Welcome to the latest issue of our church 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:
God of friendship,
you are our life’s companion –
a guest in our homes
and our host in this place and all the world.
May we always be eager for your company
and, as we meet you here today,
may we be open to your transforming presence. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 23 October
Reading: Luke 18:9-14
Have you ever compared yourself to someone else? Looked at someone and wished you were more like them? Perhaps envied them for something they had or a talent they possessed or just felt that you weren’t good enough compared to them? I know I certainly have.
Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and felt a little bit smug inside? Not necessarily people you know – perhaps while watching the news or hearing a story about another person. Mentally shaken your head at something someone else has done or said and thought, “well, I wouldn’t behave like that.” Maybe you’ve seen the chaos going on with the government and seen the news about Liz Truss resigning as Prime Minister and thought of certain politicians of one party or another as being self-serving and untrustworthy. Of course, if we were MPs, we’d act with honesty and integrity, wouldn’t we? Although it’s not a job I’d want to do, if I’m honest.
Jesus is quite specific about who his audience is for this particular parable. It’s being told to those who were confident of their own righteousness and who looked down on everyone else. People like the Pharisee in this story. The Pharisee comes to the temple, feeling good about himself. He believes himself to be a good person. He doesn’t steal from others, he doesn’t act with evil intent, he’s faithful to his wife (assuming he has one of course!) and he doesn’t collude with the occupying government to extort taxes from people. He’s not a bad person. In fact, he goes above and beyond what his faith requires of him. He goes the extra mile. And he comes to the temple to tell God this. To say, ‘look at me, God, look at what a good person I am! Not like these other types of people who are bad. Look at how I go the extra mile to show my faith.’
The tax-collector doesn’t believe himself to be a good person. He knows he’s messed up, he’s got things wrong. He doesn’t spend time telling God what he does right or wrong, just simply asks for God’s mercy.
We know what the take-home message is from this parable, don’t we? Don’t be like the self-righteous arrogant Pharisee, looking down on others and being puffed up with pride because we’re getting it right. Be like the tax collector, coming humbly before God, confessing that we mess up and asking for mercy and forgiveness. Simple.
Who are we most like in this story? I suspect most of us would want to put ourselves on the side of the tax collector. And I think many of us, in our heart of hearts, know that there are probably also times when we can be like the Pharisee. Telling ourselves that we’re good people, perhaps sometimes reminding God of the things we do right. Look at us God, here we are being good Christian people. Coming to church on a Sunday morning, giving to the offertory and to good causes, praying for those around us, helping those in need, reading our Bibles regularly.
We don’t like to think that we look down on people, but I suspect that most, if not all of us, are guilty of it at times. We might mentally divide people into ‘us’ and ‘them’. Social media and the press are particularly good at reinforcing those kinds of views. Labelling people by their political views, for instance. It can be quite ugly at times – Brexit in particular was one example of how disparaging people could be when it came to the views of those on opposing sides.
When it comes to our faith, we might feel that our way of doing things is the right way. And while I’m not saying that we at Christ Church think our take on Christianity is perfect, there are certainly churches out there who are firm in their belief that their way is the only right way. And of course, the minute we start to mentally pat ourselves on the back that we’re not like that, we’ve instantly put ourselves into the role of the self-righteous Pharisee.
My own view of our different views as churches is that we’re like the story of the blind men and the elephant. Each man trying to describe what an elephant is like by what he can feel. The man with the trunk describing an elephant as being like a thick snake; the man feeling the ear, describing the elephant as being like a fan; and the man with the tail describing the elephant as being like a rope. If God is the elephant, we are the blind men, perceiving God by what we feel him to be. We’re not completely wrong, but we’re not completely right either. Our view is limited and while we might be partly correct in one area, we cannot grasp the whole view. None of us get it completely right.
We might compare ourselves to others and look down on others, but what happens when we look up and focus on God? How do we measure up then? No matter how right we think we get things, no matter how good a person we tell ourselves we are – we know that we all fall short when it comes to measuring ourselves up to God’s standards. We know we mess things up and say things we regret; that we aren’t always as loving as we’d like to be, because we’re only human and we all have our off-days. And we realise that we need God’s forgiveness and mercy as much as anyone else.
When it comes to the Pharisee and the tax collector, we’re not one or the other. We’re both. There are times when we think highly of ourselves and compare ourselves favourably next to others, and there are times when we’re completely aware of our own shortcomings and our need for grace and mercy. Sometimes there are times when we need to be reminded that we’re not perfect, especially when we’re all puffed up with pride. As they say, pride often goes before a fall. But as Christians, we know that God will catch us when we fall, that in those moments when we realise we’ve messed up, we can come before God and say, “God, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
We’re not perfect and neither are others. As Jesus says earlier in Luke, ““How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42). When we realise our own shortcomings and need for forgiveness, we then realise that others are in need of our forgiveness and grace too.
