Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Thank You

Last Sunday (26 April) was the fourth Sunday of Lent. It was also – and much better known as – “Mothering Sunday.” As we look back on our lives, most of us have cause to be profoundly grateful for the gift of a mother. That remains true even when our mothers have passed away. But for those whose mothers are still alive, this is the great opportunity to say “thank you.”

At St Pauls we met together to worship God – and our readings included the way that, in his great suffering on the cross, Jesus had entrusted the care of his mother, Mary, to his disciple John. We may care for our mothers, but to manage to do so in those circumstances is exceptional.

Before the children left for Super Troopers (our Sunday School) and other youth activities, they collected gifts of flowers – primulas – which they first distributed to their own mothers and then to other ladies in the church.
To all our mothers – alive or dead – we say “thank you.”

Rejected but Beautiful

St Pauls is not blessed with a large luxuriant graveyard. Nevertheless, as we approach the building at this time of year there are a profusion of daffodils and other flowers. Of note are several clumps of primulas, which are probably the plants which were surplus when flowers were distributed to mothers and other ladies at previous Mothering Sundays.

Those plants may only have been a surplus then, but now they are prominent in their beauty. Is that an illustration of how God can use people that the world counts as unimportant to do great things for him?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A Messenger of the Gospel

Last Sunday, we reached the last of our sermon series “Fruitfulness on the Frontline.” This was entitled “Being a Messenger of the Gospel” and Steve centred it around the words of St Peter: “Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3.15-16).

Steve acknowledged how difficult people found it to share their faith (like going to the dentist!). But Peter wasn’t telling us to be Billy Grahams. He was just asking us to reply when people asked us why we believed or behaved as we did. Hopefully, the other forms of fruitfulness, mentioned in the previous sermons, would invite just that question.

May we be as loyal to Christ as St Peter.

The Poorest of the Poor

This month, our church is highlighting the work of the African International Christian Mission and the friends based in this country who support it. This small charity works among children of the Batwa (pygmy) people in South West Uganda. They are the poorest and most despised of the people groups there. Their ancestral lands have been taken to encourage tourism and they have been oppressed by central government.

AICM is trying to provide them with education and food so that they will be able to cope with life in a modern society. They are taught and fed at two schools in the south of Uganda, but their flimsy buildings have been damaged by storm, and there are now plans (well in hand) to replace them with brick buildings.

This charity is now being supported by the whole Oadby Parish.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Lent - Repentance and Discipline

Wednesday, 1st March was the beginning of the forty days of Lent. For St Pauls, that was marked by taking part in the “Imposition of Ashes” service held at St Peters.

The service was led by Michael Rusk, the rector, who will soon be leaving us to serve at Emmanuel Church Geneva.

The sermon was given by Steve Bailey. He reminded us that in the sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about when you pray, when you fast and when you give. These are all actions often associated with Lent, and Jesus assumed that they would be taking place. Steve commented that people often speak of what they will give up for Lent, but he felt that it was equally important what they would be taking up for Lent; prayer, fasting and giving. And he made particular suggestions for using the time that would be freed by fasting, and for giving the money that would be saved by fasting. He suggested at the time saved could not only be used for prayer also for devotional reading and he recommended Archbishop Justin Welby’s Lent book: “Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace.”

“Imposition of Ashes” then followed. As people came to the front, Steve marked each person on their forehead with a sign of the cross, using Ashes mixed with Oil; a sign both of the importance of the cross and our own frailty. As he did this, he used the words: “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.”

Heads above the Parapet

On Sunday, we reached the sixth of our series: Fruitfulness on the Frontline. This one was: Being a Mouthpiece for Truth and Justice. Gillian took the account of the prophet Nathan who told King David the story of a rich man who had seized and eaten a poor man’s pet lamb, rather than use one of his own flock (2 Samuel 12.1-13). The King was appalled, but the prophet then confronted him: “You are the man.” Relating to the way that he had taken Uriah’s wife and organised for Uriah to be killed.

Gillian emphasised the importance of Christians being prepared to stand up for truth and justice and “put our heads above the parapet.”

That is often not an easy task, but as servants of Christ, it’s one we are called to undertake.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ash Wednesday

Image result for ash wednesday
Today is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, Often people think of giving something up for Lent but I want to encourage you to take something positive on instead.
You could sign up to Stewardship's 40 acts, encouraging generosity through Lent here.
You could follow Christian Aid's Count Your Blessings which you can download here.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written his own Lent book this year called 'Dethroning Mammon'
or you could read the BRF Lent Book The Living Cross by Amy Boucher Pye.
Or you could use the season of lent to review your spiritual disciplines and explore fasting, praying and giving. This year the Bishop's Lent Appeal is towards educational books for our link Diocese of Kiteto in Tanznaia, find out more and give here.

Connected Church

At St Paul's we have been keen supporters of TearFund. In the last few years we have been linked through their Connected Church scheme to the Pentecostal Assemblies of God church in Uganda. Here is a link to their latest blog post so we can keep up to date with the work they are doing and continue to support them in our prayers.