A man with a mask picking up a loaf of bread from near-empty supermarket shelves

Hello everyone,

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 (publicity@christchurchuxbridge.org.uk)

 

We start with our opening prayer:

 

Living God, you are the most high,
We praise you in the desert places of life,
And we praise you when we are richly fed and all our needs are met.
We praise you in this storm,
and when all is calm around us.
Living God, most high, we praise you.
Amen.
(Taken from The Vine at Home)

 

 

Reflection from last Sunday: A Covid Harvest

A Covid Harvest – a bit of a different harvest. This is what we’re used to. God’s abundance overflowing the table in the church; stuff stacked up underneath to distribute to others. But not this year. Instead we’ve been reaping our individual harvests – growing fruit and veg in our own gardens – from French beans to root vegetables, fruit and flowers. There have been other harvests too – harvests of talents, such as those shown by the Brigades’ members in their virtual display. Harvests of talents from crafters, gymnasts, sportspeople, singers, dancers, music makers and even stop-motion animators! Of course we also have the virtual sales table in aid of this year’s church charity.

 

Our world has seen more harvests than this. We have the harvest of care shown by our NHS workers. We have the support shown for carers. We have the sharing of food with strangers and those who have been shopping and provisioning for those unable to get out. A lot of positive harvests.

 

But we also have the harvest of greed. There weren’t really any food shortages as such, there were just stock shortages. And we have the whole world threatened by those who, for whatever reason, either don’t believe in masks, don’t believe in the virus, don’t believe in their own vulnerability or the vulnerability of others. Even with those we have seen the upsurge of both protest in the Black Lives Matter movement but also the reassertion of what we all know, that all people are equal.

 

A man with a mask picking up a loaf of bread from near-empty supermarket shelves

So, it remains to be seen what the overall Covid harvest is going to be in our world. As we heard in our reading from Joel, old men shall dream dreams, young men shall see visions. We’re already seeing the seeds of such things being sown. David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg – the two extremes; the old and the young.

 

I’m going to finish by reading a meditation from a book called ‘No Strange Land’ by Eddie Askew

 

“Life in cities seems far removed from the farm. Harvest festivals seem unreal; remnants of former days. Many see the first fruits of harvest as an opportunity for higher prices and bigger profits rather than as an offering to God, yet we still depend on the soil and at harvest we remember again the cycle of death and life, of hope springing from the dying seed.

 

The farmer sows in hope. It’s an active hope because he also works to secure it. He tills the soil, feeds and irrigates it. This is Christian hope too. Peter tells us that we are given new birth into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Living hope: active, developing, growing. Not a passive acceptance that everything will be alright in the end, but a hope in which we work with God to achieve his purposes.

 

Again, it’s hope which springs from the dying seed. It comes from the death of Jesus and the deaths that we die in actively living for him. No-one comes to personal faith except by dying. The revelation of our human condition as we see ourselves in his light is the death of pride and delusion. We face the reality and the living Christ smashes the fetters of our intellect and lets our desperation out of hiding.

 

We are desperate and full of fear, particularly now. The trouble is that fear is living too. It feeds itself and creates the very things it’s afraid of. It’s only by facing the fact of our fear and failure that we can take hold of the hope that is offered to us.

 

Someone suggested to me the other day that we shouldn’t examine our failures: “it’s too discouraging”, he said – but isn’t failure part of the truth we have to face? How else do we learn? The great thing is that in facing the truth about ourselves, we’re thrown on to Jesus as the one source of strength and life.

 

And so, the sombre journey to the discovery of our distress is transformed into a bright journey to the discovery of grace. And that is why our hope is real and alive because it springs direct from the living God through whom the hope of harvest and the harvest of hope is fulfilled.
Cathy Simpson

 

Our readings for this week:

Philippians 2:1-13 (NIV)

Imitating Christ’s Humility
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

 

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

 

Do Everything Without Grumbling
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

 

An open Bible with ferns in the background

 

Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:

  • Exodus 17: 1-7
  • Psalm 78: 1-4, 12-16
  • Matthew 21: 23-32

 

 

Our worship

We are currently 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 our Covenant service, led by Graham Hinton, and will be a communion service.

 

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

Virtual sales table

The following items are currently available on our virtual sales table:

 

Three images showing face masks, crocheted face cleaning pads and hand-made pot holders

 

Face masks – handmade by Denise, in a variety of different fabrics. Suggested minimum donation £6

 

Crocheted face cleaning pads – handmade by Cathy. Suggested minimum donation £3.50 for a pack of 7. Also available are small net bags for washing them for an additional £1 donation.

 

Pot holders – 6 inch square pot holders handmade by Joanne. Suggested minimum donation £8 each.

 

You can find more details about our church charity and virtual sales table here.

 

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.

 

 

A cartoon of Noah reading 'Arkitecture for Dummies; and the caption 'Noah prepares'
(Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc – www.reverendfun.com)

 

 

Children’s Corner

The word 'interests' and the question 'how many words can you make using the word 'interests'?
(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:

  • Yiewsley Methodist church
  • St Andrew’s, West Kilburn URC

 

Closing prayer

May we go, Lord God,
to meet the needs of others
and share the love we have from you.
Amen.
(Taken from Roots)

‘Look-In’ in Lockdown #23
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