Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. I hope you are keeping well and staying safe. 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 on our church website at www.christchurchuxbridge.org.uk We would love to hear from you and are 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 (email@example.com)
We start with our opening prayer:
Lord, thank you that we are blessed.
Help us to recognise all that you have given to us.
We pray that not only will we reflect on your blessings
we will also seek to be a blessing to others,
with your help and in your name.
(Taken from Roots)
The church and halls buildings remain closed at present. We are hoping that a phased reopening can take place from Monday 14 February, but it is worth checking before popping in by phoning the church office (if the church is open, there should be someone available to answer!). The coffee morning on 12 February will be taking place, although there will be no time of prayer in the chapel this week. The service on 13 February will also take place as normal. We will continue to keep you updated via our website, social media and next week’s newsletter, and continue to keep all those who are currently unwell in our prayers.
Reflection from 6 February: Nicodemus – blowing in the wind
Readings: John 3:1-10 and Romans 5:1-5
Nicodemus, Pharisee, leader of the Jews, member of the Sanhedrin, the governing body of the church. Do you remember that song Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered? That’s Nicodemus. Bewitched by Jesus’ charisma, bewitched by him. Never had teaching like this been heard before. The power of what Jesus was saying seemed to come from within him, not just spoken words as they were accustomed to from the scribes and the Pharisees. And Nicodemus was bothered. He was bothered by Jesus’ teaching. About love, compassion, forgiveness, even love your enemies! What?! The Romans? The Sadducees? And he’s bewildered by it all, what does it all mean?
So he comes to see Jesus. Bold step for a Pharisee. Bold step for Nicodemus, but he wanted to know. He had an enquiring mind. But he also was a bit afraid to come in the day, to be seen, so he sneaked up in the dark, at night. And then Nicodemus went straight down to business. He puts his cards on the table. ‘Rabbi,’ he says, ‘we know that you are a teacher who has come from God because no-one can do these signs that you do without being sent from above.’
Jesus can see Nicodemus is struggling a bit here, so he says to Nicodemus, ‘no-one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.’ Wow. And Nicodemus just doesn’t get it. I don’t think I would have just got it either, just hearing that – ‘you must be born again’. It’s a John McEnroe moment, remember him? You cannot be serious, Jesus! Nicodemus goes on to say, ‘How can we enter our mother’s womb a second time?’ and then Jesus begins to unpack it a little bit. ‘Look, we are born first from the water of our mother’s womb.’ That’s true. Always. ‘What is born of the flesh is flesh. But what is born of the Spirit, is spirit’. So, when Jesus says you must be born again, you must be born again from above as it were, into an awareness of a spiritual realm within your humanness. Now do you get it? I think I’m beginning to understand.
Paul got it. As we heard in the reading from Romans, ‘God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us’. Born of the flesh, but God’s love has been poured into our hearts. Born anew. It’s a recognition of God’s spirit implanted in human hearts. A double-helix if you like. Flesh and spirit interwoven into our humanness.
Now let me fast-forward two thousand years to another double-helix. This time I want to take you back to 1953 when James Watson and Francis Crick and Rosalind Franklin discovered DNA. I couldn’t have preached this sermon before 1953 because I didn’t know about DNA. But I do now. The DNA we share with all creatures of our God and King.
We have the full wealth of DNA as human beings, but all the animals, monkeys, mice, fish, creepy crawlies all have elements of the DNA. How about that? All creatures of our God and King are the same source of life – the DNA. Now we know that we have an animal inheritance and like all the animals, and all the creatures, we need the same resources to stay alive. We are born of the flesh, we need those things of the flesh to keep us alive. Food, shelter, warmth, and the capacity to reproduce. If we didn’t have any of those things, we wouldn’t be here and neither would anything else!
We are born of the flesh and that’s what the flesh is about. But as human beings we rise above the animal flesh because within us is the capacity to harness and control the animal instincts of the flesh through the ethics and morality of the spirit of God alive in our conscience, because we have been born again. We are born of the Spirit. Born into a spiritual realm. When our humanness is met with the love of God in our hearts then we become truly human. Different from the animals.
Remember Paul? God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Just rest your thoughts on that for a moment.
Jesus goes on to compare the Spirit to the wind. He says, ‘the wind blows where it chooses. You hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.’ How true is that? Many of you will be aware of Christina Rosetti’s poem ‘Who has seen the wind?’:
Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing through
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.
The wind. The Spirit. We see the wind by its impact, by its effect blowing the bushes, flying flags on buildings, on boats out at sea. White feathers on the surface of the sea. Blown newspapers down the High Street. Umbrellas inside out. We know where it is, we see it, but we don’t see it. We see its impact. And I think the same is true of God’s spirit at work in the world.
In recent days we have witnessed the work of the Spirit in hundreds of community projects up and down the country, reaching out in care and compassion and empathy, kindness, to those in need. We are witnesses to the work of the Spirit in those who care for the sick and disabled in homes, hospitals, care homes, hospices, wherever – they’re caring and nurturing and cherishing those they care for. And then at the other end of life’s fragility, in the maternity units and the neonatal units, where babies are not cradled like this, some scraps of life are held of the palm of your hand. In those who cherish, sustain and nurture the lives of the most fragile of us. The Spirit is at work in all those situations. We see it by its impact.
