Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. It’s been a busy time of preparation at Christ Church with this weekend being our celebratory anniversary weekend. We hope that you can join in some of the events and celebrate with us. If you’d like to share some of your thoughts in the newsletter afterwards, we would love to hear them.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We start with our opening prayer:
On this anniversary weekend, we thank you Lord for our church here in Uxbridge.
We praise you for all the joy we have known in this fellowship,
and we pray for all those who together
make up this community of your people,
so that our church may be a real home
for all who share its life.
(David Coote, adapted from the URC prayers for Times of Celebration)
Reflection from 18 September – Freedom to grow the harvest
Readings: Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 107:31-38 and Deuteronomy 24:19-21
Tearfund is a Christian charity with over 50 years of experience in international development. They believe that poverty is not God’s plan, and an end to extreme poverty is possible. At this Harvest time Tearfund has issued an appeal to help give communities in Nepal the freedom to grow. The climate crisis is forcing families in Nepal to shrink back from their dreams. Trapped by hunger and poverty, communities are withering away. Tearfund have provided some thoughts for us.
There is an old saying that goes: ‘May you live in interesting times.’ At first glance it may seem to be a blessing, but really it can feel more like an insult. It seems to me as though we have been living through some very interesting times indeed. The last few years have seen some of the most seismic changes in living memory: huge shifts on a societal and even a global level. The number of times the word ‘unprecedented’ has been used has been, well, unprecedented. The pandemic, political crises, climate change, conflict… we live in interesting times.
The irony with all this change that has been happening is that it can make it very hard, as individuals and communities, to grow. It’s hard to feel rooted when the ground beneath your feet keeps moving. And when you feel uprooted, growth can seem impossible. Now, certainly there are seasons when the best thing we can do is hunker down; hold fast; weather the storm. That is how the pandemic felt for most of the time.
But we cannot live like that all of the time. We all have longings. We all have dreams. We all have visions of what life could be – both for ourselves and for our community. And God knows this. If God lays something upon your heart, if the Holy Spirit plants a seed in your soul, then the most powerful forces in the universe are on the side of your growth. The prophet Jeremiah said that the word God gave to him was “in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9). If we deny what is deepest within us, then something inside will wither away.
Many people around the world are forced to deny their dreams by circumstances that they cannot escape. They simply do not have the freedom to grow. In places like Nepal, the climate crisis is forcing families to shrink back from visions of a better life. Like a quarter of the world’s population, many people in Nepal are subsistence farmers. In other words, they rely on what they can grow to survive. When conditions for growing are good, it can be a beautiful way of life. But increasingly, and alarmingly, conditions are deteriorating.
We might think of Nepal as a place of stunning mountain ranges, yet it is becoming a place of drought. And when the rains fail, hope dries up. Crops and livestock die. Communities shrivel as people are forced to move to cities just to survive. A whole way of life is fading.
This is not how it should be. This is not how God intends it to be. Poverty is not God’s plan. We are. The church is. As the body of Christ, we are invited to be God’s hands and feet, joining with his great story of restoration. Part of building God’s kingdom is making sure that people – all people – have the freedom to dream; the freedom to be who God created them to be; the freedom to grow.
Organisations like Tearfund are making that happen in places like Nepal. Tearfund’s local partners have been installing irrigation systems in remote communities, which are helping to combat the effects of the climate crisis. They’re also providing seeds, tools and training to vulnerable farmers. As families can grow food again, communities can grow in strength again. Dreams can flourish again; hope becomes as real as the thriving fields of crops. It’s amazing work, but there’s so much more to be done.
For tens of millions of people across the world, extreme weather events mean losing their homes, food and livelihoods. People living in poverty are being hit by the climate crisis the hardest. Something has to be done – and Tearfund is asking if churches, like ours, can help them.
Here at Christ Church, we can help give people in poverty the freedom to grow again. We have already brought some gifts along to support our local community and we can also help communities on the other side of the world adapt to climate change and step into their God-given potential. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
This video which has been issued by Tearfund highlights the work they are doing to support farmers in Nepal.
- £41 can train a farmer in new farming techniques so that they can free themselves from poverty.
- £88 can help set up a new water irrigation system, enabling local farmers to adapt to the climate crisis.
- £184 can provide farmers with materials to launch a new business in struggling communities, investing in them for the future.
This Harvest Sunday gives us the opportunity to make a difference as a church – to answer our calling and be a blessing to others.
If you feel called to support this project there is a donation plate in the Vestibule. If you do not feel able to give monetary help, then you may wish to remember Nepal and the work Tearfund is doing in your prayers.
We’ve all been living through interesting times. We’ve all been through a period of immense challenge – a period in which dreams may have been put on hold; where life has been more about getting through the day, rather than thriving. It won’t always be that way. And that is one of the reasons why we are here – why we gather as a church; to help one another to grow; to encourage one another to dream, and together, as friends and family, to help make those dreams happen.
To finish, I’m going to re-read the two verses, one from our reading from Psalm 107 and the other from Psalm 1.
“They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish.”
“Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”
You made the world and declared it was ‘very good’.
And yet we have not treated the earth and our fellow humans with the care and respect they deserve. We are sorry and ask for your forgiveness.
Give us the courage to keep raising our voices about the climate crisis, which affects people living in poverty the most. And may your Spirit of peace be in the hearts of all people, may it sustain them through the anxiety they feel as they face the worsening effects of climate change.
God, remind us to keep caring for creation. Show us ways in which we can do this where we live and how to advocate for this in our churches and workplaces. Amen.
Readings for 18 September
Luke 16:19-31 (NIV)
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Amos 6:1a, 4-7
- Psalm 146
- 1 Timothy 6:6-19
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. We have two services this weekend – our 50th anniversary thanksgiving service at 3pm on Saturday, which will be led by members of Christ Church, and our communion and covenant service at 11am on Sunday, which will be led by Methodist minister, Revd Dr Dong Hwan Kim. You can find the order of service for both services 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.
24 September – Christ Church worship group with reflections from Ken Pearce 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
16 October – Sue Lloyd (Methodist local preacher)
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
Dates for your diary
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.
URC Jubilee celebrations postponed
Last week, the URC heard about the revised dates for the national rail strikes on October 1 and 5, news that was confirmed yesterday (20th). Many meetings and conversations have taken place, and we’ve decided, with the heaviest of hearts, that the best option is to postpone our jubilee events.
After close to three years of planning, this postponement is deeply disappointing, but we want the URC to celebrate its jubilee properly, with all who want to take part.
We let you know about the new date as soon as possible, and please keep all who are affected by this news in your thoughts and prayers.
All attending the events on October 1 were going to receive a special copy of Reform, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. If you would like to receive copies for you and for others in your church, please email email@example.com with your address details and the number of copies required.
With warmest wishes and thanks,
Andy Jackson and Sam Richards
Convenors, 50th Anniversary Planning Group
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Hayes End Methodist
- St Andrew’s, Ealing URC
Lord, we know that your kingdom exists
wherever injustice is challenged,
wherever the oppressed are set free,
wherever the hungry are fed,
wherever the helpless helped
and foreigners welcomed.
Help us to work for this,
wherever we are this week. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)