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:
Lord God, so good, so loving, so trustworthy.
You call us to experience a life like no other.
You offer us an amazing world of people and possibilities.
You tell us to sell, give, come and follow,
to receive, in your mercy, the gift of real living.
We hear, but it is not an easy teaching to live.
We are busy trying hard, holding on tight.
We are like the camel – laden with good intentions,
reluctant to let go of what we consider priorities,
although they stop us travelling the way we should go.
Help us let go of everything that hinders our journey with you,
holding fast, instead, to you and your word –
to the one who understands our trials
and has known our weaknesses.
Open our hearts and hands to catch
the endless possibilities you promise.
Help us to follow and walk in your ways,
and believe that, with you, full life is ours.
(Sheila Marsden, prayer for 10 October taken from the URC 2021 prayer handbook ‘Conversations’)
Reflection from 3 October: Relationship
Readings: Genesis 2:18-24 and Mark 10:2-16
Our first reading, from Genesis, starts with man on his own and God saying “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And so God brings the man the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, and the man names them – but none of them is a suitable helper for him. And so God creates the woman. To me, the use of the rib feels symbolic. The companion for the man has to be someone that can connect to the core of who he is. Someone who is a part of who he is. Someone that he can build a relationship with on the same level as he is on. He needs his relationship with God, of course, but he needs to be able to share that fellowship with God with someone else.
So here we are, at the start of creation with two people in perfect relationship with God. Walking closely with God, with God very much present and part of their everyday lives. But relationships can be messy complicated things and as we know from the next part of the story, this new relationship is part of what then draws the man away from God, thanks to the serpent’s questions to the woman which caused these two people to have doubts about whether they could really trust God. From this point on, that perfect relationship between God and man has come to an end. Doubt and mistrust has crept in, leading to imperfect and flawed ideas about who God is.
For the Pharisees in our second reading, this relationship with God has become defined by the law. It’s become a series of rules and regulations to be followed and when they test Jesus, they’re testing whether he really understands what the law says, because in their minds, if he isn’t following the full letter of the law laid down to Moses, how can he possibly claim to be the son of God?
In answering their question, Jesus goes back to the start, to that earlier time of people and God in harmony with each other. He points out that the law was needed because the people’s hearts were hard. They’re no longer in harmony with each other and with God. The Pharisee’s question is also quite one-sided isn’t it? “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Women have very little agency or power here. Jesus’s response honours the ideal of marriage and the equality of both partners. Relationship as it should be an ideal world – where people are living in harmony with each other. We don’t live in an ideal world of course and our relationships with each other are messy and complicated.
The second part of the reading is another very familiar story of Jesus telling the disciples “let the little children come to me and do not kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15)
The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus with their questions. I have no doubt that the children meeting Jesus will have had questions to ask him too. Particularly if they were anything like my children who seem to continually ask “why?” at times! There’s a big difference of course between the kinds of questions that the Pharisees were asking and the ones that the children might have been asking. The Pharisees doubted Jesus; doubted he was who he claimed to be and so their questions came from that place of doubt. They were testing him, trying to get him to prove himself by his answers. With children though, particularly younger children, questions tend to come from a place of pure curiosity, of wanting to know more about the world or about the person they’re asking questions of.
I love watching my children meeting other children. The way young children just accept others as they are; the way they make friends so easily. There’s no hidden agenda, no trying to test each other. Just simple innocence and trust. I learn so much about love and trust from just watching my children. Even with us as parents. The way that even when I get cross and lose patience, they still see me as the best mummy in the world. The way they love so unconditionally. And perhaps this is a glimpse of how our relationship with God would be in a perfect world – in the world described in that first reading from Genesis. Relationship that is open and accepting and trusting and loving.
Last week, several of us stayed for a session after the service with Eddie Boon, which explored our strengths as a church and invited us to imagine what we would like our church to be. One of the things that came out in the discussion about our strengths as a church was relationship. For some of us, myself included, being part of this church has felt like being part of a family that cares about each other, and tries to support each other when needed. In the darkest time of my life, my church family was there for me and I will always be grateful for that. I do feel that we are a church who cares about its members. We don’t always get it right and there have been and will be times when we don’t say the right things, don’t offer the right kinds of support and cause hurt and upset, but I think we do genuinely try to be a church that cares.
That’s great within our church family, but what about our relationship with our local community? With those who are outside our church? What about our relationship with God?
When the parents bring their children to Jesus, it is the disciples – Jesus’s closest friends who try to keep them from Jesus, creating a barrier between Jesus and the children. And Jesus rebukes them and tells them to let the children come to him. He invites them all to come to him and welcomes them.
What barriers, I wonder, do we create that might prevent people around us from meeting Jesus? Is there is anything in our church or community rules, our attitudes, our presumptions about what Christianity is or what kind of people Christians must be that create barriers? We are part of a church that claims to be “the love of God in the heart of Uxbridge”. How do we live up to that claim? In what ways do we need to be more childlike in our approach to God and to each other so that we can become the church we aspire to be?
Our readings for this week
Mark 10:17-31 (NIV)
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Hebrews 4:12-16
- Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
- Psalm 90:12-17
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 our church parade and BB/GB enrolment service led by Graham Hinton. 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.
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
7 November – Christ Church worship group
Samaritan’s Purse – Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Appeal
After a break for a few years our Church is taking part in Operation Christmas Child again this year.
Operation Christmas Child is a scheme where individuals in the wealthier parts of the world send a Christmas Gift in a gift-wrapped shoebox to a child in a poorer part of the world, who may possibly not otherwise receive a gift or even know about Christmas and God’s greatest gift, Jesus.
As well as the filled box, you are asked for a financial contribution to cover the costs of transport.
Explanatory leaflets, details of what you can include your box, and flatpack boxes if you don’t have a shoebox of your own at the moment, are available at our Church.
Filled shoeboxes should be brought to our Church in time for our service on Sunday 7th November 2021, which will feature them. Everyone’s welcome. They will then be taken to a collection point and make their way by land, sea and air to their destinations for Christmas Day.
Thank you in anticipation of your support.
Graham and Denise Hinton.
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
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Eastcote Methodist
- URC at Eastcote and Northwood Hills
Ever living and ever loving God,
As we tentatively explore
a brave new world,
familiar yet strange,
take us by the hand,
guide our baby steps,
and as we stumble,
hold us firmly in your steadfast love,
that we may face the days ahead in confidence and hope.
Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
(Rev’d Fleur Houston, retired minister and member of Macclesfield & Bollington URC, from the URC ‘Prayers during the pandemic’)