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:
Creator God, reveal yourself to us through your eternal word.
Precious Jesus, reveal yourself through us in the love that we share.
Holy Spirit, reveal yourself in us through the gifts that we use.
Three in One, be the life within us as we journey with you.
(Taken from The Vine)
Reflection from 10 October: Through the eye of a needle
Reading: Mark 10:17-31
The young man asked Jesus about eternal life. Life as God wants it to be for us, both now and forever. He called Jesus ‘good Teacher’ and Jesus said, “no one is good except God alone.” That’s where our eyes should be. That’s where our standard is. And Jesus talked about some of the ten commandments, about good living, about respecting God. One of them I noticed was about listening to our parents, but we won’t go into that! He didn’t quote the tenth which I always think should be the first, which is the one about not coveting, the one about not being selfish, which is what really leads to all the others. But this young man said that he’d obeyed all those commandments. He’d followed the rules, he’d done what the regulations said, but it seemed it wasn’t enough.
Our faith, our living is not just about keeping the rules. Have you been to church on Sunday? Tick. That’s good, you’ve cracked it for the week. No, it’s about the way we live and it’s about living as God wants us to with him and with other people and Jesus was aware of that with that young man. I love that sentence that said, ‘Jesus looked at him with love.’ Can you imagine Jesus looking straight at you with love? Well, he is. That’s the amazing thing. And he knew that this man, although he’d followed all the rules, all the written rules, hadn’t got it right because of things that were inside him. And if we’re honest, we all know that we don’t get it right and there’s things inside us that hinder it as well and Jesus knows about those too.
The man went, because he couldn’t take that. Afterwards Jesus said, almost as a sort of aside to his disciples, how hard it’ll be for rich people. He’d picked up that this guy was a rich man but that his richness was coming in front of other things for him. It was his important thing and that wasn’t what was wanted. Jesus said how hard it will be for rich people to enter the kingdom of God and they’re all knocked back by that and wonder what on earth it means.
As Jesus often does he gives a wonderful image in this story, this image of a camel going through the eye of a needle. I expect a lot of people here have tried to thread needles, but I’ve given up these days! But can you imagine a camel going through the eye of a needle?! I think the disciples were even more shocked and they said, “well who can do it then?” And Jesus gave that wonderful saying, “this is impossible for man, but not for God.” Everything is possible for God. There’s hope for us all.
Now some scholars who’ve studied all this suggest that Jesus’s reference to the eye of the needle might have been to a small gate in the walls of the city and we’re going to watch a video about that now:
“One day Jesus was talking to his friends when he said a really strange thing. He said, “it’ll be very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. In fact, it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” So, what do you think Jesus meant? Let’s see, shall we…
Close to where Jesus was talking to his friends, there was a town and surrounding the town was a really big, tall wall. In the wall was a little gate and strangely it had a really funny name. It was called ‘The Eye of the Needle’ because it was so little.
One day a camel arrived at the gate, but this was no ordinary camel. He was a very grand, proud and important camel with a beautiful gleaming furry coat and a diamond-studded nose band. He’d got a fine saddle with expensive red tassels, and he even had his own servant boy to flick the flies away from him. He was loaded high with the finest Persian carpets to sell in the town’s market and as he approached the little gate, he said “Oh, make way, make way, make way everyone! I’m coming through!” But oh no, wait for it! He’s not coming through; he can’t get through the hole. He’s too big.
“Try wriggling through backwards,” said the boy as he showed the camel how to do it.
“Oh, camels never wriggle,” said the camel. “But I’ll try anyway,” he added.
The camel turned around and tried to push his bottom through the hole in the wall. He heaved and he pushed, he even tried a wriggle, but it was no use. He couldn’t get through the gate.
“I know!” said the boy, “I’ll unload you!”
So, he untied the ropes and took off all the fine carpets and his diamond-studded noseband.
“Now try again!” said the boy.
And the camel heaved and he pushed and he shoved and he heaved and he pushed and he shoved…
“Wait! Wait, wait, wait!” said the boy, “Your saddle keeps getting stuck. You’ll have to let me take that off as well,”
So, the boy took off the fine saddle and you know what? Without his fine saddle and expensive red tassels and beautiful Persian carpets and his diamond-studded noseband, the camel didn’t look so proud and important anymore. He was just an ordinary camel. And this ordinary camel once more tried to get through the gate. He got down on his knees and he shuffled forward bit by bit, and bit by bit, until finally he was through!
“Hooray! Hooray!” shouted the boy, “You’re through! You’re through!”
So, what did Jesus mean, do you think, when he said, “It’ll be very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. In fact, it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”?
What did Jesus mean? It’s about not having the wrong things being the most important to us, isn’t it? And following what God wants of us, about worshipping and following him and helping other people.
Peter, when he had heard that business about the eye of the needle and how difficult it was, said (and he sounds very annoyed to me), “Look! We’ve left everything and followed you!” He’s saying “if it was so difficult to achieve what God wanted of us, have you had us on, because we’re not going to be able to achieve this!” and Jesus says that following him and what he says is what counts with God, and God’s way of looking at things isn’t ours. Remember that phrase about all things are possible with God. And the reading ends with the words about many who now are first – that’s by our standards as human beings – will be last in God’s eyes and many who are now last to us, will be first.
I saw a YouTube video of a slow bicycle race the other day. Have you ever watched a slow bicycle race? Absolutely amazing. There were these two guys on their bikes who were trying to be the slowest. They were wobbling and twisting and almost staying still. The last in that race was going to be the first because that was what the race was about.
Jesus tells us that God doesn’t look at us in the way that we look at us; at what we’ve got, what we’ve achieved, what we own. Anything like that. He looks at us as what we’ve done for him and for his people. Many who now are first will be last and many who now are last will be first.
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 led by members of Christ Church. 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.
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
14 November – Mr Ken Pearce (member of Christ Church) – Remembrance Sunday service (10.50am)
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
Work out the answers and fit them in the grid. Some letters have been included to help you.
- What did James and John want to be?
- What cup did Jesus say the disciples would have to drink?
- How did the other disciples feel when they heard about what James and John had asked?
- What did Jesus say anyone had to become if they wanted to be great?
- What do you have to be prepared to be if you want to come first?
- What did Jesus say the Son of Man came to do?
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Hayes Methodist
- Ealing Green (URC/Methodist)
Companion God, take us out into your world.
Fire us with your courage.
Touch us with your humility and bless us as we face the reality of our everyday
service to others.
(Taken from The Vine)