It's been a great week! We had two fantastic baptisms at our 5.30 meeting on Sunday -with the added joy of a two people responding to the good news and taking a first step in following Jesus...! Yet more Big Red Boxes were filled with food and delivered to the Catford site...! And Ed Milliband's office ordered a King's Christmas Tree, followed by a call from St Paul's Cathedral ordering two...! Amazing!
The rest of my week has been full of meetings, ensuring all is in place for our Christmas programme. It's going to be full of opportunities for us to bring along those who have yet to grasp the love of God for them and what the coming of Jesus really means. Our theme this Christmas is Sharing Hope - in these uncertain days that so many find troubling, what could be better?
A big 'Thank You!' to all of you who will give up time at this extra-busy season to ensure that we provide the best possible events for both the church family and all our guests - I'm praying that there will be even more of them this year. Last year we saw more than 2800 people come to our Carol Services - I'm looking forward to reporting back to you in the New Year that we saw even more cross the threshold this Christmas!
Whether it's one of the church-wide Carol Services or the individual site Carol Services on Sunday morning of the 22nd - don't miss this chance to introduce your friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues to the fantastic news of our wonderful Saviour. Details of the Carol Services are found below...
We have also been preparing for 2014 and the Bible notes for January are well into the preparation process. Entitled Devotion, they will provide a helpful guide to the book of Philippians. The content has been written by Hilary Dalziel, Martin Alley, Malcolm Kyte and Mick Taylor with Brett Melville and his team doing great work on producing them - we plan to have them ready for everyone in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Mick Taylor and I had an inspired hour looking at the preaching programme for 2014 - I can tell you, it's looking good!
Also this week I had the joy of watching my team Crystal Palace win at home in the Premiership - a rare experience for a Palace fan. I was delighted that our eldest son travelled back from Winchester to join me; Ben and I had a fun evening out together.
The Tibbert family are now in full Christmas preparation mode. It's a busy time of year but it's one we really enjoy. In the middle of all the busy-ness, how about taking time to read the Christmas story - another important way to help us stay focussed on what the season is all about!
King's Carol Services:
- Sunday 15th, Saturday 21st, Sunday 22nd at 5.00 and 7.30pm - at the Catford site.
- Sunday morning, 22nd December 10.30 am - family-oriented Christmas worship at all three sites.
It's part of the vision of King's that we should serve our local communities and an essential part of that has been our mercy ministry through the Jericho Road Project. Another element has been our annual Christmas hamper project. This year those bright hampers of food are beginning to stack up, ready to bless families who would otherwise have very little with which to celebrate Christmas! The Big Red Box initiative has really caught our imagination and spurred our generosity!
But we can forget that there are also generous people outside King's. On Sunday a team from King's went to Savacentre at Bell Green and, with the full support of Sainsbury's management, gave shoppers the opportunity to supply items to go into the boxes. There was a steady stream of people donating - single items and bagfuls. Some customers picked up a basket and then, when they received their leaflet with the list, went back to get a trolley!
That resulted in a fantastic 68 complete boxes and hundreds of extra items to begin filling others - all in six hours! Such generosity will mean that there are now even more families that will be able to enjoy the Christmas season. Our thanks to the committed team of King's people who gave their Sunday to help in this way - and to the generous Sainsbury's customers!
We are not just about putting food in stomachs - or providing homes for those in need. We also have a mission to provide for the deeper need of those in our community - including those generous shoppers! The Big Red Box project will have opened the eyes of people to who we are and what we do in a new way. Wouldn't it be great for them to hear the message of salvation this Christmas?
Here's a thought... We have six church-wide evening Carol Services taking place from Sunday December 15th. Why not come along on that first Sunday evening with a friend or family member so you can confidently invite someone else the following weekend? Pick up a ticket or two this weekend - and keep praying for those who you will invite. There is so much preparation going on for these important Carol Services - we want as many unchurched people to be there as possible to hear the Good News of a Saviour who came to earth for them! That is the ultimate way to serve our community!
Are you, like me, looking forward to the King's Christmas Carol Services coming up in four weeks' time? We will join with the rest of the King's family and stand together to sing 'Hark the Herald Angels...'. We'll admire the skill of the orchestra and the choir and laugh and smile at the pieces of drama (both intentional and otherwise!) that happen during the performances. There will be the children's contribution and special lighting and music, mince pies - and going by past years, hundreds of visitors. These are all now an essential part of Christmas at King's.
