A drawing of Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness

Hello everyone,

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 (publicity@christchurchuxbridge.org.uk)


We start with our opening prayer:


Lord, we come to you just as we are
Bringing our worries and our fears;
Our moments of joy and our celebrations;
Our concerns for ourselves and for others;
And our gratitude for the gifts you have given us.
Just as we are, we come to you
In a moment of stillness and silence.
Open our ears to your word, Lord.
Help us to follow where you would lead.



Reflection from 21 February: What does it mean to be baptised?

Reading:  Mark 1:9-15


In, I think, the first month of my first appointment, I took a telephone call from a local Anglican minister who was due to confirm a man who did not know if he had ever been baptised; if he had been it would have been in the circuit I was serving. Could I check the registers? It is not unusual for adults not to know if they have been baptised, or christened as they might say. One can easily see why it happens; if they were baptised it was in their early years, since when the church has played no major part in their lives nor they in its. The implication of the question being asked (even if there is someone with a record or a memory who can give an answer) is that whether or not they were baptised it didn’t really signify very much.


Priest pouring holy water into the baptismal font, moments before a child receives the sacrament of baptism


Members of the early Church would have been astonished by that attitude. Baptism was not a matter to be taken lightly in the first few centuries after the resurrection. The evidence suggests that in those days there was no practice of a light sprinkling with water; rather, it was a ceremony that simulated drowning. Usually those who joined the Church were baptised at Easter, as part of the vigil before dawn. In utter darkness, the candidates were stripped and plunged into water three times before being anointed with oil, dried and clothed in white robes. Symbolically and graphically, the ceremony enacted the theology of the Church. Christians are those who share Christ’s death and resurrection.


It was a great act and therefore it required great preparation. Those who were baptised in that way were usually adults or at least old enough to make the promises of Christian commitment for themselves. Before being received into the church they would have undertaken catechism; they would have been instructed in the faith and led to prepare themselves spiritually. As the Baptisms were scheduled for Easter, so the period before Easter became a time of prayer and fasting in the church. Later, others in the church, those who had already been baptised, were invited to join the catechumens in praying and fasting to prepare for the Easter celebration – and Lent as we have inherited it developed.


On this the first Sunday in Lent, then, we who are members of the church and those who are considering church membership are confronted with a question. What does it mean to be baptised? Martin Luther, the German Protestant leader of the 16th century, famously had a sign above his desk which read ‘I am baptised’. But, if in the 20th century it could be so easily forgotten, and if in 21st-century Britain so few are presented for Baptism, so what if I am baptised?


Our Gospel reading today offers an answer. I think that the first few of these verses from the second gospel were amongst the first passages of Scripture that I knew by heart as a child because I was brought up in a church where we had a lot of christenings. Each time, we would hear Mark’s account of Jesus’ own Baptism. It is a brief account: Jesus was baptised by John; the heavens opened; the Holy Spirit descended as a dove; a voice proclaimed that Jesus is God’s Son. But there is a lot more going in that compressed account; it is a sort of mirror of the crucifixion: when Jesus dies, according to Mark, he gives up the Spirit, the temple curtain is torn, and the centurion identifies him as God’s Son. In the Baptism, the great event of salvation is prefigured; Jesus’ saving work begins.


So Mark moves on in his narrative to give an hint of what that means. Jesus is tempted. Again, Mark’s account is compressed – there is no detail of the temptations and no account even of Jesus defeating the temptor. We are simply told that the Holy Spirit drove him into the wilderness where he was amongst the wild beasts and tested for forty days and that angels attended him. The picture we see is of a cosmic battle; the forces of good are ranged against the forces of evil.


The story rapidly moves on. Jesus returns from the desert to proclaim the good news – the kingdom of God has come near. The kingdom of God is a phrase over which much ink has been spilt; from the perspective of what we have just heard, it seems to mean that God is re-establishing God’s government over God’s troubled world. What is to follow in the gospel shows that in word and action: Jesus takes on the evils of disease, of demon possession, of want, of hypocrisy, of greed, of violence, of death itself – and he wins. It is a cosmic battle in which the Son of God triumphs. All of that is inaugurated in his baptism.


