Sunday, 30 March 2008

Wastewatchers - Hooray Day 27 - 19 April 2008

WastewatchersBanner Derek and the team are pulling out all the stops for the next Hooray Day. It's called Wastewatchers and is for children 5 to 9 years (school years 1 to 5 only). There'll be games, craft, singing, DVDs and Bible stories in Church and in the Barnabas Centre.

The fun begins on Saturday 19 April, from 10am to 3pm and then on Sunday 20 April 10am-11.30pm.

Bring a packed lunch for Saturday (marked with chld’s name). No nut based foods in pack-ups please. Drinks will be provided.

Register early to avoid disappointment. The event is free but you must book in advance. For a registration form contact Derek Bowering on 271 5765.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Sermon Series - Paul's Letter to the Colossians

clip_image002Colossae was a small town, which had once thrived on its wool industry but became less important by the time of Roman rule. It lay 100 miles east of the big city of Ephesus, in what is now Turkey, in a beautiful valley of the River Lycus. Nothing of the town remains today; its site has been located but not yet excavated.

Who were the church at Colossae?

It’s likely that the church was founded by Epaphras, a fellow-worker of Paul, probably during Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus in 52-55AD (Acts 19). This was a time of vigorous evangelism and church-planting. Paul describes Epaphras “as one of you” (Col. 4.12). Could it be that Epaphras was from the town itself, and returned from Ephesus to establish the church in the place he new best? Paul mentions that had taught, or perhaps led, the church at Colossae (Col. 1.7).

From the contents of the letter, it’s clear that the Colossian Christians were converts to the faith. They were Gentiles (not Jews) and Paul describes them as hostile to God before their conversion. The warm greeting suggests that they had experienced a wonderful transformation, that their faith was genuine. By and large, this is a letter of encouragement, rather than correction.

Who wrote the letter?

The letter itself declares that it’s from Paul the Apostle. The majority of scholars agree that there is no reason to doubt this. Some of the words used in this letter aren’t used elsewhere in Paul’s writings but it may be that he used phrases and ideas that would have been specific to this particular audience. The theology of the letters emphasise the present blessings experienced in the Spirit rather than the future hope that is emphasised in letters to suffering Christian communities.

What led Paul to write the letter?

In around 60-61 AD, Epaphras had visited Paul in Rome, where he was imprisoned. Paul was with several Jewish Christian companions, including Aristarchus, Mark the cousin of Barnabas, and Jesus Justus, who had all been a great comfort to him in his captivity (Col. 4.10-11) and with “Doctor Luke” (who wrote the gospel and the book of Acts) and Demas (Col.4.12).

Epaphras brought news of the situation in the churches in the Lycus Valley – Christian communities in and around the towns of Hierapolis, Laodicea and Colossae. The news from Colossae was generally good, but Paul was also troubled by what he heard. It seems a new teaching had been introduced to the Colossians which disturbed Paul enough to write the letter. It’s not completely clear what this “Colossian heresy” might have been, we only have the evidence of Paul’s teaching in response to the problem.

Paul writes, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.” (Col. 2.8). He’s clearly concerned that some other teaching, apart from salvation through the already accomplished work of Christ, needs to be challenged. Perhaps the Colossians were being urged to conform to the complicated rules and regulations of neighbouring peoples, as if these would earn them salvation. It seems that Paul’s encouragement to live simply in the light of the victory already won by Christ was an argument against those who wanted to impose a stricter discipline of religious observance.

Part of the problem was the accusation by some that the Colossians simple faith was not enough. Someone was urging them to adopt strict religious codes about food, festivals, the worship of angels and obsession with visions. (Col 2.16-19). Paul writes beautifully of the simple response of faith and the kind of very ordinary virtues which Christians should display to live out their reconciliation to God in Christ.

Paul sends the letter by way of Tychicus and Onesimus, two more of his companions in ministry. It’s also likely that the letter to Philemon (all about Onesimus) was written and sent at the same time (Col. 4 7-9).

What happened to the Colossians?

