Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A Messenger of the Gospel

Last Sunday, we reached the last of our sermon series “Fruitfulness on the Frontline.” This was entitled “Being a Messenger of the Gospel” and Steve centred it around the words of St Peter: “Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3.15-16).

Steve acknowledged how difficult people found it to share their faith (like going to the dentist!). But Peter wasn’t telling us to be Billy Grahams. He was just asking us to reply when people asked us why we believed or behaved as we did. Hopefully, the other forms of fruitfulness, mentioned in the previous sermons, would invite just that question.

May we be as loyal to Christ as St Peter.

The Poorest of the Poor

This month, our church is highlighting the work of the African International Christian Mission and the friends based in this country who support it. This small charity works among children of the Batwa (pygmy) people in South West Uganda. They are the poorest and most despised of the people groups there. Their ancestral lands have been taken to encourage tourism and they have been oppressed by central government.

AICM is trying to provide them with education and food so that they will be able to cope with life in a modern society. They are taught and fed at two schools in the south of Uganda, but their flimsy buildings have been damaged by storm, and there are now plans (well in hand) to replace them with brick buildings.

This charity is now being supported by the whole Oadby Parish.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Lent - Repentance and Discipline

Wednesday, 1st March was the beginning of the forty days of Lent. For St Pauls, that was marked by taking part in the “Imposition of Ashes” service held at St Peters.

The service was led by Michael Rusk, the rector, who will soon be leaving us to serve at Emmanuel Church Geneva.

The sermon was given by Steve Bailey. He reminded us that in the sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about when you pray, when you fast and when you give. These are all actions often associated with Lent, and Jesus assumed that they would be taking place. Steve commented that people often speak of what they will give up for Lent, but he felt that it was equally important what they would be taking up for Lent; prayer, fasting and giving. And he made particular suggestions for using the time that would be freed by fasting, and for giving the money that would be saved by fasting. He suggested at the time saved could not only be used for prayer also for devotional reading and he recommended Archbishop Justin Welby’s Lent book: “Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace.”

“Imposition of Ashes” then followed. As people came to the front, Steve marked each person on their forehead with a sign of the cross, using Ashes mixed with Oil; a sign both of the importance of the cross and our own frailty. As he did this, he used the words: “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.”

Heads above the Parapet

On Sunday, we reached the sixth of our series: Fruitfulness on the Frontline. This one was: Being a Mouthpiece for Truth and Justice. Gillian took the account of the prophet Nathan who told King David the story of a rich man who had seized and eaten a poor man’s pet lamb, rather than use one of his own flock (2 Samuel 12.1-13). The King was appalled, but the prophet then confronted him: “You are the man.” Relating to the way that he had taken Uriah’s wife and organised for Uriah to be killed.

Gillian emphasised the importance of Christians being prepared to stand up for truth and justice and “put our heads above the parapet.”

That is often not an easy task, but as servants of Christ, it’s one we are called to undertake.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ash Wednesday

Image result for ash wednesday
Today is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, Often people think of giving something up for Lent but I want to encourage you to take something positive on instead.
You could sign up to Stewardship's 40 acts, encouraging generosity through Lent here.
You could follow Christian Aid's Count Your Blessings which you can download here.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written his own Lent book this year called 'Dethroning Mammon'
or you could read the BRF Lent Book The Living Cross by Amy Boucher Pye.
Or you could use the season of lent to review your spiritual disciplines and explore fasting, praying and giving. This year the Bishop's Lent Appeal is towards educational books for our link Diocese of Kiteto in Tanznaia, find out more and give here.

Connected Church

At St Paul's we have been keen supporters of TearFund. In the last few years we have been linked through their Connected Church scheme to the Pentecostal Assemblies of God church in Uganda. Here is a link to their latest blog post so we can keep up to date with the work they are doing and continue to support them in our prayers.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Meet the Bishop

Bp Martyn Snow
Last night St Pauls hosted the local Deanery Synod – the committee that unites the local Anglican churches – in our case going from the southern city boundary to the Northampton border. But this meeting of synod was special, as it was visited by Bishop Martyn Snow, who has spent a week in the deanery, meeting each of the clergy in turn. As it was a special event, all clergy, lay ministers and churchwardens were invited, and we greeted each other over a cup of tea or coffee. 

