Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Reasons to be cheerful - Bishop's Lay Congress 14 November 2009

The 2009 Bishop's Lay Congress is titled, Reasons to be cheerful; sharing faith in everyday life

It's on Saturday 14 November, at Samworth Enterprise Academy, Trenant Road, Leicester, LE2 6TF - 9.15am - 3.30pm and here's the information received from our diocese's publicity team:

This is an opportunity for lay people to spend a day with the Bishop of Leicester reflecting on how it is that we can both enjoy and share our faith more fully in everyday life with guest speaker the Rt. Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Reading.

Bishop Stephen has worked in parishes in London, Chichester, as Pastor of Peterborough Cathedral, as Missioner in the Wakefield Diocese and as part of Springboard, the Archbishop's evangelism team. He has written widely about evangelism, spirituality and discipleship. Among his recent books are 'From the Abundance of the Heart: Catholic Evangelism for all Christians (DLT 2006), Do Nothing to Change your Life; discovering what happens when you stop (CHP 2007), Hit the Ground Kneeling; seeing leadership differently (CHP 2008) and a book of Lent and Holy Week meditations The Things He Carried (SPCK 2008). He is married to Rebecca and they have three boys.

The Programme

9.15 - Arrival and Registration
9.14 - Introductions
10.15 - Bishop Stephen Cottrell
11.00 - Coffee
11.30 - Bishop Stephen Cottrell
12.00 - Group discussions
12.45 - Lunch (please bring your own)
1.45 - Questions & Answers with Bishop Stephen
2.15 - Questions & Answers with Bishop Tim
2.45 - Worship
3.30 - Close

Refreshments provided

Leaflets with booking forms are now available to pick up in church. Alternatively visit the diocesan website and download the form.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

YFRIDAY in Leicester 11 October 2009

Tim Warner of St Luke's Church, Thurnby, has sent me details of YFriday's forthcoming Great and Glorious event in Leicester.

He writes:

YFRIDAY - GREAT & GLORIOUS with special guest Noel Richards in support
An all age, all family, all church, all denomination, all inclusive, One God Worship Event!
Sunday 11th October 2009, 7pm at Athena in Leicester (the old Odeon cinema)

We have just 1000 tickets available for this fantastic event - unprecedented in Leicester - so please hurry.

This event is open the the whole church family, any age, with special discounts for ages 8 & under.

Churches are being encouraged to use this event in place of their normal Sunday evening service - or as one if you don't already run one. So please get behind this and give your support - let's show just how great our God is!

1000 voices, of all ages, joining together in common worship for 2 hours - make sure you remember where YOU were on the evening of October 11th 2009!

See you there!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The problem we all have with anger

What pushes your buttons?

Whether you sit and fume or steam into a full-blown rage, we all know what it's like to be angry, or to feel the anger of someone else's fury.

This Sunday at the ten o'clock service we're looking at the roots of anger, exploring its power and finding Christian insights to help us overcome its destructiveness.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Back to Church?

This is a re-post of a feature I wrote in February 2008. I thought it might be helpful for those coming to St Paul's on Back to Church Sunday.

What happens in church?

It's a great question. A few weeks ago I was talking with a couple who had never been to a regular service in church. They wanted to ask about being married in church and I was glad to help with their questions. We'd been talking for a while and I assured them that they'd be welcome at any of our services.
"Really?" they asked. "Do we need to let you know in advance that we're coming?" I was able to tell them that there's no need to book and that church is for everyone.
If you've never been to church before, or never been to our church at St Paul's, you'll have lots of questions about what actually happens. I remember going to church for the first time as an adult of 23 years old and, to be frank, I wasn't looking forward to it. If someone had told me a little about what lay in store, I'd have felt a lot more relaxed.

Does is cost anything to come to church?

No - it's always free. There's never an admission charge for worship. Every service (including every wedding and funeral) is a public event. You'll be welcome if you have a deep Christian faith, or if you believe in another faith or if you have no faith at all.
We usually take a collection during the service. A collection bag is passed along the rows and people put their donation for the running of the church and the organisations we support into the bag. No one can see who gives and who doesn't. Many people make their donation by standing order, so they just pass the bag on. You don't have to give anything but if you do, we're very grateful.

