Saturday, 24 October 2009

Nick Griffin does not speak for Christians

This blog is not primarily a place for this vicar to express his personal opinions. As a proud husband and father in a mixed-race family, you might already imagine how I feel about the things the leader of the British National Party said during a recent televised debate. So I intend to say little about what has been widely reported elsewhere.

But as a church leader in a multi-cultural, multi-faith town, I cannot allow one of his specific claims to go unopposed.

During the Question Time broadcast, Nick Griffin suggested that the views of the BNP are consistent with Christianity. They are not.

The era in which the New Testament was written was as culturally complex as our own. The first Christians were Jews, who might have naturally thought that other people had no part in the church. They quickly learned that the Christian faith is open to all people, regardless of their ethnicity or how "indigenous" they might be.

In Colossians 3.11, we read, there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

Amen to that!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

New Readers (Lay Ministers) in Leicester Diocese

It's been a privilege to accompany another eight people through vocational interviews, selection and training. They joined a former Methodist Lay Preacher in being licensed as new Readers in the Diocese of Leicester at the cathedral last Saturday.

The role of Warden of Readers, which I've held during the last five years, brings quite a workload but it's been immensely fulfilling. I'm grateful to the parish for allowing me the time to carry out these extra duties.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Principal services in November and December 2009

Before Advent, we're exploring one of the shortest books of the Bible, Paul's Letter to Titus. It's a fascinatingly personal piece of writing, in a very specific time and place. But it also points to eternal truths about us and about God.

In Advent itself, our attention turns to the promised Saviour. Week by week we share the hopes and longings of the Jewish nation, as they looked forward to the day when a Messiah would appear.

Christmas services at St Paul's have been more popular than ever, so this year for the first time we're holding two Carols by Candlelight services, both on 20 December.

We hope you'll join us at these services as we discover fresh insights into the purpose and plans of God.

1 November 10.00am Holy Communion
Why Paul left Titus in Crete
Titus 1.1-2.1

8 November 10.00am All together church, after Breakfast at Barney's
Being friends with Jesus
Luke 19.1-10

15 November 10.00am Holy Communion
Speak up, Titus!
Titus 2.2-15

22 November 10.00am The Word Service
Reborn and renewed
Titus 3

29 November 10.00am The Word Service
Watch out!
1 Thessalonians 3.9-end & Luke 21.25-36

6 December 10.00am Holy Communion
A voice cries out
Philippians 1.3-11 & Luke 3.1-6

13 December 10.00am Christmas Toy and Gift Service, after Breakfast at Barney's
Giving your life to God
Romans 10:9-13

20 December 10.00am The Word Service
Mary and Elizabeth
Hebrews 10.5-10 & Luke 1.39-45

20 December 4.00pm and 7.00pm (two services)
Carols by Candlelight

24 December 4.00pm
Christingle Service

24 December 11.30pm
Midnight Communion
Isaiah 9.2-7 & Luke 2.1-14

25 December 10.00am
Family Christmas Communion
Hebrews 1.1-4 & John 1.1-14

27 December 10.00am Joint Parish Service of Holy Communion
An amazing boy
Colossians 3.12-17 & Luke 2.41-end

Planning a Church Wedding

A marriage service, wherever it is held, is a public declaration of love and lifelong commitment to your partner.

But a service in church brings an added dimension - the assurance that God cares about your relationship and that his resources and strength are available to help you. Including God in your marriage doesn’t mean that you will avoid all the usual ups and downs, but you will know that you can look to God for help and guidance and that his love will sustain you. You will also have the support and encouragement of the Christian Church family.

This article is a basic guide to some of the important issues. However, it is not possible here to give full legal information relating to marriages and in the case of doubt you must take appropriate advice.

A Church of England Marriage Service is a legally-recognised ceremony as well as an occasion for worship and celebration. The form of service is governed by law. After declaring their ability and desire to marry, the couple exchange solemn vows and give and receive ring(s). The minister declares them to be married and the service concludes with prayers and blessings. There are important legal preliminaries to a ceremony of marriage, which must be observed carefully.

A service of Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage is sometimes known as a Blessing. This service can follow immediately after a civil marriage (e.g. in a Register Office) for couples in circumstances where it would not be possible to have a church wedding. Alternatively, couples who have been married for some time may wish to dedicate their life together to God. The couple begin the service as married people, and there is no giving of rings, though a prayer over the rings is offered. In the dedication the couple resolve to be faithful to each other and pray that in offering themselves to God that they may grow in unity, love and peace. The minister prays for God to bless the marriage which has already taken place.

The service of Thanksgiving for Marriage may be used to celebrate an anniversary, or in the renewed commitment following a time of difficulty in a marriage. The form of service is flexible and often includes the renewal of wedding vows, in which the couple recall and reaffirm the commitment they made on their wedding day.

What is the situation for marriage after a divorce?
The Church of England teaches that marriage is for life. It also recognises that, sadly, some marriages do fail and, if this should happen, it seeks to be available for all involved. The Church accepts that, in some circumstances, a divorced person may marry again in church during the lifetime of a former spouse.

The clergy of Oadby Parish are willing to conduct such a marriage in church, subject to the regulations which govern them. The minister will want to talk to you frankly about the past, your hopes for the future and your understanding of marriage. If it is not possible for your proposed marriage to take place in church, the minister may consider other alternatives with you.

