Church life

A Note from Sean about SJR's move in 2024

You may have heard by now that Trinity Lutheran Church has asked us to shift out of the Hall in the beginning of May to allow their Chinese Fellowship an opportunity to gather after their service, something they have not been able to do since the Pandemic. It is right of them to ask, and for us to comply. We do not yet know when we will meet, or where, beginning on May 5th, Rogation Sunday.
We have two task forces that are working on this: a Transition Task Force that will make a recommendation about when we could meet outside of Sunday mornings at TLC, and also a Location Task Force, which is actively researching other options for Sunday morning space in the city. I ask two things of you: First, earnestly pray, asking God to provide for us in His way for His glory and our good, and to bless TLC in this process. Second, speak honestly and openly with any of our Directors about your thoughts or any options you may know of. By the middle of April the Directors will have prayerfully made some decisions, and will be communicating clearly by email and website, as well as verbally on Sunday mornings.
We have been learning from Romans that “faith” is not self-hypnosis or a spiritual superpower or an irrational leap into the dark. Biblical faith is always a trusting response to the word and character of God. Abraham had no hope in his and Sarah’s ability to have a child, but he was fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:21).
When I first heard from TLC about their request for us to move out of the Hall on Sunday mornings, I was surprised, and a bit defeated, faced with impossibility and impotence (like Abraham): What is this going to mean for us? What are we supposed to do? How is the Lord Jesus going to work this out? My emotional response was despair, then frustration, then anger, then numbness. But we are children of Abraham by faith, and our spiritual ancestor had a posture of faith in the word and character of God. He was fully convinced God could do what he promised to do. And we are called to believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. We are called to trust that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are also being called into the “obedience of faith,” which is not two things, ‘faith’ AND ‘obedience’. But one thing: “faith’s obedience.” It means submitting to God because we are fully convinced he is able to do whatever he wants with us, in a way that exalts him and encourages us.
SJR is unique in Richmond: We are the only English-speaking gospel-focused Anglican church. We are steeped in Scripture and shaped by the Prayer Book, evangelical in the best sense, reformed, patristic, catholic, and in the great tradition of the church throughout the past two millennia. God has created SJR; we are his new creation. Just like his people, the descendants of Abraham, SJR is a completely supernatural work. He made us for a purpose, and made us a light in Richmond. He has moulded us over almost two decades to become a place of warmth, welcome, and reverence.
This move is God-given for a special purpose. Not for decrease and despair, but thinking beyond our comfort to encourage one another and embrace all those whom God will bring us.
The wonderful truth is that Abraham and his descendants, Isaac, Jacob/Israel and their wives and families were not complacent, lazy, inert, or passive. They approached life—and God—with boldness, drive and expectation that God was trustworthy. We must avoid the danger on one side of trying to “get things done” our own way, on our own power, and in our own wisdom. And we must beware of the danger on the other side, to coast—to become consumers and self-sufficient and passive. We naturally seek either comfort or control, but our Creator desires us to be countercultural, people of ambition and faithful submission just as Abraham was, “fully convinced” God is worthy of our trust.

Yearly Bible Reading Guide for 2024

This helpful daily reading guide follows the M’CHEYNE Bible Reading Plan. Here is a link for the whole year at the Gospel Coalition website. 

Krista Carter's Weekly Audio Children's Teaching

Krista Carter, SJR's Music Minister, has adapted weekly God's Big Story children's lessons into an audio format. You can find all of the ones she has prepared, and download them, at this Dropbox link.

"J.I. Packer Was the Robin Hood of Evangelicalism"

A lovely article by Regent professor Bruce Hindmarsh, with some excellent drawings by Phil Long.


Remembering Dr. Packer

Known internationally for his writing and systematic theology, Dr. J.I. Packer, who died out of this life and rose again to life everlasting on July 17th, was known to many of us personally, as a friend, colleague, teacher, and pastor. We grieve with his wife, Kit, and their three children, but Jim was resolute in his trust that the living God saves through the Lord Jesus Christ, which ultimately means every Christian will see Jesus face to face and enjoy God forever. We grieve, but as those with hope, a hope that J.I. helped thousands to clarify and own through the Word of God. Many tributes and remembrances are being published. We are linking to a few of them below.

J.I. Packer on the Significance of the Book of Common Prayer: an interview

Julie Lane-Gay interviewed Dr. Jim Packer a number of years ago for the Anglican Planet newspaper, upon the anniversary of the BCP. This is a short but pithy interview that gets at the heart of why the Book of Common Prayer is still treasured and relevant. At St. John's Richmond, the BCP guides us liturgically, guards us theologically, and gifts us with worship deep and wide, not just for Sunday mornings but for all the seasons and circumstances of life.


No Greater Love: A new song by Lara Seeger (April 24, 2020)

Click here for the MP3 recording of Lara's latest song based on Isaiah's prophecy of the Suffering Servant. Click here for a link to the words and chords. Used by permission. Thank you Lara once again for blessing us in this way!

