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:
as we journey through this pandemic,
watching its effect, fearing its progress,
we turn to you in hope and expectation.
By restraining ourselves
from greeting others as we would wish for over a year,
we have learned to value human contact as never before.
Let your Spirit’s touch upon our lives encourage and sustain us
in these days of promise and recovery.
We commit to you those who grieve.
We thank you for all who sustain us.
(Rev’d John Young, from the URC webpage ‘Prayers during the Pandemic’)
Reflection from 21 March: To see, to follow, to imitate
Reading: John 12:20-33
They want to see Jesus. Really, the sophisticated Greeks asking to see Jesus? Philip is not very sure of their intentions, are they for real? Do they want to see Jesus, the Galilean? What have they come to see?
So far people’s reaction to Jesus has been mixed to say the least. Jesus healed the leper, gave sight to the blind, brought back to life some who had died, yet, people seemed to want something else from him. They have other expectations. For some he is a failure. For others a political and religious threat. Only for a few he is the hope of the world.
In the other stories in this chapter 12 of St John, the ambiguity towards Jesus is shown at the dinner at Martha and Mary’s house; Lazarus has already been raised from the dead; Mary pours a very expensive perfumed oil on Jesus’ feet and massage them with her hair. But they rebuke her, and also Jesus, saying that the money for the perfumed oil could be used to help the poor. Then the next story that follows in this chapter 12, tells of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. The crowds hail him King, yet, the leadership and the authorities are plotting behind Jesus’ back, to get him and to kill him.
To see what? To see the suffering man, who like the prophecy in Isaiah 53 is to bear all the ills of the world in his own suffering? To bear the wounds of the world in his own body and flesh? To see what? His suffering, his agony, his cross?
Yes, in Lent that is what we do. We gaze and meditate and contemplate the wounds of Jesus by which he saves humanity. In his wounds and in his blood we find our shared humanity. We are saved by his blood shed on the cross, in that we find our real humanity that should be impregnated with the same compassion and loving-kindness.
In our Lenten discipline we see Jesus and we follow the way of Jesus, the way of his passion and of his cross. The way of Jesus is full of suffering and strife. It is a way that will lead to disappointing others. It is a way that requires carrying the world’s suffering in our hearts. Jesus said: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit.” Jesus is calling us to follow him: “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
To follow Jesus is to deny ourselves, to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. To leave behind the old me: self-centred, selfish, inward-looking-old me. It is to put on Christ, his love and self-sacrificial ways. It is to bear a new name, and to witness to the new being, new creation within us. There is in the sacrifice of the old, a calling to embrace the new. Something dies for something else to be born.
In this process of there is strife, and anguish, and struggle within and without. Jesus himself said: “Now my soul is troubled”. One of the features of Jesus that strikes me deeply is of him as a person who slept little, of prayer and meditation. The Jesus who went into the desert to fast and pray. The Jesus that spent the night awake to plan in prayer what to say and what to do. The Jesus who was so tired that slept through the storm in Lake Galilee.
For those who because of their strife to follow Jesus spend the nights awake, here follows a prayer read by the Vice-President of the Methodist Church: “Lord, we pray today for all those who have difficulty sleeping. May those who are sick, uncomfortable or in pain know your healing release. May any feeling guilt or regret seek and find your forgiveness. May any kept awake by a child or someone they care for find some respite. For those who are anxious, stressed or fearful that they may know your strength. That those kept awake by noise find some quiet. That any who are hungry, could or afraid for their safety will find provision. For those who are disturbed by shift work patterns hot flushes, bad dreams or the need to go to the toilet find rest. This night Lord, may we lie down and sleep in peace, knowing that you never slumber or sleep, and that you are with us always, In Jesus’s name.”
Pope Francis has a small statue of St Joseph that he keeps on his side-bed table. It is a statue of Saint Joseph who found in his sleep the wisdom he needed to deal with the situation he found himself in with his much younger fiancé Mary’s unexpected pregnancy. It is a small statue of St Joseph and he is asleep. Pope Francis say that when he himself can’t get to sleep because of a problem or another bothering him, he writes down that problem in a piece of paper, and puts it under St Joseph’s pillow. Then Pope Francis goes to sleep in peace.
To follow the way of Christ requires some suffering.
