Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Joint Service – God of Mercy – God of Surprises

The August Bank Holiday is always a quiet time of year. We therefore took the opportunity to combine the 10 o’clock congregations of both St Peter’s and St Paul’s, resulting in a packed service at St Paul’s. This was led by our vicar, Steve Bailey, and our rector, Michael Rusk, preached.
Michael turned our thoughts to Luke’s account of Jesus’ healing a woman who had stooped badly for many years. To the Pharisees, this had to be wrong because it was done on the Sabbath day. Michael pointed out Jesus‘ concern for this woman’s need – despised as a woman and suffering from her disability. This was more important than the traditions. We were challenged to lay aside preconceptions when seeing what God was doing.

It was good to worship together before beginning all the activities of the autumn season.


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury at New Wine

I have just listened to an interview of Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, given at New Wine this summer. Here is a link. It is well worth a listen.

Of the many things that struck me was the phrase, "the church is not a refuge for saints but a home for sinners." This comment was made about churches that try and get everything internal sorted before reaching out to those around them. He spoke about how we sometimes put off doing those things we know we should do yet are less than enthusiastic about. He even admits to ironing socks to delay getting down to writing an important talk!

His encouragement was to keep pressing on with Kingdom work recognising that when you put a load of sinners together you don't get saints, it's not multiplication but addition.

May God give us the grace and courage to press on with his Kingdom work. May we not be so inward focused that we forget the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Imagine Church

This summer I have encouraged the church to read the book 'Imagine Church: Releasing Whole Life Disciples' by Neil Hudson. I am delighted that over 40 copies of the book have been taken and read.

On the 8th September we begin a new Sermon Series called 'Life on the Frontline'. This will tie in with a 6 week course of the same name designed for equipping whole life disciples. Again written by Neil Hudson it takes the principles of his book and helps us to put them into practise.

Our Home Groups will be doing a follow up study looking at the material in greater depth.

Re-reading the book myself in preparation I was struck again by this quote from Bonhoeffer contained within the book, 'Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.'

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Peace on Earth?

Our service this morning was led by Neil Griffiths, a member of our church who is training for the ordained ministry and our preacher was another of our members, Emmanuel Oladipo, who travels worldwide in his retirement, with the Langham Trust, training Christian ministers to use the Bible in their preaching.

Emmanuel dealt with the tension between the Christmas message of “Peace on Earth” and the reality of a world torn apart by strife and of Christians frequently being persecuted for their faith. He showed us how Jesus has already predicted this in his teaching and of how Old Testament, “Men of Faith” had, before then, suffered persecution and death.

He illustrated the persecution of Christians by some of his experiences as he had travelled, such as to South Sudan.

He explained how we were involved in the battle between good and evil, between Christ and Satan. That is seen both on the world stage and also in our daily lives. But ultimately, we look forward to Christ’s reign of peace.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Come, Dine with Me!

After the morning service, yesterday, many of the church joined together in Knighton Park for a picnic. A great time was had and we were blessed with glorious weather. After the food, adults and children joined together in a game of French cricket. Another attraction was the ice cream van, not far away! 

Food is often an occasion of not just eating, but also of friendship, fellowship and joy. The Bible is full of examples of meals – from picnics like the feeding of the 5000 to the great banquet, which is a symbol of heaven. Their great characteristic is that all are invited.

Certainly, laughter and joy were much in evidence yesterday.

Do You like It?

Most of the Halls of Residence of the University of Leicester are in our parish. And at the back of them, running down to the London road, are the University’s Botanical Gardens. These are well worth a visit at any time of the year, but of special interest at present is the display of sculptures that are set out in them.

They are well worth a visit – a variety of different pieces of Modern Art. Inevitably, we will all prefer some more than others. It’s a matter of personal preference. But it’s good to see the range.

Perhaps, that’s a bit like Church Music. In St Paul’s, we try to have a variety, from songs led with guitars and drums, to traditional hymns, led by the organ. Inevitably, just as with art, some people will prefer particular styles. But, unlike us, God is pleased to hear our worship, whatever our style may be.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Telling your story

On Sunday one of our congregation, Ruth Smith, preached for the first time. Ruth reminded us all of the uniqueness and importance of our own stories. 1 Peter 3.15 says 'Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.'

Ruth also drew inspiration from an Emeli Sandé song, Read all about it part 3, that featured in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games last year, see a clip of the Jubilee Performance here, and with the words here. In the song we are reminded that it is good to share our story and we need to be brave to do so - to have a heart like a lion.

Our other passage, Matthew 28.16-20 reminded us that God is with us always. Ruth encouraged us to ask one another what our faith stories are so that we could practise sharing them.

It was an excellent sermon, encouraging and thought provoking with good examples grounded in reality.

Monday, 5 August 2013

All Things Richly to Enjoy

Bradgate Park is one of the natural gems of Leicestershire. Like many other people, I visited it recently with my family. With children running, playing ball games, building dams, scooting and cycling, and adults just watching the many deer, walking or relaxing in the sunshine, it was a fine example of people enjoying “staycations.” 

We owe this gem to a Coal Magnate, Charles Bennion who used his great wealth to buy the Bradgate estate and then give it “for the quiet enjoyment of the people of Leicestershire.” Money can be hoarded, or it can be given away for the benefit of others. One thing is certain, we cannot take it with us when we die. Charles Bennion made a wise decision. 

As St Paul wrote to his assistant, Timothy: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” God has given us so much: all the wonders of creation, and the gift of Jesus Christ. What will we give him – and others?