Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas has begun at St Paul's!

Christmas began at St Paul's with a Christingle service on Christmas Eve afternoon. With a congregation swelled by visitors – occasional friends from the locality and family and friends visiting church members for Christmas – 120 people gathered together.

The service began as Steve, our vicar, read the Christmas story and different children brought forward the figures of Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, the Shepherds and Sheep and the Wise Men and Steve added each to the crib scene.

Steve teased the children as he then made a Christingle with the wrong components (Apple instead of orange, blue ribbon instead of red etc.)! But he could not fool the children, as they knew that it was an orange that represented the world that God created; that the sweets and raisins on cocktail sticks represented the harvest of the four seasons; that the red ribbon represented the blood of Christ who died for us so that we might be forgiven our sins; that the candle on the top represented Jesus who is the light of the world.

Everyone then received their own their own Christingle. As the lights were turned off, all the Christingles were lit and we sang the Christingle song, which explains its meaning.

This may have been a service with children at the centre, but what they celebrated is, indeed, the real meaning of Christmas. May all the other services this Christmastide share the same truth and joy!

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas is Coming

It's only just over a week until Christmas. Everybody is probably only too aware of that, with presents to buy and food to prepare. But in our busyness, it's important that we don't forget the reason for Christmas – that Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth as a fully human baby who shared human joys and sorrows and explained what God wanted us to be, before being executed on a cross.

So it's only right that we should meet together to worship him at this time. But it's also great fun – with candles and carols and Christmas readings. From now on, all our services will have a Christmas theme. But below are some special ones:

7.0pm on Sunday 18 December we have the Service of Lessons and Carols by Candlelight. By the light flickering candles, we will be singing the much loved Christmas Carols, as well as listening to the Choir’s contributions and hearing the Christmas Story and other readings on that theme.

4.0pm on Christmas Eve, 24 December. At the short Christingle service, which is suitable for all the family, we remember the Christmas story, helped by the Christingles which symbolise the meaning of the baby in the manger – the Christ child. Then we take away those Christingles as a memento.

11.30pm on Christmas Eve, 24 December. The first service of Christmas Day is our reflective service of Holy Communion when we remember Christ's love for the world both in his birth and in his sacrifice of himself on the cross.

10.0 am on Christmas Day, 25 December is our service of Family Communion, which is suitable for all the family. Again, we will be singing those much loved Christmas Carols. Do bring your toys!

We hope that you will be able to join us for at least one of these services.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Time for gifts.

It's now the third Sunday of Advent – Advent, when we are looking forward to the gift of Jesus at Christmas – the greatest gift of all. Jesus, who came as the Saviour of the world, and whose return we also look forward to.

Many will be looking forward to the gifts that they will receive this Christmas. But this was our opportunity to give to those in much greater need than ourselves. The congregation gave 71 items for organisations such as "Action Homeless" to give as gifts to the children in their projects.

Jonathan Cryer, a representative from Action Homeless thanked the congregation for their gifts and described the plight of the people in their care and how these gifts will bring joy to their children this Christmas.

So many of the people at St Paul's wanted to contribute that we had more offers than the charities were able to use, so other people brought gifts for the "Welcome Project" which helps destitute asylum seekers.

As we have been given so much, may we share it with others.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

God, the Universe and Everything

Every year, they Bishop of Leicester organises a "Lay Congress" when some issue of importance to Christians is discussed in detail. This year, 300 of us met at the Samworth Academy on Saturday 26th November, for a Congress with the modest (?) title: "God, the Universe and Everything." A group of us went from St Paul's.

The Congress was led by members of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion of Saint Edmunds College, Cambridge. These were people who are both eminent scientists and have a Christian Faith

Dr Alexander reminded us that many of the historic founders of science, such as
Kelvin, Ray, Dalton, Boyle, Newton, Descartes, Kepler, Ray, Maxwell, etc, etc, were practising Christians, as are many today. They see their research as worship of God whose wonders they investigate. In fact, Christian faith underlies many scientific assumptions - such that there are laws, that experiments are appropriate - the reasonableness of the quest for coherence.

Ruth Bancewicz, of the Test of Faith project, presented videos of living scientists who spoke of their emotional involvement with science, of a
sense of vocation, of their wonder and awe; also of their curiosity. For some their delight was in being involved with projects that have practical useful outcomes, while for others it was a pleasure in the intrinsic value of scientific discovery – of both mechanism and meaning.

The Reverend Doctor Rodney Holder introduced us to the complexities of the Big Bang and warned us against the "God of the Gaps" – the things we do not understand, because as those Gaps are explained, God risks being progressively excluded.

The big question is not the "How" the world was created, but Liebnitz’s question- “Why is there a universe?”

We returned much better informed but also full of wonder – both at the mightiness of God and the wonder of his Creation.

So next year, don't miss out on a similarly challenging day!


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thank you!

On 22 November 2011 Oadby residents met at Beauchamp College to vote on bids for resources from the £12,500 Community Forum Budget. This sum had been provided by Leicestershire County Council to share among projects that would benefit the local community. Each organisation had the opportunity to present their case at length on designated tables and then for 90 seconds to everyone present. There were votes on which projects represented value for money and then the opportunity to choose three of the best projects.

St Paul's put in the most modest of the bids – £600 to purchase equipment for the recently reconstituted Friday night Youth Club which is open to all. This bid topped both polls and we will soon be going ahead to spend the money in the ways we presented.

This youth club was initiated by our new Intern, Elena Williams, who assisted Revd Steve Bailey, our vicar, in presenting the case. Thank you to Elena for all her hard work, to the Council who made these funds available and to the local residents who supported our bid. We hope that the young people will soon be finding the new equipment attractive and useful.

