Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. Hope that you are all continuing to keep well and stay safe. We are looking forward to being able to meet together for worship in the church building once more this coming Sunday, 11 October. Our newsletter will continue to be sent out regularly to help continue to maintain contact and a sense of community while we are still unable to meet as freely as we would like. 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:
Here we are Lord, come amongst us.
Here we are, seeking to meet with you.
Move, by your Spirit, that we might encounter you again, learn from you, worship you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(Taken from the Vine at Home)
Reflection from last Sunday: The Ten Commandments
Good morning. It is wonderful to be able to share with you in worship in this way. Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts, prayers, and deepest dreams of all of our hearts be acceptable to you O God and in this moment and forever more may we abide in your presence and your peace. Amen.
I love visiting churches. I like pottering around a village I haven’t visited before and meandering around the churchyard, between the tumbledown gravestones: hear the creak of an old oak door, peer inside at the windows and the pews and the memoranda of past generations. I like stumbling upon a lone chapel, perhaps nestled on the coast next to a beach, atop a hill along a worn-down lane, or still defiantly sat amongst terraced housing or city skyscrapers. I love cathedrals, too, for the quiet that still can be found even surrounded by such art and grandeur.
One thing I enjoy spotting in chapels or churches is the familiar sight of the Ten Commandments, sometimes they are painted onto walls or set into plaques or tablets above the pulpit. I could understand why some might find these intimidating—the idea of commandments constantly bearing down on a humble congregation, a little like rules for behaviour plastered onto a Victorian classroom wall. But I’ve never felt that way myself.
The sight of the Ten Commandments in church, chapel, or cathedral offers for me a wonderful sense of familiarity: here are words I recognise, principles to which I try and ascribe. The ten Roman numerals as they set out the list of God’s teachings suggest to me a continuity between the generations: the knowledge that through war and plague, prosperity and peace, doubt and hope these words have remained in their place, though the storm of change and history have battered the stones outside, reminding the community through it all of their faith in God and of their reliance on each other.
We have been reminded over the last six months of how rules can be complicated things – controversial, open to differing interpretations, obeyed or ignored. I think we have also been prompted to recall something of our interdependence as neighbours and even as strangers: whether I wear a face mask or not has a direct impact on the health, safety, and wellbeing of numberless people whom I will never meet.
Similarly, the Ten Commandments, delivered through Moses as the people of Israel journeyed across the wilderness and towards the Promised Land, speak not just of individual expectations but of collective responsibilities, not just how I should live my life to please God but how I should live my life alongside others in order to live the best life for a whole people, a whole nation, and not just the living but the unknown millions to come. By living with each other in mind, we shall live to please God, and secure the future.
Consider, for example, how the passage begins, even before the first commandment is uttered: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Well, it was not simply one person, one listener who was freed from slavery and delivered from the land of Egypt but a whole community, a whole people. God speaks not just to the individual but to all: these are commandments which instruct not just individual ethics but which speak of communal responsibility. And to understand that responsibility we must begin with a reminder, with an injunction to look back and recall the freedom which God delivered for the people of Israel in releasing them from the slavery of Pharaoh. Though we are free, because we are free, because of God’s constant love, we are also bound together as a people in responsibility towards one another.
One of my favourite writers is Marilynne Robinson. Her latest book was published only this week (I can’t wait to read it) and her novels set in the post-war American mid-west speak of the complicated truths of faith and human relationships. Her novel Gilead takes the form of a long letter from an aged minister to his young son. The Reverend John Ames writes of his past, his family history, and his hopes for his son’s future. It is, in effect, an instruction in all that he has learned of life, to leave to a son whom he knows he will not live to see grow old. There is something, I think, of the ageing Moses in the Reverend John Ames. In order to illustrate the ethic of responsibility which he desires for his son, the Reverend Ames finds a metaphor in his son’s love for his mother. I quote:
“When you love someone to the degree you love her, you see her as God sees her, and that is an instruction in the nature of God and humankind and of Being itself.” When you love someone to the degree you love her, you see her as God sees her.
