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:
Thank you Lord Jesus, that you are the light of the world.
As we prepare a space for your presence with us this Advent season,
as we turn aside from the business of the Christmas-season to look upon you,
help us to see your love, your light, at work around us.
And help us to be people of the light.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
(Taken from The Vine)
Reflection from 21 November: Who is Jesus for you?
Reading: John 18:33-37
We’re going to start off this morning by using the fingers of our hands to think of areas of our lives where we have control. It’s good to take things seriously and to responsibility for the things that are entrusted to us, but it’s good to remember that we are only stewards.
We’ve got our thumb, the strongest digit. Something we’re not very good at is thinking about our talents and our strengths and our skills. So think about what you are good at.
The index finger. Think about ambitions, or goals, the direction that you are headed. Perhaps this feels like an unguided area.
The middle finger. The tallest finger. We think of important people in our lives, the people that we admire and we follow. Our role models. Perhaps they are friends, or colleagues, or public figures.
Our ring finger. This finger is for relationships. Our relationships could be with family members, with friends, with church members here, or with colleagues.
Your little finger, your pinky finger. This is the weakest finger. What are the areas at the moment that you are struggling with? Even if we can’t control circumstances, we can control our reactions.
These are some of the areas that we are acting as stewards for God. He gives us good things to enjoy and to use. God entrusts us with the reins of our lives. We use God’s gifts wisely in the consciousness that we are only stewards, not owners.
Make a fist. Think about all these things. Slowly, if you can, release your fist. Think about Jesus, symbolically relinquishing the ultimate control to Jesus the King.
Now I have to tell you, I’m actually not a huge reader. But I love to watch films and I love to listen to audiobooks. One of the films I watched and actually quite liked was Lord of the Rings, all three episodes of it. When we first meet the interesting character of Aragorn, or Strider as he is known when we first meet him, he is introduced to us as quite a shady character, a lone wanderer with a none-too-glorious past. Who is this man? Can we trust him?
If you’ve read the book, you find out 2000 pages later (or if you’ve watched the film, hours later!) that he is the rightful king of men and he gets his girl. In the beginning of the film and the book, nobody would have guessed who he was. He didn’t look like a king and he certainly didn’t act like a king.
We see in today’s reading Jesus and Strider have a lot in common, and maybe we see how appearances can be deceptive. All the time that Strider, or Aragorn, was wandering around Middle Earth in a grubby cloak, he was the king. It didn’t matter if people knew that or not. It didn’t matter if they acknowledged his authority or not. They could reject him, insult him, try to kill him, yet he was still the king. Does that sound like anybody else?
A lot of people were confused about Jesus. They’d heard about his being a king, supposedly, but he didn’t dress like a king. He didn’t talk like a king. He certainly didn’t act like a king. So perhaps he wasn’t a king, not really. If not a king, then what was he? Maybe we can dismiss him as a good teacher. Then we can pick and choose the nice bits he said, and agree with them, but ignore the harder stuff. If he’s not a king, we don’t have to obey when we don’t fancy it. We can keep our own little kingdoms. I think that would certainly make things easier.
Not everyone was pleased when Strider was found to be the rightful heir to the throne of men. The appointed stewards who had been keeping the throne warm for the last few generations were none-too-pleased at the thought of losing control of their kingdom. Even though they were only looking after it for the long-awaited king.
It was the same with Jesus. When he turned up and started fulfilling prophecies of another long-awaited king, there were plenty of stewards who had become quite used to their borrowed thrones and were not keen to move aside. Pilate, he had the throne to defend, but he needn’t have worried. Jesus was not after earthly power, although everyone from Satan in the desert to his disciples thought he should be.
These images clash. One is big and powerful, the other is small and poor. But the word is important. King. Jesus came to subvert exactly what a king was. The religious people, they certainly had a kingdom to protect. They were not about to let some jumped up Messiah-carpenter from the ill-educated north start rocking the boat after they had maintained the faith of the children of Abraham for centuries.
We find it easy to sit and wag the finger from the safety of 2000 years past these events. But would we so easily see the truth had Jesus been ruffling feathers here today? The people we criticise for their blindness were the church elders, the well-respected theologians, the conference speakers, the ministers, the house group leaders of their day. Let us make sure that we’re not building our kingdoms when we seek to build his!
