Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. I hope you are all keeping well. Our church is now open for Sunday services but we will continue to live-stream our services and send out our newsletter regularly for the foreseeable future. Our post-service virtual chat on Zoom has now come to an end although we are continuing with the fortnightly virtual coffee mornings at present.
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:
We live in this waiting time,
Wondering what will happen next.
Asking, questioning, searching.
Will we return to the old normal?
What new things do you have in store for us?
Creator God, grant us hope in the midst of a confused and troubled world.
Redeemer God, pour out your gift of love, that our lives may bear fruit.
Sustainer God, free us from fear about what the future might hold
and give us power to live whole-heartedly for others and all creation.
(Rev’d Dr Elizabeth Welch, from URC ‘Prayers during the pandemic’)
Reflection from 20 June: In the storm
Readings: Psalm 107 1-3; 23-32
Out and about Wednesday night and you were in the middle of some torrential rain. A storm blew in and – where I was, in central London – people scurried for cover. Some were laughing, others miserable and soaked, others plain frightened.
The bar and restaurant owners had overhead covers and gazebos ready to pull out to give as much protection as possible. They’d seen the satellite forecast.
Galilee in the first century isn’t like that. No forecasts beyond a mix of folklore and watching the skies. And a gap in the hills at the northern end of the lake which lets in gusts of wind at no notice. Storms brew up unexpectedly and with great force. No wonder the disciples are terrified.
And no wonder they are angry. Their leader and teacher, the rabbi Jesus, has taken them out to sea – it was his idea to go – to the rather scary other side of the water, the land where the Gentiles live – and just when the boat seems like it is going to be swamped, and their lives lost, they turn and realise he is – what?? He is asleep. Comfy on a cushion They are not impressed! ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’
Jesus wakes. Just as God issues rebukes to the waves in the Hebrew bible. He says to the sea: ‘Peace! Be still! And they are safe again.
So what do they – and what do we – make of this?
What we see is Jesus relying on God, and the disciples in turn are being taught to rely on God. We are being taught, through this miracle story, to rely on God.
We don’t understand how it happens, and we know we also have to take care of ourselves – obviously enough, we mustn’t go to sea without making proper preparations which would include checking the weather and, yes, lifebelts and lifeboats too. But when fear and anxiety threaten to overtake us, we should turn to God quietly and calmly in prayer.
Remember the words we said together from the Psalm?
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out from their distress;
29 he made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Oh! But if only it was always like that. When we pray for the recovery of a friend or relative, when we pray to be released from the social and medical troubles of the pandemic, or when we just ask to win at a job interview or – even – just for the right result in a football game! I mean… hitting the goal post!! Come on God, you can do it!
And of course, we all know that prayer doesn’t work like that. And that churches that sell personal prosperity through prayer are in the same business as con merchants.
We have to reach much deeper and we have to accept what we don’t know, what we can’t know.
That’s where the book of Job comes in. Job is a hard one to preach from. The book is magnificent – one of the greatest works of ancient literature – and it seems to contradict itself again and again. Take a message from one part of the book and you’ll find an argument running against it, somewhere else. Well worth investing in a commentary, just on Job.
Our passage starts:
‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
It is an exercise in literary sarcasm and it goes on for page after glorious page.
‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
What contempt! Where were you?
‘Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb?—
when I made the clouds its garment,
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed bounds for it,
and set bars and doors,
and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stopped”?
Where were you? And… Surely you know – you who think yourself SO clever.
Well, the answer is clearly ‘nowhere’ – you cannot even begin to imagine the greatness of God.
The waves – in all three readings today – serve as a pointer to the size of our world; a world far, far bigger than our imaginings.
And sometimes more frightening and downright dangerous than in our worst fears, just as the disciples found it… and just as Jesus found it in the Garden of Gethsemane, when it was the turn of the disciples to sleep and for Jesus to stay awake.
But always, there is God’s love to guide us and hold us… even, and perhaps especially, when the worst does happen.
So let us pray:
God of power and peace,
when the storm is raging:
You are there.
When our boats are sinking:
You are there.
When faith slips through our fingers:
You are there.
When our hearts sink and our courage fails:
You are there.
In the roar of the waves,
in the sound of the wind,
and in the silence:
You are there.
So, we praise you.
We thank you.
We worship you.
In Jesus’ name.
(Prayer from Roots on the web)
Our readings for this week
Mark 5:21-43 (NIV)
Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a sick woman
21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered round him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ 24 So Jesus went with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed round him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. He turned round in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’
31 ‘You see the people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, “Who touched me?”’
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’
37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ 40 But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Lamentations 3:22-33
- Psalm 30
- 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
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 a communion service led by Methodist minister Rev’d Stephen Poole and you can find the order of service here.
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. This week will be our last virtual post-service chat.
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.
Save the date: Church social – 14 August 2021, 1pm
Bring your own picnic and join us for a church get-together in Jean and Rod’s garden on Saturday 14 August at 1pm. More details to come nearer the time.
Going to church
I didn’t go to church today, I stayed at home instead
I didn’t need to rest awhile, or spend more hours in bed!
I wasn’t feeling poorly, I didn’t have the flu
The house was looking tidyish, so there wasn’t much to do.
The car was working perfectly, with petrol in the tank
I didn’t need to shop for food, or get money from the bank
I didn’t feel rebellious, I hadn’t fallen out with God
I hadn’t changed religions, or given Atheism a nod.
So why did I want Sunday to be a day reserved for me
Uninterrupted leisure time, all obligation free?
I’d sit out in the garden and be thankful for the peace
I’d think of people in the world and pray for wars to cease.
I’d listen to the bird song and be thankful for my lot
I’d spend the day reflecting on the happiness I’d got.
I’d let the minutes turn to hours and the day turn into night
I wouldn’t see a single soul, wait – have I got this right?
I’m going back to church next week, I’m missing all the noise
I want to belt out happy tunes with all the girls and boys.
I miss the smiling faces, the worship and the chat
No more Sundays all alone. And that my friends is that!
I was born on 27th October 1920. At the age of two, I caught whooping cough. My mother told me that my hair was very curly before this, but afterwards it went from curly to straight and from blonde to mousy.
My toys started as small clockwork vehicles of various sorts, but my main interest was construction sets which allowed me to make many types of vehicles and all sorts of stationary mechanical things like cranes.
From the age of eight, my parents decided I should have a magazine each week, so I decided to settle on ‘Modern Boy’ magazine. In the very first issue were the instructions to make a crystal set which was wonderful.
Although my father was often too ill to work, he did have a job at the RAF camp due to a very kind officer, Wing Commander Parkin, who did his best for men who had been injured during the First World War.
My father’s job was looking after the rubbish tip and incinerator at RAF Uxbridge. All sorts of things came in, such as wire, pieces of broken electronic equipment etc. With some of the wire, I was able to put up an aerial from my bedroom window at the back of the house to the bottom of the garden where I had erected a ten-foot length of gas pipe, which Father had found somewhere. The aerial was twice the length of the garden and created a very good signal.
Did you know?
The sculptor responsible for the angel on the Uxbridge War Memorial is Captain Adrian Jones MVO. He was initially an army veterinary surgeon, but after he left the service he became a sculptor and painter. His most notable work is the four-horse chariot bearing Peace on the Wellington Arch in London.
Praying for other churches
This week we pray for the weekly Circuit Zoom service.
Lord, as we head into a new week,
help us to be people who choose to stand out from the crowd,
rather than simply to follow it.
By the power of your Spirit,
help us to also step out of our comfort zones,
and give us the courage to challenge barriers
that confine or constrain or control us.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)