What should I wear?

People come to St Paul's in all sorts. Some in tee shirts and jeans, some in shirt and tie. Wear what you want! If you really want me to tell you what to wear, choose what you'd wear for a simple meal at a pub or cafe with friends.

What time does it start?

The main Sunday service is at 10:00am. Some people begin to arrive from 9:30 - that's great if you want to get the best seats but you may sit there for a while and wonder where everyone is. (Some of the 'regulars' often slip in at the last minute!)
If it's your first time, come at about 9.50am. By then we'll be almost ready, there'll be someone friendly at the door to say hello. Sit wherever you like - no one at our church gets fussy about who sits where.
Use the time before the service to relax and settle down. Just like the cinema, getting yourself in the right frame of mind and ready for the service itself will help enormously. Many people take a moment to pray quietly. Others like to greet their friends.

Where can I park?

There's a car park at the back of church but it starts to fill early. Park on the street if you can do so courteously and safely but try not to use the road in front of church, which isn't wide. Remember our neighbours who have to get their cars out. The Blues pub just around the corner has a huge car park and they're happy for us to use it on Sunday mornings.

Will everyone know that I'm a visitor?

No they won't. We're a busy church and lots of visitors come along. You might feel like you're the only stranger but you won't be. Having said that, don't be surprised if people look as though they're glad to see you - we enjoy having visitors and newcomers. Why not take the initiative and say hello to someone who looks friendly. I guarantee they will be.

I've got small children. Help!

Church is for babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, and adults. We have a range of groups for children of every age and a creche if you want to use it.
We understand that small children find it hard to sit still and to be quiet. If they get really noisy, take them into the sidechapel (there's a loudspeaker in there, so you'll still be able to hear the service). We've also got child-friendly toilets and baby-changing facilities.

How will I know when to stand or sit?

Two ways. First, the minister taking the service will always invite the congregation to stand or sit. Second, just do what everyone else does.
There are parts of the service where standing just feels right. It helps us sing better and it shows particular respect at especially significant times of the service. If you find it hard to stand, then it's quite alright to stay sitting all the time.

I don't like singing/I'm worried that I won't know the hymns and songs

I bet there's no one in our church who knows every song we sing. We love traditional hymns at St Paul's but we also sing praises to God in the newest songs. If you don't know the song, don't worry. Don't sing if you don't want to.

What are all the different parts of the service for?

Every service follows a kind of pattern. We're fairly flexible, so the pattern changes.
Think of a meal in a restaurant. You might begin with a drink at the bar, then move to your table and enjoy some poppadums (I eat a lot of curries!). The first course is followed by the main dish, then there's dessert and coffee.
In the same way, the service includes a sequence which helps us worship God. We usually start with a hymn of praise, then prayers that help us realise that we all need God's forgiveness and strength. Then we listen to readings from the Bible and hear a sermon which explains how these are relevant for our lives today. We pray for the world around us and then, at a communion service, we prepare to share the bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus. Finally we hear God's blessing for the week that lies before us.

This is complicated. What if I don't understand everything?

It will probably feel complicated to begin with. But you don't need to understand everything. Come with an open mind and I guarantee that you'll find something helpful. Come expecting to meet with God in a special way and I promise you will.

Is it alright to laugh?

Yes, we laugh at some point in most services. We don't take ourselves too seriously and there's a lot to be happy about. But we're not a bunch of 'happy-clappy' idiots. Life is tough for many people and sometimes worship is so moving that people have to wipe away a tear. We're not afraid of that either.

Am I allowed to take the bread and wine? What should I do?

Christians believe that when we share holy communion we experience God in a special way. The Bible insists that we do this with the right attitude and after careful thought, so it's never a casual or trivial thing to do.
We have communion services twice a month and nearly everyone in church goes to the front to receive the bread and wine. If you don't wish to, you'd be welcome to come forward with everyone else and simply keep your hands down. That's the way that the minister will know that you don't want to receive. Instead, he or she will pray a short (one-sentence) prayer of blessing for you. If you prefer to stay in your seat, that's alright too.
If you want to receive the bread and wine, then your welcome, as long as you are baptised (or 'christened') and are sincere in wanting to follow Jesus as your Lord. Communion is normally for adults, or for children who have been confirmed. If you have children who have not been confirmed, bring them to the communion and we'll pray a prayer of blessing. You could share your bread with them if you wish.