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Cross of Christ.

The cross is at the centre of Christian faith. It represents Christ's death as a sacrifice for mankind, a sacrifice that forgives sin and stands as a unique example of supreme love – the love that Christ has for us. It also sets a standard for us of what our love should be like.

This five long sermon series on the cross, that we have just completed, is our final series based on the Essential 100 readings that we have used this year to celebrate the "year of the Bible," the four hundredth anniversary of the Authorised Version. The sermon outlines are all available through this link.

It was appropriate that we considered the supreme Divine sacrifice in the weeks before Remembrance Sunday, when we remembered the sacrifice of so many in war.

Friday, 11 November 2011

We will remember them



Today is Remembrance Day, the 11th of November and people stopped for 2 minutes at 11am to remember all those who have lost their life whilst at war.


Sunday is Remembrance Sunday and we will be having an All Together service with Parade as we welcome the uniformed organisations to join us on this special occasion. We will be looking at the words of Jesus from John 15.13 'Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.'


Jesus demonstrated His great love by dying for each one of us. On this special day we also remember those who have followed his example and laid down their life for the greater good. Towards the end of our service we will observe a 2 minute silence as we remember.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Bible Sunday

Join us this Sunday at St Paul's when we shall be marking Bible Sunday.


As Christians we believe that the Bible is God's word to us. We give thanks to God for the gift of the Bible and the many treasures it contains. Did you know that the Bible contains a whole variety of different literature including family sagas, war, history, gory detail, story, songs, romance, sex, teaching and miracles?


We will also be remembering those who do not have a copy of the Bible freely available to them in the own native language and pray for the work of organisations, such as the Bible Society, who undertake translation work.


Do you have a Bible somewhere? Why not find it, dust it off and try reading some of it. There are lots of Bible reading guides to help you and there is so much to discover.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

New Youth Group!

On Friday 14th October a new Youth Group was launched. Lead by our Youth Intern, Elly, the first meeting was held last night. Not knowing what response we would get from our advertising it in the local schools we were delighted when 16 young people aged 11-14 showed up.

The evening had a happy, relaxed atmosphere with a variety of activities to choose from including table tennis and a graffiti wall as well as a tuck shop.

We hope that many will want to return and will tell their friends all about it. We hope also to be able to add to the equipment and offer an attractive place for the young people to be on a Friday evening. You would be welcome to come along and join us!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Don't deny

On Sunday we continued our sermon series on 'The Cross of Christ'. This week our focus was on the part of the story where Jesus is taken off for trial. It was during this time that Peter, one of his closest disciples, was asked three times if he knew Jesus and all three times he denied that he knew Him. Jesus had predicted this would happen just after Peter pledges his loyalty to Jesus in front of all the disciples. As soon as Peter denied Jesus for the third time a cock crowed.

We were encouraged to think of who are best friend is and what we would be willing to do for them. Even though Peter made a bad choice, took the easy way out and let his friend down Jesus made the biggest choice and chose the cross for Peter and for each one of us.

After His resurrection one of the first things Jesus did was to forgive Peter and give him the chance to express his love for Jesus. Peter then goes onto become one of the first leaders of the early church, preaching a sermon that brings 3,000 people to faith!

In our prayers we said sorry to God for the times we had denied Him and let Him down. We asked for strength and courage to be bold and strong to speak up for God. We also prayed for those who are persecuted for their faith that God would strengthen and encourage them as they daily risk their lives to live out what they believe.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Pioneer Minister

At a special service held today in Leicester Cathedral a number of people were licensed by the Bishop for different tasks. Among them was David Boyce, a member of St Paul's. David is a physics lecturer at Lutterworth College. As a Christian David felt called to set up a chaplaincy in this large college to provide spiritual support to students and staff.
David was licensed as a lay pioneer minister. This means that he has done some training and has the Bishop's full support in this exciting venture. David's aim is to bring a Christian presence into his working environment. He will lead assemblies, prayer meetings and be available to chat and offer support.
At a service in September David shared with us the exciting journey God has taken him on to bring him to this point. As a church we prayed for David and his family as they move into this new phase.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Fresh Expressions Of Church.

Like all churches, Saint Paul’s faces the question: "how do we share the love of Christ with the two-thirds of the population who never go near a church?" On Saturday 1 November 2011, Leicester Diocese organised a conference on "fresh expressions" in conjunction with the Methodist and United Reformed Churches.

It met at Saint Martin's House, the new diocesan headquarters, next to the cathedral which has been impressively refurbished. The conference was led by Dave Male, who was previously a Minister in this diocese, and has had experience of an alternative way of being church.

There are many ways in which Christians can organise activities which start in the community and by which people may be introduced to Christ in nonthreatening ways. Different workshops gave examples of some of these, with the chance to discuss the opportunities and problems experienced. However, these activities should always lead on to discipling people in the Christian faith, although this is a journey that may take many years.

“Thinking outside the box" was challenging but also fascinating. May we do more of it!

Link to Fresh Expressions
Link to Leicester Diocese's report of the conference.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Worldwide Family

At our evening service on 25 September 2011 we (and several visitors from neighbouring churches) were delighted to welcome Bishop Stanley Hotay from the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. That Diocese has been linked with Leicester diocese since soon after its foundation, 30 years ago. Before the service, we were able to meet Bishop Stanley over a magnificent tea – very many thanks to those who had provided it.

Then, we moved to the Church to worship. It was good to remember that we and the Christians in Tanzania are united as members together of the worldwide Church, the body of Christ here on Earth.