And on the world stage, the work of Water Aid, the work of Save the Children, the work of Médecins sans Frontiers, the Red Cross, our own organisation All We Can, the Methodist charity, and hundreds more delivering, caring, bringing compassion to those in need. I believe that the spirit of God is moving in the hearts and lives of men and women everywhere and anywhere. In episodes of love, and compassion, and kindness. And you know as a church we need to run to catch up. Wherever the Spirit is, it isn’t here, trapped. It’s out there. It’s so big, it’s frightening. We need to catch up where God’s spirit is already leading us. Particularly my friends in these days, in spite of the pessimists and the doomsayers, and the cynics. I believe that the spirit of God is alive and moving in the world today.
We know about the promptings of God’s spirit, we know it’s there because it rattles away at our conscience. God’s spirit rattles away inside us, disturbs our thinking, disturbs our attitudes. And when we respond, the effect is profound. Every virtue we develop, every kindness we undertake, every act of love, every act of compassion we pour into life as God’s love has poured into our hearts, puts life itself down a different pathway than it would otherwise have taken had we not intervened. That’s profound.
It’s so profound that the future’s groaning way becomes illuminated by the fruits of the Spirit, as we say. And we begin to see what a fulfilled humanity and the kingdom of God really looks like. What it really looks like.
It’s frightening. It’s in your hands and it’s in mine. Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts for the Holy Spirit that has been given to us, and there are times when we cannot help but to follow his conscience as he pricks our conscience. There are times when we feel impelled to do what we know is right, to intervene in life so it goes down a different pathway than it otherwise would have taken. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Can we get away from it? We are heirs to his kingdom. Amen.
Readings for 13 February
Luke 6:17-26 (NIV)
17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Jeremiah 17:5-10
- Psalm 1
- 1 Corinthians 15:12-20
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 parade service led by Stephanie Marr. 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.
13 February – Christ Church worship group – parade service
20 February – Dr Paul Ashitey (URC lay preacher)
27 February – Rev’d Julie King (Methodist minister) – communion service
6 March – Mr Alan Yates (URC lay preacher)
Lent Bible Study
We will be starting a Lent Bible study group in the chapel on Saturday mornings, 10am – 11.15am. This will be followed by the weekly time of prayer. The Lent group will run each Saturday, starting on 5 March and running until 9 April.
If you would be interested in taking part in the Lent Bible study group, please let Graham or Louise know.
But why did Jesus go into the wilderness?
Lent Bible studies abound in our churches. But perhaps one question gets insufficient attention!
Why do we believe Jesus went into the wilderness? What thoughts was he grappling with? Do we, in marking Lent, need to go into the wilderness? Should it be a time of contemplation as we too ask ourselves what God is calling us to do?
What do you think?
Church charity news
Our next fundraising event for our church charity will be the Saturday coffee morning on 26 February.
You can find more details about HALO Children’s Foundation, our church charity for 2022 at:
To make a donation to our church charity online visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/christ-church-halo2022
Thank you from St Mungo’s
A huge thanks for your donation of £600 in December. For a little bit of context, this could pay for:
- A warm bed, warm meal and staff support for 12 people found living on the street
- 12 psychotherapy sessions to help people currently experiencing homelessness to recover
- A deposit for someone moving from a hostel into independent accommodation.
So we really can’t thank you enough for your continued support. Your donation is helping us reach even more people affected by homelessness and provide the support they desperately need to rebuild their lives – thank you!
St Mungo’s is one of the charities being supported via the church outreach fund.
From the Methodist Circuit
Job vacancy – Circuit Property Manager
The Harrow & Hillingdon Circuit are currently looking for a Circuit Property Manager.
The main duties will involve:
- Budgeting and scheduling the maintenance for 9 domestic properties, supported by Local Manse Stewards.
- To advertise and liaise with the Property Stewards when requested at 16 Local Churches and 2 Community Centres.
- To ensure the Circuit keeps up to date with all current property and insurance guidance.
- Complete annual returns relating to the circuit properties and report regularly to the Circuit Resources Network.
- Manage the change of occupancy for the 9 domestic properties.
- Liaising with Letting Agents.
Applicants are sought with relevant experience, computer literacy and sympathy with the aims of the Church.
The post is for 20 hours per week (flexible working). It is a 3 year fixed-term contract with the possibility of moving to a permanent contract. Salary is £15 per hour.
For an application pack or for more information, please contact The Circuit Office, Lighthouse Centre, Queens Walk, South Ruislip HA4 0NL. Tel: 01895 662758, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing date for applications: 20th February 2022.
Can you find the following words in the wordsearch below?
SON OF GOD
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Hayes End Methodist
- St Andrew’s, Ealing URC
Lord, as we step into this week,
help us to cultivate our relationship with you.
We want to be rooted in you.
Show us our barriers to receiving your blessing.
Help us not only to recognise how blessed we are,
but also show us ways that your blessing
can overflow to others through us.
(Taken from Roots)