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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We start with our opening prayer:
God, our parent, teacher, mentor and guide,
may we come to you with enquiring hearts,
eager to learn,
confident that you will never reject our smallest question,
and willing to walk with you in faith when no answers can be given.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 30 October
Readings: Jeremiah 14: 7-10, 19-22 and Luke 18: 9-14
Here is a photo of a chicken which I’m using as a prompt to think about the improbable love of our mother God. Have you noticed all the tiny little feet under the chicken? This chicken has wrapped her wings around her chicks and you can see all these little feet. They are safe, secure under the wings of their mum. And their mother, of course, can only protect them for a while. Soon enough the wings will lift and they’ll have to go out there and fend for themselves. But just for that moment there they are safe, protected from the wind and in a warm place.
In Psalm 91 we read these words:
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge.”
Well, there you go. With feathers. Under his wings we’ll find refuge. We don’t live in the world we expected to live in. Things have not unfolded in the last several months or even few years in anything like the way we might have anticipated. We are strangers in our own land. In some respects, our expectations have had to shift. By our land I don’t mean the United Kingdom. I mean the world of which we are all citizens. We are strangers in this place. We’re having to find our way in a way that we never thought we would have to, and I bet all of us have those moments where we feel fearful. Scared that we’re not up to the task. And we climb under the duvet, possibly, and hope that the world, at least for the next several hours will go away. And then we have to get up to the new day and get on with it. Deal with it. In that kind of a world we need refuge. We need the opportunity of hiding under the wings of our feathered God. Who loves us and says, “I will not let you go. You’re safe.” You are safe.
Only in the United Kingdom could we move from complete and utter drought to it absolutely bucketing down with rain. But don’t get me wrong. There is a climate crisis and the way things are unfolding suggests that no one can duck that anymore, and no amount of hiding under any wing is going to change that. The fact is that we all have a responsibility to think seriously about our energy usage. So the idea of cutting back seems to be an entirely appropriate one, and it’s been a long time coming. It’s arrived for reasons not that we would have anticipated, but surely to goodness in this world of ours it makes sense to use less in the interests of all of God’s children, not just those on our own doorstep. Nonetheless, when the rains came, I wondered if any of us said, “oh it’s raining” instead of “God, thank you for the rain, because we really, really need it.” My lawn is now green again. That’s all you need in England, a green lawn and you’ll be fine.
Our reading from Jeremiah gives us our regular Sunday morning rap across the knuckles for backsliding, This is a passage that talks about the relationship of the people of Israel with their God, and the prophet notes that you like to wander, but you’re wandering rather far than as acceptable. You’ve wandered into foreign territory where you worship idols. And well, says the prophet, with his tongue firmly in his cheek, the idols that you’re worshipping at the moment, can they bring you rain like our God can bring us rain.
It’s quite important to be given a gentle rap across the knuckles every now and again. For us all to be brought to account. To be made to think about the relationship we have as individuals and as a church. With our God. It’s not about who’s in charge. I don’t think it’s about that at all. I think it is about where is the truth? And if we can ask that question without fear then I think the answers we find will help us on our way. Confession need not necessarily bring us to our knees. It can help us stand up and walk on our own two feet with a better sense of where we really want to be going.
The news unfolding with the appalling hammer attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband in the United States of America reminds us that some of the great givens that we have in our life are not guaranteed. We have to defend democracy. It’s important to take an interest in what is happening in Iran at the moment. It is important not to push to one side the conversation that we need to have about human rights in China. All these other places where things are terrible.
But what about our own country and our own nation? The people here and the rights that they have, that we all have. It is appropriate sometimes to ask ourselves the awkward questions. To give ourselves a gentle rap across the knuckles and say that I need to be a bit more engaged, not just with my own needs, but the needs of those that God calls me to serve. And I think that is the spirit of true confession. Not grovelling, but seeking to find the way.
Our second reading from Luke couldn’t possibly be about us, could it? It’s got to be about other people. Absolutely. What a difference a week makes. A week ago I would have been showing you a different slide. It was irresistible under the circumstances of the political life of this weird country that we live in at the moment. It was a slide with Rishi Sunak of course, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson. Because of course on Sunday last week we didn’t have a clue what was coming on Monday. It wasn’t necessarily a slide that was of people looking their most humble. And I don’t think we’ve seen much humility in our public life for far, far too long.
