Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. Hope that you are all continuing to keep well and stay safe. We are back in lockdown once more and unable to meet together; however we are continuing to try and maintain our church community as best we can. Our newsletter will continue to be sent out regularly to help continue to maintain contact and a sense of community while life continues to be restricted. 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:
Grace is here to welcome us,
Christ is here amongst us,
The Spirit moves by ways we do not know,
And God comes close, closer than we can imagine.
Come close, Lord Jesus. Amen.
(Taken from The Vine at Home)
Reflection from last Sunday: Remembrance Sunday
Today, remembering has never been more important. And I don’t just mean remembering those who have died, whether through sacrifice in war, as a casualty of war, or through illness or tragic accidents. It seems to me that in 2020, remembering the living has become equally important. We remember those we have not spoken to in a while and it’s been heartening to see more people re-kindle old friendships as a result of the isolation felt by the pandemic. We remember those less fortunate than ourselves and are finding new and innovative ways to keep charities going so they can continue to support those in the most need. We remember the good times we have had with friends who we have perhaps not seen in a long time. We remember good memories from times we have been on holiday when the world was a very different place. At the moment, with all the restrictions and changes to our lives over the past few months as we battle the Covid-19 pandemic, there are moments when we may feel unsettled and distressed by what’s going on around us. It is in those moments that remembering the good times can bring us out of the despair and re-centre our focus on the positives.
Yet sometimes we need some help in remembering things. I don’t know about your memory, but mine is awful. I frequently say to my team at work, if you’ve not put it on a post-it note and you need me to do something you can guarantee I’ll forget. Some people will go to great lengths to preserve a memory. We have monuments all around the world which are intended to preserve the memory of an event or person. An example of this is the Taj Mahal in India.
And today in our Gospel reading (Mark 14: 12 – 26), the focus is on remembering. The passage of the Last Supper is one which is familiar to many of us. This reading is another memorial which was given to us by Christ Jesus himself so that we might remember his death and sacrifice for our salvation. It is not an elaborate or expensive memorial. In fact, it is the very opposite, it is simple and practical and something all practical Christians observe as part of their faith.
On Maundy Thursday, we remember the Last Supper in the lead up to Christ’s sacrifice and glorious resurrection. Churches across the world partake in the act of Communion to remember Christ, although of course the frequency will vary according to the denomination of the church. It’s something that is so engrained within us, that I wonder how often we take the time to stop and truly remember what it means for us.
This is an important passage for us as it deals directly with our relationship with Jesus Christ. And in the true style of a Methodist local preacher, there are three things I want us to focus on:
1) The setting of the Lord’s Supper;
2) The symbols of the Lord’s Supper; and
3) The significant of the Lord’s Supper.
The setting of the Lord’s Supper
The stage is set. Jesus knows what is coming in the days ahead and this is his final night with his disciples. He’s spent the past few weeks trying to prepare them for what is to come and this night, together they celebrate his final Passover meal with them.
The Passover meal is in itself a celebration of remembrance. Moses instituted the Passover feast so that God’s people would remember over the generations how God had delivered them from the slavery of Egypt. The meal consisted of Passover lamb – yet another reminder that the blood of a lamb was placed on the door posts of their homes so when the tenth plague, the angel of death, passed through Egypt, it would Passover the homes of the Israelites and would not kill their first born. The table also had unleavened bread, a reminder of the speed at which they had to pack and leave for freedom, with bitter herbs as a reminder of the bitter slavery they endured yet overcame.
So each time we as Christians prepare for the Lord’s Supper, we are initiating an act of Remembrance. Jesus himself said, do this in remembrance of me. In our Corinthians reading (1 Corinthians 11: 17 – 34), verse 26 tells us: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Which is why when we partake in the Lord’s Supper we celebrate it within a larger setting. These acts form part of our Act of Worship. In Acts 2: 42 we are told that the early Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” And later on in Acts 20:7 we are told that they came together on the first day of the week to break bread.
Today we continue to follow the example of the early Christians. We partake in Communion monthly, within the Methodist Church although some denominations to do this weekly and in some cases even daily. We as Christians need to ensure that each time we partake in this act of remembrance through the Lord’s Supper that we are not just going through a routine. We need to ensure it does not become a meaningless routine. It is for us to make sure that we enter the act or remembrance through the Lord’s Supper with the right heart and the right mind. That each time we go through this act of remembrance it is a time of renewal and spiritual strengthening as we come closer to our God.
The symbols of the Lord’s Supper
When we partake in the Lord’s Supper, each element is a symbol which reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice for us. The bread reminds us of the body of Christ. In the early Church unleavened bread was used but leaven bread was used by Jesus to represent sin. Jesus lived in the body of human flesh yet he was the Son of God without any sin within him. Jesus is the one who did not deserve to die, yet he was the one who died to ensure our salvation. At the communion table the bread is broken. A reminder that Jesus’ body was broken, and he endured great human suffering. The magnitude of Christ’s suffering is a constant reminder of the severity of our human sin.
