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 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:
Lord, help us to look out and listen for your Holy Spirit.
May we welcome you with open hearts and minds.
Call us, inspire us, surprise us and challenge us.
Give us confidence and calm assurance.
Lead us to your power and love. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 16 May: Under our noses
Reading: Acts 1:1-11
Anyone in my family will tell you that I’m good at losing things. I wouldn’t exactly agree with them. It’s more a case of mislaying. I’ll put something down, but can’t remember where I put it. But then I’ll hunt around looking for it. And more than likely it will be sitting there, staring me in the face, right under my nose.
‘Under your nose’ … I think that can help us unpack the account of Jesus’ ascension.
We hear Jesus’ final words to his disciples. He tells them to stay in Jerusalem and to wait for the promise of the Father (i.e. the Holy Spirit). The disciples ask him again, when he will restore the kingdom to Israel? But Jesus tells them not to worry about that, but to wait for the Holy Spirit, and to be witnesses.
We talk about Jesus’ ascension, but it seems to me that the emphasis is not what is happening to Jesus, but on what will happen to the disciples! Twice in these few verses Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit coming to infuse the disciples and the church in new ways. It is as different from what has gone before as the Spirit is different from the water of John’s baptism (verse 5). It is as different from what has gone before as the kingdom of God (verse 3) is different from the political kingdom of David and his descendants.
The disciples always seem to be looking for change and restoration of the kingdom of Israel – something out there. But Jesus talks about change far close to home – that which is under their noses – i.e. themselves.
At Jesus’ ascension, the disciples look back to his earthly life, but also look forward to life and activity in the Spirit. There are parallels for us, we look back to the restrictions of lock-down and look forward to the freedoms we will be able to experience (going into a restaurant or café for a bite to eat, wider family and friends meeting inside, theatres, cinemas reopening). We move forward with relief, but that relief is tinged with caution. And I wonder if the disciples had that same mixture of feelings at hearing Jesus’ words – excitement and caution. But for us and the disciples, the Holy Spirit of God is promised and present.
Jesus links the Holy Spirit’s coming with witnessing – they feel like two sides of a coin.
But what is witnessing? Put simply, it is about remembering. If you’ve watched any TV police dramas, when they speak to witnesses they ask them to tell them what they remember. It is the same with witnessing for Christ. It’s about sharing what we know, what we have experienced of the love, the strength and the peace of God. Nothing more, but also nothing less.
I wonder if we make witnessing too complicated. It should be as natural as breathing. It is about who we are – people of faith, and giving expression to that in what we say, in what we do, in how we live our lives.
When Jesus tells the disciples where they will be his witnesses, he starts with Jerusalem. Where the disciples are? Likewise, we are called to witness, where we are… again, under our noses.
Perhaps this story explains it better. A group of schoolchildren were asked to draw Jesus’ ascension. There were drawings of Jesus lifting off in a space rocket, painting of him in a giant glass elevator. Someone had drawn a picture of Jesus’ feet at the top of the page, just as he ascended. But there was one picture of an empty pair of sandals. The teacher asked what this was about. The young artist replied that they were Jesus’ sandals, and he had left them for us.
I can think of no better image of the Ascension than that. Walking in Jesus’ shoes, walking in the strength of God, witnessing to the love and life offered by him, to any and everyone starting with those right under our noses.
Rev’d Ken Kingston
You can also listen to Ken’s sermon on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w7JoGCQURA
Our readings for this week
Acts 2:1-21 (NIV)
The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’
Peter addresses the crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
- Romans 8:22-27
- John 15: 26-27; 16:4b-1557
We meet at 11am for our Sunday services, which are also live-streamed on our Facebook page. 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 service this week will be led by the Christ Church worship team.
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.
Last week’s Bible exploration session was ‘Word Lyfe’ and focused on discovering ways to share and be the good news of Jesus Christ. As with previous Bible Society Lyfe sessions, this ended with three challenges, which were as follows:
1) Memorising Scripture
Memorising Scripture allows God’s word to permeate deep into our hearts. Why not write down some verses this week and read them until you can recite them by heart. Try these verses to get you going: Galatians 2:20, Romans 5:1, John 3:16, Psalm 1:1, Ephesians 2:8.
2) Whole food
Commit time this week to reading a whole book from the Bible, perhaps one of the Gospels, or one of Paul’s letters such as Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians or Colossians. See what difference taking in the whole book makes relative to a verse here or there.
3) Share your story
Spend some quality time with a friend this week. Ask them about their life story and take the opportunity to share your own. If they are interested, tell them what difference your faith has made in your life – what God means to you and what you think he’s like. Be careful not to force your story; don’t pretend to have all the answers and try not to use religious jargon. Some people will naturally find this easier to do than others, but it’s good to be able to talk concisely and intelligently about faith.
Christian Aid Week 2021
Thank you to everyone who donated to Christian Aid Week via our e-envelope and retiring collection last week. The beetle drive last Saturday was an enjoyable evening with Sophie proving to be a very tough person to beat! We raised a total of £190 (£227.50 with Gift Aid) for Christian Aid.
From the Methodist Circuit
This coming Sunday 23rd May Is the Ordinands Testimony Service which will be streamed live on YouTube at 6pm. You can watch this by clicking the link: https://youtu.be/N9xtYAUSoyI
As you may know our very own Rev’d Ken Kingston is due to be ordained at the Methodist conference this year. Please come along to this testimony service for a chance to hear Ken’s story and his journey to ministry.
From age 8 on Saturday mornings I used to get my barrow out and go around many streets knowing at the doors asking if they had any bottles or jars. Usually I collected a good number. These I took to Aclands, the rubbish sorting company. They gave me a penny for each one. This was put towards the meat joint in the evening.
In the tens and twenties butchers did not have refrigerators so sold their meat off by reversed auction, not being able to sell it by normal auction. The cheapest butcher was the first stall on the left going into the arcade.
We needed to buy a join large enough to last a family of five for a week. Usually, it ended up as a leg of mutton.
In the 1920s/30s, schoolboys up to the age of 11 years wore knee length trousers. The cheapest were obtained at ‘Sigstons’, popularly known as the ‘in and out shop’. The reason for this name was the frontage. There was a door at each and over the doors in large letters was ‘In’ and ‘Out’. The shop was in the High Street opposite what would become the Regal cinema. Half the shop sold childrenswear and the other half sold household goods.
Praying for other churches
This week we hold Yiewsley Methodist Church in our prayers.
May the fire of the Spirit be in your hearts,
May the hope of transformation be in your minds,
May the grace of God be in your bodies,
May you be a Pentecost people, in Jesus’ name,
(Taken from The Vine)