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 always 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, you are our shepherd.
Your care and compassion
were shown in the life of Jesus.
We ask that, this very day,
we may experience the rest you offer,
the peace that can restore and revive us
and enable us to live the promised abundant life.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)
Changes to services from 25 July
Dear members and friends of Christ Church
Following the Government’s announcement on the relaxing of restrictions there will be the following changes to services from 25th July:
- Whilst wearing a face covering is no longer mandatory, we continue to encourage those attending services to wear one.
- Social distancing is no longer required, but please be aware of other people’s comfort zones with regards to distancing. The seating layout in the chapel will remain unchanged initially.
- Please continue to sanitise your hands on arrival at the church and when leaving the building.
- Please ask if you would like to have a hymn book or Bible. There will be no printed orders of service, but the order of service will be available on the church website from the Friday before the service.
- Congregational singing of hymns will be allowed.
- Refreshments will be served in paper cups after the service. Please feel free to bring a reusable cup if you prefer. Access to the kitchen will be restricted.
- Details will no longer be taken for test and trace, but you may use the QR code to scan in if you wish.
- Services will continue to be live-streamed on Facebook.
Please note that although the restrictions are relaxing, Covid has not gone away and cases are currently rising. It is therefore important to continue to be cautious and to act carefully. We are aware that there are many who will welcome the relaxing of restrictions but are also mindful that there are others in our congregation who may feel more vulnerable and anxious. Please be aware of other people’s comfort levels with regards to Covid-safety measures.
We pray for God’s blessing and guidance for our church as we move together out of lockdown restrictions.
Reflection from 11 July: Gratitude for forgiveness
Text: Jesus said to her ‘Woman, your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’ Psalm 103: 1 – 11; Luke 7:36-50
Years ago, a religious talk show hostess was interviewing a new believer, a convert. This person had come from the wrong side of the tracks economically, socially, morally, and spiritually. And as he gave his testimony, this man, who had seen it all and done it all, said, ‘I cannot express my gratitude enough, for what the Lord has done for me.’ The hostess responded ‘I know where you are coming from sir, because, I too have been there. I too, have walked that path, before the Lord rescued me. And as long as I live, Gratitude shall be my testimony. Then she ended with these words: ‘You know sir, what I’ve observed in life is that most people who have always been in the church, always done the right thing, do not know how to give thanks to God.’ Could that be said of us, you and me?
So, let us re-visit the story of the woman in today’s gospel reading – a sinner, who came face to face with Jesus who had been invited to a dinner party at the house of a Pharisee named Simon. So, when this woman heard that Jesus was a special guest at Simon’s house, she made her way there, carrying an alabaster bottle of an expensive perfume. This street woman positioned herself close to Jesus and began to weep. Soon she was kneeling at his feet, her tears profusely falling on his feet; then she tenderly used her long hair to wipe the tears. She then kissed Jesus’ feet and anointed them with the perfume, all in the full glare of the Pharisees who felt scandalised and embarrassed by the woman’s behaviour. For one thing, my friends, women were not allowed to uncover their hair in public. And so, to indulge in this public display of emotion and affection, was to the Pharisees, a scandal, a disgrace. And Simon was replaying the whole scene in his head: ‘if Jesus was a prophet as he claimed to be, he would have known who and what sort of woman touching him, a shameless prostitute, a sinner.’
Our gospel reading, this morning, my friends, is about a woman who was obviously burdened with guilt and regrets. We all make mistakes of all sorts in life, don’t we? Hurting others, friends, family, fellow Christians, and even ourselves; and in most cases, we find it difficult to apologise, to say sorry or, even to repent, as Christians. Why? Pride, ego. Yet we’re always quick to judge others who find themselves on the wrong side of the law; even good people are sometimes forced into a kind of lifestyle they despise, yet indulge, in desperate circumstances. I’m referring to people who are victims of neglect, abuse, poverty through no fault of theirs; single mothers with little or no help. We do not know what brought this woman into the situation she found herself. But one thing we do know is that she had never been comfortable with her situation; she was always struggling with guilt and regrets; she longed to be made clean, she longed to be restored again. But Simon the Pharisee obviously, would have none of that. But, the all-knowing Christ Jesus could read the mind of Simon the Pharisee’s mind.
So he said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘What is it, Teacher?’ replied Simon. So Jesus began: ‘A certain creditor had two debtors, one owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love the creditor more? ‘Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one to whom he forgave more. ‘Jesus said, ‘You have judged rightly Simon.’
Truth be told, my friends, many of us cannot say with certainty that we really love God; think about it for a moment, because the great Commandment of the Bible states that we should love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, nothing less. And I dare say that, that it is a tall order; we falter every single day, consciously or unconsciously. But who can satisfy the demands of a righteous God? The answer is no one. Thankfully, however, there is One by whose death and resurrection we are made acceptable to God. The price for our sins has been paid. We are forgiven!
Mark Twain once said that everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody. Mark Twain may be right, but here is the Good News. God sees that dark side that nobody else can see. Yet because of what Christ has done upon the cross, he accepts us just as we are. All of our sins and mistakes, all that we owe, completely drowned in the sea of God’s grace. The Bible says: ‘repent and your sins will be forgiven.’ My friends, repentance means a change of mind, a change of attitude, a change of direction. And to know that our sins have been totally forgiven, to know that the slate has been wiped clean calls us to make a new start, always seeking to be a better person, in our thoughts and our actions. Knowing that we are forgiven also allows us to forgive others. If you know yourself to be a sinner made acceptable only by the grace of Jesus Christ, how can you possibly not forgive others for their wrongs and mistakes?