Am I entitled to be married in Church?
You are entitled to be married in St Peter's or St Paul's if one or both of you live in the Parish of Oadby, or where you can demonstrate a “significant qualifying connection” with St Peter's or St Paul's Church. Significant qualifying connections can include:
  • you were baptised in in the Parish of Oadby; have your confirmation entered in a church register book of St Peter's or St Paul's churches; have had your usual place of residence in the parish for at least six months; or have habitually attended public worship at St Peter's or St Paul's for at least six months at some point in your life;
  • or, your parent has had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least six months during your lifetime; or habitually attended public worship at St Peter's or St Paul's for at least six months during your lifetime;
  • or, your parent or grandparent was married in the parish.The precise rules are complicated, so please check with us to be sure.
You don’t have to be baptised to be married in Church following banns, but an understanding of the Christian faith is important if the service is to be meaningful for you.

Can I have a Church Wedding at another venue?

You may only have a Church of England wedding in a parish church or some other place of worship - normally one licensed by the Bishop. It is not possible to have a religious wedding in other venues, for instance in a hotel.

What are the legal requirements?

Banns are the normal legal preliminary for a marriage service. You must have your banns read out in church on three Sundays during the three months before the wedding. Banns are an announcement of your intention to marry and a chance for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place.

Banns need to be read in the parish where each of you lives as well as at the church in which you are to be married. It is your responsibility to ensure that the correct information for calling the banns is given to the minister of the appropriate parish churches at the right time. Banns are not required for Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage or Thanksgiving for Marriage.
If either of you is a foreign national, it is usually preferable to marry after obtaining a Common Licence, instead of banns, to ensure that your marriage is legally recognised in your home country.

If you are under the age of eighteen, you must have your parents’ consent to marry.

How much will our wedding cost?
Each January, a new fees table is published which shows all the options. As a guide, at St Paul's our fees are around £500.

Who will be the minister at our wedding?
Normally, one of the parish clergy will officiate.

How do I book the Church? As soon as you have decided you would like to get married in church, get in touch with Rev’d Simon Harvey (0116 271 0519 or Simon will help you with the first stages of making the booking and let you know which minister in the parish will be taking your wedding.

The minister taking your service will wish to meet with you in person to discuss your plans.

A £100, non-returnable deposit will secure your booking.

Are resources available online?

If you have access to the internet, you’ll find a wealth of online resources about weddings. You might like to try these:

Where are the children?

We're thankful to God that St Paul's is a growing church. We're seeing more people join us each year and it's wonderful that people are finding faith and encouragement here.

But behind the overall figures, we're concerned that the number of children in our church has fallen substantially. So we're reflecting carefully and praying in order to understand more clearly the reasons for the change and also to seek God's leading in response.

The attendances at our all-age worship service last Sunday, and on the corresponding Sunday in 2003, illustrate the point really well. The proportion of adults is shown on these charts in red, children in blue.

The District Church Council (DCC) has been considering these issues and has committed to two one-hour prayer meetings, to which the whole church is invited. These are on 4 November, from 7.30 to 8.30pm in the Barnabas Centre, and on 22 November, from 6.30 to 7.30pm in the Church.

You can also read the full analysis that the DCC is exploring.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

What is the difference between greed and gluttony?

Simon told us in his sermon:

Greed is when you overdo the desire to possess things, gluttony is the desire to consume more than you need. Just look at Simon's breakfast Noodle Pot!

Friday, 9 October 2009

The common cup returns

The timing feels a little strange, given that the second wave of the flu pandemic is upon us, but with infections at a lower rate than first feared and no sign of the disease becoming more deadly, the Bishop's advice this week requested that we return to sharing the common cup at services of Holy Communion.

I welcome this. Giving communion as bread alone was a non-starter for us. But intincting bread with wine makes the distribution a little cumbersome. Had the return to our customary practice been delayed for many more months, I fear it would be hard for many people to do so.

We want to be sensitive to the needs of people who feel at particular risk, so at least for the time being we'll make it possible for them to have the bread intincted with wine. But for the rest of us, we return to being one people, sharing one bread and one cup, as of Sunday 18 October.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The problem we all have with gluttony

Our sermon series on the seven deadly sins continues this Sunday, with gluttony. We'll even give you the chance for some last-minute practical research as the monthly Breakfast at Barney's takes place from 8.30am to 9.30am.

Come and take your fill of good, traditional breakfast cuisine and then settle down for an all-age service in which we're looking at the problem we all have with gluttony.

Gluttony isn't just a matter of overeating. Our appetites, if indulged to excess, can lead us into all kinds of trouble. We'll be looking at the issues and at what the Bible teaches about a topic that affects us all.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Bus it to church

We may be Oadby's best-kept secret, hidden away on a housing estate on the north side of the A6, but at least we're on a bus route.

On Sunday mornings, Arriva's first 31 of the day winds its way from stand C25 in Charles Street at 09:42, then blasts down a traffic-free London Road to Oadby's Parade at 09:56. It's then up onto our estate, reaching the bus stop on Severn Road at 10:04.

Granted, this means that you'll walk into church during the first hymn, but we don't mind.

The 31 runs every fifteen minutes, so getting back into Leicester again after the service is no great hassle.

Full details of the 31 route and timetable on Arriva's website.

Update 5 October. I've just asked Arriva if they can despatch the first 31 of the Sabbath ten minutes earlier. Will keep you posted.