Monthly Archives: August 2012

Reflections and prayers for Sunday 26 August

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is John 6.56-69

Because of this [teaching], many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

There is no such thing as a tension-free Gospel.  Jesus’ teaching challenges, and indeed scandalises, many of those who hear it.

Jeremiah condemns the false prophets who ‘preach peace when there is no peace’, and in Matthew 10, Jesus speaks of the way his teaching will even set members of families against one another.  He too rejects the false peace which is based on collusion with injustice and oppression.  True peace comes only through the cross – through a willingness to confront injustice and oppression, while never ceasing to love and pray for those being confronted.

Simon Peter recognises that, although this is a painful and demanding path, it is the only one worth walking.  As he finds out later in the Gospel, it is not a path he can follow in his own power – but one that requires strength and forgiveness which Christ alone can give.

Prayer intentions

Pray for all those who are attending, serving, volunteering and speaking at Greenbelt this weekend – that the prayer, fellowship and discussion may help their ministries in their local context in the year ahead.

Olympic party goes with a bang thanks to Near Neighbours

There’s some great work being done in Poplar by Jan Evans.

Her womens’ group is learning English together and was able to mark its final session with an Olympic Party, after being recognised as a great local community project.

Funding for the group came from Near Neighbours.

For more see this article from

Olympic Graffiti in east London

Near Neighbours has been embracing the opportunities presented by the Olympic and Paralympic Games being on our doorstep. One of the projects we have supported has seen young people of different backgrounds coming together to paint a graffiti mural.

Street artist Mohammed Ali is the creative talent behind murals in New York, Melbourne and Chicago. To celebrate the Olympics he wanted to create a special work in east London which was

  • International in flavor fusing Eastern and Western traditions.
  • Community based.
  • Engaging with Olympic visitors on all levels.
  • Challenging perceptions on art and culture

He was also keen to bring together different groups to achieve his goal. He says, “The world might have come together for the Olympics but this time last year London was a place of riots and factions, this project is a perfect opportunity to transcend class, race, and faith to bring all peoples together through art.”

The project involves young people from youth organisation Adventure Quest, Leyton Scouts and arts organisation Soul City Arts.

Here’s what the wall looked like before they got to work: (click for larger image)

And here’s what it looked like after a few days of hard work, team building and creative direction from Mohammed:

You can go to visit the mural in Leyton on the corner of Huxley Road and Leyton High Road. Find out more about Mohammed’s work here.

You can also watch a short video about the project here:

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Reflections and prayers for Sunday 19 August

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is John 6.51-58 

Jesus said: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”

Last Tuesday, many churches remembered St Maximilian Kolbe, who gave up his life in place of another prisoner about to be executed in Auschwitz.
Maximilian’s life and his death reveal to us shows us what it means to feed on, and abide in, Jesus Christ.  A Roman Catholic priest, he secretly celebrated the Eucharist when he was imprisoned in the concentration camp.  As he celebrated and fed upon Jesus in the Communion, so his own life was drawn into that movement of self-giving love.  Fed by Jesus, he was able to abide in Christ, and Christ in him.
Prayer intentions

Pray for all whose lives embody that self-offering in our own time – some in dramatic ways, and some in ways that go unnoticed by the outside world. 

Music Migrations

Here’s a wonderful example of a project supported by Near Neighbours.

Music Migrations was a series of three concerts featuring music from around the world. The idea was to bring together different parts of the community in a diverse area of east London. Food was shared, and as you’ll see and hear, a great time was had by all, as people of many different backgrounds came together.

This was all made possible by the hard work of Alice and her team, the support of Near Neighbours and the hosting of St Barnabas Church, Bethnal Green.

Here’s just a flavour of the atmosphere:

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Reflections and prayers for Sunday 12 August

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is John 6.35,41-51

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ …

Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ 

This week the church has celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration – when the light of God shines through Christ, in the presence of Peter, James and John.  In the Transfiguration, Christ is revealed as the first-fruits of God’s new creation.  The disciples want to stay on the mountain-top, enjoying this vision, but Jesus bids them come with him back down to level ground.

Sunday’s Gospel reading reinforces this point.  God’s glory is not only found in the obviously spectacular, but in things which seem ordinary and unremarkable. The Word became flesh, not in a palace or a temple, but in a humble family.  Heaven comes down to earth in ‘the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know’.

The Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Mass – whatever we call it, this central act of Christian worship takes the ordinary things of daily life (bread and wine, which earth has given and human hands have made) and shows us that in these things, we encounter Jesus Christ.  The Eucharist is not, then, an act separate from the rest of our lives.  Rather, it shows us that daily life is something that can reveal the grace of God, if we have eyes to see it.

Prayer intentions

How can our common life – the way wealth and power is used and shared – reveal the grace and the justice of God?  The vision of a society that reveals God’s grace and justice stands at the heart of the Bible.  Pray for all Christians who grapple with these issues in their workplace and in their neighbourhoods.

The Olympics have been an occasion of real gathering and celebration together across cultures and communities.  Pray that this experience may give people a hunger for a deeper fellowship, and a more just and joyful common life – and give thanks for the role churches have already played in making the Olympics serve the needs of the boroughs of London in which it is set.