Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Visit to the Oadby Gurdwara

Oadby now has its own Gurdwara, a place of worship for the Sikh Community. Albert Mosely, of Trinity Methodist Church writes,
On behalf of Trinity Methodist Church a visit has been arranged to the new Oadby Sikh Gurdwara, but this can become a Churches Together in Oadby visit if people from other churches would like to join us. This visit will start from outside Trinity at 7.15 pm on Wednesday March 14. It will provide an opportunity to see round the Gurdwara, learn about Sikhism, offer friendship and good wishes to the Sikhs, and enjoy light refreshments with them. People going will be expected to take off their shoes in the Gurdwara, and cover their heads when in the main rooms (head scarves are quite acceptable for women and handkerchiefs will be provided for the men). There will be no charge for the visit but a small contribution (say £1 - £2 per person) towards their refurbishment fund would be very acceptable. For further information please contact Albert Mosley 0116 271 7609.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

How to stay awake in church

These gems from The Lutheran Handbook are aimed at helping worshippers stay awake and alert during church.

Get adequate sleep. Late Saturday nights are Sunday morning's worst enemy.

Drink plenty of water, though not too much. One quick bathroom break is considered permissible. Two or more are bad form.

Good posture will promote an alert bearing and assist in paying attention, so you'll get more out of worship.

Occupy your mind, not your hands. Look around the worship space for visual stimuli. Keep your mind active in this way while continuing to listen.

Stay alert by flexing muscle groups in a pattern. Avoid shaking, rocking or other movements that attract undue attention.

If all else fails, consider pinching yourself. Dig your nails into the fleshy part of your arm or leg, pinch yourself, bite down on your tongue with moderate pressure. Try not to cry out.
I would have thought if it really gets that boring, you may like to talk with the preacher!

Monday, 26 February 2007

General Synod 2007

General Synod is one of the key decision-making bodies of the Church of England. It usually meets twice a year to consider pressing issues and to make and amend the legislation that governs the Church.

The Synod is currently meeting in Westminster, and you can keep up with its debates and news at

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his presidential address to Synod, available here, in which he responded to developments at last week's meeting of national church leaders in Tanzania. These are uncertain times, and our prayers for Synod are needed, especially as contentious issues are to be debated in the coming days.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Prayer for our City

Prayer4ourcity is a venture of Christians who meet to pray for the city of Leicester. They have put together an extensive resource and list of events for Lent at the website:

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Holy Space - Labyrinth - 4 March 2007

Brookside School Visit

The children of Year 1 at Brookside School are visiting St Paul's on 28 March 2007, from 10:00 to 11:00.

The children really enjoy these visits. Although St Paul's doesn't have ancient architecture to admire, there's still the strong sense that the building is home to a worshipping community, as well as lots of activity through the week. I especially enjoy the questions that the children ask; they're full of curiosity and are so keen to get an understanding of what we do through hands-on exploration.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Email Epistle

Our weekly news-sheet, the Epistle, is available by email. Church members can keep in touch with goings-on, even if they miss the service. If you'd like to receive a copy, please email me.

Superhero at Transfusion - 3 March 2007

We've posted before (and here) about the Transfusion event at the Y Theatre on 3 March 2007, which features Scottish band Superhero, whose video "Goodbye" is below.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Love Life, Live Lent

Lent is a season to reflect and act. A time to reassess our lifestyles, and think about the impact of our actions on others. This Lent, the Church of England is launching Love Life Live Lent nationally – a two-pronged multi-media campaign that blends this tradition with modern technology. For 50 days from Monday 19th February, in a venture backed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, mobile phone owners can text the word ‘Lent’ to 64343 to begin receiving the daily texts, at a price of 10 pence a day (based on a ten-day subscription costing £1). Each morning through to Easter Monday, users will receive flashes of inspiration for the day ahead, including:
  • Give up your place to someone who is in a rush e.g. in traffic or a shop queue
  • Have a TV-free day and do something you have meant to do for ages
  • Take part in an environmental clean up
  • Watch the news and pray about what you see
  • Leave a £1 coin in the shopping trolley or where someone will find it
The actions may seem small, but can add up to something bigger.

“It’s all too easy to feel we are powerless to make a difference. But the truth is, with God’s help we can change the world a little bit each day. Each of us can be the change we want to see in the world… Together we can build better and more generous communities. Together we can lighten the load on our planet. We show God’s love when we do these things,” say the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in their joint introduction.

See Love Life Live Lent’s website,, featuring each day’s actions, games, resources, and a chance to share experiences with other people who have tried out the suggestions.

How to use this blog - the basics

1. What's a blog?

Since we began the blog, several people have told me that they've never viewed a blog before and would appreciate some tips. It's all quite straightforward really, so relax and have a good look around. You can't break anything here (or on your own computer) by clicking anything.

