My dear family of St John’s

I love reading. I might have mentioned this at some point. I don’t have the opportunity to read fiction as often as I’d like to anymore. And, most of my casual reading happens on my Kindle nowadays. It’s easy to keep the Kindle in my handbag and read a few pages here and there if I have some time to spare.

But, I’ve become so used to my Kindle that I’ve found I struggle to read a proper ‘paper book’. It could be that the font is way too small. It’s not my eyes, it’s the font! Anyway, I decided that I would challenge myself to read a paper book for a change. I thought the discipline of sitting and being quiet with the book might be good for me. Carving out a specific amount of time each day, to rest my mind and read something unimportant seemed like a good idea.

And so, I’m reading The Bookbinder of Jericho, by Pip Williams. The font is a reasonable size… if I have my reading glasses on and sit in decent light!

The story is set during the 1st World War and focuses on the life of a young lady, and her twin sister, who worked as book binders for Oxford University Press. I’m loving the story. The story has made me appreciate how far we have come in having access to printed material. Whether you are buying a book or borrowing one from a library, we have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. Books are easily sourced, whether that’s an e-book, paperback, hardcover or audio version. This certainly wasn’t always the case.

The invention of the printing press must be one of the most influential events in history. Johannes Gutenberg, from Germany, invented the movable-type printing press in around 1440. This was the start of the Printing Revolution. Before this invention a single workday would yield about 40 pages by hand-printing, and just a few pages by hand copying. The printing press increased that number to 3 600 pages per workday. Phenomenal!

This invention made the printed word accessible to many more people. It allowed people to be connected in the sharing of ideas in a far greater way. It also aided the mission of the Church. Printed Bibles became more and more accessible. We now have the Word of God readily accessible.

As people we have a need to connect. We want to share our thoughts and ideas, our feelings with others. Otherwise, why would some random Google search tell me that there are an estimated 149 million books in the world right now?

Our need to connect with each other is evident in the printed word. I was reminiscing with a group at church earlier this week about writing airmail letters on onionskin paper. Do you remember those days? Do you remember sending telegrams with important news? “It’s a boy. Mother and child well. Wise men brought gifts. No need for myrrh.”

What about telephone chains? When we needed to pass on an important message to a group of people, we’d utilise the telephone chain. Each person would phone the next two people down the list and pass on the message. They would then do the same. And, we’d pray that we ended up with the correct message at the end!

Think back to when cell phones first came out and SMS’s were new to us. Then, if you owned a Blackberry, you could BBM! I suspect there are times when we each wish for those simpler days when we were not so easily contactable. Or, when we didn’t have dozens of WhatsApp groups sending notifications throughout the day.

But, as annoying as all those WhatsApp groups can be I am still thrilled at the tools I have at my disposal to connect with other people. Covid showed us how useful the technology could be. We were able to message each other and see each other on video calls. Thirty years earlier, we would have had a very different experience in terms of how we connected.

Be Connected

St John’s has a wonderful ministry that is all about making sure everyone has a space to connect with each other. This is our Be Connected ministry. Perhaps you’re not aware of it?

Some of our parishioners are assigned as Ambassadors to a Be Connected group. This group consist of a handful-or-two of people from the parish roll. The purpose of “Be Connected” is to create opportunities for us to get to know each other’s names and faces, to feel welcome and part of the Parish and to create community.

Our Ambassadors will connect with you via WhatsApp, or a phone call. They’ll send you the links to the sermon and newsletter each week. They’ll get in touch on occasion just to check that you’re doing okay. They pray for you and your families on a regular basis. They look out for you at church and will say ‘hi’ when they see you. And, the wonderful thing is that you can do the same for them!

Your group might decide to get together for a tea and get to know each other a little better. Or, perhaps you want to watch the Bokke together at some point during the World Cup?

Our God is all about relationship. The relationship He has with us and the relationship He wants us to have with each other. The world can be a really lonely place, and so these little opportunities to connect with each other, even in a WhatsApp, are so important. Make use of them, connect.

I encourage you to get to know the people in your Be Connected group, get to know your ambassador. With each connection, we have an opportunity to share the love of God.

With love

Your friend and rector