Alongside the bread on the table is the cup of wine which reminds us of the blood of Christ. The blood of sacrifice has a deep meaning for us for it is written in Hebrews 9:22: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”. The cup in which the wine is held reminds us of Christ’s willing sacrifice, the vessel through which we see the pouring of Jesus’s blood to ensure our human salvation. But the cup is also a sign of a new covenant between us and God. A Covenant is not an agreement between two equal parties, but is instead an arrangement established by one party.
In this case, God is saying I’m here, you can turn to me at any time, your sins are forgiven through the sacrifice of my son. It is for us as the other party to accept or reject God in our lives. Each time we partake in the Lord’s Supper, we are renewing our covenant with God. We are saying yes Lord we use these symbols to remember you fully, to remember your sacrifice, to strengthen and renew our commitment to you. Through these symbols we used them to help us to remember and revere Christ.
The significance of the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper has great meaning and significant for us as Christians. We use it as a time to remember Christ, but in reality how can we forget his sacrifice for us. Do we need to go through the ritual of communion in order to remember him? Are we saying that we would forget the sacrifice of Christ without communion?
Never has this theory been more tested that it is now where we had churches closed across the UK for many months. We couldn’t worship together, we couldn’t share in communion together. Even when the restrictions were slowly relaxed, the way in which we worship has changed dramatically. And now we are in a second national lockdown with churches once again closed and we are unable to share in the Lord’s Supper together in the coming month.
But despite this, we will continue to remember Christ in our lives. 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 tells us: “So then, whoever eats the break or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.”
So let us use this time when we are unable to worship together and share together in the Lord’s Supper as a time of self-reflection and self-examination. We will continue to engage in our prayers and personal devotions. Whether we worship virtually or use online resources, we will reflect outside of worship times on the words of scripture and try and discern God’s will for us.
We use the time to self-reflection not just to confess our sins but also to consider how we are doing in our walk. Are we walking closer to God, or have we taken the wrong path at the crossroads and need to turn around to take the path back towards God? Through our words and actions we remember Christ, his suffering and our forgiveness. We remember his humility when we help our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Another term used for the Lord’s Supper is the Eucharist which is a Greek word meaning to give thanks. We also use this time to give thanks for everything Jesus has done for us. Thanks for the blessings, but thanks also to God for being there through the difficult times and bringing us through it. But above all let’s use this time to proclaim the message. Through everything we can do we can show our belief and faith in God. We need to continue to embody that faith in the months and years ahead.
In conclusion, the famous Dutch artist Rembrandt painted an interesting picture of the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a work which depicts the suffering of Jesus, the indifference of the soldiers, the sorrow of the women at the cross. But the most unusual aspect of the picture is that if you look closely you will see that Rembrandt painted himself back in the shadows.
This is what the Lord’s Supper does for us, it helps us see ourselves at the foot of the cross, to remember the suffering of Jesus on our behalf. We can come around this table in reverence, thanksgiving, humility, awe or we can come here in indifference and pride. Throughout our whole Christian journey, today and every tomorrow we need to remember Jesus. Remember all he has done for us and give thanks for the forgiveness and renewal we can find in him. Amen.
Our readings for this week:
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (NIV)
The Day of the Lord
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Judges 4: 1-7
- Psalm 123
- Matthew 25: 14-30
Although we cannot meet for worship in the building at present, our services continue to be live-streamed on our Facebook page at 11am each Sunday. If you wish to view our services online, you can find them here. 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 Rev’d Elizabeth Welch.
We meet 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 in person or 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
Silent Auction in aid of HOPE not hate
The silent auction catalogue is now available to view and you can find it here. There are plenty of Christmas present ideas in there to bid on.
How it works
- Have a look at the catalogue and see what you like.
- Then send us your bid. You can do this by email, phone or post.
- You won’t know what other people have bid but you can up your bid later if you wish.
- Get your bid to us by 11pm on Tuesday 24th November.
- The winners will be notified shortly afterwards and then you pay.
- You can pay online to our Virgin Giving page or by cash or cheque on delivery.
- We will arrange deliveries as needed.
- If you opt to have an item posted to you that will be done within 3 working days after receiving payment.
- Any item that needs to be made can be delivered to you in time to post in for Christmas to the UK unless otherwise stated.
Send your bid to us via:
Phone: Cathy Simpson (01895 255594)
Post: c/o Joanne Mackin, 13 Cleveland Rd, Uxbridge, UB8 2DW
You can find more details about our church charity fundraising events and 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.
Stained glass celebrations of the uplifting Nativity story appear on the Christmas 2020 stamps featuring classic scenes of the new-born infant Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
Eight special stamps showcase the magical and meaningful stained-glass art adorning windows of Anglican churches across the country. The images highlight the extraordinary detail and exceptional craftsmanship involved in this highly specialised decorative art form.
The set includes six standard portrait and two large landscape special stamps.
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- North Harrow Methodist Church
- St Margaret’s & St George’s, Harlesden (URC/Moravian)
We have been gathered in by you, God,
the source of all wisdom and wonder.
In your infinite kindness, you show goodness to all.
May we, who have been nurtured by your consolation and welcome,
share consolation and welcome with all we meet,
knowing that from your great goodness,
all goodnesses flow.
(Taken from Roots)