Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. Hope that you are all continuing to keep well and stay safe. This newsletter is one of our ways of trying to maintain contact and a sense of community during this time when we cannot meet together as a church family. You can find previous issues of the newsletter here. We would love to hear from you and are looking for uplifting and encouraging content to share in future issues of this newsletter. If you have any ideas or content that we can share, please do email them to Louise (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We start with our opening prayer:
When we see only trouble Jesus, be our vision
When we feel only uncertainty Jesus, be our rock
When we hear only bad news Jesus, be our hope
In all the circumstances of our lives
Jesus, our Companion, be a light to our path
News from the Church Council
The Church Council met last Tuesday (11th August) using ‘Zoom’. The main topic considered was the planning for using the buildings again for services and other activities. In doing this we need to ensure that we follow the guidance from the government and the denominations and to make adjustments as the advice changes.
Although we gave some consideration to what might be possible regarding activities during the week, the main topic was the restarting of Sunday services in the building. We have consulted with the group who has been producing the weekly streamed services. These have been very successful and we have agreed that we should continue to stream services after the services in the building start again and that until that is possible we will not hold services in the church. A timetable has been agreed for carrying out necessary preparations with the aim of beginning to hold services at Christ Church from about the end of September. Once these preparations have progressed further we will announce more details, together with a definite start date.
Brian Moere and Peter King – Acting Church Secretaries
Reflection from last Sunday:
Matthew chapter 15 begins with Jesus having an exchange with some ‘Pharisees and Scribes’ Now we need to be very careful here, because when we read in the Gospels about ‘Pharisees’ we are tempted to think that all Pharisees understood obedience to God’s Law in the same way; they didn’t! It’s rather like saying that ‘all Christians have the same beliefs and practices’; they don’t! These Pharisees and Scribes were complaining that Jesus’ disciples had broken the religious law by not washing their hands before eating, however Jesus challenged them about their own behaviour. They had been failing to provide for the needs of their parents, claiming everything they had had been given to God. But Jesus reminded them that by doing so, they were breaking God’s Commandment, ‘to honour your father and your mother’.
I wonder how often we are quick to criticise other people but ignore our own bad behaviour; you may remember that Jesus told a parable about a man who saw the speck of dust in a person’s eye, but didn’t notice the beam in his own eye.
Jesus used the conversation with the Pharisees and Scribes to teach both the disciples and those people who had gathered around him. Jesus said that it is not what a person eats, or whether they wash their hands before eating, that matters but what is in their heart, ‘for out of the heart come evil intentions’.
And then we have the incident that we heard about in our Bible reading, where Jesus puts into practice his teaching. Verse 22 describes a Canaanite woman who started shouting at Jesus, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David’. The disciples’ reaction was to tell Jesus to ‘send her away’.
Canaanites worshipped the god Ba’al, not the covenant God of the children of Israel. Remember what happened when Moses went up Mount Sinai, where God revealed the Ten Commandment. God had rescued the children of Israel first from slavery in Egypt, then from the Egyptian army by opening up the water of the Sea of Reeds for them cross. God led them in the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night. God provided them with food to eat and water to drink. God couldn’t have done any more for them! But when Moses went up Mount Sinai, and was missing for forty days and forty nights, the people panicked. Instead of trusting God, Exodus chapter 32 tells us how they made a golden statue of the Ba’al, the god of the Canaanites.
I wonder how often we forget all that God has done for us, and at a time of stress we panic and try and sort the situation out ourselves.
But Jesus’ teaching hadn’t sunk in for the disciples. They still didn’t realise that what was important was what was in a person’s heart; they told Jesus to send the Canaanite woman away, ‘for she keeps shouting after us’. But Jesus didn’t. He recognised the woman’s faith and told her: ‘Great is your faith. Let it be done to you as you wish’.
Another time when Jesus recognised the faith of someone who the disciples would have regarded as an outsider was when he healed a Centurion’s servant. In Luke chapter 7, we read how a Centurion, an officer in the Roman army that was occupying Israel at the time, someone who would have worshipped the Emperor as a god, asked Jesus to heal his servant. However, although he was an officer and someone with authority, the Centurion thought himself unworthy for Jesus to enter his house, ‘but only speak the word and my servant shall be healed’. Recognising the Centurion’s faith, Jesus replied, ‘Not even in Israel have I found such faith’.
In John chapter 4 we read of another example of Jesus recognising the faith of someone the disciples would have regarded as an outsider. John chapter 4 recounts Jesus having a conversation with a Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well, much to the astonishment of his disciples. Samaritans were not accepted as Jewish, and were not allowed to worship in the Jerusalem Temple, because their fathers were not Jewish. At the time Jewish identity was through the paternal line, not as today through the maternal line. However, as she and Jesus talked, the Samaritan woman recognised Jesus as the Messiah.
