Monday, 26 July 2010

Daddy, please!

One thing that I suspect that most Christians agree on is that prayer is very important, but also that prayer is very difficult. This Sunday, 25 July we have been studying what Jesus had to say when the disciples said to him: "Lord, teach us to pray."

We saw that in Luke's Gospel the prayer began with the single word "Father." That probably represented Jesus' much loved term for his Father, in the local Aramaic language: "Abba" - equivalent to the English term "Daddy."

The week before, I had been to Drayton Manor Park with my grandchildren. All around were small children playing. Their absolute trust in their parents - and their parents' love for them, were so much in evidence. That combination of love and trust should be the relationship at the centre as we pray to our Father .

As we pray for God's honour, for the coming of his kingdom, for our daily needs, for forgiveness, and for protection, may we do it with that same trust and confidence in our father's love that the small child has.

In the evening service, we discussed this further and shared our own and others' experiences of prayer.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Simon is the new Vicar of Islington

Imagine everyone's suprise when the coach from Oadby parish was met outside St Mary's Islington by the Bishop of London in full regalia carrying his crozier. The coach had been delayed in traffic and at Bishop Richard's insistence the service was held up until the people from St Peter's and St Paul's arrived. What a dramatic scene as people passed by and saw that something special was about to take place. Simon was received by the Archdeacon and introduced to the church. He had a good pull on the rope which rang the bells and was clapped as he re-entered the nave. The congregation sang lustily and were blessed by the Bishop's words. In fact the service was an excellent introduction for Simon. Thanks to the people of St Mary's who provided light refreshments after the service and for the lovely welcome. The link provided will take you to the report of events for the London Dioscese.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Who is my neighbour?

Last week saw the fifth anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London and the release of the film 'London River', a film which tells the story of two very different parents who are both searching for their children in the aftermath of the bombings. Elisabeth (Brenda Blethyn) is from Guernsey and Ousmane (Sotigui Kouyate) comes from West Africa. The films shows Elisabeth's journey from initially refusing Ousmane's help (refusing even to shake his hand), until both she and Ousmane overcome the barriers between them and find common ground - a shared humanity.

And this acceptance of help offered by a person from a very different background of culture, religion and language emphasised one aspect of our thinking at last Sunday's 'All Together Church' service. Jesus' response to the question, "And just how would you define 'neighbour'?" was to tell one of the most familiar stories ever recorded - the parable of the Good Samaritan. The response of the Samaritan to the injured Jewish man illustrated Jesus' understanding of 'neighbour' - our neighbour is anyone in need and God's love for his world is to be reflected in our love and care for everyone. It's not so much, 'who is my neighbour?' but, rather, 'do I behave as a neighbour?'

However, being a neighbour also means accepting help, even if the help comes, as the parable shows, from an unwanted or even disliked source. Allowing our prejudices, pride and self-sufficiency to be challenged by others will cause us to grow and mature so that help can be accepted from even the most unlikely of sources.

Our retelling of the parable was brought to life by the Brownies carrying out some very impressive first aid on Doug, our hapless 'victim'. A very big thank you to all involved.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Saying thank you.
It is an important part of our community’s life when we say thank you to members who have worked long and hard for the good of all. David and Neil have worked consistently, with loving hearts to help our young people find their way to the Lord. Their teaching in our pathfinder’s group came to an end this Sunday. During the service we prayed for them and presented them each with a gift to remind them of all the long hours they worked with our teens.
Is there a chance that the Lord is calling you to be part of a teaching team? We are trying to organise for John Fryer who works as a children’s coordinator for the diocese to come and lead some training. Please pray and if you feel called; you can discuss it with Anita, Derek or Paul.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

What a way to celebrate!

Two of our congregation, Sheridan and Gilda Roberts celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary today. At a time when marriage often seems under threat, it's good to celebrate God's provision of marriage for mankind. He saw that it would not be good for people to be alone and so he provided mutual friendship and the joy of family life and children.

For most of us a ruby wedding anniversary would be an opportunity for a meal with friends and family or a special holiday. Sheridan and Gilda decided to be different. They held a barbecue for 170 people at their home to raise money for the work of Christian Aid in the Kibera slum of Nairobi in Kenya. It was a great time of fun for all and has already raised over £1200. Everyone benefits from their generosity. Thank you Sheridan and Gilda!

Do It Yourself -- Sign of Good Leadership!

It's a mark of good leadership that a leader enables those they have led to take responsibility in that leader's absence. That's as true for Christian leadership as for any other -- in fact possibly more true as Christians believe in the "priesthood of all believers."

So it was encouraging that the first Sunday morning service after Simon Harvey had left us, was taken by the members of one of the eight home groups -- the Dove Rise group. It was entitled "Looking forward, not back." Teri, our Churchwarden's wife led the service. Another member of the home group, Derek, preached the sermon, while other members read the lessons, led the prayers and took part in an enacted Bible reading of the prophet Elijah feeling bereft.

We explored the subject in greater detail in the small-group evening service.