The other side of following Christ in suffering is to rejoice in him lifted up from the earth. The imitation of Christ that leads us to the cross, ought to also lead us to share in his Glory. Jesus gave his life for his passion: to save humanity. He gave his life for love, and for the sake of humanity. His mission was and is to reconcile all things. Think of the state of this world: social inequalities, racial discrimination and prejudice, political extremism, religious fanaticism. Even some families are split in the middle, divided, even some churches/denominations are divided over moral and political issues, countries torn apart from each other to the point of civil war. Domestic violence and hate crime are rife. Humanity is up against the natural world. The Planet is reacting angrily. Our world really needs healing and reconciliation.
When Jesus Christ is lifted up he does and will bring all parties to himself. He does and will reconcile the whole world to itself and to God, under himself, Christ. From the sophisticated and philosophical Greeks who came to see Jesus in our passage of the Gospel today, to the doubtful and unsure Galilean Philip. All will be reconciled in Jesus Christ.
That is our prayer and our hope expressed at Passion, Holy Week and Easter, that at last when Christ is lifted up from the Earth, he will bring all to himself, even Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Let us see, follow and imitate him. Let’s also proclaim him.
Rev’d Dr Leão Neto
Our readings for this week
John 12:12-16 (NIV)
Jesus comes to Jerusalem as king
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’
‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written:
15 ‘Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.’
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realise that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Isaiah 50:4-9a
- Psalm 31:9-16
- Philippians 2:5-11
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. Our Palm Sunday service will be led by URC lay preacher Marion McNeill.
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.
Holy Week activities
Throughout Holy Week we will be sharing a series of reflections and readings each day on our social media channels and on our church website.
Our Maundy Thursday service will be a Zoom service taking place at 7pm. We would like to share a simple meal together, so if you would like to join us for this, please do have a mug of soup and some bread, or a sandwich, ready for this. The meeting details have been shared in our church members’ newsletter; please contact the church office if you need these.
On Good Friday, we will be sharing a virtual walk of witness on Twitter from 11am. If you would like to follow this, you can find our Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/ChristChurchUx The full text from this will be shared afterwards on our Facebook page and church website.
You can find more information about Lent and Easter activities on our church website here.
The Bakers of Uxbridge in the 1920s/30s
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s in Uxbridge, there were seven bakeries in the town. All were general bread and cake bakers, but some of them had very popular specialities:
Coopers – for jam puffs and doughnuts.
Ponds – for several types of bun, i.e. Bath and Chelsea – Bath like an elongated oval and Chelsea like a wound-up spring.
Chanies – for a large variety of fancy cakes.
Webbs – largely a bread baker with family-sized cakes.
Moss – lardy cakes were very popular! These were flaky and each flake was spread with a thin smear of lard – a child’s dream!
Stiens – general bread and individual and family-sized cakes.
All the bakers sold Banburies. These were a mixture of stale broken up cake with sultanas and/or currants encase in flaky pastry.
Church charity news
Murder mystery evening – Saturday 10th April, 7pm
Join us on Zoom at 7pm on Saturday 10th April for a fun virtual murder mystery evening. If you would like to join in, simply make a donation to our church charity (see below for details of how to donate) and we will send you the meeting link.
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 watching lately
This week Joanne shares what she’s been watching:
“On Mother’s Day I was given the complete set of M.A.S.H. All 11 series and the film on 32 discs. M.A.S.H stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and tells the story of a group of surgeons drafted into the US army during the Korean War in 1951. I’ve been amazed at how well the comedy survived the test of time for, despite the situation, it is a heart-warming comedy with some poignant bits thrown in . Also looking on with modern eyes I’m quite impressed how the series took on discrimination topics so well. The first series was filmed in 1972 and finished in the early 1980s. They get up to such antics as Gurney races and moving toilets while people are inside and I’m already halfway through season 2. It’s rare to find TV programs that are still so enjoyable after 30 years. It’s still available to watch on the Sony Channel if you have it or to purchase on DVD at a very reasonable price considering how much you get.”
If you’d like to share which books you’ve been reading lately, or anything that you’ve been watching that is still available to view, 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:
- North Hillingdon Methodist
- Hounslow URC
As we head into Holy Week, we travel with you Lord Jesus.
As we reflect on the story of your death, we lament and grieve,
And as we await the moment of resurrection, we protect and share our hope – our hope in you.
Come amongst us, Easter God. Amen.
(Taken from The Vine)