Biblical vector illustration series, the temptation of Jesus Christ


And all of that is implied in my baptism. It might not feel like it and it might not feel like that is what Lent helps us to remember. Giving up chocolate or joining a study group, missing the odd meal and giving to a charity might not feel like skirmishes in a cosmic battle – but they are. Every time we resist greed (our own or others), every time we remind ourselves of what it must be like to be hungry, every penny that we offer to those whose need is greater than ours, and every moment that we spend consciously learning more of the ways of God, we identify with Christ. We identify with Christ in his battle against all that is wrong with the world. To that we were pledged in our baptism. And at Easter we shall celebrate again that Christ has triumphed in his battle – and we triumph with him. Surely, that matters.
Rev’d Dr Jonathan Hustler



Our readings for this week

Mark 8:31-38 (NIV)

Jesus predicts his death
31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’


The way of the cross
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.’


Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:

  • Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
  • Psalm 22:23-31
  • 1 Peter 3:18-22



Our worship

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 a communion service and will be led by URC minister Rev’d Maggie Hindley.


Following the announcement on 22 February of the four-step roadmap out of lockdown, we currently anticipate that the church buildings will reopen for Sunday services when Step 2 is reached (no earlier than 12 April), subject to guidance from the Methodist Church and URC.


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

Easter community project

For our Easter window we are planning an Easter display and would love your help. We have got an Easter tree and would like to decorate it with suitable items that you have made. Think Christmas decorations, but for Easter. We are looking for decorations of crosses, eggs, chicks, bunnies etc.  They should be no bigger than 2″ by 3″ (5cm by 7.5cm approx.) We will add the hanging loop. They can be knitted, sewn, crochet, felt, craft foam, paper etc.


We will share various ideas over the next few weeks. Louise is putting together a small craft pack with craft foam, see our virtual sales table for details.


The finished items can be sent to Cathy Simpson., 16 St John’s Close, Uxbridge UB8 2UX.


You can find a knitting pattern for a small Easter egg decoration here..


You can find more information about Lent and Easter activities on our church website at https://christchurchuxbridge.org.uk/lent-easter/



Women’s World Day of Prayer

Women’s World Day of Prayer takes place next Friday 5th March. This year’s service has been prepared by the Christian women of the Republic of Vanuatu and we will be sharing their words via our service on the church Facebook page at 2pm on Friday 5th March.


Church charity news

Virtual sales table

The latest item on our virtual sales table is a craft kit to make two Easter egg hanging decorations from craft foam. Please note that this is not suitable for children under 36 months and that contents may vary. The craft kits are available for a donation of £2.50 per kit (postage included). Please email address details to charity@christchurchuxbridge.org.uk after making your donation.


Two Easter egg decorations made from foam shapes and a craft kit containing the craft items needed to make them


You can also buy Easter cards and a variety of other items on our virtual sales table. More details are available on our church charity page on our church website (see details below).



Fundraising update

Thank you to everyone who attended our virtual beetle drive last Saturday. We raised around £80 for our church charity through this.

The Easter cards have raised £17.50 so far for HOPE not hate and our fundraising total to date is now £859.37.


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 cartoon of a devil trying to buy a barbecue with the caption "So you say this particular model can withstand incredible heat, eh?"
(Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc – www.reverendfun.com)



What we’ve been reading lately

This week Jenny shares some of the books she’s been reading lately:


“I’ve always been a reader and don’t know how I’d be if I couldn’t have books! I’ve read a lot during the lockdowns. As I’ve only myself to please, I can read as long as I like!


Since Christmas I have re-read a set of books (1-16) about ‘Detective Ryan’ by L.J. Ross. I’ve enjoyed following the development of the characters and the setting in Northumbria. I can ‘picture’ the scenes because many years ago Uxbridge and Ruislip GB had a summer camp at Seahouses.


We visited many of the scenes portrayed in the books – Lindisfarne, the Farne Islands, Grace Darling Museum, Newcastle waterfront, the Angel of the North. Very happy memories.


At the moment, I’m reading ‘Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pyjamas’ – a book about popular expressions – what they mean and where we get them, e.g. to clear the decks, back to square one, the real McCoy, to live life in the fast lane, to beat about the bush.”


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.


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.




Children’s Corner

A code-cracking puzzle
(Taken from the Roots activity sheet © ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2021. Reproduced with permission.)



Praying for other churches

This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:

  • Hayes End Methodist
  • St Andrew’s, Ealing, URC


Closing prayer

Lord, as we journey through Lent together, and yet apart, help remind us that your love continues to connect us all and help us to share your love with others in whatever small ways we can. Amen.

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