AT THE heart of the Christian faith is the Easter story, and at the heart of the Easter story is the belief that through the death and resurrection of Jesus we can find new life in him. This Easter, more than ever, we need this message of hope to energise us as we look towards rebuilding our churches and communities.
On Easter Day, it was a pleasure to welcome the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to come and celebrate this hope with us. I can only imagine the burden that our civic leaders must feel as they look toward rebuilding our cities in the wake of this pandemic; so it felt special that he made time to be with us.
Sadiq was completely at home, loved our informal worship, was at ease with the offer of prayer — and I know that the children loved having him take part in the obligatory post-service egg hunt. He made time for our church family, showed genuine interest in people’s stories, and encouraged all that we are doing.
He spoke about the Christian call to love our neighbour and how, for many of us, this past year has been an opportunity to choose not to walk on the other side of the road. He thanked Christians all over London for the way in which they have come together to practise what they preach, and offer spiritual and practical support for our communities.
He encouraged us to pray that we continue to harness this neighbourly spirit, bound together in our diversity, so that our city might be reborn in the year ahead.
This is a profound prayer request and one that I believe that both Church and city can partner in seeing happen.
AS I LOOK back at the past year, I am thankful for all that God has done in and through our church family and local community here in south-east London.
The compassion of those who have donated, packed, and delivered thousands of food packages. The dedication of our job-club team as they’ve sought to encourage and equip those struggling to find work. The kindness of our growing-hope team as they have provided free therapy and support for families with children with additional needs.
The courage of our Black and minority-ethnic family members as they have come face to face, yet again, with the racism in our country, and made the choice to fight for Kingdom diversity in our Church. The tireless work of local charities, such as Power the Fight, as they have sought to empower communities to end youth violence in partnership with Mr Khan’s Violence Reduction Unit.
These ministries of the love and power of the resurrected Jesus are just some of the incredible seeds of hope that have been planted by so many of the churches in our city during this time.
I’m excited to see them burst into new life as we work with Mr Khan and our nation’s leaders in seeing our cities reborn, so that they become more like heaven.
The Revd Ben Jones is Priest-in-Charge of St Peter’s, Brockley, in the diocese of Southwark.