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 (email@example.com)
We start with our opening prayer:
O Lord our God, your Word is a lamp to our feet
and a light to our path.
Give us grace to receive your truth in faith and love,
that we may be obedient to your will
and live always for your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
(Taken from the URC Worship Notes for 26 June)
Reflection from 19 June: Jesus the teacher
Readings: Mark 12: 1-12 and Matthew 25: 14-30
Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said, “We know that you are a teacher come from God.”
A few sentences from Mark’s gospel:
Jesus had healed a man, and told him to go away and tell nobody. He talked so much that Jesus could not go into a town publicly. Instead he stayed out in lonely places and people came to him from everywhere.
The crowd was so large that Jesus told his disciples to get a boat ready for him so that the people would not crush him.
There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to eat. So they started out in a boat to go to a lonely place. Many people saw them leave, so they ran ahead by land and arrived at the place ahead of Jesus and his disciples. (5000 there.)
He went into a house, and did not want anyone to know that he was there, but he could not stay hidden.
Jesus went to the province of Judaea. Crowds came flocking to him.
There can be no doubt about the immense following that Jesus had as he travelled the country. He was constantly in demand. You’ll remember the occasion when some people brought their children to be blessed by him. The disciples, aware perhaps that he was tired, started to turn them away. Jesus overheard, and insisted that they were brought to him because, as he put it, the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. He gave himself unsparingly in the service of others.
Another clue to his popularity appears in Matthew’s Gospel. The crowd were amazed at the way he taught. He wasn’t like the teachers of the Law. He taught with authority. With Jesus there was no “perhaps” or “it might be” or “I rather think so.” It was refreshing to hear someone without speculation, guesswork or faltering. With Jesus it was rather, “You have heard it said in the past… but I say to you.”
Clear, decisive direct, simple and not relying on the past.
Although his teaching was authoritative that doesn’t mean that he was dogmatic or forceful. He did not tell people how to live or what to do. He had more respect for their minds. “I call you not as servants, but as friends”, he said. He was determined to make people think for themselves.
“Who is my neighbour?” he was asked. His reply? “A man was travelling to Jericho when he was attacked, beaten up and left for dead.” Yes, the story of the good Samaritan. The questioner worked it out. Anyone, whatever race or religion who needs your help, is your neighbour.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the teaching of Jesus is how much of it has survived. There was no-one there with a notebook and pencil. It was all oral teaching. His listeners, for the most part, were illiterate peasants, yet they remembered. Such was the brilliance of his speech, that much of what he said was remembered. There is evidence that it took a long time – years indeed – before much was written down. Yet his message was recalled and repeated by word of mouth for ages. Gradually things were recorded, and the Gospel writers were in fact collectors of this material.
The parables themselves are little gems of literature, but at least one is an allegory – that is a story in which each element stands for something else. It is the story of the tenants, our first reading today.
A man prepared and planted a vineyard, and then let it to tenants and went off on a journey. From time to time he sent servants to collect the rent, but they were all brutally assaulted or even killed. So the owner said, “I shall have to send my only son. Surely they will respect him, and pay up.” But they decided to kill him too, so that the property would be theirs.
Each part of that story represents something else. The owner of the vineyard is God. The vineyard is the house of Israel, the Jewish people. The servants are the prophets. The only son is the Messiah, God’s special messenger. The tenants are the priests and leaders of Judaism. It is important to remember that Jesus spoke this parable in Jerusalem a few days before he was put to death. The allegory is a solemn warning to the Jews. God has been very patient, sending prophets and teachers to them over a long period of time, but in one way or another they were all rejected. And now they are going to reject and kill the Messiah in the same way. The task of taking God’s message to the world will be left to others. You and I perhaps?
Our second reading was the more familiar parable of the talents. In the Roman world a talent was a coin of high value, a large sum of money. And at that time it was the only meaning that the word had. Bible scholars believe that Jesus’ original meaning to have been that his people had been entrusted with something very valuable – their religion – but they had not used it. Instead they had kept it for themselves, and not shared it with others. The one-talent man was central to the meaning. He kept it to himself; His one talent was taken from him.
But to us the word talent has another meaning – a natural ability, an innate gift, a God-given aptitude. The meaning, though, remains the same. Talents are there to be used. Or more briefly “Use it or lose it.”
I call to mind the old Sunday School hymn:
God entrusts to all talents few or many.
None so young and small that they have not any.
Though the great and wise have a greater number
Yet my one I prize, and it must not slumber.
Our talents vary so much, and you know where yours lie.
Artistic, literary, musical? Cookery? Letter-writing?
Showing compassion and sympathy. Are you a good listener?
Ideally our gifts must be used in the service of others. This is true life.
To hide a talent, and not use it, is death. Use it or lose it.
There is an old story of a circus performer, a juggler, who decided to enter a monastery. The new brother settled into the order, and they began to find out what he could do. It was no good getting him to write or copy manuscripts; he was illiterate. They tried him in the monastery garden; he was hopeless. They put him in the kitchen: he was hopeless. They gave him a task in the workshop; he nearly killed himself. There seemed to be nothing that he could do. Then one day they found him in the chapel, kneeling in front of the altar, juggling. It was the one thing that he could do, and he was offering it to God.
There’s not a pair of legs so thin
There’s not a head so thick,
There’s not a hand so weak and white
Nor yet a heart so sick,
But it can find some needful job
That’s crying to be done,
For the glory of that talent glorifieth everyone.
Readings for 26 June
Luke 9:51-62 (NIV)
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.
The Cost of Following Jesus
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
- Psalm 16
- Galatians 5:1. 13-25
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. Our service this week will be a communion service led by Methodist minister, Revd Steve Poole. 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.
26 June – Revd Stephen Poole (Methodist minister) – communion service
3 July – Christ Church worship group
10 July – Graham Hinton – parade service
17 July – Revd Andrew Pottage
Church charity news
Film afternoon – Saturday 9th July
We will be showing a family-friendly film in the chapel from 1pm on Saturday 9th July. Popcorn, drinks and other refreshments will be available. There is no charge to attend but we will have a collection jar for HALO Children’s Foundation if you would like to donate to our church charity.
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
Christ Church 50th Anniversary
As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, Jean and Louise George are putting together a drama/musical celebration – “Hopes and Dreams: Moving Forward” which will be performed on Sunday 25th September, 3pm – 5pm. There will be opportunities to join in with group songs, as well as solo numbers, readings and drama. Rehearsals will take place on Sundays after the service from 26th June. If you would be interested in taking part, please let Jean or Louise know.
Community Anniversary Commemorative Wall Hanging
We are planning a new wall hanging for the vestibule to mark the church anniversary. Come and be involved. The plan is based on collecting the signatures, names and messages and even logos from those who form the bricks that the church is built upon. Members and friends past and present, groups that use the buildings and visitors. Echoing the brick interior of the church, people will have names on bricks that form the basis of the wall hanging. The anniversary logo will also be included and some bonus material also. The size it ends up will depend on the number of names collected.
Come and be part of the process on 6th August and 8th October between 10am and 12noon. No sewing skills needed, but if you have skills we will use them.
Brigades’ Annual Display
This year’s Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade Annual Display will take place on Friday 1st July, 7pm – 8.30pm. Please do come along and support our young people.
Can you follow the maze to get to Jesus? Some turnings will help and some won’t!
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- North Hillingdon Methodist
- Hounslow URC
May God grant us the wisdom to know what is important.
May God guide us to act, to do what is urgent.
May God help us to know the one we follow better each day.
May God help us to be people who don’t always look back.
May God help us always to be faithful and true.
(Taken from Roots)