What happens after the service?

The service usually finishes between 11.00 (at a family service) and 11.30 (at a communion service). Almost everyone stays behind in church for a cup of tea, coffee or squash and to chat to friends. Church isn't just a social club, but it's great to get to know people and enjoy company.

What are the most important things for a newcomer to remember?

  1. Be yourself. God loves you as you are and wants to help you be the person he made you to be.
  2. Before the service, pray. You can do this at home before you set off. Find a quiet spot, relax and pray something like this, "God, help me to worship you today. Open my heart to you, calm me down and show me one thing that you want me to remember. Amen."
  3. Ask questions if there's something you want explained or something you want to know about. Ask anyone - if they don't know, they'll find someone who does.

The Jesus Prayer

We ended yesterday's sermon The problem we all have with pride, by reciting The Jesus Prayer. It's the best antidote for the twin pitfalls of self-obsession, which at the opposite extremes, are arrogance and self-hatred.

The prayer has been used for centuries in the Orthodox Church and has only come to prominence in the west in recent decades. It combines two of the most profound prayers of Luke's gospel - the tax-collector's prayer in the parable of Luke 18.13 and the cry of the blind man in Luke 18.35-8.

So here it is, a prayer centred on Jesus. A prayer of penitence and longing which is full of faith and hope.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Pray it repetitively, so that the words shift focus on the elements of praise and penitence and finally, to a quietening prayer of the heart.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

District Church Council Meeting - September 2009

Last week's DCC meeting reflected together on Joshua 1.1-9 and prayed. We reviewed progress on the installation of the new heating system, for which further soundproofing is required. We decided to buy a new digital piano, reviewed the planning for the next Alpha Course, discussed our swine flu precautions and the venue of PCC meetings.

The biggest item we considered was our ministry among families with young children. Oadby has changed significantly in the last two decades and the numbers of children in its churches has fallen. We wanted to respond to these issues in a way that saw the whole picture and what opportunities God may have for us. The briefing paper on these issues, titled Where are the children? is available for download.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Church Fete 2009

Under a blazing sun and a perfect blue sky, hundreds of neighbours gathered on Hamble Green next to the church for a fabulous fete.

It was really encouraging that the event drew people from all backgrounds and brought our community together. Sue and Wendy organised the whole affair, with generous support and hard work from a wide range of volunteers and friends. Thanks to all of them for one of the highlights of our year so far.

More pictures on our Facebook Group.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Confirmation 2009

We packed into St Peter's Church, Oadby for our service of baptism and confirmation this week. Twenty four people were confirmed by The Rt Revd Christopher Boyle, including from St Paul's: Linda, Howard, Ben, Pat, Katy, Mike and Paige (who was baptised and confirmed).

With worship led by the band from St Luke's Thurnby, and St Peter's Choir, the service helped us worship God in a blend of styles and traditions.

Baptism and confirmation are signs of growing faith and a growing Church. If you'd like to know more about us, what we believe and how you can join in, get in touch soon.

Harvest Fete - 12 September 2009

There's bunting outside the church. Stalls and games are ready. The grass on Hamble Green has been trimmed by the Council and the weather forecasters promise us a lovely day!

The fete opens at 12 noon and runs all afternoon, so if you're in the area, come down to Hamble Road and enjoy the fun.

A new piano

This week's DCC meeting decided to buy a new digital piano to enhance our worship and to replace the piano that was loaned to us.

There has been a lot of careful research to make sure it meets our needs and a generous donation means that most of the cost is paid for.

A new instrument will give us even more versatility and a wonderful sound.

Update 25 September 2009. The piano arrived this afternoon and sounds amazing.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Alpha males

To counter the misconception that church is just a bit 'girly', Bear Grylls features on a new Alpha video.

We're putting on an Alpha Supper on 1 December, 2009 and will be running a new Alpha Course in January 2010. Get in touch if you're interested.