When you read the gospel you’re not reading it about other people. The minute you lift the book, the minute you read the words, the minute you look at the words, they are not about other people. Wouldn’t that just be lovely and comfortable? No. The only way to read the gospel is for it to pertain to ourselves. What do these words say about my capacity or lack of it for humility at times? Broadly speaking, I’m quite a humble chap, but what about those moments where I absolutely am not? What about those moments in our lives where we need to be humbled, we need to be brought down a peg or two. To touch base, to see the world we live in in the same light as those around us. See that world not coming in from on high and mighty, with all the authority and power that so many of us take for granted in our privileged lives, but actually coming at it from a very different place indeed. A bit more akin to the tax collector who asks of God the oldest question of all. Who am I that you would still have an interest in my life?
Coming down from on high is good for us. The Bible is full of stories about rising to the height of the mountain crest and then coming back down into the valley, where for the most part, life unfolds.
So I’ve moved on from last week to this week’s slide. And there is Rishi with Nova. Now I have to tell you folks, the real meaning of life becomes immediately obvious when you share your life with a dog. Is that not true? Samuel, absolutely. I liked this photograph because it seems to speak to me of a kind of humility, a gentleness, a thoughtfulness. I wish the man well. He’s got a job and a half ahead of him. I like the idea of it that in Diwali the man who had been lighting candles on his doorstep as a prayer for prosperity and peace and security and refuge for his family should be lighting them on the last doorstep he might ever have expected. But still approaching the future as a person of faith. How lucky we are in this world that there are all kinds of different ways of expressing our faith in the love and wisdom of Almighty God.
We’re not talking necessarily today about other people are we were we’re talking about ourselves. So a question for us: what does it mean to be a humble church? What does a humble church look like? In the halcyon days when I set out as a minister the better part of 35 years ago, my first congregation had about 600 people on the roll. Regular Sunday attendance in Greenock was about 350 to 400 people guaranteed and that was the same in all the churches in that part of the world, and it would have been the same down here.
Where did that get us? Where are we now? What are the lessons that, as humble people instead of proud people, we learn from the passage of four decades? And as we celebrate 50 years as the United Reformed Church we’ve got some tough questions to ask about what it means to be the United Reformed Church. We have a very special and unique vocation, but that vocation is not the same as it was 50 years ago. Things have moved on and we jolly well ought to have moved on as well. The paucity of numbers in our pews is not something that we should be grovelling about or feeling terrible about.
Look at the world we live in. People say oh, young people, but I’m not worried about young people. And I don’t think we should be as concerned as we say we are, unless we’re prepared to turn our church upside down and really engage with young people. But what about the real issues of people living as older folks isolated scared in their own homes at the moment. Surely the church should be thinking about that, and I commend the idea of a warm space. Maybe even at this stage in the crisis, God is saying to us do something new, find your way. Don’t worry about the numbers, just be authentic. Just be real. Just be clear about what it is you can, we can, uniquely offer. Being a humble church.
It’s not about spending hour upon hour on our knees. I’ve never been particularly good at that one, and I don’t suppose any of us in this room have been particularly good at being on our knees. It’s not part of our heritage as Christians, within our reformed tradition. What we are good at and what we have a record on is being a place of refuge, being a place where we call out social injustice. I cannot commend highly enough Reform magazine that keeps us all on the ball every month with intelligent questions about the real world we’re living in, not the make-believe world that sometimes people are more interested in.
A question that we should all be asking of ourselves in our church is this, I believe. Is Christ present in this place? Is Christ present in this place when all the different activities are unfolding throughout the week? I was just reminded this morning walking to the church what an incredible location this church has. But all the things that unfold here, do we discern the presence of Christ in the same way that in a moment we will discern the presence of Christ in the breaking of wine and in the sharing of bread? These things are connected. This is not one bit of our life that is completely dissociated from the rest of what goes on in here we by week. This is the whole and God is interested in the whole.
We break bread and we share wine to remind us that it is the brokenness of humanity that we are called to tend to, to heal, and in our own brokenness we go to those others with that sense that God is our refuge and our strength. It is under the wings of God that we find that place of sanctuary where we can draw breath, and say, yes, this is what it’s really all about. Let’s not worry about the numbers. Let’s worry if we must worry at all about our vocation and what God is asking us to do as individuals. I am convinced that, when, as churches, we start asking those questions without fear or judgement then we begin to see answers that make sense. I am an optimistic about the future of the church, but you know what? I quietly give thanks that I will never have a congregation of 400 again.
