Sunday, 26 August 2012

Bring on the Paralympics

The Paralympics are upon us – a wonderful reminder of the value of the lives of people who may be disabled in one aspect but are marvellously able in others. (For those who are PC minded, I am sorry about the word "disabled" but at least people know what it means and I find the word "alternatively abled" ludicrous.)

Celebrating the value of disabled people is something that is at the core of the Christian message. Christ made it clear that he did not come for the fit and healthy but for those who had needs – in whatever aspect of their life that might be. It's a message that is reinforced at St Paul's when visitors may be surprised to find the service being led by myself, as one of its lay ministers, from a wheelchair.

When I joined St Pauls, the then vicar, Brian Robertson, asked me what I could offer to St Paul's and then asked: "have you ever thought of becoming a lay reader (a lay minister). When I suggested that I had dismissed the idea as I was in a wheelchair, his response was that if this was from God, the problems could be overcome. I have now served St Paul's as a lay reader for eight years.

Society has often been very slow to recognise the value of people with disabilities – as was shown in the recent BBC film "The Best of Men." And, despite the words of Jesus, the church has often been slow to do that, too. But, praise God, when society and the church actually do realise the immense value of those with disabilities. So it's wonderful, now, to be celebrating in the Paralympics, the skills of those who have overcome immense problems.

I am sure that we will all be looking forward to watching their athleticism.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Going for Gold

Our monthly All Age Service, today, coincided with the final day of the Olympics. No one was in doubt as they arrived that this was to be special as the church was decked in bunting and flags.

Early in the service, the children carried models of the Olympic flame around the outside of the church, reminding us that just as the Olympic torch brought good news of the coming Olympics, so we have good news of the love of Christ to pass on.

The international aspect of both the Olympics and the Christian church was reflected in a quiz in which the congregation identified 10 national flags. (They were a bit slow on Burundi). Then the children brought forward a number of national flags and placed them in containers on the Holy Table.

Another quiz identified which of 10 actions found in the Bible are the basis of an Olympic sport To some people's surprise, these included archery, sailing and the javelin. However, synchronised swimming missed out!

During our talk, we looked at the way that St Paul used the analogy of an athlete training, running the race, and receiving a prize as teaching on the way that we should be prepared to run the Christian race with its final glorious prize of being in the presence of God.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Celebrating a Marriage

St Pauls is not a pretty mediaeval country church, as a result, we are not inundated with wedding services. So last Saturday was special, when we had the joy of the marriage of Eleanor to Lewis. Eleanor’s mother is our current churchwarden, while her father is one of our readers (lay ministers) and a former warden. So this was very much a family occasion for the church. Lewis is an enthusiastic footballer and his team colleagues contributed to the squash in the packed church.

Steve reminded us that marriage is a God-given gift for society and he spoke of four different aspects of love (that are actually different words in Greek) and how Eleanor and Lewis will need all of them in their life together.

We wish them all God's blessings in the future.