We know very little about what happened at Colossae. But the survival of Paul’s letter and it’s circulation to other churches imply that his encouragement and challenge were well received. In the letter to Philemon, Paul expresses a desire to visit the area (Phm 22).

The town itself may well have been destroyed by an earthquake.

What is the enduring message of the letter?

There are many famous passages in Paul’s letter. The soaring declaration of the person and work of Jesus in chapter 1 may well have been an early Christian hymn. It certainly has the feel of a worship song and it still inspires.

The encouragement to resist the human tendency to embellish religion with additional codes, rules, ceremonies and teachings has been valuable to Christians through the centuries, not least during the Reformation.

Paul’s letter defends against heresies by affirming a radically simple message. The daily life of every Christian, in the web of their ordinary relationships, should be worked out in order and generosity in consequence of the ultimate work of God in Jesus Christ.

Each generation of Christians has had to decide in what ways the teaching about relationships between men and women, parents and children, slaves and masters should be understood and applied. The very specific context of the letter should alert us to the fact that these instructions do not automatically mandate identical behaviour in our day. For example, the abolition of slavery led by Christian reformers was entirely just and long-overdue but was opposed by some who used the Letter to the Colossians to support their position. Likewise, we cannot uncritically transfer the teaching for wives, husbands, children and parents to our time without reflection and understanding.

The enduring message to the church is to make the peace which Christ won for us with God a reality in the company of Christian believers. It’s also not to withdraw from the world into isolation but to engage with those outside the Christian community wisely, with speech that is gracious and ‘palatable’ (Col. 4.5-6).

We’ll be looking at the letter in five services over six weeks before Pentecost:

30 March 2008 10.00am The Word Service

Colossians 1.1-23 The cosmic significance of Christ

6 April 2008 10.00am Holy Communion

Colossians 1.24-2.23 Christ in you, the hope of glory

20 April 2008 10.00am The Word Service led by Random Fish

Colossians 3.1-17 New life in Christ

27 April 2008 10.00am Holy Communion

Colossians 3.12-4.1 How should I behave towards Christians?

4 May 2008 10.00am Holy Communion

Colossians 4.2-18 How should I behave towards others?

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Peter's Place Easter Workshop

Down the road at St Peter's, Jayne and Jan are preparing for a special Peter's Place Easter Workshop from 2-4pm on Wednesday 2 April 2008.

Contact Jayne (0116 271 2685) or Jan (0116 271 3462) for an afternoon of drama, singing, crafts, prayers and food.

The next Peter's Place is on Sunday 20 April from 4-5.30pm.

Lent Lunches raise £671 for Christian Aid

soupThe local Christian Aid organising group has sent me details of the totals raised through this year's lent lunches.

On every Saturday in Lent a different church provided a light lunch of soup and a roll and the contributions of £2.50 per lunch have all gone to Christian Aid. Now the counting has been done:

9 February St Paul's £128.50
16 February Trinity £126.00
23 February Oadby Baptist £92.00
1 March URC £121.12
8 March St Peter's £82.80
15 March Immaculate Conc. £120.90

Many thanks for everyone who contributed in every way.

Photo: ndrwfgg

Saturday, 22 March 2008

The end (of our Alpha Course) is nigh

After three months, ten evening sessions, a whole Saturday together, our Alpha Course comes to an end on Tuesday.

And what an experience it's been. I've had the privilege of working with a great team of gifted group leaders and hospitality heroes and the pleasure of getting to know delightful guests. It's been remarkable that virtually everyone who began the course is still with us (apart from two who are now looking to finish the course in South Africa, to where they emigrated in Week 7). But it's even more thrilling to hear people tell me that they have found the whole experience encouraging of their faith.

On the first night, eighteen guests came into the Barnabas Centre understandably nervous about what lay ahead. In the weeks that have followed, these people have become our friends, and friends to each other.

We've explored the really big issues about Christian faith and some of the more difficult issues too. A number of our guests are now coming to church regularly and have expressed an interest in the confirmation service in June.

Foyer display improvements

The keen-eyed will have noticed that we've improved the lighting in the church foyer. In last year's refurbishment we replaced the ineffective downlights with more efficient fittings.

