Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. Our anniversary weekend is rapidly approaching and we have a busy weekend of events planned. I hope that you will be able to join us for some of the celebrations and if you’re able to help over the weekend then you can find more details about how to volunteer in this week’s newsletter.
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 on our church website here. We would love to hear from you and are always 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 Jesus Christ,
Accepting your open invitation, we come into your presence and lay down our baggage.
We don’t even have to unpack, for all of it is known to you:
The pain we have felt, the pain we have caused
The difficult conversations
Our regrets, our fears
The hopes we daren’t speak aloud
We give you thanks, for you offer to share the load,
In the peace of this moment, may we hear your words of forgiveness, feel your comforting arms around us, and simply know you are near
Accepting us as we are
Loving us as we are
Giving us a place of safety, just to be,
Gently challenging us to keep moving forwards, strengthened by your spirit.
Lord Jesus Christ, we love you. Amen.
(Taken from The Vine)
Reflection from 11 September
Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
In recent weeks, lots of people have been thinking and talking about the value of money. Both during and after the end of the contest to appoint a new leader of the conservative party, the subject came up virtually every day.
If I produced a bank note now, whether it was blue and had a number 5 on it, or brown with a number 10 on it, or purple with a number 20 on it, the number alone would tell you very little. We understand the value of money much more when we think about what we can do with it, for example, what we can buy with it. And we all know that we can buy a lot less with £10 today than we could at the beginning of 2022. So, the value of money is a very practical subject.
The story Jesus tells, appears to be about the value of money, this time expressed not in terms of how much could be bought with it but rather how much was owed. The story involves two servants. The first servant owed a huge amount and was forgiven the entire debt. The second servant owed a smaller amount, and was thrown into prison because he couldn’t repay it.
We’re going to look at the two debts in reverse order, starting with the lower amount.
In the version of the Bible we heard the story read from this morning, the second servant owed a hundred silver coins. Other translations of the Bible are more specific and tell us that the coins involved were denarii.
Here’s a picture of a denarius from the time of Tiberius. He would have been Emperor during Jesus’s earthly ministry.
The denarius was a Roman coin. It was the smallest coin in circulation.
In Jesus’s day, a denarius was the wage earned by a casual labourer for one full day’s work. It would cover essential foodstuffs for that man and his family for one day, with nothing left over to save for a day when there was no work. So, on any day that he couldn’t find work, he and his family went hungry.
The smallest coin in circulation in the UK today is the penny. It’s a copper coin rather than a silver one. You can’t buy much with a penny. In fact, today, I’m not sure you can buy anything at all with just one penny.
In the story we heard read, the first servant owed a debt of 10,000 bags of gold. Other versions of the Bible are more specific and say that he owed 10,000 talents.
I looked for pictures of a talent, but didn’t feel confident that my internet search had produced an authentic image, so you’ll just have to imagine what a talent might have looked like.
I can tell you, however, that a talent was the largest unit of currency.
In the story Jesus tells, the second servant owed 100 denarii; that represents wages for around a third of the working year. So, the amount of the debt isn’t negligible. If we wanted to get a modern comparison, by using data for 2021 from the Office for National Statistics, the amount owed would be in excess of £10,000. Even though it’s the smaller of the two debts, that’s still a lot of money.
The larger of the two debts was 10,000 talents. In using this amount in his story, Jesus has combined the largest unit of currency with the largest Greek numeral to indicate an amount so large that was unimaginable in his day. The annual revenue of the entire province of Galilee around this time was just 300 talents.
The Bible scholar William Barclay tells us that 100 denarii was 1 / 600,000th of the larger debt. So, if we multiply £10,000 by 600,000 we get £6bn (if my arithmetic is right).
Jesus doesn’t explain why the first servant would have needed so much or how the master had such a large amount available to lend him. And if we get distracted by that kind of consideration, we’ll miss the whole point of the story. Jesus is using a wildly exaggerated illustration to drive his point home.
So far, I’ve been talking about money and the different values of the debts owed by the two servants. But this story isn’t really about money at all, is it?
The story starts with the words “The kingdom of heaven is like…”. So, Jesus is talking about something that people would probably have a basic grasp of, but he wants them to think about something else. What was that?
