An occasional article from Rev Ben as he reviews activities within the Oakley with Wootton St Lawrence parish
Come Holy Spirit
Thursday 12 May 2022
Good evening everyone!
I had intended to send this message rather earlier this evening.
All my well-laid plans got went out the window when I unintentionally fell asleep whilst putting the boys to bed!
Jo did her best to revive me, but I was completely out for the count.
Having now caught a second wind from my little 'evening nap',
I thought I'd take this opportunity to let you know about some exciting new things that are taking place at St Leonard's.
SOCHI IS HERE!!!
On Tuesday morning, we had the immense joy of welcoming Sochi Ezeanowai to Oakley to take up his new role as the full-time youth worker for our church and village.
You will all have the opportunity to meet and get to know Sochi over the coming weeks and months as he settles into his new life here.
All I will say at this point is that we are immensely blessed to have Sochi as part of our team and so excited!
We cannot wait to see what God is going to do amongst our young people in this season.
I invite you to give Sochi a massive welcome.
One of the very best things you can do right now is to commit this time to prayer, that God would bless Sochi's ministry here and pour out his Holy Spirit upon our young people.
CHURCH IS GROWING BACK TO LIFE
Every Sunday gathering is a joy to me.
When I stand up at the front, I am struck by all the new faces of people who are coming along and connecting with church.
If you are new to St Leonard's or Wootton St Lawrence, can I just say that you are so welcome here!
It is wonderful to see our church emerging from the scattered fragmentation of lockdown ... to see new shoots of life bursting up everywhere we look ... to experience God at work bringing renewal in such a beautiful way.
If you're new to our church, we would love to hear your story and get to know you better.
Do contact the parish office or send me a message directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOING DEEPER IN FAITH AND BELONGING
The other thing that I'm excited to share is that we have been working hard behind the scenes to offer a wide range of opportunities to be together, learn together, pray together, and grow together
Here's a sampling of the sorts of things that are coming ...
Discipleship session on the person and work of the Holy Spirit (with Ben) on Wednesday 25 May @ St Leonard's Centre
From Wednesday 25 May, Jo Constantine will be facilitating a series of Quiet Garden 'Mini Retreats' at their beautiful home in Ibworth.
Parish Quiet Day: 'Waiting for the What Next' (with Barbara Irving) from 9am to 1pm on Saturday 28 May @ St Leonard's Centre.
'Connecting Stories' - Barbara Irving will be leading a 6 week short course on evangelism and the power of story ... locating our story within God's story and living God's story as a witness of God's radical love and grace. Beginning Tuesday 7 June @ St Leonard's Centre.
6 week course with the OWW Film Group on the dramatic TV mini-series 'Broken' from Wednesday 8 June @ St Leonard's Centre.
'God at Work' - Derek Felton will be hosting a 4 week course on how to live and integrate your faith in your place of work from Thursday 16 June @ St Leonard's Centre.
I am very excited to announce the launch of a new discipleship project at St Leonard's called Going Deeper.
Going Deeper will be an open space to discuss some of the big questions of theology, humanity and the biggest topic of them all … God.
This is a space to wrestle, debate, discover and explore.
Our first session will be Thursday 16 June from 7:30pm at the Centre.
And if you can believe it ... there will be even more!
This summer term will offer so many wonderful opportunities to connect with others and grow deeper together.
These gatherings are for everyone! If you've recently joined St Leonard's or are not currently connected with a small group, I would encourage you to have a go.
BAPTISM AND CONFIRMATION
Back in March, we had the most joyful, amazing service at St Leonard's with Bishop David celebrating the baptism or confirmation of 10 members of our church family. 24 hours after that service, I rang up the Bishop to invite him back to St Leonard's to book the next one!
On Sunday 17 July we will be holding our next confirmation service.
Confirmation marks the point in the Christian journey where those who have been baptised make a firm commitment to live and work as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop, the Church asks God to fill each candidate with the power of the Holy Spirit to live the life of a disciple.
Whether you're young or old, new to church or feel like part of the furniture ... it doesn't matter! If God has been at work in your life and you would like to confirm your faith you are welcome!
If you've never had the opportunity to be baptised or christened but would like to take that step, I would love to speak with you.
If you are baptised, but sense that God is doing a new thing in your life and want to take an intentional step in your own journey of faith, I would love to talk about that too!
If that's you, join us for a short three week baptism/confirmation course.
We will meet at 10.00am in the Centre during the main Sunday service on 12 June, 19 June and 3 of July.
Please, contact the parish office to sign up.
COME, HOLY SPIRIT
Last week we launched this new sermon series on the Holy Spirit.
I feel like the timings of this couldn't be better.
Because we are seeing God at work. We are witnessing the Spirit on the move.
All around us, we experience the in-breaking of God's kingdom and blessing and purpose in this place.
My brothers and sisters, as we journey into this new season let us pray with boldness that God would pour out upon us his life-giving Spirit.
Let us not do that for the sake of others alone, but let us take the risk to pray that prayer for ourselves.
One of my favourite Christian writers is an American (of course) woman named Barbara Brown Taylor.
‘There is some very fine teaching available on the Holy Spirit; and I hope none of you is satisfied with it. I hope none of you rests until you have felt the Holy Spirit blow through your own life, rearranging things, opening things up and maybe even setting your own head on fire. There is nothing you can do to make it happen, as far as I know, except to pray “Come, Holy Spirit” every chance you get.’
Amen and Amen!