Steve Bailey, our vicar, interviewed Bishop Stanley and he told us how God had led him into Christian ministry since his commitment to Christ as a sixth former. His first church had been another St Paul's – in Arusha. He shared with us the joys and sorrows, problems and opportunities for his diocese, based on Arusha, which even after its recent division into two dioceses (the other is now Kiteto), is still the size of England. However, despite its limited resources, the church is growing fast.

In his address to the church, Bishop Stanley took as his text Christ's Great Commission recorded in St Matthew's Gospel: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you." It was a challenge for the church in Tanzania. But it was also a challenge for us here in Oadby. Christ calls all of us to make him known to those around.

Together, we joined in hymns, worship songs and prayers until Bishop Stanley sent us out as he blessed us in Swahili.

Back to Church

On Sunday 25 September 2011 St Paul' s had joined in a nationwide initiative to invite friends "back to church." In his talk, based on the account of Jesus healing the lame man by the poolside, Steve Bailey recalled the words of Jesus to the man: "Do you want to be made well?"

It seems an obvious question – as obvious as some questions Steve had already put to the children in the congregation, such as: "what colour is a black taxi cab?" (Popular questions as they had won the children chocolates!) However, the lame man's answer to the question had not been straightforward. And sometimes, as Jesus offers us his love, forgiveness and support, neither is ours.

Steve recognised that sometimes, in what it had said and done, the church had hurt and damaged people. To any who were present for whom that was true, as a representative of the church and in the name of the church, Steve asked their forgiveness. In spite of their experiences, he prayed that they might feel able to respond to Christ's offer.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Principal Services – October - December

As 2011 draws to a close we have one final sermon series drawn from the E100 readings. Through October and just into November we are going to be focusing on The Cross of Christ. You may think this seems slightly strange at this time of year and more appropriate for Lent. However, I firmly believe that as we have spent the past year looking at God’s big story throughout scripture it makes sense to finish with the very heart of God’s salvation plan. We pause to mark Bible Sunday and as after our series finishes we mark Remembrance Sunday.

Then begins our journey through the season of advent.
Advent means ‘coming’. It is a time of preparation and anticipation as we think back and remember Jesus coming to earth in human form as a baby and also look forward to the day when he will return in glory.

May I wish you all a blessed and joyful conclusion to
2011, a Christ-centred Christmas and a memorable 2012 as we continue our journey with the God of surprises.

In Christ,

Steve

Revd Steve Bailey.

Link to Service Programme

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Harvest Thanksgiving

Today at St Paul's we celebrated our Harvest Thanksgiving Service. Our All-Age service was preceeded by our monthly "Breakfast at Barney's". During the service everyone was invited to come and give gifts which will go to The Welcome Project, providing tinned foods, drinks and toiletries to asylum seekers.

In our consumerist western culture it can be very easy for us to take for granted all that we have and where our food comes from. Our Bible reading reminded us that the earth belongs to God and that all that we have comes from Him.


The children had great fun knocking down piles of boxes that represented a barn. The story of the man who tore down his barns to build bigger barns (Luke 12.16-30) shows us that we can easily forget our need for God who gives us all good things. We prayed for all those who work so hard on the land to grow our crops and those who don't have enough.


As a token of our thankfulness to God we offered some of what we have back, to be given freely to those in need.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Everybody Welcome

Is everybody welcome in our church? Of course, we would answer "yes." But would a stranger actually feel comfortable coming into our building? Would they know where the entrance was? Would they know what they needed? Could they find the toilets?

The two churches of our parish, St Paul's and St Peter's, are joining together, at St Paul's, for four Tuesdays, to take part in a course called "Everybody Welcome" which is being organised by Leicester Diocese and led by Revd Barry Hill. With a mixture of course booklet, videos, led discussion and questionnaires it makes us look at ourselves and discover what would make visitors’ lives easier.

We are all keen that visitors should come to our churches and discover for themselves the love of Jesus Christ, the one whom we worship. It would be a tragedy if they were discouraged by things that could be easily put right. We hope that this course, of which tonight was the second module, will make this less likely, so that newcomers may feel really welcome.

Come and see if we're succeeding!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Home Groups

Over half of the congregation at St Paul's is attached to a Home Group. These meet at different times of the day and on different days, either weekly or fortnightly. So there is one to suit anybody. They are an invaluable part of our church life as they give the opportunity for studying and praying together in small groups, where everyone is known and valued, without embarrassment. They are an opportunity to support each other, both in joys and sorrows.

With lots of people away, many groups have taken a break in the summer, but now they are starting up again. This particular group started the autumn activities with a social, combining a joint meal, a quiz and a Jenga challenge.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Be encouraged

At St Paul's we are fortunate enough to have a multi-purpose centre named after one of the Saint Paul's closest companions and fellow worker, Barnabas. The name Barnabas means 'son of encouragement'. Barnabas was known for the way he encouraged all those that he met.

It is always good to be encouraged, I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like it!

Our aim at St. Paul's is to allow people to share stories of encouragement. It is always good to hear where God has been at work in people's lives. Sometimes this occurs in big, dramatic ways such as the account of the apostle Paul's encounter with God on the Damascus Road. (You can read about this in Acts 9) However, if we take time to think back and reflect many of us at this church can probably think of lots of much smaller ways where God has been at work in our lives.

Last Sunday I was able to tell the story of a lady who asked me to pray for her a couple of weeks ago. When I saw her a week later she was very quick to tell me how God had answered that prayer. For her it encouraged her that God is living, active and is interested in her life.

