Saturday, 24 November 2007

Christmas services

Principal Services Advent and Christmas 2007

This year, make Christmas what it should really be – a celebration of the greatest gift ever given.

With a wide range of services, Christmas at St Paul’s offers everyone a chance to draw closer to God and to know his grace.

If this is your first Christmas with us, we hope and pray that it will be a really special time. And if you’ve been here before and settled into a pattern, why not try a different service and explore a new dimension of worship?

May God enrich your celebrations with the promise of his love.

2 December 2007 – Advent Sunday
10.00am Holy Communion
The unexpected hour
Romans 13.11-14; Matthew 24.36-44

2 December 2007
8.00pm Holy Space alternative worship
…and God became a man

9 December 2007
10.00am Toy Service and Parade
What do you want for Christmas?
Make someone’s Christmas with a special small gift for a child or young person. Pick up a leaflet from Church and bring your gift to church at this Parade Service for all the family.

16 December 2007
10.00am Holy Communion
John the Baptist prepares the way
James 5.7-10; Matthew 11.2-11

23 December 2007
10.00am Service of the Word
An unexpected pregnancy
Romans 1.1-7; Matthew 1.18-25

23 December 2007
6.30pm Carols by Candlelight
Our annual candlelit carol service with traditional favourites and readings that reveal the significance of the child born in Bethlehem.

Christmas Eve
4.00pm – 5.00pm Christingle Service
With the preparations for Christmas Day almost ready, come and join us for a wonderful celebration of the Nativity for all ages.

Christmas Eve
11.30pm – 12.45am Midnight Communion
The Christ-child is born
Titus 2.11-14; Luke 2.1-14
Approaching midnight, we wait and watch for the promise of the prophets and the message of the angels to be fulfilled – Glory to God in the Highest!

Christmas Day
10.00am – 11.00am Short Holy Communion
Happy Christmas!
Hebrews 1.1-4; John 1.1-14
At last the longed-for day is here. In a shorter service of Holy Communion we gather to put Jesus at the heart of our celebration of Christmas.

30 December 2007
10.00am Service of the Word
Jesus the refugee
Hebrews 2.10-18; Matthew 2.13-23

Multi-cultural celebrations in December

Albert Mosely writes with details of forthcoming events:

Oadby and Wigston MultiCultural Group are planning two celebrations in December.

Monday Dec 10th - celebration of Hannukah - 6.45 pm outside Tippett's on the Parade, followed by refreshments in Trinity Coffee Lounge.

Wednesday Dec 19th starting outside Tippett's on the Parade
6.30 pm Explanation of the significance of Eid-ul-Adha, remembering Abraham's willingness to obey God even if it meant sacrificing his son.
6.45 pm Explanation of the meaning of Christmas (Rev Mark Cheetham) and the singing of a carol, led by a group of
carol-singers from Trinity
7.00 pm Appropriate refreshments in Trinity Coffee Lounge
7.15 pm The carol singers will go singing round the village - everyone is invited to join them

Friday, 23 November 2007

The Kingdom of God's healed people and communities

Following the recent discussion about recording sermons, it seems there's an interest in starting this again. I recorded last Sunday's sermon in low-tech way (on my mobile phone) and you can hear it by playing this file: Sermon 20071118. The readings for the service were Amos 5.14-24 and Luke 7.18-23. Feel free to add your comments.

The future of Uplands Park

Uplands Park is important to people in Oadby, particularly to those on "our" side of the A6. It's really one big open space, with football and cricket pitches and a pavillion. But apart from these opportunities for organised sport, there really isn't much going on. Sure, many people walk their dogs and the car park seems to be used as a bit of rendezvous place. The skate park was sadly removed after complaints about noise and nuisance (perhaps made worse by its location). Does the park have a future, and if so, in what ways can it best serve the people of the neighbourhood.

Oadby and Wigston Borough Council are holding a series of public consultations with plans for their proposals available for inspection. The next consultation is on Wednesday 28 November in two sessions. The afternoon session (12 to 4pm) is in the Pavillion and the evening session (6pm to 8pm)is here at The Barnabas Centre. Do come and take a look.