But what about smaller kingdoms? We all see Jesus differently. And I think sometimes, at different times in our lives. But the one thing that we do, is we give Jesus the name ‘King’. We give him the power. The truth is that Jesus is king, however else we think of him. If we welcome him with rejoicing, or if we fight to keep the power we think is ours, he is king. If we gladly bow in worship, or if we turn our backs sometimes and ignore the commands we don’t like, he is king. If we freely offer all our gifts and possessions back to the one who gave them, he is king.
Let us pray:
Jesus, king of all past empires, Lord of all present rulers, master of all that is to come. Lord of kingdoms great and tiny. However we see you, whether as Lord, Saviour, Redeemer, Friend, we remember that with all aspects of our life and loves, our work and worship, our time and our treasure, are under your rule and that in all things you are king. Amen.
So now I have some pictures for you. Who is Jesus for you? Different images. There is a sculpture of homeless Jesus that can be seen outside various different places. We have Jesus as king, Jesus in the boat with his disciples. Is that how you’re seeing him today? Is he in the boat with you, steadying the waters and helping you through? There’s Jesus with the woman who anointed his feet with oil. Is that where you are today? Are you sat at Jesus’s feet? We have quite a controversial one depicting how Jesus is with us in our pain.
Is there one that you can find which represents who Jesus is for you today? You may find some of them comforting, you may find some of them challenging. Which image speaks to you? Who is Jesus for you today?
Rev’d Julie King
Our readings for this week
Luke 21:25-36 (NIV)
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Jeremiah 33:14-16
- Psalm 25:1-10
- 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
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 a communion service led by Methodist minister and Secretary of the Conference, Rev’d Dr Jonathan Hustler. 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.
21 November – Rev’d Julie King (Methodist minister)
28 November – Rev’d Dr Jonathan Hustler (Methodist minister) – communion service, 1st Sunday in Advent
5 December – Ms Catherine Wells (Methodist local preacher)
12 December – Christ Church worship group – parade and gift service
19 December – Christ Church worship group – carol service
25 December – Mr Graham Hinton (URC lay preacher and member of Christ Church) – Christmas Day service (10.30am)
26 December – NO SERVICE AT CHRIST CHURCH
Advent Bible exploration group
After the service on 28th November there will be a bring and share Advent Bible exploration grouDuring Advent, our Bible exploration group will be focusing on the ‘Watching and Waiting’ Advent course from the London District of the Methodist Church. The season of Advent represents a period of watching and waiting in anticipation of the arrival of Christ. During Advent we look back and celebrate the incarnation of the Son of God in the world; whilst also looking forward to his return at the end of time. This course is part of the ‘Woven’ theme that the District have been focusing on, which encourages us to engage in mission and discipleship as a way of life.
Our Bible exploration group meets on Tuesday evenings at 8pm at my house and online via Zoom. All are welcome. Please let me know if you are interested in attending.
Circuit Carol Service
There will be a Circuit Carol Service on the 5th December at the Lighthouse Centre, South Ruislip with the service starting at 4pm. Come and join us for an afternoon of celebration and singing.
Church charity news
Table-top games afternoon – Sunday 28th November
After the service on 28th November there will be a bring and share lunch. This will be followed by a table-top games afternoon, starting at around 1.30pm, which will be our final fundraising activity for HOPE not hate. There is no charge to attend but we will have a collection jar for HOPE not hate available if you would like to give a donation towards our church charity. Alternatively, you can give a donation via our Virgin Money Giving page in the run-up to this event (please let us know by leaving a comment with your donation that this is for the table-top games afternoon so we can track the fundraising from this event). Please note that our Virgin Money Giving page will close on 30th November.
You can find more details about our church charity fundraising events and items on our virtual sales table at https://christchurchuxbridge.org.uk/activities/churchcharity2020/ To make a donation to our church charity online visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Hopenothate-Christchurch
Carols and Mince Pies
Our annual carols and mince pies service will take place on Friday 17th December at 12noon in the chapel. All are welcome to join us.
Bible wordsearch – Names and Titles of Jesus
Can you find the words in capitals given as names and titles of Jesus in the wordsearch?
KING of the Jews
LAMB of God
LIGHT of the World
SON OF DAVID
SON OF GOD
SON OF MAN
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Pinner Methodist
- Ickenham URC
Loving God, we give you our fears,
help us overcome them.
We give you our hopes,
help us bring them to life.
May this Advent be a time of new beginnings
as we look forward to the coming of
our friend and Saviour, Jesus. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)