And one slightly whimsical question. As things unfold with all the kind of stuff that goes on in our buildings and stuff, do you ever see feathers? And if we don’t see feathers, something’s missing. Our church needs feathers. They are the evidence that God has flown in and is present. I wish you well in the ministries of this church. I really do. Don’t panic about the future. But don’t just let it happen. Ask the questions. For God without any shadow of a doubt continues to call you to be his people in this place. Amen.
Revd James Fields
Readings for 6 November
Luke 20:27-38 (NIV)
The Resurrection and Marriage
27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Job 19:23-27a
- Psalm 17:1-9
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
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 URC lay preacher, Peter Knowles. 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.
6 November – Peter Knowles (URC lay preacher)
13 November – Christ Church worship group – Remembrance Sunday (10.50am)
20 November – Cathy Smith (Methodist local preacher)
27 November – Revd Jonathan Dean (URC minister) – communion
Church charity news
Operation Christmas Child
Flat-packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child are now available in the vestibule. These will be dedicated at the service on 13 November before being sent to children overseas. Please bring your filled shoeboxes to the church at this service or before this date.
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 (email@example.com)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday 14 November
12noon – 1pm – Seminar: A Christian Theology of Interfaith Relations
St Margaret’s Church, Windsor Street, Uxbridge. Contact: email@example.com
Tuesday 15 November
11am – 12noon – Event: Open place of worship
Sikh Gurudwara. The Sikh Temple, Golden Crescent, Hayes, UB3 1AQ. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
10am – 1pm – Event: Exhibition and Q & A
The Quakers. Friends Meeting House, Belmont Road, Uxbridge. Contact: Mike Beranek – email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 20 November
2pm – 3pm – Event: Introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Q&A
Baitul Amn Mosque, Royal Lane, Uxbridge, UB8 3QU. Contact: email@example.com
Invite to Baitul Amn Mosque
Christ Church have been invited to join with the people of the Baitul Amn Mosque on Thursday 24th November at 7 pm for food and a short talk about their beliefs with a focus on one of the festivals they celebrate and we have been invited to give a short similar talk. Any volunteers? This should be a lovely evening of getting to know other people in the area for which faith is a strong part of their lives. The food should be lovely.
The mosque is situated in Royal Lane near the hospital and comes from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Mosques. The Community’s principle of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ can be seen in the daily lives of its members.
Please let Joanne know if you would like to come and give any dietary needs by 20th November as we need to give them numbers. Lifts can be provided. and there is ample parking and good bus links.
NB If you wish to visit the prayer room while you are there, you will need to remove your shoes.
Carol Service – 18 December
We are planning a Songs of Praise style service for this year’s carol service and would like members of our church family to choose a carol to share as part of this. If you have a carol that you would like to be included in this service, please let Joanne know.
Church administrator vacancy
We currently have a job vacancy for a full-time church administrator. The main duties will involve:
- Leading the day-to-day management of the church buildings
- Providing information for maintenance of financial records
- Liaising between the church organisation and users of the church buildings
- Providing management and leadership for secretarial, cleaning and caretaking staff
- Responding to personal enquiries and visitors to the church office
Applicants are sought with relevant experience, computer literacy and sympathy with the aims of the Church.
The post is for 35 hours a week (worked Monday – Friday)
Proposed start date: January 2023
Salary £26,000 – £28,000 per annum depending on experience
An application pack is available from the Resources coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Closing date for applications: 5pm on Monday 21 November 2022
Royal Mail Christmas Stamps
The Royal Mail invite you to mark Christmas 2022 with their range of stamps and collectibles, featuring six elegant new illustrations celebrating the traditional Nativity story.
Artist Katie Ponder combines her contemporary style with a dash of art deco to depict key moments from the classic Nativity story.
This year marks the first time Royal Mail has issued a fully barcoded festive stamps set.
You can also discover a backdrop of artwork inspired by the stamps, also illustrated by artist Katie Ponder, along with an exploration by the Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, of the relationship between timing, eternity and the significance of the Nativity to Christians.
The stamps are available from November 3rd.
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Ruislip Methodist
- Gerrards Cross URC
send us out into the world as children full of wonder.
Give us the boldness of children in asking awkward questions,
a child’s playful delight in the mystery of things,
and a childlike trust in you –
the one who knows what we cannot.
(Taken from Roots)