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,


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.