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, you are our light and our salvation;
our hope in times of fear.
You protect us at times of danger,
and you hear our prayers.
So, Lord, we seek your face,
and we trust in your goodness.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 6 March
Readings: Genesis 3:1-7 and Luke 4:1-13
Tonight my son and his fiancée are coming to dinner. I’m sure you’re pleased to know that; I’m certainly pleased that he’s coming. When he comes, he will come into the front door and kick his shoes off.
Life wasn’t always like that. You would say to him, “Please take your muddy boots off before you go into the lounge.” What would he do? immediately run in to the lounge to see why he shouldn’t have gone there. So being a budding psychologist, I thought I’d try the other way, saying to Matthew, “Whatever you do, don’t eat the cabbage on your plate.” Guess what he did? He didn’t eat the cabbage on his plate!
That’s a hard lesson for intelligent and sensitive parents to learn. But once you’ve learned it and you’ve been put in your place, life’s good after that.
This sort of willful behaviour isn’t a new phenomenon, is it? We read about it in Genesis. The story of the fall of Adam and Eve does remind me a little bit of Matthew’s behaviour. Or is it the other way around? I can’t remember. God told them not to eat the fruit of knowledge and what happened? Exactly the opposite. And that’s the start of our sinfulness.
So the story goes, but I want us to spend a little bit more time thinking about our reading from Genesis. Genesis takes a little bit of care to understand what’s behind the words. The passage we read skillfully entwines temptations with a number of old myths, two in particular, and one concerns the guile of a serpent. The second is a myth about God’s jealousy of man and that was indicated by God withholding a vital piece of knowledge.
In those days the serpent was not seen as universally evil. Now we only have to look at the symbol of the Greek God of healing, and I guess many of you will know that was a rod entwined by a serpent, which is very similar to today’s symbol used by the medical profession. The serpent was also known as a symbol of rebirth and fertility because of the way snakes shed their skin, and emerge sort of fresh and almost newborn. A symbol of rebirth. So you could argue that this story in Genesis is as much about the fall of the serpent as it is about the fall of humankind.
Now the commentaries I’ve read suggest there are two main reasons for this story. The first is to show how disobedience and sin broke the free and happy relationship between God and humankind. I think that’s quite easy for us humans to understand isn’t it? That if you are rude or disrespectful to one of your friends or, even worse, tell them a lie, it does erect a barrier between the two of you. Our relationship with God is no different.
The second reason for the story is not quite so clear cut. The commentators say that the writers are trying to tell us that God is not responsible for sin in our world. We, through our ancestor Adam, chose sin and brought it into the world, which is what the passage is trying to tell us. It was not God’s design.
But, I can hear you say (well, you ought to be saying, even if I can’t hear it), if God is the creator of all, then surely he created us. And because we then sinned, surely he created the sin. Quite a conundrum. And I think that’s what the writer of this passage is trying to get behind for us.
One of the commentators I read gave quite a nice little modern-day parable to help us understand this difficulty with creating humankind and therefore creating sin, which goes like this:
Once upon a time, there was a good man who was an ambulance driver. He saved many a life by taking people quickly to hospital. His ambulance was a real lifesaver. This man used to thank God for the person who designed the ambulance. One day, as he was rushing a patient to hospital, he accidentally hit a young child who ran out in the road after their ball.
Now the designer of the ambulance did not create a vehicle to harm young children, however, by accident, that’s how it was used. By human error, not by divine design. So, in the same way that God designed us and the earth, he did not design sin for us to stumble on. That’s part of the point of this reading from Genesis. I know that parable is not a rigorous argument, but I think it is a good illustration of what this author of Genesis was trying to get.
Now let’s move on from sin to temptation. There is a reason why these two readings were put side by side. Luke chapter 4. It’s a wonderful story of the test of strength of two beings. You can see why this particular passage was made into a film by Martin Scorsese, although Martin, if anybody has seen the film, did introduce a rather strange 4th temptation.
This reading gives us, I think, a somewhat biased view of temptations. Because we know that these temptations came with evil intent there’s a tendency for us to link temptations with evil. Just because there is a gorgeous chocolate cake in the shop window, tempting us to break our fast, it doesn’t mean the chocolate cake is evil per se.
However, for Jesus to succumb to the temptations he was presented with, that would have been an evil act because he would have been elevating the devil and obeying the devil. But thank the Lord that he didn’t.
