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:
Let us make a joyful noise,
singing glory to God,
offering glorious praise.
Let us say to our God:
‘How awesome are your deeds.
Holy is your name.’
(Based on Psalm 66, taken from Roots)
Reflection from 26 June
Reading: Luke 9:51-62
In the drama of our salvation, the final act opens with eight simple words, the words that we have heard in that gospel reading: he intently set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Jesus spent his whole life in the region known as Lower Galilee, except for his birth in Bethlehem, and of course, his family’s brief trip to Egypt. But Jesus grew up and he lived and worked in the close proximity to the Sea of Galilee. And when he began his ministry he located to Capernaum, and from there went out to preach the gospel, to heal the sick and to proclaim the Kingdom of God to all who would listen. But he never ventured very far from Capernaum and always kept that really as his base, which is something sometimes we forget about when we read about his travels and his journeys.
And so we come to this pivotal verse in Luke’s gospel where we see Jesus resolutely setting his face towards Jerusalem. Jesus has ministered for three years, but now he heads towards the heart of the Jewish faith; to Jerusalem itself, to its centre and to the temple. And we all know, don’t we, what will happen to Jesus when he gets there. We live through those events during Lent and Easter, and now as we look back on this with even Pentecost having gone as well, we know what will happen to Jesus and yet still he sets his mind on this journey.
He knows. He has to go to Jerusalem and this is as he said, a pivotal moment because he knows he has to leave behind all that has been familiar and go to a place some would say on what is simply a suicide mission. You know Jesus knows himself what’s going to happen, but he has to do it, and he sets himself resolutely there. It’s that sheer resolve and sheer determination to obey God’s will, regardless of the costs. To head for Jerusalem and to proclaim the gospel message in the heart of the Jewish faith. So he intently sets his face to go there.
He had nothing to gain and everything to lose. And as I said, some would say it was simply a suicide mission. But Jesus knew the words of Luke 9, verse 22, where it says the Son of Man must suffer many things and must be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, the scribes, and be killed, and on the third day raised up. He knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it. And this is implicit in the language of the text. Luke didn’t say he set his face to go to Jerusalem. He uses that word ‘resolutely’. Jesus was absolutely determined and nothing was going to change that determination.
We hear about the Samaritans who suddenly come into it, as Jesus sends disciples to prepare the way. It’s quite interesting because the Samaritans didn’t receive Jesus. I think that might be doing the Samaritans a bit of a hardship really, because actually I think that was because that Jesus knew he had to pass that way but his mind was focused. He wasn’t there to socialize with the Samaritans. He wasn’t there to even proclaim the gospel message to them which he had done in the past. He was just passing on through to get to the place where he knew he had to be. He knew he had to be in Jerusalem.
One of the things that I like most about the church is our emphasis on the sovereignty of God and the importance of putting God first. We live by the words of the psalmist who said, unless God builds the house, they labour in vain. Unless God builds the house, unless God is behind everything that we do, then we labour in vain. We know the sovereignty of God. When we start our meetings, we start them in prayer asking for the leading of God’s Spirit to guide us and to direct us and then when it comes to the end of meeting we thank God for his presence with us and we hand over to God all those things we’ve discussed in our meetings, or at least that’s what we should do. Perhaps at times we don’t do it, and that’s why the things that we want to do, the things that the church should be doing that don’t quite happen because we’ve not handed them over to the sovereignty of God. And I pray that God will bless you in your 50th anniversary celebrations. But to do that, remember to put God at the heart of it all.
I visited an elderly lady not long ago in hospital, and she was very seriously ill. I knew that she didn’t have long, but I wasn’t sure whether she knew that she didn’t have long. At the end of my time with her, I said shall we pray together and I offered a prayer for healing and comfort. At the end of the prayer, this lady looked at me and said, “remember Steve, and may God’s will be done, not mine.” Let God’s will be done whatever the situation. I had prayed for healing and comfort, but she recognised that in all things we have to accept that God’s will must be done. It’s about the sovereignty of God, about following what God wants us to do. Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem and Jesus, I believe, says to us as our Lord and Saviour, that we too have to set our faces forward.
