Thursday, 30 June 2011

Lots of Promises

Last night, 29 July 2011, the Right Revd Christopher Boyle, Leicester's Assistant Bishop, licensed the Revd Steve Bailey as the new Team Vicar in the parish of Oadby, with particular responsibility for St Paul's.

The two churches in Oadby parish are St Peter and St Paul and it was fitting that 29 June is the Feast of St Peter and St Paul (the day when these major pioneers of the early church are remembered). In his charge, Bishop Boyle encouraged Steve to model his ministry on theirs – Peter's declaration that Jesus was the Christ and Paul's exposition of how this would work in practice.

It was a time of great joy with an opportunity to praise God in song for his provision of Steve. It was also a time of mumbo-jumbo as the obligatory legal documents had to be read out. But above all, it was a Service of promises:
Will you (Steve) reaffirm the promises you made when you ordained… "I will."
Will you…. Preach the gospel of Christ and minister His holy sacraments? "By the help of God, I will."

And then, as different symbols of the church's life were brought forward, Steve invited the church members to promise, with him, their commitment:
a. a Bible – to proclaim the Gospel (good news) of new life;
b. water for baptism – to make disciples of all nations;
c. bread and wine – to join regularly in Holy Communion;
d. oil – to join in the Ministry of reconciliation and healing;
e. a book of Common Worship – to commit themselves to united prayer.

With the members of the Ministry Team around him (Ordained Clergy, Readers (Lay Ministers), Pastoral Worker Youth Worker), Steve was asked whether he would work with them to further God's kingdom in this parish: "Yes, with the help of God, I will." The Ministry Team was then asked the same question about working with Steve and again replied: "Yes, with the help of God, I will."

These are all weighty promises, both for Steve and for the members of St Paul's congregation. As we go forward together into this new era of our church's life, may we fulfil the promises of commitment that we have made and may we pray for Steve, that the Holy Spirit of God may give him the strength to fulfil his promises.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Welcome Steve and Angie

The long wait is nearly over. After a year without a Team Vicar at St Paul's, we are about to welcome a new one. At 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 29 June, during what we anticipate to be a service of great joy, Leicester's Assistant Bishop, Christopher Boyle, will license Revd Steve Bailey as Team Vicar in the Parish of Oadby, with particular responsibility here at St Paul's.

Since studying at St John's College, Nottingham, Steve has been serving as a curate at Walton on Thames. We look forward to welcoming many who have been in his congregation there. Hopefully, the motorway will be running freely!

During the service there will be the opportunity for local dignitaries and churches to say “Welcome!” But no welcome will be as profound as that from the congregation at St Paul’s. Those of us, lay and ordained, who take part in the Ministry here, are delighted (and relieved!) that Steve is coming to lead us forward.

Steve and Angie, his wife, and their two children, have already moved to Oadby and are getting to know the area as they explore the local shops and schools.

Our prayer is that, under Steve's leadership, the good news of God's love for everyone, shown in Jesus, may spread widely in our community.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Welcome Jane

In my blog on 15 June, I wrote of the privilege of being part of the worldwide church – a church that is not limited by national borders and which is made up of every race, all serving the Lord Jesus. This Sunday, 26 June, we welcome Jane Jerrard, who works with the church in Pakistan, in Hyderabad, supporting village schools.

Through the Associate Minister of this parish, Revd Paskal Clement, who hails from Pakistan, we are very aware of the suffering of Christians there. We heard with grief of the murder of a Christian minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, and the murder of a prominent politician, Salman Taseer, who, as a Muslim, spoke up for Christians’ rights.

So it is a privilege to have Jane with us on Sunday morning, when she will give an illustrated talk in the service about her work. She will also update us of the needs of the Christian church in Pakistan. Do come along!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

I believe in the holy catholic Church

In most of our services on a Sunday morning at St Paul's, the congregation shares in saying a "creed" or an affirmation of faith. This frequently includes the words: "I believe in the holy catholic Church." In this sense the creed is not referring specifically to the Roman Catholic Church but using the word catholic in the sense of universal – the universal Church – the church worldwide.

I was recently on holiday in Hong Kong and as I was worshipping in church on Sunday, it was wonderful to see this phrase as a reality. In the congregation there were Christians from China, Britain, Korea, South Africa, America and many other countries, all praising God together. It was a reminder of the verse in the book of Revelation "by (Christ's) blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). There in Hong Kong, worshipping with those of such different backgrounds, it was good to join in that unity.

Here at St Paul's we are privileged to have some such diversity. Apart from those of British background, there are those originally from India, Singapore and Nigeria (and probably others). It is important that we remember that Christ died for all. We believe in the holy catholic Church.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Keep Going!

Eddie Izzard made a guest appearance (albeit in video form) at St. Paul’s last Sunday. During our ‘All Together Worship’ we looked back to 2009 and his huge achievement of completing seven weeks of back-to-back marathon runs. He covered more than 1,100 miles by running 43 marathons in 51 days and, in keeping with the theme of our service, he truly did ‘Keep Going’.
We finished our series of readings from Peter’s first letter to the early Christian Church and reflected on the fact that being a follower of Jesus does not exempt us from suffering nor does it guarantee us an easier life. What it does promise is a very real hope for the future; but more than that, a hope which sustains us in the day to day business of living and serving just as Jesus did. Like Eddie Izzard, we may need to dig deep to find the grit, determination and sheer ‘stickabililty’ to keep going, but God has promised that we don’t do it alone. He has promised to be with us always, until the very end of time.
We will be celebrating this promise next Sunday, 12 June, in our 10am service marking Pentecost; the day when the Holy Spirit empowered the followers of Jesus to keep going in every circumstance of life.
Do join us – you will be made very welcome.