Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. I hope you are all keeping well. Our church is open for Sunday services but we will continue to live-stream our services and send out our newsletter regularly for the foreseeable future.
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:
We come to you knowing that we need your grace again,
Your generosity again,
Your love again.
We come to you, just as we are, knowing that we are accepted.
(Taken from The Vine)
Reflection from 26 September: Grabbed and restored
Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
This vision that God inspires Ezekiel is about restoration. The first thing is about Ezekiel being grabbed; God wants his attention. And God wants our attention – not always by a vision, sometimes a situation, a prayer someone’s words as suggestion. Don’t be so intent to get the show on the road that you are not in the place to be grabbed by God.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into this. This passage reveals an apocalyptic vision about restoration – a glimpse of the spiritual reality. It’s a picture of the Lord restoring his people. In Ezekiel’s day people in exile were familiar with this form of Mesopotamian dream and vision. It’s a symbolic prophetic vision – a vision of the author explained by an interpreter. This type of literature comes to the fore during challenging and oppressive days.
The symbols are the bones. They are not real. The emphasis is on the future to encourage the Judaean exiles. Divine interpretation added that the Lord would restore Israel.
In v 1-2 the setting is the valley or a large plain like valley not a tight one. The Lord brings Ezekiel there. He sees the valley filled with dry bones and the spirit of the Lord led him around passing among the bones.
In the vision the Lord asks the question – will these bones live? Ezekiel replies in 3b only the Lord knows.
God shows him that he would cause the bones to live – tendons, flesh, skin, breath. Resurrected people will know that God is the Lord (4-6). So Ezekiel in response proclaims this in words – articulating – speaking out. This is important for us. What we call things is often what they become, labelling. While he speaks everything happens except breath.
Ezekiel prophesies again, this time breath comes from the four winds – the full power of God from all directions. Sometimes we look for God only in one direction it needs to be 365 degrees. Our God’s restoring power comes from all around us. And so, this army comes alive. Partly a national restoration, but also spiritual restoration, breath entering to bring life.
My role as Discipleship Enabler role is to encourage people to think of their life and discipleship – not just in the building, Gathered and scattered, outside of the structure and the buildings of our congregations.
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)
This vision of God is for us. Such a vision is never meant to have every detail explained or adding or elaborating – only the major thrust.
The bones are the whole house of Israel. They are in a dry condition, declaring that their hope had perished. They had lost hope of being a nation or seeing God’s covenant fulfilled again. They were separated from one another, i.e. a people separated and dispersed immediately before being restored.
That is the condition, and it is sometimes ours – dry and disconnected.
This has been some time coming. What about us in the church? Do some areas of death and decline take place over a period of time e.g. children’s work, or church work, or connections in the neighbourhood, our relationship with Jesus informing our daily lives? It’s like drifting slowly out to sea on an airbed – you can drift out so slowly that you don’t notice it until you realise you’ve drifted far away from shore. The advice in an emergency like this is not to wave, but to raise a hand and don’t panic.
Restoration to whole life discipleship has two facets – physical and spiritual. The imagery of dry bones coming alive and the figure of resurrection from a grave illustrate the same truth. Restoration is a miracle but can happen.
Whereas for Israel the scattering turned into a return to a land, both in the future and at the end of things- both these things are in view – a ‘rebirth’. It is a rebirth in three ways:
- Being brought together in restoration
- A place is provided
- Leadership is raised up
And so it is for us as well. We feel sometimes like we are permanent scatterlings and exiles. But we are also scatterling disciples; covenant people resurrection people, spirit-filled people. Brought together, knowing our place, governed, and led by the Spirit.
And who does all this? The Lord and none other is our God.
After my recent knee replacement, I was told by the head physio during lockdown to treat it like a classic car and do less than before. However, when God grabs us, and God restores us – we are going to move like we’ve never moved before.
May God bless you
Our readings for this week
Mark 10:2-16 (NIV)
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
The Little Children and Jesus
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Genesis 2:18-24
- Psalm 8
- Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12
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. This week’s service will be led by members of Christ Church. You can find the order of service here.