We started with a time of worship – with two songs, an illustrated Bible reading and prayer. A video showing the questions that a group of primary school children had asked the Bishop – and he replied to each one. 

The Bishop then talked of his commitment to prayer – and invited us to the lectures on prayer that would be held in different parts of the diocese during Lent. He also encouraged us to support the period of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost. 

He then talked about Jesus sending the twelve disciples out on mission (Luke 9), pointing out that they were to travel light, which he thought, in our circumstance being ready to jettison traditions if they got in the way of more worthwhile new ideas. He compared the mission with just 12, to the mission of the seventy – just one chapter later. He suggested that the increased numbers reflected their increased confidence as they had seen Jesus work as he fed the 5000. As he had done that he had broken the bread – and perhaps that was symbolic of the way that we need to be broken, in order to be available for his service. 

There was then a prolonged period when the Bishop answered questions that had been submitted – about a wide range of local and national issues relating to the Church of England and to his role and hopes. 

Bishop Martyn has not yet been Bishop of Leicester for a year. But by the time we left, we felt that we knew him better. We need to commit ourselves to keep him in our prayers.



Saturday, 4 February 2017

Three Key Questions

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, is not surprisingly, keen to see growth in the Kingdom of God – growth in the depth of discipleship; growth in the number of disciples of Jesus; and growth in loving service to the world.

He has invited all Church Councils to discuss how, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can better achieve these aims. So the District Church Council of St Paul’s Oadby, met today, 4 Febrary, to discuss each of these headings.

We met for five hours at the parish centre of St Denys’ Church, Evington. After an act of worship, we considered each of these aspects in the growth of the kingdom, in three sessions, and for each of the subjects we asked ourselves:
What are we already doing to facilitate this?
What gaps are we noticing?
Where is God leading us in the future?
And, realising that one cannot do everything, What needs to stop?
What needs to start?.
Each session was introduced by the vicar and followed by a discussion in groups, that was then shared.

Seeking to know how best we can attune ourselves to God’s vision for our church is difficult. As we consider the ways forward – what we should hold onto – and what we should change. We will be praying for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for us

Friday, 3 February 2017

A Voice for the Voiceless

This month, at St Paul’s, we are praying for religious freedom in the whole world. In particular, we are supporting the work of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). Only too often, in many countries, people are stopped from worshipping in the way that they choose. CSW works to find ways to give them that choice.

CSW works in over 20 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, defending everyone’s right to freedom of religion or belief.

Three quarters of the world’s population lives in countries with severe restrictions on their religious freedom – in fact, it’s one of the most widely-violated human rights in the world.

Our vision is of a world where everyone is free to choose their beliefs.

CSW gives one example all the way that the right to belief is violated (among many:
Three innocent men are on trial in Sudan as the result of an act of kindness. They are Rev Hassan, a Sudanese church leader, Mr JaĊĦek, a Czech humanitarian worker and Mr Abdumawla, a Sudanese activist. All three helped raise money to treat a badly burned young man who had taken part in a student protest.
For this act
of kindness they have been on trial since 14 August 2016. Rev Kuwa, whose only ‘crime’ was being Rev Hassan’s friend and a Christian leader, was also arrested and put on trial: however, he was released in January 2017 after the judge found no evidence against him on charges brought by the prosecution. The three men face several charges, including two national security crimes that carry the death penalty.

They’ve done nothing wrong and they desperately need our prayer and support. And we commit ourselves to support all those in their situation.

Making Good Work

Last Sunday we continued our series, studying what a right Christian lifestyle should be. The Sunday, Colin Chettle preached on: “Making good work.”

Using Bible passages in Genesis 3 and Colossians 3, Colin showed how it was God’s will that we should work – and that we should work in a way that was pleasing not only to Him, but drew respect for the God we worship from those around.

May that be the impression that we make.