So, to return to those fading letters and Roman numerals on the stone and plaster and timber of our chapels:
The Ten Commandments speak of memory and history, of freedom and of responsibility. They suggest a knowledge of all the layers of past which are behind us and of the continued challenges which lie ahead of us in the coming weeks and months. But the Ten Commandments are also a reminder of our dependence on one another, a hint that though sometimes it may feel like we are utterly alone, even in the most humble of efforts we can live for each other in love, see one another as God sees us, and in so doing glimpse eternity and know God face to face.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
Our readings for this week:
Philippians 4:1-9 (NIV)
Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Exodus 32: 1-14
- Psalm 106: 1-6, 19-23
- Matthew 22: 1-14
Our services will now take place in the church building each Sunday at 11am and will continue to be live-streamed on our Facebook page. If you wish to view our services online, you can find them at www.facebook.com/christchurchuxbridge. You do not have to be a Facebook user to watch them – our services are publicly viewable. You can also view a recent service on our church website here. This week’s service will be led by our worship team.
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.
‘Faith, Hope and Covid’ online service
We are hoping to produce an online evening service in November sharing experiences from our church family of how Covid has affected our faith. This will be a ‘songs of praise’ style service sharing video or audio clips from those who take part. If you have any prayers that you have found particularly helpful during this time, or have a particular hymn whose words have helped you through the last few months, we would love to hear about it. If you would prefer not to share a video or audio recording, you can also put your thoughts down on paper for someone else to read on your behalf. Please let Louise know if you have any hymns, prayers or stories you would like to share.
Church charity news
Thank you to everyone who took part in our postal quiz. You can now check your answers online here. Congratulations to Marlene who was our postal quiz winner.
Items that have been promised so far in our silent auction include the following:
- An offer to wrap up to 10 Christmas presents (paper to be provided by winning bidder)
- A hand-made baby quilt
- A personalised Tooth Fairy pillow
- Tea-bread baked to order
- A tin full of homemade cheese scones
- Two watches
If you have an item to offer for our silent auction, please let Denise, Cathy or Joanne know. You can contact them by email (email@example.com) or telephone (see the church directory for contact details).
Virtual sales table
We still have face-masks (£6 donation), crocheted face-cleaning pads (£3.50 donation for a pack of 7) and pot holders (£8 donation) available on our virtual sales table.
You can find more details about our church charity fundraising events and items on our 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.
Hillingdon Carers have officially rebranded to Carers Trust Hillingdon from 1 October 2020. We are a local charity supporting unpaid carers in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Our new details are as follows:
Carers Trust Hillingdon, 126 High Street, Uxbridge UB8 1JT
Telephone: 01895 811206
Our services include:
- Carer health and wellbeing
- Carer support groups / activities
- Carers of people with mental health issues
- Education, training and carers in employment
- Older carers including carers of people with dementia
- Parent carers
- Carer Cafes, Tele-cafes and Care calling
- Young carers (5-16yrs) and young adult carer (16-24yrs) services
The Passage Cookbook
The Passage To commemorate 40 years of their charitable work and the homeless people they have supported during this time, The Passage will be launching a very special cookbook, A Taste of Home with a Foreword from HRH The Duke of Cambridge, and exclusive recipes from over 100 household names including: Nigella Lawson, Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Fry, Yotam Ottolenghi, Diana Henry and many more. The book will also include stories and recipes from people who have been helped by the charity’s services over the years, shining a light on the challenges that they have been able to overcome with the right guidance, opportunities and resources.
A Taste of Home is priced at £25 and can be pre-ordered at Waterstones, or purchased online and from other bookstores from 15 October, to coincide with The Passage’s anniversary month. All profits will go directly towards supporting people who are street homeless and in housing crisis during a particularly testing financial time for so many.
Visit www.passage.org.uk/tasteofhome for more information
Praying for other churches
This week we pray for our own church as we resume services in the building once more.
May your grace, love and peace inspire and strengthen us now, and in the days to come. In Jesus’ name we ask this. Amen.