Before I move on, I just want to make one further point about this reading. We know this reading comes from a time of dedication and fasting in the desert and there aren’t many mountains in the desert. So when we hear the temptation of the devil taking Jesus up to the mountain, this is in Jesus’s mind. The devil is putting something in his mind. That doesn’t make it any less of a temptation. Those of you who have spent a sleepless night wrestling with a problem find often in the day that the problem’s not as big as it is in the night.
So let’s take stock of what we’ve gleaned from our two readings.
We saw in Genesis how sin creates a rift in our relationships with God, and quite often our relationships with others, and how evil can actually turn a law into sin; the law of not eating the fruit. And how this sin was not God’s creation but a function of our free will. We also saw how the existence of the law was almost an encouragement to sin.
In Luke we saw how even Jesus was exposed to temptation and how it was very real for him. We recognise that temptation isn’t per se evil, but its outcome if we succumb to it can be.
Like Adam and Jesus, we are all vulnerable to temptation, so we need to be on our guard. But if the story of Adam and Eve tells us one thing, it is that if we try to resist temptation on our own, we may well suffer the same fate as Adam.
When my son was a bit younger, he would not take part in anything if he thought he wasn’t going to succeed. Fortunately, he succeeded quite often, but if he thought he wasn’t going to win, he wouldn’t even take part. Thank goodness he has changed that, but there must be in a sense for us a temptation for us not to bother if we know we’re going to succumb to temptation.
Our love of God needs to stop us sliding down that slippery slope. Ask for forgiveness and help and start afresh, even if you do that every day. Or even as another parable suggests, every hour of your life.
Let us pray:
Lord, I pray that we can live up to all these challenges and temptations.
And have the humility to ask for help and for forgiveness when we slip beneath these high standards.
Readings for 13 March
Luke 13:31-35 (NIV)
Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem
31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Genesis 15:1-12. 17-18
- Psalm 27
- Philippians 3:17-4:1
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 URC lay preacher and Christ Church member, 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.
13 March – Graham Hinton – parade service
20 March – Christ Church worship group
27 March – Rev’d Dr Jonathan Hustler (Methodist minister) – communion service
3 April – Christ Church worship group
Lent Course – Growing Good
Last week we explored our church’s presence within our local community as part of our ‘Growing Good’ Lent course. This week we will be taking a closer look at ‘Perseverance’ where we will consider how we can invest in our communities over the long term, even when it’s hard and slow.
The ‘Growing Good’ course helps churches explore the connection between social action, discipleship and growth. Through reflection, discussion, film and prayer we will explore how our churches can be faithful and fruitful in our local communities.
Our Lent course is held in the chapel on Saturday mornings, 10am – 11.15am until 9 April and will be followed by the weekly time of prayer. All are welcome.
Church charity news
Family film afternoon – Saturday 9th April, 1pm
We will be having another family film afternoon on Saturday 9th April at 1pm. There will be popcorn and other refreshments available. There is no charge to attend the film afternoon but if you would like to make a donation to Halo Children’s Foundation, you can do so online or through our collection on the day.
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 Yiewsley & West Drayton Foodbank
We would very much like to express our thanks to you all at Christ Church Uxbridge for your kind donation of 15.25kg of items during February 2022 to the Yiewsley & West Drayton Foodbank.
Your donations will make a big difference to local people in crisis and helps us to make up emergency food bags with enough nutritionally balanced food for 3 days. For a single person this equates to around 10kg of food, for a couple this is about 15kg and for a family of four, about 20kg or four large bags of shopping.
We are very grateful for your support enabling us to meet our vision to help those in need and to address the underlying causes of their poverty and hunger.
If you would like to support the foodbank, here are the things that are currently urgently needed:
- Instant coffee
- Long-life milk (ideally full-fat or semi-skimmed)
- Long-life fruit juice
- Rice pudding
- Tinned fruit
- 1L fruit squash
- Sugar (500g or 1kg)
- Dried noodles
- Tinned spaghetti
Can you find the values hidden in the wordsearch?
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Northwood Methodist
- St John’s, Northwood URC
Teach us, Lord God, to live out our faith;
to show courage when things are tough,
to show love to those in need,
and to be forgiving even when we are hurt.
Help us to follow Jesus.
(Taken from Roots)