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:
Lord of all things we come to you knowing you are here.
We come recognising that you know us and care for us and we give you thanks.
We come noticing all you have given to humanity – our wonderful world, the diversity of its peoples, vast knowledge and skill, an all-encompassing love and we give you thanks.
We come too knowing what you require of us and all too aware that we often fall short.
We come to ask for forgiveness, through grace already knowing that you will forgive and we give you thanks.
We pray that we might live like thankful people this day and every day. Amen.
(Taken from the Vine at Home)
Reflection from last Sunday: Speak what is precious
If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
you shall serve as my mouth.
That’s just one verse from the lectionary reading today from Jeremiah, in the Bible translation I keep on my desk.
What might it mean to utter, to speak, to say, what is precious? As opposed to what is worthless? I suppose it’s about all that we communicate, by word and deed and everything we are, as individuals and as a community, and about the impact it has on others. And I suppose precious implies very careful choice, and a dropping of non-essentials. So, to speak what is precious means being very clear about our priorities.
With regard to those priorities, Jesus has challenging words in today’s gospel. He comes down so hard on poor Peter, who hasn’t yet understood why Jesus needs to go the way of the cross. We need to sit light to this life he says, affirming that there is another kind of life, worth dying for, worth more than the whole world, our one and only precious possession. Four times Jesus used the word life! He means life in the Spirit, the life lived in God, life in all its fullness. That’s what’s precious. That’s our priority.
Our reading from Paul helps with what this life looks like, fleshes out what our priorities should be. We are to love each other – and, if there is to be competition between us, it should be competition to show each other honour. That’s quite difficult for our ego driven selves. It is for me, anyway – I find it SO hard not to make comparisons and judgements! But there’s more; we are to bless people who are nasty to us; we are never to get back at those who wrong us; we are to consider instead their welfare and see to their needs. That comes straight from Jesus’ own teaching, of course – Love your enemies! – and we don’t do it easily. I find that even if I’ve managed to ‘officially’ forgive someone who has hurt me deeply, even if I’ve refrained from getting back or gossiping about them, I still get a tingle of pleasure when something bad happens to them. Don’t do this, says Paul. Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. That’s what’s precious. That’s priority. That’s the kind of life Jesus is talking about.
To say, do, exemplify what is precious needs work, just as learning to accept the way of the cross needed work for Peter – a lifetime of never ending work!
The only place to start is at the feet of Jesus, letting his pure unconditional intimate love for us saturate our whole being. The only place to start is in his presence, in prayer, however you do prayer, whether in nature or music or silence or in pouring it all out in words – it doesn’t matter. Just do it, like in the Nike ad.
And as we get saturated in Jesus, the boundaries between self and others begin to fall away, and we begin to realise that we are all, in fact, all one, that what’s good for you is good for me, that competition and revenge is a nonsense, that we are all one in the life of God. We are less inclined to show off and to be judgemental; more open to correction and change from what happens to us or what people say to us.
And as the knowledge that we are all one takes root in us we will reach out to others – to people in need, to people whose views challenge ours, to people who are knowingly or unknowingly abusing the power that they have over others; we will reach out riskily, longing for change in the world, valuing fullness of life for others above our own advancement or even survival. Caring for future generations. Speaking the truth. Being kind.
Well, that’s an agenda for a lifetime; an agenda that needs much work on ourselves as well as much reaching out to others. It’s one I’m happy to embrace.
Letting the life of God warm, fill, transform us; saying no to all that is egotistical in favour of honouring all our fellow beings, reaching out to bless, heal, enrich our brothers and sisters whoever they may be – that’s giving away our life in order to find it; that’s overcoming evil with good; that’s speaking what is precious. That’s serving as God’s mouthpiece. That’s what Jesus asks of us. Nothing else really matters.
Rev’d Maggie Hindley
Our readings for this week:
Romans 13:8-14 (NIV)
Love Fulfills the Law
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
The Day Is Near
11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Exodus 12: 1-14
- Psalm 149
- Matthew 18: 15-20
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’s service will be led by our worship team as we take a closer look at what it means to be an inclusive church.
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.
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
Thank you to everyone who joined in our Zoom quiz night on 29 August. We had a variety of questions from topics such as the Bible, British prime ministers, musical theatre and 2020 general knowledge and raised £105 for our church charity. Well done to the Marr family who were the winning team.
If you’d like to join in with some quizzing fun, you can still take part in the postal quiz which was sent out in last week’s newsletter (suggested donation £4). You can also download a copy of the quiz and find details of the current items on our virtual sales table here.
Giving online to our current charity – HOPE not hate
HOPE not hate have chosen to use ‘Virgin Money Giving’ and not the better known ‘JustGiving’ for online donations. Virgin Money Giving are a good choice if you are expecting most donations to be under £200 due to the way credit card charges work. Joanne can explain further if you want to know but basically, HOPE not hate get more money from Virgin Money Giving. Online giving also enables HOPE not hate to receive donations sooner, as it is paid to them weekly. If you can’t pay online though, you can still give your donation to us in cash or cheque and we will give it to HOPE not hate at the end of the fundraising period when hopefully we will be able to present it to them.
Please arrange cash or cheque payments with the organiser of the particular fundraising event or email email@example.com for details.
So how do you pay via Virgin Money Giving and make it work for us too?
Firstly, use the link given in the newsletter or on our Facebook page as it directs you to the correct part of the Virgin Money Giving site. Donations won’t count against our total unless they are made directly through our fundraising page. Secondly, don’t give your donation totally anonymously or we can’t link it to relevant event or online sale. You do have to give some details to make the online payment just as you would any online transaction, but you have options on how much the outside world can see of your donation.
You have two options that can help us:
1) Leave a message about what you are donating for. If you are not comfortable with leaving your name please just put your initials.
2) Tick the box in the last section to allow the fundraiser to see your email address.
If we can’t see your payment or identify you we may not know to send you online event details or be able to provide the product you wish to buy and we would hate you to miss out.
Finally, follow up your donation with a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the person who is organising that bit of the fund raising so that we can link it all together.
Thank you so much for supporting our charity this year. We got off to a slow start but we’re sure we will do well. We also hope you have fun too and we hope to see at our fundraising events.
Joanne, Denise and Cathy
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)
(Taken from the Roots activity sheet © ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020. Reproduced with permission.)
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- South Harrow Methodist church
- St Margaret’s & St George’s, Harlesden (URC/Moravian)
Being Christian, O God, is not just about ‘me and you’,
not just about our conversations and our love.
Help us to see those we meet in the way that you see them.
Help us to offer support from what we know of you.
Help us to be a shining light for you,
a guiding light for those in confusion, aloneness and darkness.
(Adapted from Roots)