Sunday, 25 January 2009

St Paul's Day nonsense

I introduced the service this morning with a medieval rhyme for St Paul's Day, 25 January:
If Saint Paul's day be fair and clear,
It doth betide a happy year;
If blustering winds do blow aloft,
Then wars will trouble our realm full oft,
If clouds or mist do dark the sky,
Great store of birds and beasts shall die;
And if by chance to snow or rain,
Then will be dear all sorts of grain.
The weather was decidedly grotty this morning, so there was much rejoicing when we concluded that this was a lot of nonsense.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Prayers at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama

Watching prayers on television is rather peculiar. I'm not completely sure whether I should close my eyes, or say an 'Amen'. I watched (eyes open) the inauguration of Barack Obama this week and have tracked down the prayers that were offered. There's much to agree with and it was moving to see the beginnings of a presidency commended to God in prayer. But only one of them caused me to say an out-loud 'Amen'. Can you guess which?

First, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, California:
Let us pray.

Almighty God, our father, everything we see and everything we can't see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you, it all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story.

The Scripture tells us Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one. And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America's peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership.

And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in Heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all.

May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Now the second prayer, from Joseph Lowery, 87 year old civil rights leader:
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand -- true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you're able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed -- the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

Finally, here's New Hampshire's Bishop Gene Robinson, praying at the Opening Inaugural Event:
Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace. Amen

Looking Good Being Bad - The subtle art of churchmanship

I've just had this publicity from Saltmine:

An Evening with Adrian Plass & Saltmine Theatre Company
Comedy, theatre and churchmanship all in this hilarious and thought provoking night of entertainment The magazine-style show will consist of sketches and music highlighting some of Adrian’s best material over the years as well as chat with both Adrian and Bridget Plass.
The second half will also give the audience the opportunity to hear extracts from Adrian’s new book - Looking Good, Being Bad – The Subtle Art of Churchmanship.

The event takes place at United Reformed Church, Loughborough on 2 March at 7.30pm. Tickets £8 from

Friends of Adullam Homes

I've just returned from a very impressive visit to the Bethany Project, which provides 25 self-contained units of accomodation for women and small children. I met one of the residents, who told me that after staying in a number of hostels, this is by far the best projects she's stayed at.

We're delighted to be strengthening our links with Adullam Homes, and to be a supporter of their residents through our annual toy and gift service. We explored ways in which we might be able to help residents discover more about the possibilities for involvement in church and I have the feeling that this is a relationship that will lead us in to exciting opportunities.

Thanks to Angela, Kirsty and Hazel for their hospitality. We wish them every success for their extraordinary work and we look forward to learning more when they join us on Sunday 8 March at St Paul's.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

A new blog to cover my renewal leave

I've set up a new blog for my renewal leave, so if you want to follow my adventures, both in preparation and on the road, point your browser to
Thanks to everyone for your support in this rather odd venture. Setting up a separate blog will keep personal and church stuff in their own place. Paul has joined me in starting to write for the St Paul's blog, which really ought to be more of a team effort in any case.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Hi everyone,

I am slowly recovering from the trip to the pantomime and thought that you might like to see a photo Oh no I wouldn't..... Coffeepot once again made the trip to Laughborough to visit the Pantomime! It's such a regular occurrence that the Dame called us by name."and then there's a rum lot called coffeepot, we'll have to watch them" The show was the very best with lots of audience participation and plenty of chance to make some noise. The old chestnuts rolled out by the bagful and entering into the spirit of the occasion everyone laughed and joined in. If you haven't been on a trip with Jenny and Gill next year's panto is the one not to miss, Martin Ballard was (as usual) a wonderful dame and the cast were full of fun and energy. Even the genie was good when he stopped laughing at the main characters. The scenery was excellent and the elephant, welllllll......


Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Jesus Rocks Leicester - 17 January 2009

I've just had an email from the good people of the Transfusion team about their forthcoming event, which I'm glad to promote:
We have a superb line-up for this weekend's event on
Saturday 17th January at the Y-Theatre in Leicester.

Transfusion is hosting Jesus Rocks Leicester .

Transfusion aims to bring the message of Jesus to young people across the East Midlands in a challenging and relevant way, using the music ministry of local and national Christian bands.

We aim for each event to be better than the previous one as Transfusion's reputation grows across the East Midlands from event to event.

If you haven't attended a Transfusion Big God Night before then don't miss out this time - book your place today.

Tickets are just £6 in advance, £5 for groups of 10+, or £7.50 on the door.

Call the ticket hotline on 0116 233 7915 email: or visit

We look forward to welcoming you on Saturday.

The Transfusion Team

Thursday, 8 January 2009

2008 - another year of growth in mission through our buildings

2008 saw a record year in the income received through the lettings of our buildings and in the times that they were in use for worship, training, meetings, children's work, and community groups.

We received almost £18000 in income and the buildings were occupied around two-thirds of the available times. £1800 of this income goes straight to support charitable work at home and abroad. The rest is used to pay costs and to support the mission of St Paul's Church in serving our neighbourhood.

People came into our buildings more than ten thousand times in the course of the year.

We praise God that such good work and enterprising use is made of what we have and that so many people engage in worthwhile activities among us.

This wouldn't be possible without hard work by a number of key people behind the scenes. We're very grateful to Wendy, Sue and Cynthia for all that they do to support this vital ministry.