Bishop Saju has been busy out and about in the diocese, visiting and presiding over our richly diverse worshipping communities.
St Andrew’s Church in Jarrom Street, Leicester, celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi on Sunday (11 June) with a Eucharist, an outdoor procession, and a party in the parish garden.
Parish priest, Fr Johannes Arens, is also the Anglican Chaplain to De Montfort University and the day was greatly enhanced by a 41-strong project choir made up mostly of students, under the leadership of John Gull.
This was the second student choir project at St Andrew’s and encouraging to see that those singing had doubled in number since the Easter choir project.
Fr Johannes says: “It was very much appreciated that Bishop Saju joined St Andrew’s on this important day, particularly as about a third of the congregation are of Indian background or descent, many from Kerala.
“To have a bishop with whom they can talk in their native language is hugely encouraging for them.”
He continues: “During the procession we walked with the exposed and revealed Sacrament through dirty streets, stepping over a dead bird and avoiding stinking dustbins.
“Our God is incarnate – he can be found in the most dire circumstances and in the darkest places of this earth. It is not our task as Christians to bring Christ to the world – he has done that. It is our task to reveal him, to notice him and to point out and celebrate where he can be found.”
In the afternoon, on that same Sunday, Bishop Saju presided over a Joint Service of Welcome and Fellowship for the St Andrew’s Anglican-Methodist Church, Mar Thoma Church and St. Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in Leicester Forest East.
Over the past 18 months, St Andrew's has entered into Church Sharing agreements with these two culturally Indian churches that were looking for somewhere to hold their worship services.
The service was crafted to celebrate what unites us in Christ within our diversity, with each church sharing their story and something from their tradition; songs, liturgy and worship resources. It was also a bi-lingual service, partly in English and partly in Malayalam (with translations), with lay people from each church leading prayers and reading from the Bible.
Revd David Hover, vicar of St Andrew’s, who helped conduct the service alongside Revd Judith Lincoln, Methodist Minister, says: “We were keen to build relationships and a partnership in the Gospel with our sisters and brother from these other churches, and so representatives of the three churches met together to plan this Joint Service of Welcome and Fellowship.”
Bishop Saju preached, drawing inspiration from the eagle imagery in Isaiah 40 and sharing the symbolism behind his crozier.
The service concluded with Holy Communion, symbolising our union with one another as the Body of Christ, and followed by further sharing and fellowship over food, with each church again contributing.
Revd David says: “It was a wonderfully joyous occasion. As Bishop Saju said, the angels must have been celebrating in heaven as we shared a vision of the Kingdom of God as people from four different denominations; Anglicans, Methodists, Syrian Orthodox and Mar Thoma, all gathered to worship and praise the Lord.”