Monday, 24 January 2011

Preparing for Hope Together

Over 70 members from different churches in Oadby joined together on Sunday 23 January for a joint act of worship to celebrate the week of prayer for Christian Unity. The service was led by Colin Chettle a Reader (lay Minister) at St Paul's and remembered the life together of the Early Church. It was good to meet and celebrate all that unites us.

The preacher was Roy Crowne, the executive director of Hope Together. This is an organisation that encourages Christians to show their faith in acts of service to the local community. And Roy's sermon was an encouragement to get out into the community and provide hope as we demonstrate our faith by acts of love.

As occurs every two years Churches Together in Oadby (CTO) will be organising Lent Home Groups in which each Home Group unites members of different churches. They will be studying "Hope for Easter" which is a workbook published by Roy Crowne’s organisation.

How much difference will we be able to make in Oadby? Hopefully, a lot.

We have seen a great light

Among our congregation, we are privileged to have Emmanuel Oladipo, who was previously the International Director for Scripture Union. He was our preacher on Sunday morning, 23 January, and was preaching from the text in Isaiah 9:2, fulfilled in Matthew 4:16: "The people (of Zebulon and Naphtali) who walked in darkness have seen a great light." He reminded us that Jesus himself had said: "I am the light of the world." And, perhaps even more remarkable, Jesus had said of his followers, which includes us, "you are the light of the world."

Emmanuel recorded how Zebulon and Naphtali had been areas of great sin, yet Jesus had chosen that area, by then called Galilee, to be the centre for his ministry and had chosen most of his apostles from its population. As Christ brings his light upon our world, he is able to make enormous changes. Emmanuel spoke of the way that Pope Gregory had seen the child slaves from England in the Roman marketplace and had sent Augustine to bring the Gospel to southern England. He reminded us of the way that Christians had been prominent in the movement to abolish slavery and of one child slave who, in consequence, had been freed by the British Navy, working in the darkness that was West Africa at the time. That slave was the Nigerian, Samuel Crowther (photo) who then came to faith in Christ. He had enormous influence in spreading the news of Christ, the light of the world, in Nigeria and became the first Black Anglican Bishop. It was as a consequence of his ministry that Emmanuel's father ultimately came to know the joy of the light of Christ in his life.

Nowhere and nothing is too evil or too dark to be able to be changed by the light of Christ. It is our challenge to spread that light.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

The New Team Vicar

Bishop Tim met with Steve Bailey on Monday January 10th and confirmed that he will licence Steve as team Vicar for St Peter and St Paul’s. We may have a little longer to wait for the family to move into St. Paul’s house, some other small matters such as the birth of Steve and Angie’s second child need to happen first. Their son Samuel is 3 and is really looking forward to a brother or sister. Steve has been doing his curacy in Walton on Thames and the family are pleased to be coming to Leicester which is much nearer Angie’s sister in Lincoln. Steve trained at St John’s Nottingham and worked at Lea Abbey before that. We look forward to having a new minister and pray that the Lord will prosper the family and our parish.

Monday, 3 January 2011


Most of us have, at some point in our lives, experienced the ‘nightmare’ journey. The theme of difficult journeys came across very strongly in the recent BBC production of ‘The Nativity’. Scriptwriter Tony Jordan retells the story of Jesus’ birth in a number of stories showing different journeys. There is Mary and Joseph’s physical journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and Joseph’s journey to faith as he finally accepts Mary’s account of her pregnancy. There is the faith journey of Thomas, a shepherd, and the epic journey of the Magi, or Wise Men, as they make their way to Bethlehem from the East.

The philosopher and theologian Claire Foster-Gilbert talks about the journey of the Magi in these terms, ‘the journey prepares one for this extraordinary moment of light – the Epiphany’. Epiphany is simply a religious way of saying that something has been revealed, made visible, and she makes the point that just as the journey for the Magi was difficult, so for us there are things that have to be worked at - they can take time. As she says, ‘there are dark times in the journey as well but you keep going’. Tony Jordan illustrates this beautifully as we follow the Magi and see, not just the difficulty of their journey but the times of reflection and preparation during it.

And we see the moment when the Magi have their Epiphany, when they kneel before the infant Jesus and understand that all the light, wisdom and power of God are concentrated before them in the tiny vulnerable baby. Claire Foster-Gilbert describes it in these words, ‘We call it Epiphany – the “ah” moment. Suddenly realising something, suddenly understanding something, suddenly seeing something orients us, shows us the right way to look. It is a profound relooking which sets us in a new direction.’

Perhaps something in the Christmas story this year has spoken to you of a need to relook, to take a new direction in your life? God never promises anyone an easy journey but one of the names of the infant Jesus is ‘Immanuel’, which means ‘God with us’. We do not journey alone, God walks with us. Why not join with us as we journey together into this new year?

67 sign up for the E100 Bible Readings

This New Year, 2011, begins the celebrations for the 400 years since the translation of the Authorised Version (King James). As a church, we had decided to encourage people to commit themselves to following the "Essential 100" (E100) Bible readings during the first 20 weeks of the year.

By the start of the year, 67 people had committed themselves to following these readings. What a good New Year's resolution! Now to see it through to the end.