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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We start with our opening prayer:
Let me be still and meet with you, O Lord,
Let me be here and open to your inspiration, O Spirit,
Let me be present and be transformed by you, the incarnate Christ.
Let me worship the God who is Trinity. Amen.
(Taken from The Vine)
Reflection from 20 March: What makes us Christian?
Reading: Romans 15:1-13 (The Message)
Today’s service is a bit different. It is entitled “What makes us Christian?” It was inspired by the Radio 2 series of essays on “what makes us Human?” that examined different traits that made us human. Through today’s service I hope we can explore the traits of what makes us Christian. It won’t capture everything but get us thinking.
Every Christian has a slightly or significantly different way of viewing their faith and the things that make us say we are Christian and how that that affects us day to day. If everyone who calls themselves Christian was to answer the question, no two answers would be the same. As a group here at Christ Church, we hope to have far more in common that we have that is different. Today we will hear several views on what make us Christian and sing a Hymn that they feel goes with their answer. Their views are their own and you may agree or disagree in whole or in part. We can disagree with love and care and still hold onto our own views, we can also reassess our views as we explore others’ ideas and faith. With care and love we can only grow by exploring the question “What makes us Christian?”
I was asked to share my views on what makes me, part of what make us a Christian. So as for my thoughts and my prayers, my declarations, I’ll pick one verse: Titus 3:5 (NKJV):
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
My understanding, how I see what makes me Christian? It is believing, anchoring on this verse, believing in Jesus Christ, that Jesus is Lord. He died for my sins and on the third day, he rose up again, and that resurrection is also reflected on me when I am baptised. I know that in this church we do baptize infants, but some young people choose to be baptised again at 12, so that same resurrection is being awarded when I’m baptised, singing, being dipped in and then out.
I also believe that by faith that God the Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, and without sin.
And I believe that Jesus walked this earth. He obeyed his father and fulfilled his mission to die for the sins of many. For such a lamb was brought for us to die for our sins. He was crucified for us to cross over. And I also believe that the faith that I carry is also to be transmitted or to be shown through our works and to read the word of God.
Lastly, I’ll just say the word of God is alive. Let us read the word. Shalom.
Hymn – Be Thou My Vision (StF545)
The prophet Micah lived at a time when the people of Israel had deserted their faith and were living lives far from God. Micah warned them that they faced a terrible future of God’s wrath and they came to him. What must we do?
Micah said to them. “He has told you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
We are told in the gospels that Jesus of Nazareth, as his wont, to synagogue on the Sabbath. He would have heard those words from Micah many times and they are reflected in his teaching.
Not be in favour of justice, or love justice. But do justice. And perhaps we should think in that context of the refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan and those who have been victims of unfortunate policing.
I was once in church, not this one, and in the middle of the service a man crashed through the doors at the back. He was noisy. The smell of meths was obvious to us all. And there was a ripple of discomfort around the congregation. And one lady. stood up, went and sat by the man and said, “Welcome to our service. Would you like me to help you make your way through it?”
That kindness put us all, including me, to shame. Because that was kindness, expressed in the manner of Jesus.
How do we walk? Humbly with our God.
Like many of you, I watched the TV programs called Pilgrim. As the broadcasters listen carefully to a group of people making their way to a pilgrim site. They were of all faiths and none, and some had lapsed from their faith. But as they walked the kilometres to the site, they talked together. They listened to each other. They heard each other. And by the end of their journey they had each seen more of the truth because it had been revealed to them by one or more of the others.
Perhaps it’s incumbent on us to walk humbly through life, listening to others. Sharing the truth that they reveal to us. Not claiming that as Christians we know everything because we don’t. But being willing to seek God together.
What did Jesus say when someone greeted him as ‘Good Master’? He said, “Why do you call me good? There is none good, but God.”
And that for me is the essence of Christianity. I do not care for rites and rituals and creeds and doctrines. Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.
Hymn – What does the Lord require (H&P414)
At the end of the well-known reading from 1 Corinthians 13, telling us what love is, Paul finishes with the words:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Faith, hope and love. And while love is undoubtedly the greatest of that trio, faith and hope are an important part of our Christian faith, and a big part of my Christian faith.
