-one else.  Salvation is found in no-one else.

He is the only way to salvation, as we read in John 14:6, the only way.  Peter wasn’t making up his theology when he said that salvation was found in no-one else.  Jesus had said the very same thing, “I am the way, the truth and the lifeNo-one comes to the Father except through me”.  No-one comes to the Father, except through me.

We are surrounded by competing claims to be the way.  Just get enough money and possessions and you will be secure, you will be happy, all will be well.  Get a good marriage partner, nice comfortable house, nice children, and you will be secure, happy and well.  Our book shops are full of books telling us how to be happy, how to be at peace.

I live in Southall, where 1/3 Sikh, 1/3 Muslim, 1/4 Hindu, plus some Ahmeddiya, Buddhists, Jains and many more.   Competing claims to know who God is, competing claims to be the way.

We can all say that we think we know the way, that we think we know who God is.  But only God himself can say what the way actually is.  Whether all ways are acceptable to him, whether it matters which way you go.

Peter was pretty clear what he believed.  Salvation is found in no-one else.  No-one else.

Jesus was pretty clear
what he knew.  I am the way, the truth and the life.  No-one comes to the Father except through me.  He knew his identity, where he was from, and he knew how we too could find the way back.  We are no longer in the dark about which way it is, no longer confused by competing claims to be the way, because God himself has come to earth, revealed himself, told us that the way was through himself, and then made that way possible through his death and his resurrection.Listen to the Heart of Jesus

The way back to a father in heaven who loves us, who longs to forgive us from our sin and free us from our guilt and shame.  The Father who runs to meet us when we come slowly back to him.  The Father who sweeps us up in his arms and lavishes grave and mercy upon us, not because we deserve it, but because he loves us.  The Father who promises us a place in heaven, a place of security and peace, a place where there will be no more crying, no more tears, no more pain.

Application

What one thing is most important to you?

Like Peter, would it be the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ?

When the pressure mounts, is the salvation that is offered in Jesus worth more to you than your safety, your security, your comfort, your money, your health, your career, even your family?

Is it the one thing that you cling on to more than anything else?

And if it is, if do you believe as Peter and Jesus both declared, that salvation truly is found in no-one else, that Jesus really is the only way to the father, then what are we doing to offer that way to those around us that don’t know it?

What are we doing to point to the salvation of Jesus?  To encourage our friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues to find the salvation on offer in Jesus?

I don’t mean whether we are standing on street corners and shouting at people, but are we seeking opportunities to share Jesus with people in both words and in deeds, are we hungry for those around us to find the salvation that is found in no-one else so that we are on our knees praying that they too would find the way?

When you have one thing to cling on to, what will it be?

Lets pray.

July’s JCFL Prayer Vigil, ‘Jesus, Name above all names’ takes place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street on Thursday 16th July at 7.30pm.

Jesus, Name above all namesAll are welcome to this encounter with Jesus in Word and Sacrament. The evening liturgy, taking a Christ-centered theme, will weave together readings from Sacred Scripture, Music from a variety of Christian Traditions, a Reflection on the Word, Adoration, Intercession and Silence.

The JCFL Song Practice begins at 6.30pm. All who enjoy singing are welcome to come and join us to sing through the music before the evening liturgy. The practice either takes place in the Church or in the Farm Street Choir Room.

If you would like to join this event on Facebook please click here.

Thank you! 🙂

Reflection on the Word – ‘Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd’
JCFL Prayer Vigil, 16th April 2015
Rev. Dominic Grant (Trinity United Reformed Church, Wimbledon)
 

It has to be said, there’s something really rather contrary about sheep.Jesus Christ, The Good Shepherd

They seem to know that it’s worth sticking with the herd, that there’s safety in numbers – yet it doesn’t take much to make them scatter in all directions, isolating themselves as easy pickings for a predator.

Then again, drive your car along a rural road through fields where sheep are grazing, and you’ll find that they scuttle out of immediate danger, then immediately stop to eat some more grass as if nothing had happened.

