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:
Almighty God, we praise you
that you show us how to use power wisely.
Help us to learn more of your ways,
to understand that our actions have consequences,
and to seek your wisdom in making decisions
that may impact on others.
This we ask in Jesus’ name.
(Adapted from Roots)
Reflection from 4 July: Journeying with Jesus
Reading: Mark 6:1-13 and 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
When I read that passage [from Mark] in preparation for this service my thoughts stayed with the second part – Jesus sending his followers out to proclaim and to heal. What struck me was the minimal kit he told them to take.
Next week our Gold Level Duke of Edinburgh’s Award group will be doing their final Qualifying Expedition Journey in the Black Mountains in Wales. Here’s what they looked like on their Practice Journey. Carrying everything but the kitchen sink, you might say.
And here’s an artist’s impression of the pairs of disciples sent out on their journeying by Jesus. Nothing but their usual robe and sandals, and a stick.
Isn’t that brilliant! It means anyone of us can do what Jesus asks. No need for special equipment, no matter how young, how old, how much clutter we usually carry around and worry about; all each of us needs to do what Jesus asks of us is ourselves and our faith – just like those pairs of disciples. That’s all we need to be able to share our faith with others, in word and in action.
And we can be bold and strong in doing it, for the Lord our God is with us! And we can be continually strengthened by the example of Jesus. Let’s reflect on that as we hear the words of, “I want to walk with Jesus Christ all the days I live of this life on earth…”
Reflection on 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
I don’t know about you, but I always have to ponder that passage every time I read it. Paul has just had a ding-dong with people who have claimed to have authority because of their heritage – they’ve been boasting about it.
Paul calls them false apostles. He doesn’t want to boast about what’s been revealed to him, so he talks about himself as if about someone else – “I know a person in Christ …”, he says, “who 14 years ago was caught up in the third heaven (or Paradise) and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat”. But, he says, he will boast about his weaknesses and difficulties by praising God for enabling him to survive them. I think this is a real strength to us in what we’re thinking about today. Whatever our personal difficulties and however put-upon unfairly we might feel, however much we might feel that live has dealt us a raw deal, we can thank God for help to endure and still speak and do for him.
We just thought about “Yielding our lives to him”. That’s reflected in another Bible reading set for today, the account of Ezekiel, an Old Testament prophet, being called and sent by God. There are several instances in the Bible of God calling people who were very reluctant to do what he asked. You might remember Jonah, who could tell a fishy story as a result of his refusal at first to obey; or Moses, who really tried to wriggle out of it, saying, “Who? Me! I’m not adequate for the task.”, then, “I don’t know enough.”, then, “People won’t take me seriously.”, then, “I’m no good with words.” Has any of that ever come into your mind if you’ve hesitated about responding to that inner voice and speaking up or acting? Or Jeremiah, who responded saying, “I’m only a boy!”. Yet all of these God used as great leaders, proclaimers and doers for him. William Neil, in his, “One Volume Bible Commentary”, which I treasure, says, “If not for Ezekiel and others “keeping on”, Israel’s story would have fizzled out.”
We are all called not just to believe but to “keep on”, to pronounce and to do. James 1:22. Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers. Thank you for listening to me this morning, but the really important thing is that when this service is over we do the doing. Look for opportunities. Be sensitive for that moment when a word about Jesus may make a new beginning for someone, or a bit of help in a time of need may be what lifts someone from despair to hope. My mind went to the neighbour desperate to show their holiday films, or the football fans coming home in team colours, waving, singing, cheering. We won’t want go that far, perhaps, but we should be enthusiastic about our faith and active in it. In any situation, ask WWJD – What Would Jesus Do? Listen for his promptings.
And don’t be downhearted if your action isn’t received well. Jesus recognised that prophets can be disregarded in their local area, but he tells us to keep on. If any place will not welcome you, as you leave shake off the dust that is on your feet. Speak and do again in another situation, maybe in a new way.
Today’s message is not just to us as individuals but to us as a Church. Our Church Council is grappling with how to be a Jesus-sharing Church as we emerge into the new-normal as the Covid19 restrictions reduce. The word “passion” has even been heard in Council meetings!
Jesus says to each one of us at the beginning of our relationship with him, our faith in God through him, “Come”, (and I will make you fishers of people) and then, “Go”. Matthew 28:18-20. “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I am with you always. Travel light. Be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you. Want to walk with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will work in and through each of us and our Church.
Our readings for this week
Mark 6:14-29 (NIV)
John the Baptist beheaded
14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, ‘John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’
15 Others said, ‘He is Elijah.’
And still others claimed, ‘He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.’
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!’
17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.
The king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.’ 23 And he promised her with an oath, ‘Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.’
24 She went out and said to her mother, ‘What shall I ask for?’
‘The head of John the Baptist,’ she answered.
25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: ‘I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a dish.’
26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a dish. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Amos 7:7-15
- Psalm 85:8-13
- Ephesians 1:3-14
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 Methodist local preacher, Prof Samuel Kow Arthur and you can find the order of service here.
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.
18 July – Mrs Cathy Smith (Methodist local preacher)
25 July – Rev’d Jon Dean (URC minister) – communion service with ordination and induction of elders
1 August – Mrs Lilian Evans (URC lay preacher)
8 August – Christ Church worship group
Our latest Bible exploration session was ‘Be the Message’, where we explored the things that have led us to faith and how we share our faith experiences with others. As always we were left with some suggested challenges, which were as follows:
Practicing hospitality is a great way to remind ourselves of the grace God extends to us. This week consider who you can spend time with, particularly those who might be new to your church, college or place of work.
2. Mission Possible
Consider what kind of ‘mission’ you could take on. Is there something that your church is doing that you could be part of? Is there something within your community that you can serve and support?
3. Global Prayer
Part of being a global citizen is being globally informed. Commit some time this week to educating yourself about the needs of a particular area of the world.
Church charity news
Church social at Tiled Lodge – 14 August, 1pm
Please join us for a bring your own picnic on Saturday 14 August, 1pm at Tiled Lodge, Slough Road, Iver Heath SL0 9NU. There will be shelter available in case of rain.
You can find more details about our church charity fundraising events and items on our virtual sales table on our church website here.
To make a donation to our church charity online visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Hopenothate-Christchurch
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Kenton Methodist
- Brentford Free Church (URC/Baptist)
from the very beginning of Genesis,
we see the relationship between word and action –
you spoke and it was so.
As we go through our daily lives
may we be aware of our words and actions.
May the Holy Spirit guide us,
so that what we say and what we do
builds up your kingdom,
and breaks down barriers.
This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Adapted from Roots)