Update: 23 November - I received a letter from the Council today with a plan showing a whole range of proposed improvements, including a new Skateboard Park (in a new location and with some landscaping and planing), picnic and natural play areas, sensory play area and basketball provision plus an extended pavillion and lots more. Looks good to me but what do you think?

Would you like a traditional Leicestershire Christmas Breakfast?

Anita writes, "Barney's Christmas Cracker - Our next breakfast will precede the Toy Service on 9 December. This festive event offers a traditional Leicestershire Christmas breakfast in addition to the usual menu. Contact Anita Chettle to book now!"

What on earth is a Leicestershire Christmas breakfast? I guess that with being the snack-foods capital of Britain it must involve crisps or pork, and some form of pastry perhaps. Any ideas? Hit the comment button and let us know...

New ministries begin in Oadby

I met with two new ministers in Oadby this morning. The first is well-known to the community at St Paul's. Revd Mark Battison will be joining the parish team as a Minister in Secular Employment with a specific interest in working with the business community. Mark's licensing will be at St Peter's Church this Sunday, 25 November, at 6.30pm and the Archdeacon of Leicester will conduct the service.

As Mark left my study this morning we welcomed Fr Denis Hough, who joined the RC Church of the Immaculate Conception as priest two weeks ago. Fr Denis comes to the East Midlands from Altrincham, Cheshire, and we look forward to working in partnership in the coming years through Churches Together in Oadby.

It's a time of change for the public ministers of Oadby, as the Oadby Baptist Church continues its search for a new minister, who we hope will be appointed in the coming months.

Oadby's Masterplan and the Bible's vision of urban living

Parish magazine article – December 2007

The newly published Oadby Town Centre “Masterplan” is available for public consultation. I’ve obtained a copy of the full 51-page report and it makes for fascinating reading. Pick up a copy from the council or download a copy. You can offer the council your own thoughts before noon on 21 December 2007.

The “preferred options plan” sets out an analysis of the issues facing Oadby’s town centre and offers a vision for a policy framework, against which future proposals for development will be tested and monitored.

While people will have varying opinions on the specifics, I welcome what appears to be a positive commitment to the improvement of the heart of our town (or “village” if you prefer). And it’s made me reflect on the visions for urban living contained in the Jewish-Christian tradition.

It’s become something of a cliché to note that the Bible begins in a garden and concludes in a city. The paradise of Eden was lost, but the renewed creation which completes the Revelation to John is a city, teeming with life.

This is a little at odds with English sentiment over the last two centuries. The romantic charms of simple rural living have persuaded generations that the “unspoilt countryside” is always better option than the delights of town and city. It needs pointing out, of course, that precious little English countryside could be described as “unspoilt”. Two millennia of organised agriculture have shaped and dressed English hills and fields in a beautiful, but certainly man-made, environment. Still, what could be better than escaping the bustle and noise of the tarmac-covered city streets and breathing fresh country air?

While I love the countryside, I rather feel that for many people its chief attraction is the isolation and opportunity to get away from others. We all need space and places to stretch our legs but I wonder if the desire to flee into the quiet green shires goes further. Could it have something to do with our rather ambivalent attitude towards other people? So here’s the question: Is part of the countryside’s attraction as a place to live that it makes it alright to be just a little anti-social? Do people prefer it because it demands less patience and tolerance than the town?

Urban living brings all the nuisance of cramped social space. Part of the stress of living in towns and cities is the constant negotiation that goes with it. People ‘fight’ for parking spaces, ‘do battle’ with the traffic and contend with ‘neighbours from hell’. Working out how to share space is inevitable in the town and city and often difficult.

But if this is the Achilles’ heel of urban life, it also offers wonderful possibilities.

