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 God, as we journey through these long Lenten days,
give us both respite and food for the journey.
Help us grieve with those who have lost loved ones to this plague.
Help us support those who nurse and care for the critically ill.
Help us to show love by keeping our distance.
And help us, O God, to rejoice as the vaccine is rolled out,
lives are saved,
and our world starts slowly to spring to life again.
(Rev’d Andy Braunston, taken from URC ‘Prayers during the Pandemic )
Reflection from 5 March: A matter of life and death
Reading: Mark 8: 31-38 and 9: 2-9
How sobering the first part of our reading from Mark today is. Jesus starts to publicly predict his death, which is to be accompanied by great suffering and total failure – and it won’t be long coming! A good reading as we begin to get deeper into Lent. Back home, with just Jesus and the other disciples, Peter argues with him. I bet he said something like: ‘Jesus, you can’t let that happen! I won’t let it happen! And anyway, you’re upsetting everybody by talking like this.’ Speaking to the twelve, Jesus shows that he means business. He calls Peter Satan. That’s not to be taken lightly! And he says that giving up life is for them as well as him.
Those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake,
and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
What is he implying? The disciples certainly don’t ‘get’ him at this point.
He means what he says. He has come among humankind to give up his life in the most painful and humiliating way known to the people of that time and place, and he expects his disciples to do the same. NOT upcheering when you haven’t long left home to follow this exciting new Messiah.
And so it comes to pass. As we’ll remember in Holy Week, Jesus is betrayed and killed. The disciples, who still don’t get him, run away. But not so much later, they find themselves taking him literally, and joyfully suffering all sorts of nasty public deaths for the Gospel. Is that what he wants for us latter day disciples too?
Those who lose their lives for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
To live in the sight of God we must give up our lives. And, yes, for some Christians today that means martyrdom. Do you remember those young men dressed in orange prison suits and shot on a beach in Egypt by Isis, just for being Christian? They are not alone.
For most of us, especially those of us here in the West, we will not be called to follow Jesus literally like this. However, we are called to take him seriously. That’s what Lent is about – taking his call seriously.
To take up our cross, to lose our life for his sake, is to learn to die to self. Giving up something for Lent is about ‘less of me and more of him’. It’s practice for the death he calls us to, no less. So are the little deaths we die each day when we take up the opportunity to swallow our pride and forgive somebody, swallow our self pity and disappointment when things don’t go the way we wanted them to, bite back to urge to judge, put aside our anxiety in favour of the courage needed to live fully. So are those bigger deaths we die when our hearts are broken, when we lose someone we love, when we face a health problem that threatens our life, or at least life as we know it. Taking Jesus seriously means accepting all those things as part of being a disciple, and following him gratefully, with love, welcoming the opportunity to serve Jesus, each other, the world. It’s not for cissies.
Tough! So I’m very glad that the lectionary for this week also gives us the story that follows this hard teaching.
Just as the dialogue points forward to Jesus’ passion, so the transfiguration points forward to the resurrection. What wouldn’t you give to be Peter, James or John, Jesus’ most trusted disciples, led by him on a mountain walk and then treated to a vision of glory?- white light, shining face, the prophets of old come to commune with him? Although what the disciples felt was terror, rather than just wonder or amazement, the impact of the experience was hugely reassuring. They’d picked the right Messiah (there were lots of self- proclaimed ones around). The voice of God affirmed this, booming from heaven. And God was not put off by their clumsy response, Peter offering to build tents for the figures of glory, no one knowing what to say. He just told them to listen to Jesus – and to listen in the sense of obeying. Now they knew in their bones. Nothing would ever be the same again.
Maybe something has happened in your life, some life changing experience of wonder, that makes you able to share something of what the disciples enjoyed then. Or maybe several small moments of knowing the presence of God in your bones. Be reassured. Jesus is to be trusted. Jesus belongs to the realm of all time and all space. Jesus is glorious. And in so far as we give up our lives, we are a part of that glory. We are part of God’s life in all its generosity and freedom and grace and love. That doesn’t stop us being fallible human beings, but it does begin to free us up from self-regard and pettiness for service to the Kingdom. Service to the Kingdom may cost us everything and then some, But nothing else really matters.