It was interesting that somebody said to me before the service that the 50th anniversary is not about looking back. Church anniversaries are often about looking back aren’t they? They’re looking back to the days when people tell me the church was packed, but I always believe church anniversaries are not about looking back. They’re about giving thanks for the here and now. But they are definitely about looking forward, which is what was said to me before the service today. Looking forward and believing that God has a plan for us, believing that God still has a mission for us to fulfil. As a circuit, we’re doing this circuit mission plan and many people are feeling quite demoralised and wondering where we’re going. I’ve been part of this mission planning team and in all of it, I have said constantly we may not be going in the directions that some of the church people and some of the churches want, but in all things we have to believe and trust that we are going in the direction that God wants for us.
And God says this, you know, be determined. Be focused. And Jesus heard that. Resolutely he set his face to Jerusalem. He knew, ultimately, that that his death would come about. Perhaps sometimes, however, resolutely, we may be set, there will be death before there will be resurrection, but in Jesus and in God we see that his sovereignty continues to be there. We see that he has a plan still for his church. We see that Jesus goes to Jerusalem. He goes to the heart of the Jewish faith. He proclaims the gospel message and he dies for it. But on the third day he is raised again, and via Pentecost the church itself is born. And here we are today. In gratitude to God, may we set our sights on him. May we set our sights resolutely upon the Kingdom of love and righteousness that God wants in our world today. May we turn from the sinfulness of the world and follow the example of Christ our Saviour. And above all, don’t look back.
In the words of a hymn, which is a great favouite of mine, it says:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full, in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace”
May God bless each and every one of you, and may you set your minds resolutely on the sovereignty of God, and upon the mission that God has for your church here in this place, and for your individual lives, and the journey that God has planned for you.
Revd Steve Poole
Readings for 3 July
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 (NIV)
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’
16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Isaiah 66:10-14
- Psalm 66:1-9
- Galatians 6(1-6), 7-16
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 led by members 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.
3 July – Christ Church worship group
10 July – Graham Hinton – parade service
17 July – Revd Andrew Pottage
24 July – Graham Hinton
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
50th Anniversary Celebrations 24th-25th September 2022
The planned timetable of events is as follows –
10am-2pm (TBC) – September Fete with information stalls from groups that meet in our buildings and various stalls selling craft/artisan goods. Demonstrations from groups plus fun activities for children.
10am-2pm – Refreshments available at reasonable prices.
3pm-4pm – Celebratory Anniversary Church Service – The Mayor has been invited! Revd Elizabeth Kemp and Revd Nick Skelding will be sharing their reflections with us via a video link.
4pm-5pm – Tea/coffee/squash served with Anniversary cake. Please take the opportunity to share your recollections & tales of your time at Christ Church with other people.
6.30pm for 7pm start – Anniversary Quiz plus fish & chips. This will be a fundraiser for our church charity HALO. To finish approx.. 9pm.
11am-12noon – Communion Service using our historical silverware. Followed by tea/coffee/squash & probably cake!
1pm-3pm – A bring and share lunch with another opportunity to share your recollections & tales of your time at Christ Church with other people.
4pm-6pm – ‘Hopes and Dreams: Moving Forward’ – A Drama/Musical Celebration involving our church family, friends and our Brigade Companies.
10am onwards – Displays of our Church history, Church life & groups that meet in our buildings – in our side rooms
10am onwards – The Community ‘brick’ wall hanging will be on display. There will be opportunity for people who attend during the Anniversary weekend to add their names.
Please put these dates in your diary and tell your friends!
If you have any questions or you’d like to volunteer to help please see Denise or Jean George.
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.
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Northwood Methodist
- St John’s, Northwood URC
Where there is conflict,
let there be peace.
Where there is fearfulness,
let there be peace.
Where there is anger,
let there be peace.
Where there is violence,
let there be peace.
May God’s peace rest on our homes
and all who live in them.
(Taken from Roots)