We also have the North Metropolitan URC Local Area Group churches’ joint thanksgiving service ‘Moving forward with thanksgiving’ taking place at 3pm on Sunday. This is a joint service of reflection and thanksgiving as we emerge forward from Covid together, and will include an address from the Synod moderator, Rev’d George Watt and refreshments afterwards.
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.
26 September – Rev’d Eddie Boon (URC discipleship enabler) – communion service
3 October – Christ Church worship group (11am)
3 October – URC North Metropolitan LAG (3pm) – Joint service of thanksgiving
10 October – Mr Graham Hinton – parade and enrolment service
17 October – Christ Church worship group
24 October – Rev’d Andrew Pottage (Methodist minister)
31 October – Rev’d Elizabeth Welch (URC minister) – communion service
Moving Forward with Thanksgiving service
The URC Metropolitan North Local Area Group (LAG) is holding a joint service, ‘Moving Forward with Thanksgiving’ on Sunday 3rd October 2021 at 3pm at Christ Church.
Please join us as our churches come together to reflect on the coronavirus pandemic, with an address by the Synod Moderator, Rev’d George Watt, seeking God’s guidance as we move forward together.
Refreshments will be served after the service.
Picking up the pieces
After last week’s service, a few church members met with Eddie Boon for a ‘Picking up the Pieces’ session, which encouraged us to listen to each other, to build on our existing strengths and skills and to imagine what our church life could be.
We spent a few minutes exploring two small piles of pebbles – one with small pebbles, the other with large. We were encouraged to explore the pebbles as we wished – to pick them up, move them around, perhaps take one back with us to our seats, seeing how the piles of pebbles changed throughout our interactions with them.
We paired up to share our experiences of a time when being part of our church has been important to us and made a difference to us, what was special about our church and its people, what we did well and what would make it even better. One of the things that came out of that part of the session was the sense of being part of a big family of people genuinely caring about others and trying to support each other. We may not always get it right, but we do try to stay connected and support each other.
If you’ve been in the church building this week, you may have noticed a couple of big pieces of paper on the wall in the meeting area, covered in words and doodles. These represent how we imagine our church could be.
Finally, we finished the session by doing a SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Resources/Results) analysis about our church – revisiting our strengths, considering what opportunities there were for us to grow and flourish, what new ways of working we might need to create, what resources we might need and whether there were any small steps we could take towards being that church we imagined we might be.
The main duties will involve:
- Keeping a record of all income and expenditure
- Arranging reimbursements of approved expenses for church members
- Arranging reimbursements of expenses/allowances of visiting preachers
- Producing summaries of financial information for church meetings
- Preparing information for auditors
- Monthly reporting to the church treasurer or specified church elder
- Additional bookkeeping duties as required
Applicants are sought with relevant experience, computer literacy and sympathy with the aims of the Church.
The post is for 2 hours a week (worked flexibly Monday – Friday)
Proposed start date: December 2021
Salary of £15.00 per hour
An application pack is available from the church office
Closing date for applications: 5pm on Monday 1 November 2021
- Ezekiel prophesied that the Lord would fill the bones with _____ and make them live again.
- Ezekiel’s _____ took him to a valley filled with dry bones.
- The Israelites were taken _____ by Babylon.
- The bones in the valley represented the _____ of Israel.
- Ezekiel prophesied that the bodies would be filled with breath from the four _____.
- When all of this came to pass, the Israelites would know that the Lord fulfilled his _____.
- After Ezekiel spoke God’s prophesy, the valley was filled with a _____ sound.
Praying for other churches
This week we hold Christ Church in our prayers. Please pray for our activities that have now restarted and for our church as a whole as we continue to move forward in this time without a minister, exploring ways of working with our community and other churches; that we will be open to the needs of our community and to where God wants to lead us in this time.
bless us and keep us.
And may we be a blessing to others
in all we think and say and do.
(Taken from Roots)