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 (email@example.com)
We start with our opening prayer:
Creator God, who calls us to follow,
we are on journeys,
individual journeys and shared journeys,
experiences that are ours alone and ours together.
Guide us on our journey this day
and help us to keep our eyes on the goal.
(Taken from Roots)
An update on services in the church building
Dear members and friends of Christ Church
Following much hard work by church members and the church staff, we plan to begin holding services at Christ Church from Sunday 11th October 2020 at 11 am.
This, and following services, will be broadcast online, and can be viewed live through the church Facebook page in the same way that services have been held since April. Therefore, services will continue to be available for those who do not wish to attend the building.
The camera to enable the broadcasting to take place will be at the back of the chapel and so faces of the congregation will not be seen in the broadcast. There will be some seating available outside of the camera view.
We will comply fully with government guidelines and therefore the following points need to be noted:
- A record of those attending will be kept for the purposes of track and trace.
- Face masks must be worn by members of the congregation while in the building.
- No hymn books, service sheets or other material will be available for issue. If you wish to have a Bible please bring your own.
- There will be no congregational singing of hymns
- Social distancing must be observed in the building and the seating in the chapel will be arranged accordingly.
- Movement around the building will be limited – there will be no access to the kitchen and meeting rooms.
- There will be no refreshments available and at the end of the service all should leave the building with as little delay as possible.
In order to make a prompt start please arrive by 10.50am and take your seat in the chapel.
Please note that the building continues to be closed at other times while further plans continue to be made for other activities taking place.
We pray God’s blessing on our continuing life as a church, and look forward in hope as we maintain our witness and service in his name.
Peter King and Brian Moere (Acting Church Secretaries)
You do not need to let us know in advance in order to attend the service, but if you are able to do so it would help us with arranging seating and make it easier for us to collect track and trace data. If you could let the office know by 8 October, that would be very helpful. Thank you.
Reflection from last Sunday: Covenant
Covenants between God and his people occur many times in the Bible. Solemn occasions when God promises to care for his people and they promise to live their lives in accordance with his commands.
The definition of a covenant is that it is a chosen relationship in which two parties make binding promises to each other. The book of words which I found about this said a covenant should be distinguished from a contract because it is a personal relationship which people voluntarily enter.
There are many different kinds of covenant in Scripture. Marriage is a good illustration of a covenant for the two persons choose to enter into a relationship with one another and make promises to one another.
Not all covenants were alike in the ancient world. In some covenants the person with more authority made a covenant for those having less authority and power. Such was the case when a king made a relationship with his subjects. It’s that sort of covenant we enter into with God when we promise to live our lives for him.
My house comes with a covenant – I know many do. When mine was built over, one hundred years ago, the owner designated a right-of-way beside and along the back of my house so the other houses in the terrace could have their coal delivered and their rubbish collected. There isn’t the same need for that now, but I must still observe that right of way, that covenant which defines the boundary of the building. I just have to share with you that when originally built the houses each had a toilet which was accessed from the right-of-way and I sometimes think what surprised meetings must have occurred between householders emerging from the loo and bin men or coal men! I dread to think about it!
Over the years there have been successive owners of the houses, but the covenant made with the original owner stands. To buy my house – offers over a million by Tuesday please! – you’d have to agree to the covenant.
Over the years there have been successive generations in God’s creation, but the covenant made with the original creator God stands.
The Hebrew Scriptures record several covenants with God and the people with Noah, with Abraham, Moses, David. It’s been said that they are the backbone of the Biblical story. Successive covenants develop the relationship between God and his people. And we’ve heard read this morning the account in Deuteronomy of God’s covenant with the Israelites as they are released from captivity and on the way to their Promised Land. They failed to keep the previous covenant, but they get a new chance. They’re commanded to love the Lord your God, walk in obedience to him and keep his commands, decrees and laws. Once again their record of compliance was chequered to say the least. But God doesn’t give up on them.
And so we come to the second reading from Jeremiah where God promises a new covenant where the people’s response is not based on outward observance of laws, but on acceptance of his gifts of inward conviction and commitment.
William Neil in his wonderful one-volume Bible commentary, which I recommend to anyone who can get hold of a copy, puts it well. He says it was possible for the people of Jeremiah’s day to regard themselves as being in the right relationship to Yahweh so long as public worship in terms of ritual and sacrifice was offered regularly in accordance with the provisions of the law. More than any other prophet Jeremiah sees the weakness of formalism in religion and insists that there must be within the framework of the worshipping community a personal commitment on the part of the individual or believer. God doesn’t look at how we are on the outside, but on the inside. In our Bible exploration group this week we considered Esther, who demonstrated just that.