I think I could probably drift along fairly happily without my faith in the good times of life and to be completely honest, that it is often when God gets pushed to the corners of my life. It is in the challenging times when I realise how much I need God. Those of you who have known my family for some time will know how our faith has helped us through many challenges and especially so from the day we found out that our eldest daughter Jessica had a complex heart condition. We were told that she wouldn’t be suitable for surgery, that she wouldn’t survive long after birth and we put our trust in God for the journey ahead. It felt that we were given a miracle when we were offered the chance for her to have pioneering surgery while still in the womb; surgery that helped give us six and a half wonderful years with her. The words from the hymn ‘Great is thy faithfulness’ sum up that time well – ‘strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow; blessings all mine with ten thousand besides.’
God also gave us strength in our grief after Jessica died, although there were many days when God felt very far away and days when prayers became agonised, angry shouts and there are still days like that, to be honest.
But being a Christian gives me that knowledge that I am not alone in the dark and difficult times, that ability to seek God in prayer and reach out for the comfort and strength that he offers, that hope there is something so much better beyond this life, the horrors in the news and my own personal struggles. It gives me hope that one day I will be reunited with my beautiful Jessica.
In the challenging times, when I don’t know what else to do, I turn to God. And the words of the next hymn for me sum up those times when we just offer up our doubts, our fears, our grief, our pain and our dreams and lay them all before God, trusting that he will help us and give us strength for whatever lies ahead.
Hymn – God of my faith, I offer you my doubt (StF629)
We’ve heard about our God and how people’s faith is drawn from the words of the Scriptures and the words of hymns and the words of each other. We’ve heard of commitment and faith and love. Mercy, kindness, justice. Forgiveness, hope and above all a loving care that seems to go beyond all bounds.
I hope we’ve learned something from our fellows within the church who’ve shared and I want to thank them very much for sharing. We learn a little bit more about everybody with each conversation that we have and I want to thank them. But most of all, I’d like you to go out thinking how would I describe what makes me Christian to my fellows? What is the thing that holds your heart and God together?
Readings for 27 March
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 (NIV)
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus told them this parable:
“There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Joshua 5:9-12
- Psalm 32
- 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
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 Revd 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.
27 March – Rev’d Dr Jonathan Hustler (Methodist minister) – communion service
3 April – Christ Church worship group
10 April – Mrs Cathy Smith (Methodist local preacher) – Palm Sunday
14 April – Christ Church worship group – Maundy Thursday, 7pm
17 April – Rev’d John Mackerness – Easter Sunday communion service
Lent Course – Growing Good
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.
Maundy Thursday Service
Our Maundy Thursday service will take place on Thursday 14 April at 7pm in the chapel. As part of our service, we will share a simple supper of soup and bread, followed by sharing communion together. All are welcome.
You do not need to let us know in advance if you are planning on attending this service, but if you are able to do so it would be helpful with regards to catering arrangements.
Good Friday Walk of Witness
Churches Together in Uxbridge invite all church members to participate in this year’s Walk of Witness, which is on Good Friday 15th April at 11am, starting at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (round the back of the Pavilions Shopping Centre), making its way through the town centre and finishing at St Margaret’s Church.
Appeal for Stewards
The Walk of Witness will run more safely and smoothly with the assistance of volunteer stewards. We are looking for a couple from each church. Please let Louise know if you are prepared to be a steward. You will receive a briefing by email, reinforced on the day at 10:45, as walkers gather at Our Lady of Lourdes.
(To anyone interested, stewards will:
- wear a hi-vis tabard – provided on the day;
- encourage walkers along the route to follow general instructions given to all;
- assist the crossing over to the War/Peace Memorial at the bottom of Windsor St;
- take no risks which an ordinary pedestrian would avoid.)
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.
Easter crafts morning – Saturday 16th April, 10am – 12noon
Join us for a morning of Easter crafts in aid of our church charity. All are welcome.
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
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Ruislip Methodist
- Gerrards Cross URC
God of outrageous love!
Thank you that we cannot fall out of your love,
no matter what our mistakes,
no matter how mean and grudging our love is.
As you welcome us with ever open arms, enlarge our hearts
and minds, to serve faithfully and to love outrageously! Amen.
(Taken from Roots)