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1 September 2019, 10 a.m. Bishop Steven will be travelling around the deanery on foot and by boat. He will arrive at St Stephen & St Agnes to chalk the doors: an ancient way of blessing a church.
Sunday 10 a.m. Sung Eucharist. Common Worship (1 hour).
Sunday 10 a.m. All Age Eucharist. First Sunday of the month (1 hour).
Tuesday 9:30 a.m. Eucharist. (No Tuesday service in August)
If you were asked to name a disciple of Jesus, I wonder whom you would choose. Perhaps you would go for Peter or Andrew or John. Perhaps you would name someone less well-known – Bartholomew or Simon the Zealot or Thaddaeus! But would you, I wonder, name yourself?
When we think of the word disciple we usually think of it in terms of the Twelve Disciples, those named in Matthew 10:1–4 and Luke 6:12–16. But the word disciple actually means no more than follower. And this sense of following is linked with the Latin work discere meaning “to learn”. So, anyone who is a follower of Christ, a Christian, is by definition his disciple, and every church is a place where disciples of Jesus Christ gather together to learn from him, to follow him and to be sent out to serve him in the community, just as the Twelve Disciples learnt from, followed and were sent out by him two thousand years ago.
In his book, Being Disciples, Rowan Williams defines discipleship as “being a student”—but this means much more than turning up once or twice a week for a lecture! Discipleship is about relationship; it is about building up and sustaining a relationship with a great teacher. In the ancient world, writes Rowan Williams, “to be the student of a teacher was to commit yourself to living in the same atmosphere and breathing the same air”. It was a fulltime commitment—not something that you did from time to time, intermittently, but something which took over your entire life as you sought to absorb your teacher’s way of being by watching and listening. The ultimate aim I suppose was to be as alike to your teacher as possible.
As Christians, we follow Christ; we are his disciples and our aim should be to live a Christ-like life. We are called to be Christ-like. But how confident do you feel about being like Christ? How equipped do you feel to live out the good news of Jesus Christ in all areas of your life, from Sunday through to Saturday?
If your answer to these two questions is “not very” then you are most definitely not alone! In a recent survey, 59 per cent of Christians said their church does not equip them well for life in today’s world! This is why, as part of Bishop Steven’s Common Vision initiative, the Diocese of Oxford has launched Personal Discipleship Plans or PDPs. A PDP is described as an “accompanied faith journey” which you take with a specially trained mentor, who can be ordained or lay.
If you think this sounds a little scary or “not for me”, then please think again! Having a PDP is about identifying your God-given gifts, working out how these can be used or developed in everyday life, and finding out what energises and challenges you in your faith and spiritual life. PDPs are not about getting more people to join rotas or make tea! They are about offering a structured chance, over perhaps just a few months, to think about what it means to follow Christ in the 21st century and to discern where God is already at work in our lives. Because, believe me, he will be! For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)
If you would like to know more about having a PDP have a word with me. As a trained PDP mentor, I would love to hear from you! Or to find our more visit www.oxford.anglican.org/everyday-faith
Whether or not you feel inspired to consider a Personal Discipleship Plan, I encourage you to get hold of Rowan Williams’ book, mentioned above. It is only 86 pages long but full of wisdom and insight. I fully recommend it!
With every blessing as we tread together the path of discipleship,
Come join us!
You are welcome to join us at St Stephen and St Agnes, regardless of race or gender or sexuality. We are part of the Church of England and our worship style is modern catholic: this means the service uses contemporary English, but still has ritual and incense (‘smells and bells’). Services finish with Fairtrade tea and coffee, or a glass of sherry if that is what you prefer. There is a Fairtrade stall selling a variety of goods from Traidcraft (chocolate, biscuits, tea, coffee, rice, Christmas cards later in the year, etc.)
There is a Sunday School at the 10 a.m. service. There are areas in the church that make it easy for parents with prams or people in wheelchairs to join the worship. Our congregation age ranges from babies to 98-year-olds. On the first Sunday of the month, we have a family service with home-baked cakes. Study and discussion groups are available throughout the year with special courses run during Advent and Lent.
We are committed to safeguarding children, young people, and vulnerable adults. The parochial church council has adopted the Church of England’s policies and best practice on safeguarding which may be found on the Church of England’s website. Our Parish Safeguarding Representative is Laura Betteridge and she may be contacted at church or by email.