Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. I hope you are keeping well and staying safe. Our newsletter is sent out regularly to share reflections from services, Bible readings and church news to our church family.
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:
Jesus calls us to walk with him,
to eat with him,
and to work with him.
As his friends, his guests and his disciples,
let us together praise him with all our heart,
and serve him with all our strength. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 24 April: The call of Jesus
Readings: 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14; John 20:19-31 and Acts 5:27-32
I have given the title for this message: The call of Jesus. I want to share the following three points:
- Jesus accepts us.
- Jesus commissions us.
- Jesus equips us.
Jesus accepts us
The disciples would have been filled with fear and uncertainty in that room behind closed doors. These were the disciples with whom Jesus had spent three years; rescued them from the raging sea, cured the mother-in-law of one of them, and they wouldn’t pray with him but fell asleep when Jesus was praying with a heavy heart in the garden of Gethsemane. One of the disciples betrayed him. Another denied him. And all of them ran away and did not want to stay close to him.
After the victory over his killers, Jesus comes and says, “Peace be with you” as his first words to the disciples. He reassures the disciples. There is no anger. He doesn’t tell them off or ridicule them, but shows his love. Jesus accepts all of us with our own fears, doubts, and faults. He understands us, he forgives us.
It is quite natural for the disciples to think that it is a spirit that has come because Jesus passed through a wall or a closed door. Jesus knows and understands their thoughts and the genuine questions they have. So he shows them his wounds, the holes made by the nails and his side where the spear pierced him. Thomas was not present when Jesus came and so doubts. And Jesus again understands and accepts Thomas and wants Thomas to put his fingers through the holes in the wounds.
Genuine doubt is good. Once cleared, it can lead to growth. Everyone, even God’s people, even those with many years of Christian experience, have doubts. Jesus encourages us to clear our doubts. We should be able to examine the evidence and come to clear answers, but not be clouded by preconceived notions. The closed door is not a barrier for Jesus and we too should not be having barriers in accepting new people into our churches.
Jesus accepts us all and we too must accept others into our church with love.
Jesus commissions us
Jesus tells the disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” He is asking the disciples to go out and give the message of God’s love and forgiveness of sins.
What does God want us to do? He wants us to do two things, just as Jesus did. Jesus told others to share the good news and prepared them to do their job. The disciples took the baton that was passed on to them from Jesus. In the reading from 2 Kings, we heard the story of the baton being passed from Elijah to the young Elisha. God is not only asking us to go out to be messengers, but he’s also asking us to pass the baton, just like Elisha took over from Elijah. Just as the disciples took the message from Jesus and began to pass the baton to others so that future generations could benefit. You and I would not be here if that baton had not been passed through several generations and through several cultures.
We have a responsibility to the outside world and to our own families and friends in passing this message not only by speaking to them about the good news of Jesus but also through our lives. We have a responsibility to take part in social action and in church affairs, not just leaving others to do all the work. A friend of mine uses the term consumers and contributors. In the family, in church and in society, are we always consumers or are we contributors too?
There is also another part to this. We should be willing to teach and encourage others to take responsibilities and be willing to pass on the baton of responsibility as well. There are going to be mistakes. But like Jesus being patient with Thomas, like Jesus being patient with Peter who denied him, we are asked to be patient. It does not matter if things are not done correctly. Jobs can be learned by doing them. Are we hearing the call to do his work? There is a duty on the leaders of this church to share leadership responsibilities with new members, with younger Christians, with people whom we think are different to us and to encourage fresh leadership.
Jesus equips us
In the two visits to the disciples, Jesus showed proof that he is the risen Lord, and Jesus also breathes the Holy Spirit on them. He is making sure that the disciples are happy that he is the risen Lord. If they are convinced that he is the risen Lord, then they can convince others of the good news.
John 20:31 says that John wrote this story so that we would be convinced of the truth and take the good news to others. We have the Bible, other books, other Christians, and our church to clear our doubts so that we can go out and spread the good news convincingly. Jesus commissioned the disciples and cleared their doubts so that they were convinced and could convince others of God’s message.
God also gives us the tools to do the job. We heard in John 20 that Jesus breathed on them. This reminds us of God as written in the book of Genesis, giving life to Adam when Adam was created. The disciples were given the Holy Spirit to do the job required, not with their own strength, but with God’s strength.
Elisha asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah, and God gave that to Elisha. If you ask in good faith something that is to be used for God’s glory, God will give that to you. He will equip us to give out his message.
Peter, who was a coward and who denied Jesus. Thomas, who doubted. Paul, who persecuted other believers. All of them turned back to Jesus and were killed in the process because of their convictions. They were equipped by God to face their challenges. Paul had the time to write his epistles only because he was in prison, which we are able to read now.
God is asking us only to cast the net. He will work so that we catch fish. He’s not asking us to clean the fish. Are we ready to go out? Are we awake for his call?
So in conclusion, I leave the following thoughts. Jesus had a choice. To accept the cross or leave it. He took the cross. Thomas had a choice. To continue in doubt or to accept Jesus as Lord. And he accepted Jesus as Lord. Peter had a choice to be a coward denying Jesus. But he chose to fearlessly preach and speak out in the presence of powerful Jewish leaders. Paul, who persecuted many Christians as Saul too had a choice. And he chose to be a changed man as Paul and even addressed royalty defending his faith. All these men lost their lives because of their faith.
You and I live in a country where we are much safer compared to all those apostles. God has put us in this place. He has put us in our own families. He has put us with our circle of friends. All with a purpose. We too have a choice. What is your choice? What is my choice? God’s invitation is to all of us. Do we take it or leave it? Can we hear the call of Jesus? The choice is yours and mine. Amen.
Readings for 1 May
John 21:1-19 (NIV)
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Jesus Reinstates Peter
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Acts 9:1-6
- Psalm 30
- Revelation 5:11-14
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 Graham Hinton, URC lay preacher and member 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.
1 May – Mr Graham Hinton (URC lay preacher and Christ Church member
8 May – Christ Church worship group – parade service
15 May – Mr Richard Reid (Methodist local preacher)
22 May – Christ Church worship group
I Say, I Say, I Say!
Louise will be performing in ‘I Say, I Say, I Say! A Tribute to Old Time Music Hall’ with WOS Productions at St Lawrence Church Hall, Eastcote, at the end of May.
Join the ‘Wospian Players’ as we bring the glory of traditional Victorian and Edwardian music hall to Hillingdon in full authentic period costume. With singing, dancing and melodrama from our intrepid band of players, and a vivacious and verbose Chairman leading the proceedings, we can guarantee a fabulously entertaining outing with plenty of singalong opportunities! Come to just the show or enjoy traditional pie and mash before we start the performance.
Tickets are available via the WOS Productions website (www.wos-productions.org.uk) at £15 for adults, £10 for children (12 and under) and £10 for an additional dining and drink ticket. There are three performances as follows:
Saturday 28 May: 15:30 (15:00 dining start)
Saturday 28 May: 19:30 (19:00 dining start)
Sunday 29 May: 15:30 (15:00 dining start)
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Yiewsley Methodist
- Ickenham URC
May the Holy Spirit empower you
to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God,
and may you meet the risen Christ as you work,
as you journey,
in one another, and in the world he came to save.
(Taken from Roots)