A blog is rather different from a conventional website. Good websites provide information in a logical way, usually beginning with a 'home page'. From the homepage of a well-designed site, you can click on links (text that's usually underlined and in blue) to find your way to sections of the site that interest you.

Blogs work slightly differently. They still use links, so you can click around in a similar way. But blogs are better than websites at providing up to date and fast-changing information. And writing information for a blog and getting it to appear in a presentable way is much easier than revising a conventional website.

Like all blogs, the information on the St Paul's blog appears in 'posts' or 'articles'. The posts are displayed on the main page in the order that they are posted, with the latest first. This means that when you come back to the main page, you'll always see the most up-to-date information. Come back often and you'll find the new posts appear all the time.

So there's a clue to one way that blogs can work. A bit like flicking through a magazine, you can visit the blog and work your way through all the posts, in the order they were written. This is one way of keeping up with what's happening at St Paul's.

But perhaps there's some specific information you want to find out, like what's on for children, or the details of a particular event. For more about how to find what your looking for, click on this link: How to use this blog - How to find information

Read on to find out more about the basics of the St Paul's blog.

2. The blog in all its glory

So now you know roughly how the blog works, let's go a little deeper. Look at the screen and you'll see that it's basically in two columns. On the left are the posts themselves. This is the area that changes most frequently, as new and up to date information is constantly appearing.

The right column contains information that you might always want to have to hand, so it appears on every page on the site. Here's what's going on:
  • Go to our Main Blog Page - Click this link, and you'll be sent to the main blog page at which always includes the very latest posts.
  • Subscribe to this blog - The easiest way to read this blog is to keep coming back to this site. But keeping up with lots of blogs can be time-consuming. So many people us a feed reader (I use Google Reader) to make the whole process easier. Click the subscribe link to be taken to the feed for this site. For more about feeds, see this explanation.
  • Contact us - Information about how to find us in the real world, and which number to call to speak with a real human being. My email address is also shown - don't be afraid to click and send me an email; I'll try and help if I can.
  • Welcome - A brief introduction to the blog and to St Paul's.
  • A picture - A shot of the church building, taken from Hamble Road.
  • Calendar - This blog started as a way of sharing the calendar of events and bookings of the church buildings. The calendar is automatically updated with event information, from Google Calendar. For more information about the calendar, click here: How to use the calendar.
  • Parish Map - The map is provided by embedding code from A Church Near You, which itself uses data from Google Maps. You can click the control buttons at the top left of the map to move around or to zoom. Even better, click and drag on the map itself and you'll be able to move around. For more information about the calendar, click here: How to use the parish map.
  • Links - We won't go mad by flooding the blog with links but there are several websites that you might want to visit from any page.
  • Labels and categories - One of the neat things about the blog is that each post can be labelled according to the kind of information it contains. If you're interested in events, for example, clicking the "events" label will return a list of posts that are all labelled accordingly.
  • Blog archive - perhaps you're interested in what we were writing about in January 2007. Use the blog archive to go back in time. The blog archive always shows every post in the current month but compresses previous months and years to save space. To view a full list of posts from a past month, click on the little sideways-pointing triangle.
3. Blogging style

The written style of a blog is usually informal. Perhaps that's because content can be generated so easily, published so quickly, and edited even after publishing - there's less pressure to 'get it right'. Blogs tend to be written as a commentary on events, so their tone is often provisional or tentative. Blogs are interactive too - the fact that comments can be made by anyone who reads the blog tends to make them a conversational medium.

Now there are pitfalls with this informal approach. It's rather easy to get carried away and allow oneself to blather on about irrelevant things, or to lose focus, or (even worse) to be indiscrete. I shall try to stick to the following self-imposed discipline:
  • Privacy - I want to respect the rights of people to remain anonymous, so won't use full names in any post unless I've asked permission first. I'll never publish anyone's email or phone number without ensuring that they're happy for me to do so.
  • Church, not me - Inevitably, the style of the blog makes it quite personal. You'll probably get a good idea of who I am and the way I think by reading the St Paul's blog. But it's easy for the ego to take over, so I shall try to keep focus on the church and it's community-life, rather than bore you with personal stuff.
  • Seasoned with grace - Colossians 4.6 urges the believers as follows: "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone." I shall endeavour to ensure that posts are gracious and honour God without causing offence or embarrassment. But a little "saltiness" seems appropriate to avoid things getting too bland.
If you've got any suggestions, criticisms or ideas, please feel free to use the comments facility.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Never unloved

True, isn't it?

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

The Affluenza virus and half term

I've just finished an entertaining and provocative book, "How to be free" by Tom Hodgkinson. It's a compelling analysis of some of the ills of our go-getting, wealth-obsessed and lonely society. In many ways it's a religious book. Every one of the twenty-nine short chapters is full of references to Christianity, though Hodgkinson does have a rather skewed understanding of the Reformation and its consequences. Still, it's good to read something which includes plenty to disagree with, as well as much to applaud.