The only lighting that remained unchanged in the foyer was the spotlights for the display. The display board is a key feature - though there are few passers-by on our quiet suburban street, we make the most of the foyer as an attractive 'shop window'. Anona does a fabulous job of making  it eye-caching and inspiring.

A couple of weeks ago our electrician fitted two new spotlights and rid us of the rather grim track. But the real improvement came with the new timer switch that lights the display board automatically from 7am until midnight. So the foyer no longer sits in darkness.
We also gain in energy efficiency - the new bulbs consume less than a tenth of the electricity than the old spotlights, which means that the total cost of the lighting is less than a pound a month.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

RUN National Conference at Peterborough - June 2008

Reaching the Unchurched Network aims to help churches find new and innovative ways of reaching people with the gospel message. For some people, inherited models of church just don't work - the forms and structures of traditional church are more of a hindrance to belief.

street This year's RUN national conference isn't far away. It's at Peterborough's Kingsgate Centre, over three days - 17 to 19 June 2008. Each day takes a different theme: Radical Church, Incarnational Community, and Contagious Spirituality.

The speakers include Brian Maclaren, Mark Greene,Gerard Kelly,Liz Babbs, Nick Cuthbert, Anne Hibbert, Pall Singh. Also Jonny Baker (CMS), Jason Clarke (Emergent-UK), Steven Croft (Fresh Expressions), Richard Sudworth (CMS), Martin Robinson (Together in Mission), Ali Mackenzie (B1 Church Birmingham), Kate Pearson & Fred Rattley (Nehemiah Foundation), Peter Hancock (Huddersfield Methodist Circuit), Tom Davis (Children's Hopechest), Krish Kandiah (Evangelical Alliance), Geoff Lanham (B1 Church Birmingham), Tom Burke (Grace Christian Fellowship Cork), Gordon Murcell (Bishop of Stafford).

I'd love to be there but am helping with our own Diocesan Leadership Programme. The cost is a very reasonable £90 for the three days.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Doug Tincello's recent visit to Ethiopia

DSCN1792Sadly I was unable to hear Doug's presentation of the recent visit he made to Bahirdar Fistula Hospital in our main ten o'clock service a couple of week's ago. I hear that it was an inspiring and moving account of the work of the hospital in helping mothers suffering from complications from delivering their babies.

I'm delighted that Doug's agreed to give an extended presentation, with more information, stories and pictures, at an evening in church on Sunday 6 April at 6.30pm.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Alistair Darling brings us some good news

darling The financial outlook for many is rather uncertain but churches and charities will benefit directly from one of the announcements made in last week's budget.

In the 2007 budget a reduction in the basic rate of Income Tax was announced and from 6 April 2008 it appeared that the amount of tax that churches and other charities could claim back under the Gift Aid scheme would drop substantially.

In this March's budget the Chancellor announced that for the next 3 years from this coming 6 April charities can continue to claim Gift Aid as if the basic rate of tax were 22%.
This is really good news and means that we can continue to reclaim tax under Gift Aid at the same rate as in previous years until 5 April 2011.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Pennbury proposals about to be turned down?

The Leicester Mercury website is reporting suggestions that the proposals for a 15,000 home eco-town on the outskirts of Oadby are about to be ruled out of the shortlist of approved projects.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Broadcast times announced for The Passion

image BBC1's new four part drama, The Passion, is attracting a lot of attention in church circles. The BBC's website says,

The Passion is a bold event drama, retelling the last week in the life of Jesus Christ and written by Emmy Award winner Frank Deasy (Prime Suspect 7). The Passion will be shown throughout Holy Week on BBC ONE, drawing to a dramatic climax on Easter Sunday.

Joseph Mawle (Jesus), James Nesbitt (Pontius Pilate), Paul Nicholls (Judas), Ben Daniels (Caiaphas), Penelope Wilton (Mary), Denis Lawson (Annas) and David Oyelowo (Joseph of Arimathea) lead the cast in this unique and compelling dramatisation.

Visually arresting and rich in colour, the story is rooted in the chaotic world in which it took place - the city of Jerusalem during Passover week. Set in the political and religious context of the time, it combines both narrative tension and thematic power to convey the events that took place that week.