Don’t be dismayed, then, by what you have had to give up because of Covid or what’s happening in your life; don’t hesitate to throw yourself into Lent and the practice of self denial. What God wants for us and for the world is beautiful beyond words. And every time that we surrender ourselves willingly and lovingly to God it becomes a little more real. I wish you life in all its fullness as you practice that this Lent and after.
Rev’d Maggie Hindley
Our readings for this week
John 2:13-22 (NIV)
Jesus clears the temple courts
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!’ 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’
18 The Jews then responded to him, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’
19 Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’
20 They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Exodus 20:1-17
- Psalm 19
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
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 members of Christ Church.
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
White flower cross of remembrance
We will be creating a white flower cross of remembrance as a prayer focus for our prayer meeting during Holy Week. We are inviting people to write the name of someone who has died on a white paper flower to go on our cross of remembrance. We will then name these people during our prayer meeting on Wednesday 31 March and hold their families in our prayers. If the person you would like us to remember has died due to Covid, please put this on the flower template as we would like to include these separately.
If you have someone you would like to remember as part of this, you can use one of the flower templates here. Please write the name of the person on the back of the flower and send to Louise. Alternatively you can contact Louise with the name you would like included and she will add this to one of the flowers on your behalf. The flowers need to be received by Saturday 27th March to be included on the cross.
You can find more information about Lent and Easter activities on our church website here.
Memories of Old Meeting
I was born on 27th October 1920 at 26 New Windsor Street, Uxbridge. I was christened at Old Meeting House Church three or four weeks’ later. The church was very different then. Looking up Beasley’s Yard, halfway up on the right was the church, now named the Watts Hall. Looking up to the top of the yard was the Sunday school building. This was almost as large as the church, There was, apart from the main hall, what we called the tunnel. This housed all the athletic equipment, i.e. vaulting horse, horizontal and parallel bars etc.
There were two rooms behind the stage. One housed a billiards table. The other was used by the committee for meetings etc. The kitchen was to the left of the stage. Outside to the right of the Sunday school building were four outside toilets. Each toilet had walls on three sides, six feet hight, but the bottom of them was nine inches from the ground. Behind the Sunday school building were a number of tennis courts. My mother was the treasurer. She was also a Sunday school teacher.
In those days we had an excellent choir and they put on some very good choral concerts. Other groups would put on plays. During the summer there were outing. In the beginning charabancs were the means of transport, going to places like Burnham Beeches or Box Hill. This mode of transport was uncomfortable but this was not noticed as there was so much excitement. In later years when Gregories went over to the new 35-seat coaches with inflatable types our outings were so popular there were often ten coaches.
Church charity news
Virtual sales table
We’ve had some recent Easter additions to our virtual sales table – you can find beautiful home-made Easter cards and craft kits for making Easter egg decorations on our virtual sales table. More details are available on our church charity page on our church website (see details below).
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.
What we’ve been reading lately
Here’s what Stephanie has been reading lately:
“The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood (the creator of the hit TV series Death in Paradise) is a murdery mystery. It’s a very easy read that will keep you guessing right until the end and is also a lot of fun – you may find yourself having a little giggle every so often! If you know Marlow you will be able to walk the streets of this book as the story is told.”
World Book Day
Sophie enjoyed dressing up as Alice in Wonderland for this year’s World Book Day (and was transported to Wonderland thanks to the magic of Photoshop!)
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:
- Kenton Methodist
- Brentford Free Church (URC/Baptist)
God Almighty, bless us with his Holy Spirit;
guard us in our going out and coming in;
keep us steadfast in his faith,
free from sin and safe from danger;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Taken from Contemporary Parish Prayers)