Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. I hope you are all keeping well and coping as best you can with the current lockdown restrictions. 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:
O Seer into souls that sleep in darkness, Voice who calls ‘Awake!’
Who sees past what is lawful, prudent, duteous, constrained,
Who knows; and knowing, loves; and loving, sets ablaze:
Come speak, and spark; ignite the tinder of dry hearts.
(Epiphany Antiphon for 17 January – for more details see the Methodist Church website)
Reflection from 10 January: New beginnings
Readings: Genesis 1:1-5 and Mark 1: 4-11
Both these readings are about new beginnings. The opening verses of Genesis show us the birth of our universe and of light conquering darkness and in the beginning of Mark’s Gospel we see John the Baptist opening the way for the beginning of his cousin’s ministry.
Jesus’ baptism is hard to explain. Why would the Christ, the child of God, submit to a baptism of repentance? If baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and Jesus is sinless, then what does Jesus’ baptism mean? I think the best interpretation I’ve found comes from John Birch “The baptism of John, a baptism of water, pointed towards the baptism that Jesus would bring, and in these verses we see Jesus baptized not only with water, but with the Holy Spirit, a symbolic linking of the old and the new. The creative Spirit of God, at work in the beginning of time in the creation of the universe, is at work again in the person of Jesus, who can restore mankind to the wholeness of life which God always intended for them.”
What is interesting in Mark’s account is that the word “torn open” (schizo) used of the heavens at Jesus baptism occurs again in Mark 15:38 when the Temple curtain is torn implying a connection between the baptism and crucifixion, the start and end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, which will be followed by another new beginning three days later.
In the waters of baptism, Jesus heard the Spirit calling him to service. He was true to the voice, giving everything, up to and including his life itself. Jesus gave himself to God’s people—sharing, listening, and ministering.
Baptisms, like all beginnings, find their meaning after the event. Starting, by itself, is of little consequence. Beginning is easy, as many people with New Year resolutions are finding out, it’s the follow through and finishing that’s hard.
Ultimately our life in Christ is not just about any particular events that might have taken place in the early (or later) days of our faith. Those moments – if and when they happen – are gifts from God to be treasured, but they constitute starting points, not ending points. One crucial aspect of baptism is not what happens when we’re baptized but what happens after. Baptism is a beginning and like all beginnings needs to move on. We are handed a map, but we have to make the journey. It takes our whole life to finish our baptisms. Repentance, conversion, and growth are a lifelong process. Just as Jesus’ life gave meaning to his baptism, so our baptisms wait to be given meaning through our lives.
In all four gospels the intent is to focus us on Christ and to share with others what Christ brings into our lives and into the world. Not to focus on Christ only as someone who did something for us “back then” but to focus on Christ as someone who, through the power of the Spirit, lives in us and moves us forward today and every day. We who believe in Jesus and are baptized in his name, are told that there is a “new creation” as the Spirit of God works in our hearts to make us children of God. God’s creativity, present in the very act of Creation, is present within each of us, moulding us into the people that he would have us be.
Our readings for this week
John 1:43-51 (NIV)
Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’
46 ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.
‘Come and see,’ said Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.’
48 ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you.’
49 Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.’
50 Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig-tree. You will see greater things than that.’ 51 He then added, ‘Very truly I tell you, you will see “heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on” the Son of Man.’
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)
- Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
- 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Our services are currently online-only and are live-streamed on our Facebook page at 11am on Sundays. 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. This Sunday’s service will be led by Methodist local preacher Dr Samuel Kow Arthur.
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
Fundraising ideas wanted
We are currently looking for ideas of ways that we can continue to fundraise for HOPE not hate during lockdown. If you have any ideas for virtual events or fundraising ideas, please let us know.
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 or by cash or cheque made payable to Christ Church and clearly marked for the church charity.
A big thank you from Yiewsley and West Drayton Foodbank
We would very much like to express our thanks to you all at Christ Church Uxbridge for your very kind donation of 15.15kg of items during December 2020 to the Yiewsley & West Drayton Foodbank.
Your donations will make a big difference to local people in crisis and helps us to make up emergency food bags with enough nutritionally balanced food for 3 days. For a single person this equates to around 10 kg of food, for a couple this is about 15 kg and for a family of four, about 20 kg or four large bags of shopping.
We are very grateful for your support enabling us to meet our vision to help those in need and to address the underlying causes of their poverty and hunger.
You can also support the foodbank by donating online at https://yiewsleywestdrayton.foodbank.org.uk/
The Big Garden Birdwatch
Our outdoor activities might have become very restricted with the latest lockdown, but one thing we can still enjoy is feeding the birds and seeing how many different types visit our garden. We’re looking forward to taking part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of January and seeing how many different birds we can spot over an hour.
The Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s largest bird survey and helps the RSPB collect data to understand the challenges facing garden birds, particularly with declining levels of some types of birds. Taking part is easy – you simply set aside an hour at any point between 29th and 31st January and record which types of birds you spot in your garden. You can sign up on the RSPB website (www.rspb.org.uk) and download a printable ID sheet.
Even if you don’t spot any birds during that hour, it’s still important to share your findings, as knowing which birds aren’t visiting different areas is still useful data. Last year we didn’t spot many birds in our garden but we’ve been feeding them regularly since then. Sophie enjoys helping me clean and refill our bird feeders and making her own bird feeders by spreading peanut butter over toilet roll tubes, rolling them in bird seed and hanging them in the trees.
Hopefully our efforts to encourage the birds into our garden this year have paid off and we’ll spot a few more birds when we take part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch than we did last year.
12 Days of Christmas quiz
We hope you enjoyed joining in with our 12 days of Christmas quiz. Joanne’s lovely embroideries that illustrated each round on our Facebook page have now been put together to create a beautiful wall hanging. You can find all the answers here – how many did you get right?
Praying for other churches
This week we hold Yiewsley Methodist Church in our prayers.
May God’s grace fill our lives,
Christ’s love overflow in our hearts and
the joy and peace of the Spirit challenge and inspire us today and always. Amen
(Taken from the Methodist worship at home service sheets)