No Trouble At All

Today (Friday 30 October) is Leigh McLean’s last day in the church office as the Church Manager and I am so sorry to see him go. Leigh and I go way back from when he was one of my youth leaders at Streatham Baptist Church in the 80’s and it has been an absolute joy to reconnect with him here at RBC. Sadly, as I have got older and my forehead larger, Leigh has pretty much stayed looking the same – he must have an aging portrait of himself in an attic somewhere! However, rather than regale you all with rose tinted stories of South London youth (although it was the best place in the world to grow up)

I just want to put down in words what an amazing 18 months it’s been working with Leigh. We have laughed, cried, prayed, and partied together often within the same hour. Leigh’s mantra of ‘no trouble at all’ has never been just empty words but applied to every request and situation. From blocked pre-school loos (don’t ask) to the most colourful, interesting, and frankly scary people turning up at the door to see ‘The Vicar’ ……. ‘Leigh could you join me for this one?’ …… ‘Of course – no trouble at all’.

So….I’ve written a little poem about Leigh – a rap if you will – to celebrate and say goodbye to Leigh. It works best to the tune of ‘Rappers Delight’ by the Sugar Hill Gang – don’t ask me to perform it ……. Here’s an extract:

Now here we are, it’s a sad, sad day
I never want to repeat
I’m saying goodbye to Leigh Mclean –
The coolest man you’ll ever meet.
He walked in the office – over 6 foot tall,
Shirt, tie, and a brief case too
With a big broad smile, a calming voice,
He asked: ‘Can I help you?’
In 18 months, he’s done so much,
the list is very long
And he tells some awful jokes
that are very, very wrong.
There’s no problem too much for him
no job too big or small
Whatever you ask, whatever you want –
he says ‘no trouble at all’

He’s introduced us to church suite
where the rota’s never end,
He sorted out the bad Wi-Fi
that drove us round the bend.
Weekly emails, minutes, notes
and meetings to arrange,
taking care of our intern-
yes, I’m talking about Gabe!
The printers jammed, the lights don’t work,
the heating’s always on,
That’s no problem for my man
with him all stress is gone.
He has to do some nasty jobs
0ffice 365 to install,
whatever you ask, whatever you want –
he says ‘no trouble at all’

He’s the C to the H to the U to the R
to the CH Manager,
From the FMT to the CLT
to putting notes on cars.
He moves the chairs, he repairs the stairs
installs new thermostats,
he tells a story and dresses up
to help Toddlers and Pat.
Mettle and Moss and Baby Grow,
Any group that comes on site,
Community groups, and charities
Homeless shelters at night.
With his little notebook and old laptop
He never drops the ball,
Whatever you ask, whatever you want –
he says ‘no trouble at all’

Goodbye Leigh
God Bless You
Thanks for being you and doing what you do

Circuit Break

‘Know when to stop’ is a phrase that I’ve heard throughout my life:  As a precocious little brother to three older and wiser sisters who’d had enough of my crack-a-joke book jokes, to the police man reminding me that the red traffic light is not a philosophical discussion point, to the doctor many years ago telling me that if I want to be around for my family I need to take a break.  Stopping, pausing for breath, taking a moment etc. is usually a very good thing to do with a greater outcome, than ploughing on heroically.

This is the thinking behind our three-week circuit break starting on Sunday November 8.

I am so proud of our online services we have been offering since March this year. I’ve not found or seen another church producing online services as good as these in such high quality. I truly believe we have curated something quite unique that will stand the test of time. We have viewers joining with us from all over the world, friends new and old, near and far are part of our growing online congregation. Thanks to an amazing team, a colossal community of creative talent, a risky giant-step taking faith and prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer, we have been able to build and maintain our online and onsite presence.

I truly believe that we need to take a short break, a ‘circuit break’, for a few weeks to give us a church community the opportunity to rest, reflect and reset before we move into the advent and Christmas season.  So, we are taking the risky step of trying something completely different for three weeks (8, 15, 22 Nov): our Sunday services will be on zoom only. It will give us all a chance to reconnect, recommit and relate to each other again in real time – albeit from the comfort and distance of our own homes.

We are planning some amazing times of worship, teaching, interaction and conversation for these three weeks and we will make sure that we stay as inclusive and welcoming to new friends and visitors as we have been online.  These zoom services will not be recorded or streamed later, so in a throwback to the BC (before Covid) services we are asking people to commit to joining us online at 10:00 on these Sunday mornings- with your cameras on. You can still be in your PJ’s, no one will mind!

I’m actually really excited about the idea and what will come from these three weeks.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

See you on Sunday (still online for 2 more weeks)

Onsite Delight

I was so glad to be at the Sunday onsite service viewing last weekend. It almost felt like BC (Before Covid) times. I introduced the service and welcomed folk – just like I used to,then we handed over to the worship team for a song and worship. As the music started everyone stood and people actually started singing! – With their masks on and in quiet voices we joined in with the words on screen and the beautiful melodies of John and Sian, it felt just like one of the moments in a BC Sunday when with eyes closed and hands raised we could get lost in the musicianship and content of spiritual praise and adoration.

Later in the service when we came to the teaching section, I preached live. It was the same as the online message – the difference being this was live and by definition more responsive and interactive. We closed the service in the same way and at the same time as the online service but then followed it with a special time of prayer……., live prayer in real time – something that’s hard to capture in our online service.

These Sunday onsite services are a bit of a test – always under review as we practically work out how we can transition to covid-safe gathered Sunday worship. We follow the same streamed service online but because we are together, we are incorporating more and more live elements. It feels good and I think it’s working – we’re certainly getting good feedback. We are very careful to maintain good covid-secure protocols but even amidst all the restrictions we are having some very special times of gathered worship.

So, If your Sunday mornings have become a bit too routine and you find you are disengaging or only half watching our online service, this week, get up, get dressed come along to our on site service. This week we will be sharing a covid-secure live communion. You can register via the links on the RBC website. It will be lovely to see you in person.
It will be an Onsite Delight!

See you on Sunday (Onsite or Online)