I hope we at St Paul's can share more of these stories to encourage one another that God is working in all sorts of ways in our lives and different circumstances.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

O perfect love

On 21 August we held our "Songs of Praise" in the summertime for the first time, wondering what the support would be. In fact, we had the best turnout yet, 47 people, perhaps encouraged by the magnificent spread of cakes at the tea beforehand – so very many thanks to those who had provided these.

Among the nine magnificent hymns and songs that we sang, one was very special to Alf and Joan, two members of the congregation. The hymn was "O perfect love" and they had sung it at their wedding, 61 years ago this week.

The author of this hymn, Dorothy Gurney, is known to have written only this hymn. However she was a poet and is well-known for the quotation "One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere on earth" which comes from her poem "God's garden." When her sister was getting married the family was singing favourite hymns and regretted that the words to the bride's favourite, with the tune "Strength and Stay," were not suitable for a wedding. Could Dorothy write something? In five minutes she was back with these words. As has happened with many of the best hymns, she claimed to have sensed God's inspiration. Ironically, the tune now used is a different one – by Sir Joseph Barnby.

The hymn speaks of God’s perfect love and prays that, as the couple approach God, they may know his love and share it in their homes, whatever life may bring.

O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
Lowly we kneel in prayer before Thy throne,
That theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
Whom Thou forevermore dost join in one.

O perfect Life, be Thou their full assurance,
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.

Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
And to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
That dawns upon eternal love and life.

Hear us, O Father, gracious and forgiving,
Through Jesus Christ, Thy coeternal Word,
Who, with the Holy Ghost, by all things living
Now and to endless ages art adored.

The miracles of Jesus – signs of love and power

In the morning services at St Paul's this month, we are looking at five of Jesus' miracles. What lies behind them? Why did Jesus bother do them? What was their significance?

On 7 August, in a sermon entitled "All you can Eat" we considered Jesus feeding the crowd of more than 5000. This was the background to Jesus' statement "I am the bread of life" and we considered how he nourishes us spiritually day by day.

Next week, 14 August, "Imaginative Faith" considered Jesus stilling of the storm raging on Lake Galilee. Following that, Peter's faith was so raised that he could imagine himself obeying Jesus invitation to come and walk with him on the water. However, that walk didn't last long before Peter’s faith dipped and he slipped below the waves. But Jesus was quick to restore him – as he does us.

And this week, on 21 August we considered Jesus healing of the blind man in John's gospel chapter 9 under the title "I see what you mean" we considered the wonder of sight and all that this man was missing. But as Jesus went on to say "I am the light of the world" we saw that his ability to heal physical blindness enabled him to claim a right to heal spiritual blindness. And the challenge to us is to now see the world in the same way that Christ sees it.

To read the transcripts of these sermons click here.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Where are you with Jesus? Now face-to-face.

Jane Marie Lillian Sawbridge
11 July 1955 – 25 July 2011

When Jane first visited St Paul's in 1992, she got into conversation with the person in the next seat. "Where are you with Jesus?" he asked. As Jane considered that question she was gradually drawn to faith in Jesus as the one who died for her and loved her and accepted her. She became a vital member of St Paul's and subsequently married another member, Jim. After that, she was deeply involved in the church's work among babies, children and teenagers. She remained a member of the music group until her death from a rapidly progressive illness. Ten days before her death she had still insisted in joining the church family at a regular Sunday morning Communion service.

On Friday 5 August St Paul's was packed for her funeral with members of the congregation, family and friends. The service was led by the vicar, the Revd Steve Bailey and the sermon was given by the Revd Brian Robertson who had worked with Jane and Jim in the youth work when he was vicar here. Brian preached from Psalm 121 showing how it was Jane's testimony that her help came from the Lord. But the psalm also challenged the rest of us: "the Lord will keep you from all evil." That is the help we need.

There was also a tribute to Jane by Dr Margaret Barnes-Davies who had known her as a co-worker in church activities and as a friend and prayer partner. Margaret had also been grateful to Jane for her services as a childminder. After the close of the service, Jane was buried alongside her three-year-old daughter, Becky Jane in Blaby Cemetery.

Many were the memories of Jane that were exchanged over the refreshments afterwards. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband, Jim, her son, Richard, her step-children and other members of the family.

We grieve our loss but we rejoice that Jane is now face-to-face with the Lord she loved.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

New Service Programme for August & September

The service programme for St Paul's forthe next two months has now been published. Link. In it, our new Vicar, Steven Bailey, writes:

It is a real pleasure and delight to be with you all in
Oadby as part of the Church here at St. Paul’s. Thankyou for making us, as a family, all feel so welcome.

As we journey together through the summer holiday
season and the start of the autumn term we continue to follow some of the readings from the Essential 100 book.

I know many of you have been working through this in
your home groups or individually. May I encourage you, if like me you have not finished the book, to keep going.

Through August and into September we are going to be focusing on the miracles of Jesus using the 5 passages suggested in the E100 book. We pause for a week to join with friends at St Peter’s for a parish communion over the Bank Holiday weekend.

On the 18th September we celebrate Harvest together as
we thank God for his faithful provision year by year and also remember those in need.

The following Sunday is Back to Church Sunday and I
would strongly encourage you to consider prayerfully who you could invite to come along. Do take an invitation nearer the time and pass it on to as many people as you can think of.

In the evening of the 25th we are fortunate enough to be
welcoming the newly appointed Bishop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Stanley Hotay, to a special evening service. Come along and hear from our link diocese in Tanzania.

My prayer is that together we can grow as the family of God as we learn from His word and live it out in our daily lives.