The Canaanite woman, the Roman Centurion, the Samaritan woman, all people who at the time were regarded as outcasts; it was, what could be called, the ‘not one of us’ attitude. Yet Jesus saw what was in their hearts; he saw their faith.
We are living at a time when governments are increasingly adopting policies of isolationism and insularity; all they care about is their own country. But it’s not just governments. If you read the newspapers, you’ll find accounts of desperate people fleeing persecution, risking their lives crossing the English Chanel in fragile rubber boats, yet not even being acknowledged as human beings who were created in the image of God. Instead they are described as ‘illegals’ who Britain, together with other countries, want to ‘keep out’. We need to challenge that approach. Jesus met people’s needs, regardless of who they were: he healed the Canaanite woman’s daughter, he healed the Centurion’s servant, he went to the Samaritan woman’s village and stayed for two days, teaching the people about God.
As we go about our daily lives post lockdown, whether we are beginning to carefully explore the world outside our residences, or to meet up again with friends and relatives, let us each examine what is in our hearts: how do we speak and behave towards people who are ‘not like us’. Jesus cared for all people, regardless of who they were; do we?
Our readings for this week:
Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Exodus 1:8 – 2:10
- Psalm 124
- Romans 12:1-8
We are now live-streaming services via Facebook each Sunday at 11am. You can find our services here. You do not have to be a Facebook user to watch this – our services are publicly viewable. This week, our reflection will be shared by Neil Mackin.
We will be meeting via Zoom immediately after the service for a virtual ‘coffee and chat’. The link for this will be shared in the comments on Facebook during the service and can also be found in the list of Zoom meetings below.
If you are unable to join us online for our Sunday services, but would like to receive a recording of them on a memory stick to watch at home, please let us know.
Church charity news
Quiz Night in aid of HOPE not hate
Join us for our online Zoom quiz on Saturday 29th August at 7.30 pm. I’m afraid sending chips down the internet is too messy but various online food delivery services are available if you would like to and bring your own fish ‘n’ chips.
There will be ten rounds of questions brought to you via Zoom and hosted by Louise and Neil. Lots of variety of questions set by several people.
Suggested donation of £8 per household. This can be done either via the online Virgin Money Giving page, or you can give by cash or cheque. If you are donating online, you can keep your donation anonymous on our Virgin Money Giving page, but please do make sure you check the box next to where it says ‘please share my name and address with the fundraiser I am sponsoring’ otherwise we won’t know you’ve made the donation. When we have received your donation we will send you the Zoom details for the quiz.
The prize for the winning team will be a lovely box of chocolates and a mask for each member of your team.
If you need help getting onto Zoom let us know.
Additionally we are running a postal quiz so if you don’t use Zoom you can still take join in the fun (feel free to join in both quizzes if you wish though!). Further details, along with a selection of Dingbats and guess the item photos will be sent out with next week’s newsletter.
Virtual Sales Table – Part 2
The production of cotton, including cotton wool, is an ecological disaster, using as it does millions of gallons of water during growing and processing. It’s not all bad, though – it is great for creating yarn and if it is washed and re-used it becomes better than other fibres which are contributing to the plastics disaster.
So, what can you do to help? Cathy has crocheted sets of face cleaning pads to remove make up and freshen your face without the use of disposable wipes or cotton wool AND the proceeds from selling them will go to HOPE not Hate, the church’s charity. They come in packs of 7 for a minimum donation of £3.50 and can be washed at 40°C once used. Contact Cathy to order and make your donation via our Virgin Money donations page or in person on delivery if you are local.
Also available: small net bags for washing the pads for an extra £1.
Don’t forget, you can still order your fabric masks from Denise for a minimum donation of £6.
More next week!
If you have anything you would like to sell on this ‘table’ – maybe you have made a stack of cards or tried your hand at beading – let Joanne, Cathy or Denise know. The more the merrier!
Gifts and donations can be made online via Virgin Money Giving (https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Hopenothate-Christchurch) or by cash or cheque made payable to Christ Church and clearly marked for the church charity.
(Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc – www.reverendfun.com)
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Ruislip Methodist church
- Gerrards Cross URC
Lord God, heavenly king,
through your Son Jesus Christ you have revealed to us
that our highest loyalty is to love you, our neighbours and ourselves.
May we always keep this guiding principle in our hearts and minds,
as we face the competing calls on our loyalty that life brings us:
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.