I’m going to invite you to have a conversation with your neighbours, looking at the three questions that are up on the screen;
1. What point was Jesus making in the story he told?
2. How easy or difficult is it to do as Jesus instructed?
3. Where can we find help to act as Jesus wishes?
When someone else wrongs us there should be no limit to our forgiveness, because there is no limit to the forgiveness we receive from God. If we find ourselves unwilling to forgive, then we do not truly appreciate the extent of our own sin and how undeserving of forgiveness we are.
Let’s say together the Lord’s Prayer, which reminds us of the dependency between the forgiveness we give to others and the forgiveness that we ourselves receive.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen
Readings for 18 September
Luke 16:1-13 (NIV)
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Amos 8:4-7
- Psalm 113
- 1 Timothy 2:1-7
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 our harvest and parade service led by our Girls’ Brigade captain Stephanie Marr. 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.
18 September – Christ Church worship group – Harvest and parade service
24 September – Christ Church worship group with reflections from Revd Elizabeth Kemp and Revd Nick Skelding – 50th anniversary thanksgiving service (3pm)
25 September – Revd Dr Dong Hwan Kim (Methodist minister) – Communion and covenant service
2 October – Christ Church worship group
9 October – Graham Hinton (URC lay preacher and member of Christ Church) – parade and enrolment service
Harvest Service – 18th September
Our Harvest service this year will take place on Sunday 18 September and our harvest gifts will be donated to Yiewsley & West Drayton Foodbank. The following items are currently urgently needed:
- Microwave rice packets
- Pasta sauce
- Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans
- Tinned peas, carrots, or sweetcorn
- Tinned potatoes
- 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
Church closure – 19th September
Please note that our church buildings will be closed on Monday 19th September due to the bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral.
Commemoration Service for Queen Elizabeth II
There will be a ‘Special Commemoration Service marking the Death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’ at St Margaret’s, Uxbridge at 3.00pm on Sunday 18th September. All are welcome to attend.
Church charity news
Operation Christmas Child
Flat-packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child are now available in the vestibule. These will be collected in mid-November to send to children overseas.
Table-top games afternoon – save the date
There will be a table-top games afternoon after the service on 13th November as a fundraiser for HALO Children’s Foundation.
You can find more details about HALO Children’s Foundation, our church charity for 2022 at:
www.christchurchuxbridge.org.uk/activities/churchcharity2022To make a donation to our church charity online visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/christ-church-halo2022
Christ Church 50th Anniversary
Help at the fete – can you volunteer
Many thanks to the people who’ve volunteered already but we still need a few more!
Please have a look on the list in the vestibule and add your name if you can. You never know – you might get a cuppa for your trouble!
Please also pick up some flyers from the vestibule and distribute them to your friends & neighbours. The more people we tell – The more people will come!
We are looking for raffle prizes for the quiz supper. If you are able to donate a raffle prize such as a box of chocolates, scented candle, box of biscuits, a jigsaw puzzle or a houseplant then please let Denise know.
Dates for your diary
Tuesday 20th September, 7.30pm
“The origins of Christ Church” – an illustrated talk by Ken Pearce. This will take place in the chapel at Christ Church. £2 for those who are not members of the local history society.
Saturday 24th September
All day – Exhibition
10am – 1pm – Fete
3pm – Thanksgiving service
7pm – Quiz supper
Sunday 25th September
11am – Communion and covenant service
1pm – Bring and share lunch
3pm – Hopes and Dreams: Moving Forward
Saturday 8th October, 10am – 12noon
Sewing bee for the community anniversary commemorative wall hanging. Please contact Joanne for more details.
For more information about our anniversary events, please visit our 50th anniversary page.
If anyone would like to receive paper copies of Reform magazine, please let Joanne know by the end of September.
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Hayes Methodist
- Ealing Green (URC/Methodist)
We want to be the body of Christ,
longing to bless the world with love,
and transforming society, here and now.
Holy Spirit, we offer you
all that we are, all that we do.
Take us, and our gifts and talents,
and help us be signs of your kingdom today. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)