In Christ,

Steve

Revd Steve Bailey

Friday, 22 July 2011

It's the holiday season


As the schools have broken up and families go off on holiday I hope that this can be a time of rest and refereshment for many. However, the summer time can also be a lonely time for those who miss the fellowship and company of friends as various groups take a break. St Paul's is open and ready to welcome you week by week.

For those who are looking for a good book to read on these lazy summer days I would recommend Essential 100 the Scripture Union book of 100 selected Bible readings that we as a church have been working through this year. Bite sized chunks of scripture with a helpful explaination that will give you a good overview.

Happy reading, safe travelling, hope you have a good break and come back refreshed!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Meet the Baileys


It seemed a good idea when we first discussed it. ‘After Steve’s licensing we should have a get together so that everyone in the parish can come and meet the family!’

Sheridan and Gilda were asked to provide a barbecue and we set aside Sunday 10th July to have a meal together and use the church, car park and Barnabas for our venue. As the day approached the weather was decidedly mixed and I for one began to worry that it would rain. We closed off the car park in the expectation that we would be eating outside, and began our service at 10.00am. It still looked dodgy.

However by 12.00pm the sun was beating down and everyone who came had a great opportunity to eat burgers and sausages cooked to perfection . Thanks to Gilda and Sheridan for their expertise and cooking skills. I don’t know what Steve and Angie thought of it all, but 90 people were able to enjoy the sunshine and their company. Sometime later I managed to return home and have a sit down.

Monday, 18 July 2011

St Paul's to welcome Bishop Stanley Hotay of Tanzania

Leicester Diocese has links with several other dioceses across the Anglican Communion. Apart from links in Japan and India, one has been with the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania. This large diocese has now been divided in two, Mount Kilimanjaro and Kiteto and the bishops from both have been invited to attend the Leicester Diocese Clergy Conference in October.

One of those bishops, the newly consecrated Stanley Hotay, from Mount Kilimanjaro, will be with us, at St Paul's, for a 6:30 p.m. evening service on Sunday 25 September, when he will preach. We look forward to welcoming him and showing him what life is like at St Paul's is like.


It will be good to meet with Bishop Stanley as the leader of a church in a very different situation to our own: rich in spiritual life and growing in numbers, while poor financially and short of many physical necessities.


Do take this opportunity to come and hear more about another part of the Worldwide Church

Friday, 8 July 2011

Greetings from our New Vicar, Revd Steve Bailey


Welcome to St Paul's, Oadby. We know that you will experience a warm and friendly welcome here from the worshipping community, because we have experienced it ourselves. Part of the joy of being part of the Christian family is that you are never far from friends, even if you have never met them before. We are so thankful for all that has been done to welcome us here. As we continue to settle in, get to know people and places and learn lots we are excited about all that God has in store. We look forward to sharing in His ministry under the guidance of His Spirit. Do come along and join with us as a church on the journey God has for us, you really will be made to feel most welcome!


Thursday, 30 June 2011

Lots of Promises

Last night, 29 July 2011, the Right Revd Christopher Boyle, Leicester's Assistant Bishop, licensed the Revd Steve Bailey as the new Team Vicar in the parish of Oadby, with particular responsibility for St Paul's.

The two churches in Oadby parish are St Peter and St Paul and it was fitting that 29 June is the Feast of St Peter and St Paul (the day when these major pioneers of the early church are remembered). In his charge, Bishop Boyle encouraged Steve to model his ministry on theirs – Peter's declaration that Jesus was the Christ and Paul's exposition of how this would work in practice.

It was a time of great joy with an opportunity to praise God in song for his provision of Steve. It was also a time of mumbo-jumbo as the obligatory legal documents had to be read out. But above all, it was a Service of promises:
Will you (Steve) reaffirm the promises you made when you ordained… "I will."
Will you…. Preach the gospel of Christ and minister His holy sacraments? "By the help of God, I will."

And then, as different symbols of the church's life were brought forward, Steve invited the church members to promise, with him, their commitment:
a. a Bible – to proclaim the Gospel (good news) of new life;
b. water for baptism – to make disciples of all nations;
c. bread and wine – to join regularly in Holy Communion;
d. oil – to join in the Ministry of reconciliation and healing;
e. a book of Common Worship – to commit themselves to united prayer.

With the members of the Ministry Team around him (Ordained Clergy, Readers (Lay Ministers), Pastoral Worker Youth Worker), Steve was asked whether he would work with them to further God's kingdom in this parish: "Yes, with the help of God, I will." The Ministry Team was then asked the same question about working with Steve and again replied: "Yes, with the help of God, I will."

These are all weighty promises, both for Steve and for the members of St Paul's congregation. As we go forward together into this new era of our church's life, may we fulfil the promises of commitment that we have made and may we pray for Steve, that the Holy Spirit of God may give him the strength to fulfil his promises.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Welcome Steve and Angie

The long wait is nearly over. After a year without a Team Vicar at St Paul's, we are about to welcome a new one. At 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 29 June, during what we anticipate to be a service of great joy, Leicester's Assistant Bishop, Christopher Boyle, will license Revd Steve Bailey as Team Vicar in the Parish of Oadby, with particular responsibility here at St Paul's.

Since studying at St John's College, Nottingham, Steve has been serving as a curate at Walton on Thames. We look forward to welcoming many who have been in his congregation there. Hopefully, the motorway will be running freely!

During the service there will be the opportunity for local dignitaries and churches to say “Welcome!” But no welcome will be as profound as that from the congregation at St Paul’s. Those of us, lay and ordained, who take part in the Ministry here, are delighted (and relieved!) that Steve is coming to lead us forward.

Steve and Angie, his wife, and their two children, have already moved to Oadby and are getting to know the area as they explore the local shops and schools.