So it’s probably no coincidence that in the context of our wider culture, any kind of analogy with sheep tends to be just a bit unfavourable. We say that someone is ‘sheepish’ if they’re too shy or embarrassed to assert themselves. If we’ve been overcharged for something, we call it ‘being fleeced’. And as political manifestos are published and publicised, no doubt we’ll even be describing ideas or policies that we don’t like as ‘woolly’.

What does it mean, then, for us to read and hear words of Scripture in which our walk with God is described in terms of the relationship between sheep and shepherd? For all our familiarity with the Biblical imagery, mightn’t our own experience with the animal leave us feeling that calling God’s people a flock of sheep is not terribly flattering?

Well, contrary they may be, but within the thought-world of the Bible, the thought-world into which tonight we are invited, there is another truth at play. For this is the world in which the memories of nomadic patriarchs still loom large: Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, whose wealth was measured in their livestock. In this world, we find that the flock is far more than just an assembly of wilful and troublesome beasts to be herded and contained. Here the flock is a noble asset, a precious possession by whose size and quality the status of the owner might be measured.

And by extension, as God’s people of old pondered the role of their King, it seemed natural to them to think of a Shepherd.

It’s an association that stems from the Old Testament. King Saul had been intended not only to rule, but also to save the Israelites from their enemies; and of course in King David who followed him, we see the archetypal combination of shepherd and king.

Furthermore, the great prophets of the Judean Exile all looked forward to the kingly figure of God’s deliverer (whom we call Messiah) and described him as a shepherd. And thus it is that (as we have heard this evening) the word of the LORD was spoken through Ezekiel against the false and faithless shepherd-rulers over Israel, those who had been content to see the flock scattered so long as they (the shepherds) could still feed themselves. Thus it is that Ezekiel affirmed God himself was coming as a shepherd.

So when Jesus speaks of himself as a Shepherd, he is emphasising the authority which God has given him over the people – and also the honour and deference to which he should be entitled. But more significantly, he is pointing to the activity of protecting and liberating his flock – the essence, the heart, of his kingly ministry.

Because to Jesus Christ, the flock is precious. Each life within the flock is precious – precious enough for the Good Shepherd himself to lay down his very life.

Therefore we gather, in humble awe that Christ Jesus should value us so dearly. That we, in all our contrariness, all our sheepish folly and woolly thinking, should matter so much in God’s sight that God’s very Son comes to find us, to call us by name, to rescue and bring us home.

This, friends, is the affirmation of Scripture for us tonight: that Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd. And whatever we might do or fail to do, his love for us – the lengths to which he will go for us – cannot be diminished. Perhaps indeed this may be the one thing above all that your heart needs to hear tonight: that you are precious and beloved in the sight of Christ Jesus. So rejoice in his shepherd-care and be at peace.

And there is a further affirmation:

For Jesus speaks of other sheep also, sheep that have not belonged to this fold or flock but which must yet be brought in, to share in and be made part of the one flock under the one shepherd.

And as the Apostle indicates, this mission is to be lived out among us in patterns of willing and joyful mutual care, eager and free from selfish concern.

In other words, don’t imagine that it’s the end of the story for the flock to gather in the warmth and security of a familiar sanctuary, cut off from the cares of the world outside. For as Christ is the Good Shepherd, so we and all who are in Christ are caught-up in the venturesome love by which the Shepherd still seeks sheep to gather.

So let this moment here, encourage and strengthen us for our walk of obedience and care beyond these walls.

April’s JCFL Prayer Vigil is taking the theme, ‘Jesus Christ, The Good Shepherd’ and shall be taking place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street on Thursday 16th April at 7.30pm.

Jesus Christ, The Good ShepherdThe JCFL Prayer Vigil offers an encounter with Jesus, in Word and Sacrament, taking a Christ-centered theme and weaving together a simple liturgy with readings from Sacred Scripture, Music and Song from a variety of Church Traditions, a Reflection on the Word, Adoration, Intercession and Silence.