Our six evening Carol Services will take place at 5pm and 7.30pm on Saturday 15th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd of December - all these require major preparation. Even now, behind the scenes, King's people are working hard to make sure that we deliver a high quality series of events, plans have been in place for weeks that are now being put into action, details are being gone over, prayers are being prayed...
Our theme for the Carol Services this year is HOPE. As you think about your family, friends and neighbours, or work colleagues, think of those who especially need to receive hope this Christmas and begin to plan to invite them to one of the Carol Services. Pray that God will prepare them to accept your invitation, even if they have said 'No', in the past! It could be that this is their time to begin to respond to the love of God in Jesus and that 2014 will be a year of progress on the journey to faith in Him. What better way to share hope with someone than to see them on the path to a relationship with the King of kings?
So, as you prepare for Christmas, pray for and prepare to invite someone you know who needs us to share the hope that we have - in a good and great God who loves us and who sent His Son at Christmas - the Hope of the world!
Today we are giving out the Big Red Boxes and the 'shopping list' of items to go inside! This will be the third Christmas we have supported the idea of filling a 'hamper' with food for the neediest families in our locality - over the last two years the contents of more than 450 boxes have filled the stomachs and lifted the spirits of those who would otherwise have little in the way of festive cheer. I would be delighted if at Christmas 2013 we were able to more then beat the number of filled boxes for last year - and the year before!
All the information plus feedback from previous years is on the Big Red Box website (bigredbox.org) which I'd encourage you to visit.
How can you be involved in this? First - collect a shopping list today at any of our three sites. While you do your normal food shop in the week you can buy one item, a few things, or even buy the complete boxful. Perhaps you might decide to join with others to fill a box - one or two other friends and family members could do this together, or a community group could fill more than one box. The important thing is taking part, making a contribution. We will be happy to receive individual items at the three King's sites on a Sunday and will then combine them to make up complete boxes.
If you decide to fill a box yourself, then you will need to pick up a flat-pack Big Red Box! These are now available and look great - a fantastic improvement on the plain cardboard boxes used previously and they will be a pleasure to fill as well as to receive. We have Mike Reich and Brett Melville to thank for a great idea!
Once you have carefully packed the items in the box you can return it to whichever of the King's sites you attend, any Sunday between December 1st and December 15th. From then on we will be passing them on to Social Services and other voluntary agencies for distribution to those who would otherwise have no prospect of sharing in such Christmas goodies.
Many people outside the church are pleased to join in such an effort - generosity at Christmas is an acceptable idea! We have had enquiries from companies and organisations who have heard about the Big Red Box project and who are keen to fill a box - or more - themselves! Perhaps colleagues at your own place of work will consider joining in a similar way - why not ask? We have more than enough Big Red Boxes for all!
And let's pray for all those who will receive a Big Red Box - that they will understand something of the love of God for them at what even unchurched folk recognise is a special time of year. And pray too for the social workers who work hard to support families and individuals in need - 365 days of the year. Meanwhile, enjoy your own Christmas preparations!
Last night the annual rough sleepers' count took place in Lewisham. Simon Allen, Dave Barlow and some of the fantastic team from our Jericho Road Project were involved - they found 16 people, some of whom were well known to them, others were new contacts. Some of those who Simon and his team came across last night were able to be directed to the night shelter and thus spent a warmer and safer night.
This morning Simon Allen posted this photo on Twitter - it's worth a look. This unidentified woman has everything laid out as if it was a bedroom, complete with the shoes neatly by the ‘bed', the umbrella drying out and the holdall at her feet. Not the usual image of a rough sleeper's pitch and it challenges our preconceptions about those who find themselves without a home.
All this helps me to speak about our Christmas initiative SHARING HOPE - and particularly King's Christmas Trees. If you usually have a real tree in your home then please consider getting your tree this way! They are good quality Nordmann trees and all profits go to support the Jericho Road Project, contributing to our mercy ministry among the homeless.