Our prayer is that, under Steve's leadership, the good news of God's love for everyone, shown in Jesus, may spread widely in our community.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Welcome Jane

In my blog on 15 June, I wrote of the privilege of being part of the worldwide church – a church that is not limited by national borders and which is made up of every race, all serving the Lord Jesus. This Sunday, 26 June, we welcome Jane Jerrard, who works with the church in Pakistan, in Hyderabad, supporting village schools.

Through the Associate Minister of this parish, Revd Paskal Clement, who hails from Pakistan, we are very aware of the suffering of Christians there. We heard with grief of the murder of a Christian minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, and the murder of a prominent politician, Salman Taseer, who, as a Muslim, spoke up for Christians’ rights.

So it is a privilege to have Jane with us on Sunday morning, when she will give an illustrated talk in the service about her work. She will also update us of the needs of the Christian church in Pakistan. Do come along!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

I believe in the holy catholic Church

In most of our services on a Sunday morning at St Paul's, the congregation shares in saying a "creed" or an affirmation of faith. This frequently includes the words: "I believe in the holy catholic Church." In this sense the creed is not referring specifically to the Roman Catholic Church but using the word catholic in the sense of universal – the universal Church – the church worldwide.

I was recently on holiday in Hong Kong and as I was worshipping in church on Sunday, it was wonderful to see this phrase as a reality. In the congregation there were Christians from China, Britain, Korea, South Africa, America and many other countries, all praising God together. It was a reminder of the verse in the book of Revelation "by (Christ's) blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). There in Hong Kong, worshipping with those of such different backgrounds, it was good to join in that unity.

Here at St Paul's we are privileged to have some such diversity. Apart from those of British background, there are those originally from India, Singapore and Nigeria (and probably others). It is important that we remember that Christ died for all. We believe in the holy catholic Church.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Keep Going!

Eddie Izzard made a guest appearance (albeit in video form) at St. Paul’s last Sunday. During our ‘All Together Worship’ we looked back to 2009 and his huge achievement of completing seven weeks of back-to-back marathon runs. He covered more than 1,100 miles by running 43 marathons in 51 days and, in keeping with the theme of our service, he truly did ‘Keep Going’.
We finished our series of readings from Peter’s first letter to the early Christian Church and reflected on the fact that being a follower of Jesus does not exempt us from suffering nor does it guarantee us an easier life. What it does promise is a very real hope for the future; but more than that, a hope which sustains us in the day to day business of living and serving just as Jesus did. Like Eddie Izzard, we may need to dig deep to find the grit, determination and sheer ‘stickabililty’ to keep going, but God has promised that we don’t do it alone. He has promised to be with us always, until the very end of time.
We will be celebrating this promise next Sunday, 12 June, in our 10am service marking Pentecost; the day when the Holy Spirit empowered the followers of Jesus to keep going in every circumstance of life.
Do join us – you will be made very welcome.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Welcome!

Christian Aid week commences on Sunday 15 May and we look forward to welcoming Christian Aid workers Martin Gage and Lelise Duga to our 10am service at St. Paul’s.

A former member of our church family, Martin worked for 15 years in the local voluntary sector before rejoining Christian Aid in January this year. He will be preaching on the shepherd’s love for the sheep from our reading in John 10.1-10. Martin is a very gifted preacher with the ability to stir and gently challenge his listeners - be prepared!

Lelise Duga holds a degree in Foreign Languages and Literature in addition to a Master’s degree in Health Monitoring and Evaluation. Married with two children, she has spent six years working with churches and interfaith groups in Development and HIV work. She will be sharing her experiences of her role as an HIV and Health Program Officer in Ethiopia.

Do come and join us to hear from two people with a real heart and compassion for the sick, the poor and the disadvantaged. We look forward to welcoming you.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Farewell!

Yesterday's All Together Worship service was also an opportunity to say farewell to Sandhya and her family as they move back to India. Derek, one of our children's workers, presented some small gifts on behalf of St. Paul's and led us in prayer for the family. They go back to India and to a new phase of 'Living the Life', accompanied by our love and good wishes.

Live the Life!

Are you a list-maker? Or someone who prefers being a little less ‘organised’?
And, anyway, what do lists have to do with holiness? And what, exactly, is holiness?
Yesterday, in our ‘All Together Worship’ service, Neil Griffiths encouraged us to think about the lists which we use in our everyday lives and to see if they help in our understanding of living holy lives; of obeying God’s command to ‘Stand out as outstanding, like I (God) do’.

A list of eleven points was suggested to us (amongst which were regular times of prayer and Bible reading, meeting together and encouraging one another, caring for each other) and, not entirely by coincidence, this list led to some participation by the congregation. The picture shows what happened when the letters written on the back of the eleven points were rearranged - the theme of our service then became clear, ‘Live the Life’.

As Christians we are called to reflect God’s holiness in this world. As the writer Rob Lacey puts it, ‘The one who picked you stands out as Pure, right through. So you are to stand out from the crowd in everything you get into. Like it says, Stand out as outstanding, like I do'.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Greetings to William and Kate from St Paul's

Many of our church family will have been watching the Royal wedding today – and what a wonderful mixture of colour. pomp and informality it was. In his sermon, the Bishop of London quoted Catherine of Siena: "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." What a wonderful thought! The God who wants us to know him as Abba (Daddy) has plans for us that would set the world ablaze.
Richard Chartres made the interesting observation that: "As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life.” Sadly, those expectations are often inadequate as the recent history of Royal weddings has shown.
May our prayer for William and Kate be that their marriage may be long and happy as each supports the other and that they may know the reality of the risen Christ supporting them in their future lives.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

He is not Here!