The Passion places the audience at the heart of the action by telling the story from three points of view - the religious authorities, the Romans and Jesus. For the first time, all the key players are intimately characterised, with Jesus (Joseph Mawle) at the centre. The drama begins with Jesus' prophetic entrance through the East Gate, following him to his crucifixion and its startling aftermath.

Episode 1 is on Sunday 16 March at 20:00, Episode 2 on Monday 17 March at 20:30, Episode 3 on Friday 21 March at 21:00 and Episode 4 on Sunday 23 March at a time to be confirmed.

Update 18 March: The BBC has just announced that episodes 1,2 and 3 of The Passion will be repeated en bloc on Easter Sunday 23rd March at 2.15pm after the Eastenders Omnibus. This is intended for all those who've missed it during the week or would like to catch up. The final episode, dealing with the resurrection appearances, will then transmit at 7.30pm. The team at have produced resources to back up the series, including exclusive interviews. They are intended as a source for those who would like to go a step further in exploring faith. There is a link to the site from the front of the Church of England website.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Coping with vandalism

Appearances must match realities. I've always thought it important that our buildings look as if they are available to the community - because they are. We have no fences between the street, vicarage and church. This openness signals, I hope, a basic attitude of hospitality and availability.

DSCF1549 Sadly though, this inevitably brings a certain vulnerability. In  recent weeks we've suffered some vandalism and anti-social behaviour. There's been graffiti on the notice board and eggs thrown at the church. It's depressing to have to invest time and energy in addressing these issues, when there's so much more important things we could be doing. Our new storage sheds were installed last week, partly because of the way that the old wooden ones had suffered from damage and arson.

In recent weeks more empty Bacardi bottles have come into our garden than footballs.

But the discouragement that comes with this kind of attack shouldn't put us off our mission to serve and to care for those around us. Rather than get down about this, several things are important to remember:

  • Part of the reason for our vulnerability is the good that is happening here. Rather than defending ourselves behind walls and fences, our facilities here are teeming with activity. These buildings are busier than ever. We're motivated to serve because of a vision of the Kingdom of God which is more about love than fear, more about abundance than deficits, more about engagement than isolation.
  • The youngsters who are causing the trouble are regular faces in these streets. They're in their mid-teens and though most families in Oadby don't face the pressures of deprivation and poverty that occur elsewhere, they seem to be living lives of some significant impoverishment, though perhaps not materially. The gospels remind us that those who are impoverished in any way are not to be despised for their poverty, or defined by it. They are not a pack, clan or gang - they are people.
  • Nevertheless, we believe in a gospel of transformed lives and hold fast to to a hope that redemption is possible in every situation of brokenness. Beyond our natural desires for proper punishment for those who commit crime, we must also pray that these young men might find purpose for their lives.
  • The effects of crime and anti-social behaviour must be tackled immediately if they are not to drag us, and others, down. I didn't enjoy washing eggs from the church doors but it needed to be done. And thanks to the anonymous person who cleaned the graffiti from the notice board it didn't remain more than 24 hours. I'm sure that the degradation of the local environment through low-level crime leads to more crime. So addressing litter and vandalism immediately is important, even though it distracts us from other important work.
  • We're taking a zero-tolerance approach to people loitering on our grounds. Anyone we see will be politely asked to leave. This isn't because we simply wish to move the problem elsewhere but because looking the other way surrenders us to the inevitability of further problems. Strangers are welcome here, not because this is an anonymous place that no one cares about, but because we care - it does matter.
  • Prayer is the best response we have, particularly in situations in which we feel weak and vulnerable. We're praying for wisdom and for God's protection on us and our buildings, that this would not diminish our mission or our loving service.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Principal Services - Easter and Pentecost 2008

The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus dominate the gospels and the writings of the early church. These events are the most decisive in all history, changing the world and transforming lives.

In the weeks of the Easter season we’ll be focussing on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. It begins with the biggest themes, as the significance of Jesus and the events of Easter are celebrated. But these aren’t abstract ideas. Very soon the letter asks questions about the implications of this transforming grace for practical living.