I feel like writing an epilogue to each chapter, relating the liberation of the gospel to each issue.

Yesterday, in the closing chapter of the book, I read these words, by philosopher Bertrand Russell, which felt timely at the start of a week in which I'm going to take a few days' holiday,
One of the symptoms of the approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important and that to take a holiday would bring all kinds of disaster.
Now, admittedly, Russell isn't my favourite thinker but he's got a point, hasn't he? It's rather arrogant to believe that we can't take holidays, simply because our presence at work is crucial. Not only is this self-delusional, it's bad for our mental health.

On the radio this morning, Oliver James was being interviewed about affluenza, a dangerous and contagious condition that is prevalent in th UK, where our rates of mental ill health are frighteningly high. As James said in a recent Guardian article:
The Affluenza virus is a set of values which increase our vulnerability to psychological distress: placing a high value on acquiring money and possessions, looking good in the eyes of others and wanting to be famous. Many studies have shown that infection with the virus increases your susceptibility to the commonest mental illnesses: depression, anxiety, substance abuse and personality disorder.
James has written a book on the subject, which might well go onto my wish-list.

The point of all this? Well, it's half-term. If you've got kids or grandchildren, go and make friends with them. Let the pace drop a little. Find a chance to laugh, find people you love (or just like) and meet up for something that isn't a meeting, and know God's company in some stillness and peace.


We had some fun with the Samson story at the Family/Parade service on Sunday morning. The story stands in its own right, and it was good to get the overall sweep of the narrative, rather than picking out an idea from a handful of verses.

Samson - so strong and yet so weak. Like Israel, whom God chose to be dedicated to him for the sake of the world, but who wanted to be just like the other nations.

Lord, help me when I feel weak - and help those around me when I feel strong.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Find Common Worship Liturgy and Texts

For those of you interested in liturgy (I know, it's not everyone) it's possible to access all the major texts from the Church of England Common Worship pages.

Common Worship is the name of the series of services that are used across the Church since 2000. At St Paul's, we use seasonal service booklets for worship (except for Parade services) that use this Common Worship material.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Annual Parochial Church Meeting - 26 April 2007

The APCM is open to all church members and includes elections to key leadership positions within the Parish, including Churchwardens and Assistant Wardens, Deanery Synod Representatives, PCC and DCC members. It's also a moment to take stock of our churches' participation in the mission of God in Oadby. A full agenda and a set of reports will be issued in due course, but you might like to note that the date of the meeting is 26 April 2007. It will be held at the St Peter's Church Centre and will begin at 7.45pm.

General Synod Agenda

The Church of England has published the agenda for the meeting of its General Synod to be held this month in Westminster. According to the press release, this includes:
"Key debates on Trident, criminal justice, schools, the media, issues in human sexuality, clergy pensions, clergy terms of service, marriage law and other legislative proposals"

Christ in the Centre - Good Friday 6 April 2007

Plans are going well for this major ecumenical Gospel opportunity on the streets of Leicester City Centre. The event attracts thousands of people to a Christian act of witness on Good Friday. The organisers are looking for actors (especially men). They also need stewards - people who will be responsible for assisting with safety on the day (training will be provided). Names and contact details for potential actors and stewards should be sent, as soon as possible, to Same Goddard at

This is a powerful and remarkable event and if you've never been before, make it a priority to be there this year. But even if you've been to each re-enactment of the Passion since it began in 2003, come along and make it even more effective as an outreach event by your presence.

See the Christ in the Centre website for much more information.

It's snowing

Certificate in Christian Discipleship - CCD

Yesterday we reached the end of the third module of the CCD course - Ministry, Mission and Vocation. It's been fascinating and a privilege to tutor the group for this module, which has mixed general study with some personal exploration of God's call.

After half term it's the New Testament, with Michael Rusk tutoring.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Women's World Day of Prayer - 2 March 2007

On Friday 2 March, the annual Women's World Day of Prayer service will take place at 10.30am at St Peter's Church Centre. The speaker will be our own Vivien James.

On the same day, in the evening, the joint service to mark this day will be held at the URC Church in Rosemead Drive, at which Revd Barbara Gates will speak.

The WWDP site says,
Women's World Day of Prayer is a worldwide movement of Christian women who come together to observe a common day of prayer held on the first Friday in March each year, and who, in many countries, have a continuing relationship in prayer and service. Through Women's World Day of Prayer women are encouraged to become aware of their talents and use them in the service of the wider community.

Monday, 5 February 2007

We are family - Desire Youth Event 25 February

Just received the wonderful publicity for Desire, which is taking place here at St Paul's at 7pm on 25 February 2007. (Click the image for a larger view). We expect the church to be packed with young people from across the area and we look forward to an inspirational evening.