Sadly, many people including Christians have no forgiving spirit. They find it very hard to forgive, to say sorry. We nurture and nourish our resentments and grudges; wasting precious times and moments, even to the detriment of our health. ‘Father, forgive them,’ said Jesus on the cross. Could the same be said of us?. When we experience God’s forgiveness, it frees us not only to make a new start, just as this woman did, but it also allows us to love, to accept and to forgive others, and in so doing, remove a critical barrier between us and God.
Many of us have never truly felt the need for a saviour and therefore do not know the joy of being saved. This woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears experienced that, and so she loved Jesus with a love that the righteous Pharisee could never know. Yes, she was burdened with guilt before she met with Jesus, and she responded with overwhelming sense of gratitude to the One who had meant so much to her in her life. But it was the worst moments in the world, for a woman of her reputation to find herself in – a room full of Pharisees! But putting all those thoughts aside, she gingerly walked in, quietly knelt down and began to weep. And flowing out of her heart through her tears, were feelings of thankfulness, followed by an act of extravagance, a lavish expression of her gratitude. How thankful are we, my friends? This was a woman with a bad reputation, a prostitute, a sinner. But coming face to face with her saviour, her gratitude for forgiveness by Jesus was an expression of love and devotion. And Jesus graciously responded by saying to her ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’
In the late 1970s, a 26-year-old brilliant Korean student was enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He was on a special scholarship programe for post-graduate studies in International Banking. One night when he left his campus dormitory to mail a letter to his parents, he encountered a teenage gang and was brutally murdered. When the story hit the newspapers, and the media, there was great outrage at this barbaric act, and a cry for justice. The local authorities agreed to seek the death penalty for the perpetrators.
However, whilst the investigations were still on-ongoing, a letter from the victim’s family arrived which shocked the ruling authorities. It read as follows: ‘Our family has met together and have decided to petition that the most generous treatment possible within the laws of your government be given to those who have committed this criminal act. In order to give evidence of our sincere hope contained in this petition, we, the family of the deceased have decided to save money to start a fund to be used for the religious, educational, vocational, and social guidance of the boys when they are released from prison. We have consciously and purposefully dared to express our hope, in the midst of tragedy and sorrow, with the same spirit received from the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who died for our sins.’ Signed and dated…
In the words of his greatest all-time hymn, Rev Charles Wesley wrote: ‘Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; your eyes diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light. My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.’
One more act of forgiveness and I’m done. A six-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges taught the world an unforgettable lesson about forgiveness. In 1960, Ruby walked into the William France Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana, the first day after a federal judge mandated the de-segregation of the New Orleans school district. Ruby was the only African American student in the entire school. Every day she walked through a host of angry adults who insulted her with racial and foul language. Dr Robert Coles, a Harvard psychologist, interviewed young Ruby in the midst of this pressure-packed situation. Dr Coles had seen the little girl walking through the crowd with her lips moving. So he asked the little girl, ‘were you talking back at them? ‘No, I was praying.’ she replied. ‘Praying, why were you praying? asked Dr Coles, bemused and surprised. Six-year-old Ruby said, ‘Sir, I usually pray before I go to school but that morning I forgot, so I prayed as I walked into the school. ‘And what did you pray?’ asked Dr Coles. ‘I prayed, ‘God forgive them, that’s what Jesus did on the cross,’ replied the little girl. Dr. Robert Coles later said: ‘Ruby Bridges, that little six-year-old’s gracious act of forgiveness transformed my own life immeasurably.’
My dear friends, that brave little girl and the woman in today’s gospel reading reminds us all that, the only motivation for forgiveness is Gratitude. We are forgiven, so we can forgive others. To receive total forgiveness from God our father, let’s rid ourselves from bitterness, and all unforgiving attitudes. May God bless us all.
Prof Samuel Kow Arthur
Our readings for this week
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (NIV)
30 The apostles gathered round Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognised them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognised Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried those who were ill on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went – into villages, towns or countryside – they placed those who were ill in the market-places. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Jeremiah 23:1-6
- Psalm 23
- Ephesians 2:11-22
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, Cathy Smith 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.
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
15 August – Mrs Joanne Davies (Methodist local preacher)
There will be weekend roadworks taking place on the A40 between the Denham roundabout and Swakeleys roundabout in July, August and September. A diversion route through Uxbridge (via Oxford Road, Hillingdon Road and Park Road) will be in place which may affect journeys to and from church. The closures have been scheduled as follows but are subject to change:
A40 eastbound closure between Denham roundabout and Swakeleys roundabout
- Closed from 10pm Saturday 17 July to midday Sunday 18 July
- Closed from 10pm Friday 23 July to 10am Sunday 25 July
- Overnight closures 10pm-5am Monday 19 July to Thursday 12 August.
A40 westbound closure between Swakeleys roundabout and Denham roundabout
- Closed from 10pm Saturday 14 August to midday Sunday 15 August
- Closed from 10pm Friday 20 August to 10am Sunday 22 August
- Overnight closures 10pm-5am Monday 16 August to Wednesday 15 September
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 0DZ. 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
My favourite anagrams
THE CLASSROOM and SCHOOLMASTERS.
BRITNEY SPEARS and PRESBYTERIANS.
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- North Harrow Methodist
- St Margaret’s and St George’s, Harlesden (URC/Moravian)
O God, in Scripture
we read that you rested on the seventh day –
after all the busyness and work of creation;
and we read of Jesus’ desire for his disciples to rest.
As your followers, your disciples, now,
and as we return to our busy lives,
may we know the rest you offer
every day of this week.
(Taken from Roots)