The JCFL Song Practice takes place at 6.30pm offering those who enjoy singing with the chance to go through the music before the evening’s liturgy. The rehearsal either takes place in the Church or in the Farm Street Choir Room. All are welcome!

To join this event on Facebook please click here. Thank you! 🙂

January’s JCFL Prayer Vigil is using the theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. ‘Give me to Drink’ is taking place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street on Thursday 15th January at 7.30pm. Give me to DrinkThe JCFL Prayer Vigil offers an encounter with Jesus, in Word and Sacrament, taking a Christ-centered theme and weaving together a simple liturgy with readings from Sacred Scripture, Music and Song from a variety of Church Traditions, a Reflection on the Word, Adoration, Intercession and Silence. The JCFL Song Practice takes place at 6.30pm offering those who enjoy singing with the chance to go through the music before the evening’s liturgy. This rehearsal either takes place in the Church or in the Farm Street Choir Room. All are welcome! Thank you!

Reflection on the Word – ‘Put out into the Deep’
JCFL Prayer Vigil, 4th September, 2014

Tonight Jesus invites us to “put out into the deep”, to take our journey to a deeper level – noDuc in Altum (Put out into the Deep)t to remain in the superficial normality of life but dare to risk, fully trusting in the mystery of God’s call. But what actually is the risk in abandoning ourselves to Christ? What is the risk of obeying His call? Surely it is only a massive missed opportunity if we, for whatever reason, decide to remain in a superficial worldly reality rather than embrace the abundance Christ wishes to give us by responding to His call with a generous and grateful heart.

In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches Simon Peter the miracle of obedience. Simon, having worked hard all night but having caught nothing, receives Jesus’s instruction to try again. Simon trusts his friend. There is little worldly logic in a carpenter teaching a fisherman how to fish, but we see here how the trust of one individual can bring about a huge abundance – a trust that faithfully sees beyond earthly boundaries embracing heavenly ones.

Perhaps we can also connect with the humanity of Peter in the Gospel. We can be reassured when we see his fragility, his human weakness and his total reliance on Christ to forgive his sin and wrong-doing, uphold him in his vulnerability and sustain him in his struggles. In tonight’s Gospel, when Peter sees the size of the catch of fish, he falls at Jesus’s feet saying, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Peter is overwhelmed with the work the Lord has accomplished in their midst. He is fully aware that he does not deserve this great gift and yet the Lord has worked this miracle for him, a poor sinner. Thankfully, our weakness is never a barrier to Christ’s Love but only an opportunity for Him to reveal Himself to us. As we are told in the Book of Hebrews, “in Christ we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who is in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.”

After the catch, Jesus says to Peter, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” Jesus knows Peter’s weakness and yet He trusts him, encourages him, consoles him and reassures him. God does not come to condemn us in our anxiety, our struggles, our perplexities – no, not even in our sin. No, thankfully Christ comes to heal us, to teach us and save us each and every time we fall so that we can get-up with Him and respond to His call anew.

As we come into the presence of Christ now in the Blessed Sacrament we can thank God for His presence in our lives – healing, forgiving, encouraging and restoring us through His Grace and Mercy. May His Spirit forever give us the courage, in our human vulnerability, to respond with obedience and trust so that we may receive the abundance He has also prepared for us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

September’s JCFL Prayer Vigil, Duc in Altum (Put out into the Deep), is taking place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street at 7.30pm.

Duc in Altum (Put out into the Deep)The JCFL Prayer Vigil offers an encounter with Jesus, in Word and Sacrament, taking a Christ-centered theme and weaving together a simple liturgy with readings from Sacred Scripture, Music and Song from a variety of Church Traditions, a Reflection on the Word, Adoration, Intercession and Silence.

The JCFL Song Practice takes place at 6.30pm offering those who enjoy singing with the chance to go through the music before the evening’s liturgy. This rehearsal either takes place in the Church or in the Farm Street Choir Room. All are welcome!

Thank you!