Helen Cliff is the speaker, and Yarden are the special guest band. You can listen to Yarden's music at their Myspace Music page. Yarden claim their musical influences are Coldplay, Keane, U2, Simple Minds, Tom Baxter, David Gray, The Killers, Embrace, Athlete, Muse - which accounts for a good proportion of our music collection, so I think we're in for a great night.

For further details, contact

Admission is free.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

The Cree family moves to New York

We said farewell to Elaine, Marcus, Olivia and Louie at this morning's service. They're moving to New York next week and we prayed that they'd know God's blessing in all that they do in their adventures together.

We're really going to miss them at St Paul's; for all the joy they've shared with us and for all that Elaine in particular has done through Beavers and Supertroopers.

Thanks from Supertroopers

Wendy, Elaine and Sue have worked as leaders of the Supertroopers children's group for a long time and recently decided to stand down. We're so grateful for all that they have done through the years and at today's service, made a presentation to them to express our gratitude.

The picture is one of three made by the children at Supertroopers.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Magazine Article - February 2007

Michael Rusk writes:

Thank you for your welcome back to me after a three month Sabbatical. Particular thanks go the Ministry Team, to the Wardens, and the PCC for the work that has been undertaken in my absence. It is good to come back to discover that our churches have grown numerically with new people joining; that faith has been nurtured through Alpha and teaching programmes; and that a wide range of initiatives have taken place in my absence. Well done and thanks to all!

One of the key things – perhaps the key thing – which not only defines but shapes what kind of a Christian we are – is how we read the Bible. It is important not only that we read and love the Bible. It is just as important to determine how we read it. Much of the controversy both in the wider Anglican Communion and now within the Church of England itself ultimately hangs on this question. From the polemic in some sections of the church press, one could conclude that the Bible is no longer read in the Episcopal Church of the United States. Believe me, in ECUSA the Bible is read. Indeed often the same readings are read on the same day as at St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s. In November, for example, I was asked to preach on Luke 17.11-17 at Trinity Cathedral, Phoenix. The Bible story was about the ten whom Jesus healed of leprosy. If I had been taking a Holy Communion service in the parish that day, it would have been the same reading, and you would have got the same sermon! No, the issue at stake is the interpretation of the Bible.

There is one phrase that is bandied around about scripture that sums up for me all that is unhelpful in the cacophony of claims about what ultimately defines biblical orthodoxy. This is the insistence that the truth of scripture can be arrived at if we only would read the “plain meaning of scripture”. But consider how language works: if I say, “I wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole” and interpreted that by its “plain” meaning, what would I conclude? Well, the plain meaning would be that I was perhaps somewhere in the region of Foxton Locks and making sure my barge pole wasn’t touching that particular individual! But we know that isn’t what is meant by the expression at all and that to interpret it by its plain meaning is positively misleading. Similarly, the expression “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it” has a plain meaning which involves physically crossing a bridge whether it is over a river or a railway line. Now, of course, you might use such a phrase while out on a walk, but most of the time you will use it when you mean that you will wait until the particular challenge actually presents itself. Once again the “plain meaning” of the phrase is more likely to mislead than to illuminate you with the truth.

God has entrusted His Word to human language in all its complexity and subtlety. The words of scripture come down to us through a long, and precarious history of copying from one manuscript to another. They need to be interpreted with sensitivity and wisdom – understood in their original context; read in their original languages and in accurate translations; and guided by the Holy Spirit invited to become alive and transformative for us today. There needs to be a humility and yet a confidence in our reading; an identification of wise exegetes and a willingness to accept that they are wise pointers in our search for truth. There needs to be a weighing up of the various promptings of scripture to discover within them the true spirit of Christ and to seek to apply that to the church of today. There needs to be a recognition, too, that everyone brings their own presuppositions and cultural conditioning to the text of sacred scripture. Some of our insights will throw fresh understanding on the text; other assumptions that we make will be challenged by it. A wise reading of scripture will not be undertaken just to reinforce a set of doctrinal beliefs that gives us our security (that just imprisons the text) but rather will provide a fresh, authentic, and always provisional dynamic reading of the text. Here our security is placed on God’s Spirit who leads us into all truth.

So as we pray for the Archbishops of the Anglican Communion as they meet in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania on the 12-19th February, may we apply ourselves to the sacred task of bible study. For if we take our stand on a wise interpretation of scripture, then the truth will not elude us. As we journey on, may the words of the psalmist becomes ours:

“Your word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path.”

Is there more to life than this?

Click the arrow in the middle to play the video (and put your computer speakers on if you have any).

I like this. It's one of the latest 'viral' advertisements for the Alpha Course (click the link to see more). Simon Heathfield used it during his presentation at today's Vocation Day for the Diocese of Leicester.