Leading a packed church on Easter Sunday morning, Paskal Clement began by asking people what the words were on the display in the entrance (photo here). When a guess, "He is Risen," failed, someone hurriedly went out to look. "He is not here, He is risen." These were the words of the Angel to the women who went looking for Jesus in the tomb. This is the Christian message on Easter day. We went on to read those words in Matthew's Gospel chapter 28.

In the sermon, Hugh pointed out the two very different attitudes: the faithful women seeking to serve Jesus, and the worried Jerusalem authorities concocting a story of a body snatch with the soldiers. Both agreed that the tomb was empty. Jesus was not there. Much as the authorities might have liked to produce a body to support their story, they could not.


This is the miracle that shows that Christ's death on the cross to allow all who wish to, to receive life in all its fullness, in fellowship with God, was an act that had been accepted by God the Father. This is the good news, the "gospel" that the church exists to proclaim.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Early Summer Services 2011 - Our New Programme



Our new vicar, Stephen Bailey, with his wife Angie, and their children, Samuel and the newly born Joel, will be moving to Oadby in June. Steve's licensing as Team Vicar in the parish of Oadby will take place at St Pauls, at 7:30 p.m. on 29 June. Our prayers are with them as they make this big move here from Walton on Thames on the outskirts of London.


But while we await Steve's arrival, there is much to be excited about in our worship here at St Paul's. In May, we continue to celebrate the wonder of Christ's Resurrection and start a series of sermons based on Peter's first letter. Then we celebrate Pentecost when the coming of the Holy Spirit initiated the birth of the Church. And the week after that is Trinity Sunday when we celebrate the wonder of how the One God is expressed in "Three Persons" – wonderful, but something that we all struggle to understand.


Following that, we are picking up some ideas that came from the "100 Essential Readings (E 100)" that many will soon be finishing. There will be a series of five sermons on Jesus' teaching and later a series of five on his miracles.


So come and join us as we wait to see where God will take us next.


Get tour copy of the rogramme here

Friday, 22 April 2011

Make Way for the King!

It was Palm Sunday on Sunday 17 April. We were celebrating Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but were also considering the whole story of Christ's Passion. The two themes were linked in the palm crosses that everyone received as they entered church. The palm leaf reminded us of the palm leaves and other objects that the Jerusalem crowd strewed in front of the donkey, carrying the Messiah. Twisting the palm leaf into the form of a cross reminded us that five days later that crowd would have rejected Jesus and he would be dying for us on the cross.
In our first hymn, "Make Way" children and their parents followed our Rector, Michael Rusk, around the church, waving their Palm Crosses. We then had a prolonged reading of all of the Passion story from St Matthew's Gospel. In his sermon, Michael Rusk reminded us of the centrality of the cross in our faith and the importance of being known as Christians. He encouraged us to leave our palm crosses in prominent places which might encourage others to ask what they meant, so that we could explain our faith.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

To eat or not to eat?

Each Saturday in Lent one of the churches in Oadby hosts a "Lent lunch," which is open to members of all the churches. Saturday 9 April was our turn to play host. Thank you so much to those who produced a tasty range of soups which combined with cheese and rolls and tea or coffee. However, this was not only an opportunity to get to know friends from other churches but as the donations went to Christian Aid, those in greatest need benefited as well.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Welcome Joel !


We are delighted to hear that Steve and Angie's new baby, Joel Andrew arrived at 10:55am on Sunday 3rd April, weighing in at 7lb 2oz.

Steve, who will be licensed as team vicar at St Paul's on 29 June sent us this photo and thanked us for our prayers.
We are really looking forward to the whole family joining us.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Mothers Matter!


Comfortably replete from the "Breakfast at Barney's" breakfast, we joined the 10.00 a.m. Mothering Sunday service, led by our Associate Minister, Paskal Clement. The first reading reminded us how Hannah brought up the baby Samuel to be dedicated to the Lord, while the second reminded us of Jesus’ concern for his mother, even while dying on the cross.


Paskal explained the origins of "Mothering Sunday," when servant girls were allowed to return home on the fourth Sunday of Lent and present a posy to their mothers. Then he spoke of the crucial role that both the women in our readings played in developing the spiritual life of their children. Mothers today have the same responsibility in introducing their children to the love of God in Jesus.


During the final hymn, our youngsters distributed little pots of primulas to all the ladies in the congregation.



O, Mama Mia – Men Serve!


It probably didn't escape your notice that Sunday 3 April was Mothering Sunday. But it was also the day when we were due to have our monthly "Breakfast at Barney's" – a cooked English (or continental) breakfast in the church's Barnabas Centre. Not much rest for the ladies, headed by our churchwarden, Anita Chettle, who are normally responsible. So, to show our appreciation for all that the ladies do throughout the year, the men took over – cooking and serving.


Everyone was well served and the standard did not drop as the men showed their ability. If you are free at 8:30 a.m. on the second Sunday (usually) of the month, do come and join us. We charge £3.00 and the profit goes to Christian Aid.



Thursday, 31 March 2011

O Lord, How Great You Are!

Nearly 50 people gathered at St Paul's on Sunday evening 27 March for our second "Songs of Praise." It was an enjoyable opportunity to worship God, but also to learn why particular Christian Songs and Hymns had become especially memorable to different members of the church during their walk with Christ. Several of the hymns were based on the oldest Christian/Jewish songs, the Psalms. This included the very popular hymn: "O Lord my God! when I in awesome wonder..." For some reason the hymnbook we use, like many others, record this as a Russian hymn. In fact, we discovered that it was written by the Swede Carl Boberg in 1885 after a walk in which he had seen many of the wonders of God manifest in nature – sunshine, storm, lightning, rainbow, birdsong and many others. On his return home, he was reminded of Psalm 8 which begins: "O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens." Boberg's hymn was sung to a traditional Swedish tune and rapidly became popular in Swedish nonconformist churches.