At Pentecost and in the week’s that follow, we’ll look in greater detail at the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Being ‘resurrection people’ is about new life in the Spirit of God and you’ll discover more of this freedom in these services.

Our “All Together Church” services are for all ages and last no more than one hour. “The Word Service” includes a time of more focussed teaching and, like our communion services, lasts just under an hour and a half.

23 March 2008 – Easter Day

10.00am Holy Communion

Alleluia! He is risen!

Acts 10.34-43 and John 20.1-18


30 March 2008

10.00am The Word Service

The cosmic significance of Christ

Colossians 1.1-23


6 April 2008

10.00am Holy Communion

Christ in you, the hope of glory

Colossians 1.24-2.23 and John 10.7-10


13 April 2008

10.00am All Together Church

Wanting to be all grown up – Why childhood is precious

Matthew 18.1-7


20 April 2008

10.00am The Word Service led by Random Fish

New life in Christ

Colossians 3.1-17


27 April 2008

10.00am Holy Communion

How should I behave towards Christians?

Colossians 3.12-4.1 and John 13.33-35


4 May 2008

10.00am Holy Communion

How should I behave towards others?

Colossians 4.2-18 and Mark 9.50


11 May 2008 - Pentecost

10.00am Family/Parade service for Pentecost

Who Is the Holy Spirit?

Acts 2.1-18


18 May 2008

10.00am Holy Communion

What does the Holy Spirit do?

Romans 8.1-17 and John 3.5-8


25 May 2008

10.00am The Word Service

How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?

Acts 8.5-24

Parade services and the new All Together Service

Two week's ago our District Church Council met with leaders of the Guiding and Scouting organisations that are associated with St Paul's and which meet in our church for their weekly sessions. We wanted to explore the ways that we could better support each other and to understand why the numbers of children coming to our "Parade" services had steadily fallen in the last three years.

There are several reasons, ranging from the alternative activities (football, swimming etc.) that the children are involved with on Sunday mornings, to the problem of groups not meeting in the preceding week due to holidays.

We decided to reduce the number of Parade services to five a year: Mothering Sunday, June, Harvest, Remembrance and the Christmas Toy service. All of these are well supported and it helps clarify expectations to know that we won't have a Parade on the other months.

The good news is that overall attendance at the "Parade" services is good. It's clear that many people enjoy being in a church service which lasts under an hour, in which all ages are present, and which includes opportunity for laughter as well as reverence. In the months that don't have a "Parade" service, we'll therefore have an "All Together Church" service instead. This will retain much of the flavour of the "Parade" service but without the flags and uniforms. We hope to see this service continue to grow and for our worship and learning across the generations to develop.

Exploring our differences - Baptism

Last year, Churches Together in Oadby held successful evenings exploring our differences on some significant topics. In particular, we explored how we bring different perspectives to the mystery and grace that is the celebration of holy communion.

Another event is planned for this year and the topic is no less important, baptism.

The event will be held at the United Reformed Church in Rosemead Drive on Monday 19 May at 7.30pm. All are welcome.

Blog for Gartree Mission Partnership

Gartree MP Logo The newly launched mission partnership has its own rather splendid blog at 

Already the blog includes news from churches in the partnership and tells the story of the launch service held last month.

Do visit the blog to keep up to date with events and activity for mission in our area.

Holy Week 2008

image The gospels devote a substantial amount of attention to the events of Holy Week. It begins with Palm Sunday, this year on 23 March. Rather than focus on Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, with the crowd's shouts of hosanna and joyful waving of palm branches, we'll hear instead the whole of Matthew's Passion Narrative.

On Maundy Thursday we'll have a quiet and reflective service of holy communion in church. We remember Jesus' servant leadership, his humility, gentleness and willingness to give himself utterly for his friends, even when betrayal is imminent.

Good Friday brings the possibility of witness to the unity among Christ's followers, both here in Oadby and most dramatically, in the Christ in the Centre performance in the heart of Leicester. Our church will also be open for quiet and prayer during Good Friday afternoon for personal reflections - just come and sit a while.