In the Old Testament era, cities were protected with walls, ramparts and watchtowers. They offered far better security than the outlying scattered settlements. And in large cities, guilds of tradespeople worked together in co-operative enterprise. The security meant that cities were the natural places to build palaces for treasures, places for worship and institutions for learning, space for performance, dance, art and music. No wonder that the blessing of the Promised Land was to exchange the broad open spaces of the “unspoilt” wilderness for the congestions of Jericho – a ready-made gift of urban habitation (albeit with some urgent repairs to do to its walls).

When Jeremiah’s people were later exiled into the foreign city of Babylon, they faced the tough question about whether to participate in it or to sabotage it. God’s message to Jeremiah was that the displaced captives should work for the welfare of the city and all its people. It was possible to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land after all.

Jerusalem was finally restored by Nehemiah, who surveyed her broken walls and shattered places. He followed through with divinely-instituted town-planning and renewed the life of the city in bricks, mortar, worship and prayer. The city could not be left desolate – it simply had to be rebuilt with vision, skill and hard work.

When the apostles took the message of the gospel to the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit guided them to market places and to town squares. And the very fabric of civic life prompted questions – in Athens Paul used a sculpture dedicated to an unknown god to point to the one true God he served. In wealthy Ephesus, with its sophisticated public bath houses and grand aqueducts, he disputed with the guild of silversmiths, who manufactured and traded in the streets surrounding the great temple of Artemis. The names of many New Testament books are the names of city-dwellers that Paul corresponded with: Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Thessalonians, Colossians, Galatians.

The final biblical vision is that of a new city, a heavenly Jerusalem, that is even more spectacular in its life and purpose than in its architecture.

Back to earth and specifically to the little bit of it that’s post-coded “LE2”. Oadby’s “Masterplan” offers a vision for the life of the town in a series of affirmations:

“To establish a distinct and sustainable role for Oadby.

To encourage the growth of economic and social benefits for local people.

To create a safe, distinctive and pedestrian friendly environment.

To achieve an attractive and accessible place to shop, live and work.

To ensure that Oadby reflects high quality and inspirational design.

To link the town, physically and economically, to its catchment.”

These are welcome aspirations. If realised, they will significantly improve the town in which we live. But I can’t help wondering if together we suffer from a lack of imagination about urban (or suburban) living and expect our planners to do all the hard work for us.

Certainly, the project of improving Oadby can’t be compared with Wren’s masterful re-working of London or with Haussman’s transformation of Paris. And thankfully the ambitions of the current generation of provincial planners are more modest than those brutal designers of twentieth century modernism, with its concrete and tower block “machines for living”.

But we need to enlarge our vision for shared civic space. It matters enormously that we create an environment that humanises us and introduces us to our neighbours. This vision must be more than retail opportunity and coffee-stops for the middle-classes. The poor, the young, the elderly and the frail must all share the same social spaces as the leisured and affluent. And our ethnically diverse population ought to be properly represented on Oadby’s town centre streets.

So perhaps the greatest and most effective improvement in Oadby will not be the re-worked spaces but the way we use them. Take a look at the plans. Comment, criticise or applaud them. But whatever we end up with, let’s civilise the urban environment with generous and wholehearted urban living. Let’s not dream of escape to countryside homes from where we’ll commute unsustainably. Put down roots in Oadby’s tarmaced fields. We’ll have a better Oadby yet if we move more gently through her streets, smile more often at strangers, pray for her welfare and cherish the land on which we walk.

Simon Harvey

St Peter's Church Christmas Fair - Saturday 1 December 2007

St Peter's Church are holding their annual Christmas Fair on the morning of 1 December 2007, at the Church and Church Centre.

Hooray Day 26 - Prince of Egypt

The church is full of intriguing displays and games equipment ready for tomorrow's Hooray Day. If you want more information, contact Derek on 0116 271 5765.

Mums and Tots Christmas Party

Stacey and Keely have planned a Christmas Party for St Paul's Mums and Tots on 18 December between 1 and 3 pm. For more information call them on 0116 271 0025 or 07816 403016.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Oadby Town Centre Masterplan

Oadby and Wigston Borough Council have unveiled their "Masterplan" for the development of the centre of Oadby. The period of public consultation has just begun and the plan is available on the Borough's website and as a 51 page PDF.