From Swedish, it was translated into German and Russian and then, in the 1920s into English, in a translation which never became popular. The translation we know is by Stuart Hine and dates from 1953. It was used at the Billy Graham Rallies, which made it well known.


Stuart Hine also composed two additional verses, which we sang as well.


O when I see ungrateful man defiling


This bounteous earth, God's gifts so good and great;


In foolish pride, God's holy Name reviling,


And yet, in grace, His wrath and judgment wait.


When burdens press, and seem beyond endurance,


Bowed down with grief, to Him I lift my face;


And then in love He brings me sweet assurance:


'My child! for thee sufficient is my grace'.


Many of the other seven songs and hymns that we sang would also merit discussion in detail, as this is just one example. Sunday evening was a great time, worshipping a Great God.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Brothers and Sisters Under Threat

On Wednesday 2 March, Pakistan's Government Minister for minority religions, Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed by gunmen who shot him on his way to work in Islamabad. That is obviously a tragedy for his family, but why should the death of one man in notoriously unstable Pakistan matter to St Paul's Church in Oadby? I believe that there are at least four reasons.

1. Mr Bhatti, a Christian, was almost certainly killed because of his opposition to the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan. This law, designed to protect the honour of the Prophet Mohammed, has frequently been mischievously used to settle grudges between Muslims and their non-Muslim neighbours. The law is framed in such a way that it is extremely difficult for a non-Muslim to defend themself and the penalty is extreme, even death. As a minister for minority religions it was obviously appropriate that Mr Bhatti should be seeking to amend it. So any Democrat should be concerned at this case where a man was killed in the course of his duty.


2. This is the second such killing of a high level politician who opposed this law (the other being a Provincial Governor, Salman Taseer). It reflects the atmosphere in which all Christians in Pakistan must live – the fear of being denounced under this law and the threat of death itself. As Christians, these are our brothers and sisters and we must seek to make their plight known and hold them before God in prayer.


3. We are privileged to have a Pakistani, Revd Paskal Clement, as an Associate Minister in our parish and St Paul's frequently benefits from his services. These threats to the Christian minority in Pakistan are threats to Paskal's friends and family as well. Our prayers and thoughts are with both Paskal and them.


4. The parish has a link with Jane Gerrard who works with the church in Pakistan. Those threats for Christians are also a threat for Jane and her co-workers.


So, our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr Bhatti's family and to the whole Christian community in Pakistan. Our prayer is that the Blasphemy Law may indeed be amended.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther(1809-1891)

In an earlier blog, (We have seen a great light) I reported how on 23 January, 2011, our preacher of the day, Emmanuel Oladipo, talked of the work of the first Black Anglican Bishop, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and how his family had been influenced to put their faith in Jesus Christ through Samuel Crowther's work.


Following that, I got an e-mail from our former vicar, Simon Harvey, telling us of the close connections that his new church, St Mary's Islington had with Bishop Crowther, who had attended St Mary's School in Islington and had studied at the CMS (Church Mission Society) College in the parish. Simon Harvey subsequently sent me a copy of a leaflet "Crowther's Journey," produced by the Southwark Centre :Pensioners Black History Group. This leaflet revealed that Samuel Crowther had actually been ordained at St Mary's and had returned there in 1870, to ordain his son, Dandeson.


Members of the group expressed their comments in the leaflet. They were delighted to find such an eminent role model and some, who hailed from Nigeria, were already aware of Crowther's work in evangelism, Bible translation and African literacy. However, others, from Sierra Leone, where Crowther had first been freed when a slave and received his initial Christian and secular education and undertaken much work, were surprised that they had never been told of him. There was pleasure that although taking a "Christian" name at his baptism, he had retained the Yoruba name "Ajayi."


Emmanuel Oladipo has been invited to preach at St Mary's Islington and talk about Bishop Crowther.

Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther -- Timeline

1809 Born in Osogun, Yorubaland, Nigeria

1821 Kidnapped and sold to slave-traders

Rescued by the Royal Navy Anti-Slavery Patrol
and taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone

1825 Baptised and takes the name Samuel Ajayi Crowther

1826 Travels to London to attend Islington Parish School

1827 Attends Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Marries Susan Asano Thompson at age 18 years

1841 Accompanies an anti-slavery mission up the River Niger

1842 Returns to England to be ordained as a minister

1843 Receives Holy Orders from the Bishop of London

Starts to translate the Bible into Yoruba

1848 Is reunited with his mother Afala, who is christened with his sister

1857 Writes an Ibo language primer

1864 Compiles a Nupe language dictionary and grammar
Awarded a doctorate in Divinity from Oxford University and received by Queen Victoria

Consecrated Bishop of the Niger at Canterbury Cathedral

1870 Personally ordains his son Dandeson in 1870 at St. Mary Islington

1877 Wife Susan dies, survived by two son and three daughters

1891 Dies from a stroke on New Year's Eve

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

We have a date for Steve’s Licensing Service

Bishop Christopher will conduct the service of licensing of the Revd Steve Bailey on Wednesday 29 June at St Paul’s Church at 7.30pm.

Please continue to pray for Steve, his wife Angie, and son Samuel as they await the birth of their new baby in April and prepare to move to Oadby.