Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Faith in Lockdown: 1: Prayer



Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you well as lockdown 2 continues. Having marked Remembrance recently, we now find ourselves in the season between All Saints and Advent. Advent Sunday comes at the end of this month on 29th November. But before we get to Advent, on 22nd November, we bring to an end the lectionary year by celebrating Christ the King. What an important truth to hold onto in these strange and uncertain times. God is with us and Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is nothing and no one higher, greater, or more powerful than Christ the King. One day every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Many of us might feel quite helpless right now and wonder what we can be doing. After all we are encouraged not to go out and about unless it is essential or our daily exercise. Not many things are functioning as they usually would. We might feel trapped in our homes, fearful of going out and catching the virus. We have retreated into the safety of our homes and we are pinning our homes on the news of a promised vaccine, that will give us some assurance of safety, so that things can return to normal.

Remembrance reminds us of battles that have been fought and the price that people have paid for our freedom. Right now, we are in a battle of a very different sort. We are fighting against an unknown enemy, there are people on the front line who are risking their lives to save others and the research going on will hopefully bring us freedom, especially for those who are vulnerable and feel trapped.

This idea of a battle should not be strange to us. At the heart of the Christian faith is a battle of good verses evil. The Bible gives many names to our enemy, the evil one, the deceiver, the father of lies, Satan. But this is a battle that we know has already been won. This is what we celebrate at Easter through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus overcame all darkness, evil and sin, he beat death and rose again victorious. This is not a battle we need fear because we stand on the winning side with Christ the King.

However, I believe this is a battle that we are often afraid to engage in. A battle that we have forgotten, and it is one we ignore at our peril. Stop and ask yourself now, how comfortable are you with this language, with this idea of being in a spiritual battle?

There are two equal and opposite dangers in our reactions. One is to go over the top and see everything as a battle. The other is to ignore the whole idea of the spiritual battle. My assessment is that generally we veer towards the ignoring end of the spectrum. We have relied too much on our own strength, wisdom, and provision that we have forgotten our need of God. And the enemy is quite happy with this.

I believe it is time for us to wake out this. We need to move from apathy to action in the spiritual battle. Now is the time for us to rise up as sons and daughters of the King. Now is the time for us to exercise our authority in Christ. Now is the time for us to armour up for battle. And one of the best ways we can do this is through prayer.

So how is your prayer life at the moment? If you pray do you pray nice, safe prayers? Or are your prayers engaging in the spiritual battle? Rather than thinking praying is all you can do let’s make prayer the thing we can best do to bring in God’s kingdom. I am encouraged that the Archbishops have called us to prayer during this lockdown and I urge us all to join in. If you would like resources to help to pray then visit https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/call-prayer-nation

Can I encourage you to pray big, bold, prayers. Dare to dream and to pray for the impossible for with God all things are possible. Let’s not limit God in our minds or imaginations but picture a future that we believe God wants to see. Pray for the spread of the Gospel to all people. Pray for a change in our nation as many come to know Jesus. Pray for revival, for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Pray for boldness and courage to share our faith. Pray for the revitalisation of the church. Pray for people of other faiths to come to Jesus. Pray for hearts and lives to be transformed. Pray for people to encounter Jesus through dreams and visions. Pray for healing in body, mind and spirit. Pray for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven.

You may also feel led to repent for past mistakes that the church has made of which there are many. Prayer is hugely important. Prayer is not an optional extra, an add on or a last resort. It is not the only thing you can do but it should be the first. Jesus makes it clear that we should pray, fast and give in the Beatitudes (Matthew 6). When you pray, not if you pray. When you fast, not if you fast. When you give, not if you give.

Great changes never happened without great prayer. Join me in stepping up in the spiritual battle to pray at this time. As we pray in faith, in confidence, in trust and with expectation and persistence may the Lord respond in ways beyond all that we can ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3.20)

Monday, 12 October 2020

Harvest Festival

 Sunday was our Harvest. Although limited by our inability to meet together, it was still an opportunity to give thanks to God for the wonderful world that he has given us – and for all that comes from it. People had been encouraged to give dried food and cans to the Oadby food bank – so that we could help provide forthe needs of those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

The service was led by Steve Bailey, and during the service the donated food grew up in size around him. The sermon was given by Lou McGoldrick, our youth worker, who reminded us of the passage regarding the ma
n whose response to agricultural wealth was to built ever bigger and better barns. She encouraged us to think about what we could give to others, or become, if our priority was not to gather wealth for ourselves.

As always, after the service, some 40 people met together by Zoom, to catch up and share experiences.

Remember the Harvest

 Sunday was Harvest. Although we met for worship on Sunday by Zoom, Anona had done a great job in reminding us of the harvest and our dependency on God by preparing a display that she put up in the church entrance hall. She reminded us "God gives so that we have something to share."

Antiracism training Mark 2

On Saturday, Suzanne Hanson returned (on zoom) to continue her antiracism training for St Paul's. She noted the heartfelt apology of the Archbishop of Canterbury for the racism within the church in the past. But she also pointed out the "Institutional Racism" that still exists – often without people being aware of it. She pointed out that there was currently no diocesan bishop (the senior bishop in the diocese) who was of the BAME community (there are some of the less senior suffragan bishops.) This absence is particularly noticeable of those who are second-generation immigrants. Many of the more senior leaders within the church who are of the Bame community are first-generation immigrants, rather than 2nd. Is this because they were educated in their home countries where there were more black role models?

Suzanne gave us lots to think about regarding this difficult situation and how the situation might be reversed. Many thanks to Suzanne for all her hard work.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Anti-Racism Training

St Pauls is one of the diocese’s “Intercultural Worshipping Communities.” As such, it is vitally important that we should be welcoming to those of all backgrounds. To help recognise our innate prejudices Suzanne Hanson, an enabler from the Diocese of Leicester held a zoom training session today. This was particularly for those on the Parochial Church Council although others were welcome. About 20 attended. Suzanne introduced us to many of the terms found in such consideration, from “white supremacy” to “intersectional.” She gave much historical background with individual scenarios and challenged our responses. There will be another session next week. 

    May we be helped to show God’s love and welcome.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Maria Ordained Deacon

This afternoon (Sunday 27 September 2020) are curate, Maria Jukes was ordained deacon in Leicester Cathedral by the Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow. Because of the Covid19 restrictions only three deacons were ordained, and very few people, including guests, were able to be present in the Cathedral. However, the service was available on YouTube, so our congregation was able to watch. Social distancing and masks were much in evidence.

Nevertheless, it is great news that Maria has now been licensed and is fully able to take up a role of curate in our parish. However, Maria has already been much in evidence as she is trying to get to know church members. We pray for Maria’s family (her husband and two children) as they get to know Oadby.

We all pray that God will richly bless Maria’s time with us and her ministry to us.

Friday, 4 September 2020

A Call to Prayer

 I encourage you watch this video from our Bishop's which features an important call to prayer for the whole Diocese.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

St Paul's being built!

This link will take you to a video that from 1981 that shows you the start of the building of St Paul's

Sunday, 7 June 2020