I welcome the report in principle but have only just begun to read it now, so can't comment on any details. Comments have to be made before 12.00noon on 21 December 2007.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Carols by Candlelight - 23 December 6.30pm

Aileen is drawing together a team of singers for the annual carol service. This is always a special treat and if you're interested in being part of it, do send me an email and I'll forward it. Rehearsals are in the Barnabas Centre as follows: 21st November 7.30pm, Wednesday 28th November 8.15pm, Friday 7th December 7.30pm, Thursday 13th December 8.15pm, Wednesday 19th December 7.30pm. There will also be a practice on 23rd December at 4pm followed by a light tea to sustain the singers for the service.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

DCC Meeting November 2007

This week's DCC meeting focussed on the 2008 church budget, rates for lettings, the Alpha Course and replacements for the storage sheds.

Body Control Pilates for a healthy mind and body – beginners classes

Stephanie Smith writes:

Body Control Pilates for a healthy mind and body – beginners classes

A five week beginners course teaching the basic principles of the Pilates method starts on November 12th , 8pm at the Barnabas Centre, Hamble Road. Oadby.

The Pilates method is growing in popularity as people become aware of the numerous health benefits. Properly taught and regularly practised you can expect to experience -

improved posture; toned, strengthened muscles; increased flexibility; a reduction in neck, shoulder and back pain; you will feel less tense and with a greater sense of wellbeing.

Body Control Pilates is safe and effective for all ages and levels of fitness. I teach small groups to ensure that every body receives close individual attention and exercises safely.

For more information, or to reserve a place on the course please contact Stephanie Smith 07921 385689 or email

Fair Trade

I was asked to confirm that St Paul's remains committed to the use of Fair Trade produce, so that we can retain our status as a Fair Trade Church. I was glad to do so and it's heartening that after many years of campaigning, fairly traded goods are no longer a speciality but have become mainstream. We're experimenting with different brands of fairly traded tea and coffee - so far M&S seem to be the best received.

Don't forget to enjoy a fairly traded cuppa with your cooked breakfast before church this Sunday.

SPCK - Leicester

From the Leicester Diocese email news service, Peter Hebden writes:
SPCK Bookshop, 10 Bishop Street Leicester

We are pleased to announce that from the 1st November 2007 ownership of the SSGCT/SPCK bookshop in Leicester is transferred to Reverend Peter Hebden.

As a consequence we shall once again be able to emphasize the ethos of SPCK and will trade under the name of CHRISTIAN RESOURCES.

The address and telephone numbers remain unchanged but there will be an increase in the use of e-mails for facilitating credit accounts for parishes. Thus the preferred method of ordering, invoicing and statement production for parish accounts will progressively use e-mail thus dramatically reducing the amount of paper being used. There is no need to travel into Leicester just telephone or e-mail your needs.

We are determined to retain and improve this Christian resource centre by serving those whose mission is necessarily rooted in the parishes. For this to succeed and be a foundation for the future we would like all P.C.C.’s to consider if they can use our facility even more than they do at present.

Please contact us (by e-mail if possible) and allow us to open a credit account for your parish even if you may not use it for a while.

Tel; 01162854499 e-mail;

Best wishes from Peter, Janette, Harriet, Alison and Helen.

In addition, The Bishop sends the following message:

I am delighted to add my support and encouragement to this courageous initiative that Peter Hebden is taking to keep the SPCK Bookshop ethos and resource available to us in this Diocese. It is vital that we all maintain our reading and awareness of Christian issues and the presence of a high quality Christian bookshop at the heart of the Diocese is a matter of real interest to all Christians. We owe it to Peter to do our best to support this initiative and to ensure that it does not fail.

This is good news for Christians in Leicester who want the assurance of friendly service and breadth of stock for which its SPCK branch has been known.

Update: Thanks to Dave Walker of CartoonChurch who has lots of information about the SPCK/SSG saga on his blog.

Holy Space - December 2007

The next Holy Space alternative worship event is at St Paul's on Sunday 2 December at 8.00pm. No need to book - just turn up.