On Easter Sunday we celebrate resurrection and new life, most appropriately, with a service which includes a baptism.

Sunday 16 March 10.00am St Paul's Palm Sunday service - "The Passion of Christ"
Monday 17 March 6.45pm St Peter's Methodist Evening Prayer
Tuesday 18 March 6.45pm St Peter's Holy Communion
Wednesday 19 March 6.45pm Trinity Methodist Church Compline
Thursday 20 March 9.45am St Paul's Holy Communion, followed by Coffee Pot
    11.00am Leicester Cathedral Chrism Eucharist - open to all
    7.30pm St Paul's The Lord's Supper
Friday 21 March 9.30am St Peter's CTO Good Friday service, followed by silent walk of witness
    11.00am Town Hall Square, Leicester Christ in the Centre. Full programme begins at 10.15.
    2.30pm- 5.00pm St Paul's Church open for quiet reflection.
    7.45pm URC CTO Good Friday evening service
Sunday 23 March 10.00am St Paul's Celebration of the resurrection with baptism

Monday, 3 March 2008

Sixteen questions in John 9

At our Sunday evening communion service we read the whole of the ninth chapter of John's gospel. The story is the encounter between a blind man and Jesus. The healing provokes controversy.

It's striking that in this chapter, one verse in three includes a question - sixteen of them in all. I was fascinated to notice what happened when I extracted the questions from the text. In the service, we went through and worked out who said what. Here they are, coloured according to who asks them: Jesus' disciples, neighbours, Pharisees/ "the Jews", the blind man, Jesus.

  1. ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
  2. Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’
  3. ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’
  4. Where is he?’
  5. ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’
  6. 'What do you say about him?'
  7. ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind?’
  8. ‘How then does he now see?’
  9. ‘What did he do to you?
  10. ‘How did he open your eyes?’
  11. ‘Why do you want to hear it again? ‘
  12. ‘Do you also want to become his disciples?’
  13. ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’
  14. ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’
  15. And who is he, sir?
  16. ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?

We noticed that the motivation for the questions range from genuine interest to hostility. The interrogation gives the healed man a chance to describe his encounter with Jesus. As he tells his story, the narrative's underlying questions shift from the abstract to the personal.

At the outset, the disciples' query points to an underlying philosophical question about the linking of sin and illness. Then the Pharisees point to moral questions about the keeping of the Sabbath. Finally, the key question is about personal commitment to Jesus. This final concern is focussed in the only question Jesus asks, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

Revd Paskal Clement joins the Oadby Team Ministry

Yesterday we announced that a new minister will be joining the ministry team in Oadby. The Bishop of Leicester has appointed Paskal, at present non-stipendiary curate in the parish of Holy Trinity, Hounslow, to the post of stipendiary Associate Priest.

The date of the service of licensing will be announced shortly.

We look forward to getting to know Paskal and his wife Akhtar as they settle in to Oadby and to his ministry in the parish. Please make them welcome.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Church Urban Fund invites you to two special evenings of Lent Prayers, during March 2008


Wednesday 5th March - 6pm to 7pm, at the Barnabas Centre (St Paul’s) Oadby

Thursday 13th March - 6pm to 7pm, at St Margaret’s Church, Leicester

There will be a time of intercession focussed on the Church Urban Fund’s Lent Prayers for 2008 plus witness from some of those involved in the work that CUF is supporting in and around Leicester and time for sharing on CUF’s current aims in what is CUF’s 20th anniversary year. These evenings are open to anyone who has a concern about the Church’s commitment to our most deprived communities and who would like to pray for them and learn more about them.

If you would like to register your interest in attending please contact Jonathan Cryer on

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Oadby Residents' Meeting - 10 March 2008

Oadby and Wigston Borough Council are holding another of the very popular residents' meetings at St Paul's at 7.00pm on 10 March.

There will be opportunity to hear and give views on the latest developments regarding:

  • Highways issues, with Clive Howe of Leicestershire County Council
  • Uplands Park
  • Rosemead Park
  • Primary Care Trust (PCT)
  • Local Policing

Local councillors and officers are also holding a surgery between 6.30pm and 7.00pm