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:
Loving God, thank you
for drawing us together to be your people.
Help us to see ourselves as you see us.
Give us faith to hear your words of love
beyond some of the hard realities of our lives.
May your Holy Spirit guide and inspire us
to recognise your presence in all we do.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 14 February: The Season of Epiphany
Reading: Mark 9:2-9
Let us pray. Lord, I pray you will take these human words and all our thoughts to bring us ever closer to your divine truth.
The season of Epiphany takes us from 6th January to the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. It is therefore one of the liturgical periods that is determined by when Easter falls. As Easter is relatively early this year, the season of Epiphany is a little shorter than usual. However, independent of how short it is, the season of Epiphany always ends with the Transfiguration.
The Greek word Epiphany means a moment of sudden and great revelation. The feast of Epiphany, which launches this season, celebrates the visit of the three wise men and is just one of many revelations we are treated to in this period… all pointing to the divinity of Jesus.
Although all four gospels are used for the season of Epiphany over the three different cycles in the lectionary, the present cycle mainly uses Mark’s gospel; the bulk of the readings coming from the first two chapters. Using Mark throughout the season of Epiphany is very appropriate as the beginning of Mark is all about revelation.
This portion of the gospel consists of a series of relatively independent stories, assembled without reference to the particular time and place of each occurrence or the chronological order of the events. It appears that the main reason for assembling these stories together is to drive home the great revelation that Jesus is our Lord, our God and our saviour!
Let me just take a moment to list the events portrayed in this season of revelation:
- Epiphany: The visit of the wise men, Matthew 2:1ff (which is not given in Mark) and emphasises that Jesus is king through their presents and homage.
- 1st Sunday of Ep: The baptism of Jesus, Mark 1:4ff, which records the heavenly voice [God] saying, ‘you are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased.
- 2nd Sunday of Ep: Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael, John 1:43ff, where Nathanael declares that Jesus is the Son of God.
- 3rd Sunday of Ep: The beginning of Christ’s ministry, Mark 1:14ff, where Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God is near.
- 4th Sunday of Ep: Jesus heals the man with the unclean spirit in the synagogue, Mark 1:21ff, where Jesus teaches with authority, tells the unclean spirit to go and were all were amazed.
- 5th Sunday of Ep: Where Jesus heals many more people, Mark 1:29ff.
- 6th Sunday of Ep: Jesus heals a leper, Mark 1:40ff.
- 7th Sunday of Ep: Jesus heals the paralytic, Mark 2:1ff, and again the people were amazed.
I’m guessing by the time you have reached the middle of chapter 2 Mark expected you to be convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. But in case you’re not, the lectionary compilers have given us the Transfiguration to study. So, let’s spend a bit of time on the gospel reading for today.
It’s clear that both Mark and the lectionary compilers want us to notice the similarities of Christ’s transfiguration with Elijah’s ascent into heaven, and with Christ’s baptism.
At the mountain top Jesus received a double approval for his ministry, and in particular for his decision to go to Jerusalem to confront the corrupt powers of the Temple and of Rome… and this would inevitably lead to his death. The first approval was shown by his meeting with Elijah and Moses. Elijah being the first and greatest of the prophets and Moses the supreme lawgiver. The second approval was signalled by the voice of God telling us that ‘This is my beloved son, listen to him’. Note that any Jewish reader would recognise that the descending cloud is a way of saying that the Messiah has come.
So, what does this mean for us today? This sustained development of our understanding of Jesus, coming after the sweet story of the birth of the baby Jesus, aims to reinforce the message that Jesus was no ordinary baby but our incarnate Lord and saviour. That is probably the most important revelation you’ll ever hear, and if you have any doubts about it, go back and pray your way through the first couple of chapters of Mark. Mark is the nearest we’ll ever get to a report of Christ’s life, and it’s full of transformative power. Use the transfiguration and transform yourself!
Let us pray. Lord, we pray for a personal epiphany. That you will enable us to fully recognise you as our Lord and Messiah. Amen
Our readings for this week
Mark 1:9-15 (NIV)
The baptism and testing of Jesus
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Jesus announces the good news
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Genesis 9:8-17
- Psalm 25:1-10
- 1 Peter 3:18-22
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 Rev’d Dr Jonathan Hustler, Methodist minister and Secretary of the Conference.
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.
Looking towards Lent
Woven – Lent Bible study
In our Bible exploration group during Lent, we will be following the London District of the Methodist Church’s Lent study course – Woven. Our Lent course will start on Tuesday 23 February and all are welcome to join us. You can find more information about the Lent study course and download a copy of the booklet for this course at https://www.methodistlondon.org.uk/lentcourse2021
You can find more information about Lent and Easter activities on our church website at https://christchurchuxbridge.org.uk/lent-easter/
Did you enjoy some pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Here are some of the pancake faces that some of our church members made:
Church charity news
Virtual beetle drive – Tomorrow (20th February)
There’s still time to book your place and join us for our virtual beetle drive tomorrow at 7pm in aid of our church charity. If you’d like to join us, simply make a donation to our church charity through our Virgin Giving page and meeting details will be sent out to you.
Virtual sales table
Our virtual sales table is still open, with a variety of items available including face masks, face cleaning pads, pot holders and Easter cards. More details are available on our church charity page on our church website (see details below).
Virtual murder mystery evening
Our next virtual fundraising event for our church charity is an online murder mystery evening planned for Saturday 10 April. More details to be announced soon.
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.
The Girls’ and Boys’ Brigades Games Night
On Friday this week we had a wonderful virtual Games Night organised by the Boys’ Brigade and attended by seniors and leaders of both BB and GB. The format was inspired by famous TV game shows, such as Supermarket Sweep, Catchphrase, Countdown and The Cube.
My favourite round was the Supermarket Sweep round. My tip is to live in a small house or flat (like me) because you will never be more than three metres away from: a toilet paper roll, a carton of apple juice, a tin can, a clock, a baby photo, an AA battery and an item of GB or BB uniform!
There was also a movie identification round with funny home-made videos. My favourite was the scene of Toy Story where Woody and Buzz Lightyear flew through the sky dressed in a cowboy hat and a cardboard robot suit. I thought it was very creative and fun, perfect to unwind on a Friday night after a long week of homeschooling.
Overall, it was one of my best nights with my BB and GB friends and we all had a great time. I can’t wait for the next Games Night, maybe with the Girls’ Brigade hosting instead. Will they be as good as the boys? …
Georgina, 12, GB Seniors
(Note from Captain: Georgina also scored the most points!)
What we’ve been reading lately
This week, Lynn shares what she’s been reading lately:
“I’ve read several novels over the last couple of months – the old classic ‘Three Men in a Boat’ by Jerome K Jerome, 7 of Maeve Binchy’s (I hadn’t read any until now). My laugh out loud books have been Jeeves and Wooster by P.G. Wodehouse, the latest being ‘The Aunt and the Sluggard’. Very funny and a book I’d recommend is ‘ Touching the Void’ by Joe Simpson showing human resilience at its best and the determination of the human spirit and forgiveness – a powerful read.”
If you’d like to share which books you’ve been reading lately, or have any books that you’d be willing to pass on to others, please let Louise know so we can share them in future newsletters.
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Hayes Methodist
- Ealing Green URC/Methodist
Creator God, you made us in your image
to be your people, wherever we go.
This coming week, whatever we experience,
wherever we find ourselves,
help us to know that you are with us –
guiding, revealing and sustaining – always.
(Taken from Roots)