I’m going to finish with some words from Micah 6:8, which I think sum it all up quite nicely:
“What does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Readings for 30 October
Luke 19:1-10 (NIV)
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Isaiah 1:10-18
- Psalm 32:1-7
- 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
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 URC minister, Revd James Fields. 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.
30 October – Revd James Fields (URC minister) – communion
6 November – Peter Knowles (URC lay preacher)
13 November – Christ Church worship group – Remembrance Sunday (10.50am)
20 November – Cathy Smith (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
There will be a table-top games afternoon after the service on 13th November as a fundraiser for HALO Children’s Foundation. We’ll be gathering together at around 12.30pm for lunch (bring your own) before the afternoon begins. All are welcome to join us. There will be table-top games provided but if you have a favourite you would like to bring, please do so.
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
Warm Spaces – volunteers needed
Warm Spaces is an initiative started in response to the cost-of-living crisis, providing warm spaces where people can come together to stay warm and perhaps enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit. It originally started in Gateshead but has grown to become a nationwide initiative with many places of worship and community buildings becoming involved.
Christ Church are hoping to provide a Warm Space in the meeting area with hot drinks available on Mondays, 10am – 2pm starting from 28 November and running until mid-March. We will need volunteers to welcome and talk with people, and to be able to signpost them to other sources of support available. Volunteers will need to have undergone foundation safeguarding training. If anyone would be interested in volunteering to be part of this initiative, please let Louise know (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hillingdon Interfaith Community – Interfaith Week Events – 12-20 November 2022
Saturday 12 November
11am – 12.30pm – Event: Shabbat Morning Service followed by Q&A
Ark Synagogue, 18-24 Oakland Gates, Northwood, HA6 3AA. Contact: Rabbi Aaron email@example.com
Monday 14 November
12noon – 1pm – Seminar: A Christian Theology of Interfaith Relations
St Margaret’s Church, Windsor Street, Uxbridge. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 15 November
11am – 12noon – Event: Open place of worship
Sikh Gurudwara. The Sikh Temple, Golden Crescent, Hayes, UB3 1AQ. Contact: email@example.com
10am – 1pm – Event: Exhibition and Q & A
The Quakers. Friends Meeting House, Belmont Road, Uxbridge. Contact: Mike Beranek – firstname.lastname@example.org
10.30am & 1.30pm – Event: Guided Tours with Q&As
Guided tour start times are 10.30am & 1.30pm.
Christ Church, Redford Way, Uxbridge. Contact: email@example.com
Wednesday 16 November
10.30am – 11.30am – Event: Open place of worship and Q&A
Our Lady of Lourdes & St Michael Roman Catholic Church, Osborne Road, Uxbridge. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 18 November
11.30am – 3pm – Event: To be guest observers of Friday prayers
Hayes Muslim Centre, 3 Pump Lane, Hayes Town, Hayes, UB3 3NB. Contact: email@example.com
Sunday 20 November
2pm – 3pm – Event: Introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Q&A
Baitul Amn Mosque, Royal Lane, Uxbridge, UB8 3QU. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christ Church 50th Anniversary
If you would like to purchase a mug or tote bag (or both!) as a souvenir of our 50th anniversary, you can do so through the church office. Mugs cost £6.50 each and tote bags £3.50 each (£10 for both). Payment can be made by cash or via bank transfer.
Thank you from Yiewsley & West Drayton Foodbank
We would very much like to express our thanks to you all at Christ Church Uxbridge for your kind Harvest Festival donation of 88.45kg of items during September 2022 to the Yiewsley & West Drayton Foodbank.
I have attached a “Thank You Certificate” for you to display.
Your donations will make a big difference to local people in crisis and helps us to make up emergency food bags with enough nutritionally balanced food for 3 days. For a single person this equates to around 10kg of food, for a couple this is about 15kg and for a family of four, about 20kg or four large bags of shopping.
We are very grateful for your support enabling us to meet our vision to help those in need and to address the underlying causes of their poverty and hunger.
Salvation Army Appeal
URGENT: The Salvation Army are being inundated with requests for winter clothing particularly from asylum seekers. We would gratefully receive winter clothing, particularly coats. Many thanks.
Major John Parry
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Pinner Methodist
- Ickenham URC
Thank you, Jesus,
for being with us today and every day.
In our noisy, busy lives,
we pray that we may hear you calling our names
and make the effort to see your face in the crowd.
(Taken from Roots)