The blog has been quiet for farrrrrr too long.
And the result of my quietness is that you, my good friends and colleagues that have walked with me over the last decade or even more have been deprived of the exciting and challenging stuff that makes up life and ministry here with Holy Trinity on the Greenwich Peninsula.
So …. readers new and old … I thought it about time I start to write again to bring you up to speed. As ever I would welcome your prayer as we grapple with the challenge of building and growing church in a new location that changes daily and has not yet found it’s own identity as to what sort of community it is. That may seem a strange thing to say … but from my window I can see 17 new apartment block buildings that were not built when I moved here back in September 2015. Most of those are being inhabited. There are nearly as many new other buildings on other parts of the peninsula that I walk past regularly and can’t see from my apartment. Each week people are moving into these new homes. It is ‘never ending’.
This place changes a lot and our response as church needs to reflect the community to remain relevant. One example …. as little as four months ago if I observed the bus stop outside my apartment in the morning I saw lots of, mainly young, adults waiting for a bus to take them to work. Now, a few month later, the bus stops are dominated by children and young people in school uniform. So … in just 4/5 months the demographic here has changed significantly …. and it will continue to change as more and more people move into their new homes. AND … we are still a building site as more new buildings are being started! Community starts to develop, the demographic massively changes, so community building re-starts with new ‘rules’ and then the demographic changes again … it’s like choosing ‘repeat song’ in iTunes!
But … that is background … so what have we been trying to do, how have we connected with the fledgling community here, what do we do next …. and what am I going to share now?
The first of these updates is a report from experiencing the resurrection on Easter Sunday on the Peninsula. For our Easter Day service this year we at HTGP decided to share Eucharist on the ‘beach’ next to the river as we watched the sun rise.
At 4.45am on Easter Sunday I got up and crawled to the river, a 200m trek from my apartment, and lit a couple of disposable bbq’s and I waited.
That time of the morning its incredibly quiet and it was not long before I could make out exciting anticipatory noises as the congregation of around 20 came and joined with me around the BBQ fire.
We huddled together to say some prayers, those that could stepped down on to the beach by the Thames, those that couldn’t stayed on the slip way. For our confession time people held a pebble and asked Jesus for forgiveness … I then invited people to throw their pebble into the water as an acknowledgment that Jesus forgives and ‘as far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our sins from us’ (Psalm 103:12)
As the darkness faded we heard the words of the Easter morning stories … Mary finding the empty tomb and the disciples seeing Jesus bbq fish on the beach. We tried to hear the stories as if it was the first time we had heard them … and we chatted in our groups and asked ‘what on earth is going on’. The discussions and the sense of awe were amazing as the sun continued to rise and the beach, and so us, took on different appearances and views.
As the sun rose we shared bread and wine … and as I looked around I was excited by the diversity of the people sharing together, marking resurrection here in the HT bit of the parish. We sang ‘Thine be the Glory’ as the sun appeared over the river before concluding the service and continuing the worship with Bucks Fizz and bacon rolls (which is obviously what Jesus served on that resurrection bbq!)
This was a great celebration … and a great witness to other residents on the Peninsula.
People hung around and we chatted more on the beach as the sun rose more in the sky. One of the more senior ladies grabbed my hand and thanked me … she told me she had never worshipped that early before, she had never worshipped next to the river before, and she had never experienced the resurrection of Jesus in that deep way before …. the morning was incredible anyway … but that last comment … well that was the icing on the cake of an already amazing experience!