Each year on Wednesday evenings 4500 three course meals are provided at The Feast for those who may well not have a cooked meal any other time in the week. Those in need are often hesitant when they arrive but soon understand that here is a safe place where they not only receive food but a warm greeting and when they are ready, on-going support and advice. Then there are 28 bed spaces provided in our supported housing - that's 365 days a year. These places provide the essential settled home from where it is possible for those who are ready and willing to begin to integrate back into mainstream community life. We have stories of those who are now in paid employment and are contributing where once they existed on the fringes of a world in which they could not participate. The King's Debt Advice Centre exists to help those struggling with debt and can be an important element in preventing a life - or a family - dissolving into even greater need. These are great initiatives to support!
Trees can be ordered at kingschristmastrees.org or you can call 020 8690 5121 to place your order. You may never know the effect your contribution will make to the lives of those in our borough who are in need - but you can rest assured that your money will be well-used!
I hope the rest of your preparations for Christmas are going well! I am looking forward to seeing the result of all the preparations for the King's Christmas events currently going on behind the scenes - rehearsals, Big Red Box deliveries, mince pies being ordered - it's all in hand! Meanwhile I have been involved in coaching church leaders - both while we were in India and since we returned. Fifty leaders in a matter of three weeks - a fantastic privilege and a great investment in the future of the church, both here and internationally. And this is yet another part of what I believe God has called us to at King's - to impact our local community and also places far afield. Our vision of God and His purposes can be no smaller than the whole world!
Are you getting excited about the approach of Christmas? Or are your first thoughts how much work and expense it all involves? It can be hard to keep a feeling of joyful anticipation and for some there is a real sense of dread as the festive season approaches and they grapple with the realities of their life. How will I afford to pay for just the basics for my family's needs, let alone Christmas items? How will I cope with seeing others with their families when I am alone?
The theme for our King's Christmas celebrations this year is HOPE - we believe that Jesus is the hope of the world and he calls us to bring hope to the hopeless. Our wonderful Saviour has rescued us and now asks us to reach out and share that hope with those around us. Sometimes this can be a spontaneous act of giving what we have, or generosity with our time - but more often than not these things have to be intentional and planned or they just don't happen. At Christmas time we provide a means by which we can touch the lives of those in our community who are less fortunate than we are and this year is no different.
The Big Red Box project is the new name for our Christmas hamper appeal. You know how it works - supplied with a cardboard box and a list of food items that are easily obtained from your local supermarket, we aim to fill as many boxes as possible. These are distributed to families who are known to various agencies in the borough, including social services. You can read feedback from social workers, key workers and from some of those who received a box in previous years on the bigredbox.org website. Please don't be deterred from taking part in this because you feel you cannot afford to fill an entire box. Pick one or two items from the list and bring them to King's - we will combine them together with others and you will have played your part! It is a struggle for many these days - the rise of the use in food banks has been well documented in the media and every box filled will make a real difference to someone. News about these food hampers is spreading and we know of organisations and individuals outside the King's family who are keen to take part. The fact that the boxes are now a fantastic bright red may help with this!
And then there are Christmas trees! If you are a family for whom it HAS to be a real tree then kingschristmastrees.org is the place to go. This year we have our own organisation to provide great quality Nordmann trees, non-drop as far as those pine needles are concerned! Prices start at £35 and for an extra payment you can even have your tree delivered to your door. If you would rather pick up your own tree, collection points are arranged to cover a wide area. All profits from the trees go to support the Jericho Road Project, our fantastic social action outreach and a great cause.
I started this posting talking about planning and preparation. As you are involved in getting ready for your own Christmas please be praying for those who are investing their time and energy - and their creative skills - in putting together the six Christmas Carol Services for the whole church, taking place at our Catford site over the two weekends before Christmas. (Sunday 15th - 5pm & 7.30pm; Saturday 21st - 5pm & 7.30pm; Sunday 22nd - 5pm & 7.30pm). The best way to support those who are working hard behind the scenes to deliver a great quality event each time is to invite friends, colleagues and family members and make it a Christmas to remember for these guests. Be thinking now who to invite and pray for them too - who knows, they may well be one of those who receive a delivery of HOPE through King's this Christmas.
41 days to go...!
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Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve also oversees a number of other Newfrontiers churches in the UK. His book, “Good to Grow”, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.
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