"Lining Your Mind" through a well-designed Bible Reading Plan

Murray M'Cheyne, a young Scottish Pastor who lived from 1813-1843, prepared a plan for Bible reading to take readers through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year. There are approximately 4 chapters per day in this plan. For some, the enforced quietude of COVID-19 will allow time to read the Bible thoroughly in this way. But the Reformers always envisioned that all Christians would read the Bible in this way (the Book of Common Prayer has a wonderful "Table of Lessons," or "Lectionary" for this exact purpose). I (Rev. Sean Love) heard a memorable phrase from my Pastor growing up, Rev. Harry Robinson, that the effect of reading the Bible in this way "lines the mind with the paradigms of Scripture." I have found this to be abundantly true in my own experience, to my own great benefit and joy.

Understanding the Bible through art and video

Do you want to understand a book of the Bible in 6 or 7 minutes, or a Biblical theme or concept such as Sabbath, Generosity, or the Image of God? Head over to YouTube to the Bible Project website: a superb resource for both Old and New Testament content. Well illustrated, engaging, scholarly.

25 ways to worship God on youtube

It may be time to "sing a new song unto the Lord" (Psalm 98) as an antidote to despair and anxiety.

J.C. Ryle: a little book on 'sickness'

Revs. Sean and Guy regard Bishop Ryle (Bishop of Liverpool about 120 years ago) as a hero. Here is a link to a booklet he wrote (which you can purchase) about how to understand sickness in light of the gospel.

C.S. Lewis on the Coronavirus

A helpful reminder of the fact that our lives have always been in God's hands. Just replace "atomic bomb" with "coronavirus." By Matt Smethurst via the Gospel Coalition.

Pope Francis on COVID-19 and Jesus calming the storm

Read Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi ("to the city and to the world") address on coronavirus and Jesus calming the storm.

Mike Mason on COVID-19 and Lent

Read author Mike Mason's excellent reflection: "COVID-19: The World Observes Lent"

Psalm 27: A new song by Lara Seeger

Click here for the MP3 recording of Lara's latest song based on the Psalm by King David, written as a response to the fearful times that surround us. Click here for a link to the words and chords. Used by permission. Thank you Lara for blessing us in this way!

"Church is not Cancelled"

(March 17, 2020)

Rev. Sean Love

Within the past week everything has been cancelled. At least that's what it feels like. Spectator sports, conferences, ski hills, most airline travel, gatherings over 50 people, or 10, or 5. Libraries, golf courses, community centres, art galleries, swimming pools. Schools and universities. Borders are congealing, streets are empty. We are told to work from home, and self isolate. So many have been or will be laid off, some with pay, many without. There has been nothing like this on such a scale since World War 2. A common enemy; drastic measures; fear and restlessness and waiting and wondering. Front line fighters, and those on the home front. There are only two news stories (it seems): COVID-19 and it's health and social effects, and the economic fallout.

But many people are still very much at work: some industries are all-out: Praise God for the medical professions and health sciences and researchers and drug-testers and makers. Food still must be supplied. Transport is still required. Care for the elderly provided. Government and justice and public safety are the God-given net we all rely on for sustaining life and flourishing in this transitory life.

And-the church is not cancelled. You can't cancel church. You can refrain from assembling together in an extraordinary time such as this, but you can't stop what God has begun and will complete: the new Jerusalem, the living church gathered fully in his presence and place and peace. God's goal, his purpose, "which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time," is to "unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians 1:10).

We may need to assemble in a different way. We may be restricted, for good reason, to social media or livestream or phone conversations. The way we meet and love God and neighbour may adjust for a time. But we are still the church, the "temple of the living God" (2 Corinthians 6:16). Present tense. A temple where God makes his dwelling and walks among us. Church is not cancelled.

I want to encourage you that the Church scattered (as we usually are outside of Sunday mornings) is no less substantial than the church gathered. Gathering matters. We will gather again as a large group. But for now, we must 'bear one another's burdens' and love God and love our neighbour and be prepared always to give a reason for the hope that is within us. The apostle Paul encourages us, "as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).

Brian and Gywneth Roodnick, who live now in Switzerland behind closed national borders, and in isolation, wrote today that they "are still permitted to bike, so we will take bike trips every day for exercise and fun." This is excellent! While we must maintain "social distance" we do not need to be housebound (if we are asymptomatic). If possible, enjoy the blessing of God's good Creation. Also, keep reading your Bible (I commend Philippians and the Psalms in this time, alongside Nehemiah, and/or the Prayer Book Daily Lectionary). Listen to sermons online (there are some good links to sermons on the ANiC Website, and I recommend the SJR series "Revelation: The Triumph of God" from 2012-2013 on the SJR sermon download/search page). Take your SJR phone list and actually make an old-fashioned phone call to a brother or sister. See if there is a need, and if you are well, help in practical ways.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8). Draw near to one another with compassion and encouragement. Church is not cancelled.


From the Book of Common Prayer, for Healing Ministries:

ALMIGHTY God, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ went about doing good, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people: Continue, we beseech thee, this his gracious work among us: cheer, heal, and sanctify the sick; grant to the physicians, surgeons, and nurses wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience; and send down thy blessing upon all who labour to prevent suffering and to forward thy purposes of love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.