St Aldates: a house of prayer for all nations at the heart of Oxford
Part of the New Wine movement: ‘local churches, changing nations’
Dear friends in the St Aldates community
As I write, I think of you and wonder how your year has started and what are your resolutions, joys, concerns. I wonder if you are travelling through grief or joy. It feels that 2011 has started momentously for many of you. For some, the joy of engagements, births or adoptions; for others, sickness or even death; while for others, there is “nothing to report”.
As usual, St Aldates is a mixture of the wonderful and the terrible and everything in between! Last night was a time of great joy as four people were baptised in a packed Church at our 6pm service. There was such a sense of God in the place. And this is an answer to prayer as we seek God for His all-important presence. Today by contrast, I conducted the funeral of a member of our ACT! community who sadly took his own life on coming out of prison. This tragic waste reminds me how fragile life is and how at risk so many are. How we need to ask for God’s help to meet the many demands pressing at our door, that we might truly be the church at the heart of our city.
As I think of you, I feel again the importance of building our precious community at the heart of this precarious city.
Some of you were able to attend the weekend away at the end of January at High Leigh. It was a really encouraging time of fellowship. Time and again, we heard how much people appreciated “just being together.” I would say that we met God in times of worship and prayer. Prophetic words were shared, calling us to repentance and to a new level of unity for a new season. This was immediately put into practice as people lingered in free time just enjoying each other’s company. As well as this, David White’s teaching on the theme of revival (listen or download here) stirred us and whetted our appetite to do all that we can to prepare in prayer as we hunger for a move of God.
To this end, I invite you to come to Hungry this week: our monthly central meeting for building community and praying for revival. As last month, we want to give time to fellowship and listening to you, as well as to seeking God and hearing His Word. Please make the effort to join us as we put our hand in the hand of God: this Wednesday 23 February from 8-10pm in the Church.
Looking outwards from our winter of recession in the UK, the world is also going through some birth pangs with what is called the ‘Arab Spring’ shaking that area of the world. Anita and I were in Israel for a few days as Egypt’s President Mubarak fell, causing shockwaves throughout the region.
Please be aware of this situation and pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Egypt. Isaiah 19:24-25 is a key Scripture for this: “In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.’”
This weekend, we are hosting NEXTGENERATION11: a conference now in its seventh year. It’s fully booked, but all youth and students are still able to enjoy free entry to the Friday evening session at 7.30pm in the Church: don’t miss it! For those who are booked in, ‘put on your hard hat and protective clothing’as we go deeper and further with God, with the help of the Next Generation team and our dear friend Heidi Baker from Mozambique.
Finally, at this time many will have seen The King’s Speech and will be hoping that it will win at the Oscars. It is for me significant that King George VI was a Christian and used his capacity to speak to broadcast movingly about God. On 25 December 1939, as citizens of the British Empire faced another world war, he resurrected a tradition his father had launched: an annual Christmas message to all inhabitants of the Empire. The speech would go on to be famous. He inspired his people by quoting a poem: “I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’”
George VI also called the nation to a day of prayer at Dunkirk and again before D-Day. So as this godly king is back in the news because of an excellent film, let us pray with Moses: “Remember that this nation is your people” (Exodus 33:13).
In closing, be strong in the Lord. Anita joins me in wishing you well and sending all our love.
Rector, St Aldates, Oxford
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