God’s final covenant with his people – the new covenant – came in the gift to us of Jesus. The Gospel reading for today is John 15 from verse 5:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
And today we renew our part in the new covenant in promise and prayer, and in holy communion when we will be reminded of Jesus asking us, his disciples, to break bread and drink wine. Wine which he said is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many. Amen.
Our readings for this week:
Matthew 21:33-46 (NIV)
The Parable of the Tenants
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Exodus 20: 1-4, 7-9, 12-20
- Psalm 19
- Philippians 3: 4b -14
We are currently live-streaming services via Facebook each Sunday at 11am. You do not have to be a Facebook user to watch this – our services are publicly viewable. You can find all our previously-streamed services here and one of most recent services on our church website here.
This week we welcome Methodist local preacher Rob Thompson to share a reflection with us.
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
Launching our Silent Auction for HOPE not hate
A silent auction works by people donating items to be auctioned. Then the descriptions are circulated and everyone gets to bid on any item they fancy. To bid you send your sealed bid to us privately and the highest bid at the close of the auction wins. You will be able to bid by email, phone or post and you won’t know what the other bids are, that’s the silent bit. The auction will be in November so if you win anything you should have it in time for Christmas if needed. More details to follow.
However, what we need now is items to auction. They can be new or not, handmade or shop bought, physical or a service; ideas for Christmas presents might be good too. Basically anything that might be of use to others.
For example, you could make a cake, offer homemade jam, sew a bag, offer that jigsaw you did in lockdown, offer unwanted Christmas or birthday presents, do some ironing or baby-sitting. For handmade things it could be something already made or something you will make to order. There are endless possibilities and we have some talented people in our midst.
Send your offer (not the actual item at this stage) or discuss your idea with Denise, Cathy or Joanne by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or use the telephone numbers in your church directory.
Ideas by 21st October please.
You can find more details about our church charity silent auction and the items on our virtual sales table at https://christchurchuxbridge.org.uk/activities/churchcharity2020/
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.
Hate Crime Awareness Week
Amongst all that’s currently happening, it’s easy to forget some of the important things we do and why we do them. From 10th – 17th October its National Hate Crime awareness week. Although work is done throughout the week, this is a time to highlight this issue and to support this awareness we are delivering several events.
You are invited to join us at our launch to help us identify individuals to join us in becoming Hate Crime Upstanders.
Our Hate Crime Upstanders programme is aiming to promote positive messages about how we all benefit from stronger and resilient communities, and how we all have a role in tackling discrimination and hate crimes in all forms and manifestations.
Our programme will be seeking to recruit local volunteers / community representatives from all backgrounds to join with us to enable a greater understanding of hate crime and be able to support others within their community in relation to hate crime.
Our hope is that this will help to promote community cohesion, raise awareness within the community, and increase confidence to report and challenge hate crime.
Hillingdon Council has teamed up with Metropolitan Police to recruit and train community members and volunteers and are reaching out to you who have those community links to community groups join us and promote this programme and participate to become an organisation that recognises hate crime and supports those who may be affected by it.
Through our annual training programme, the trained upstanders can support people, who may have been a victim of hate crime. They will learn the skills to speak to those affected in a safe and secure environment and can seek advice on the various channels to report and to get specialised support.
To attend our virtual events and learn more about what’s involved in being a Hate Crime Upstander, then please register to attend one of our virtual training events on Tuesday 13th October by contacting Rehman Anwer at email@example.com. Each of the 3 virtual events on will cover the same topic. Please indicate in your email which event you would like to attend.
Event 1: 1pm – 1.45pm
Event 2: 2pm – 2.45pm
Event 3: 3pm – 3.45pm
It’s important we understand what Hate Crime is and together we support and understand what can be done.
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Cannon Lane Methodist church
- Acton Hill URC/Methodist church
Almighty God, we are travelling on a journey:
the journey of our Christian life.
Its foundations, full of all that has gone before,
are part of the scaffold of our lives.
Some of it can be seen by others, some only by ourselves;
some is very obvious, some more hidden.
But it is there. It is a personal journey
– no one else’s is quite the same
– but you know it and you know all of us,
and we trust you to guide us,
to give us the strength, the courage and the persistence we need to follow where you lead even if the path is tough.
Be our guide, we pray.
(Taken from Roots)