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:
As the darkness of winter draws in,
As the coldest time of the year approaches,
As we close our doors and turn up our heaters,
Come, Lord of light,
Come, God of the warm embrace,
Come to us, Immanuel, God with us. Amen.
(Taken from The Vine)
Reflection from 13 November
Readings: Isaiah 65:17-25, Luke 21:5-19 and Revelation 22:1-5
Remembrance Sunday is a time when we stop to reflect; to remember and honour those who’ve died in conflict. A time to reminder ourselves of, and acknowledge, the horrors of war and the devastation it leaves behind. This year, those horrors perhaps feel a little more real with the war in Ukraine. We realise, perhaps for the first time, that we live in dangerous times.
The writer of the Isaiah passage also lived in dangerous times. Scholars consider Isaiah to be divided into three parts; the first 39 chapters relating to the teachings of a prophet who worked in the 8th Century before Christ, the second part, chapters 40 – 55, an anonymous prophet in the early 6th Century before Christ when the Jews were in Exile in Babylon and the last 10 chapters written when the Jews had returned to Israel in the later parts of the same century. Whilst there are themes which unite the different parts of the book the section we heard today comes from the end of the book where the bold joyful visions about the return from Exile have been replaced with some hard realities of life.
These last ten chapters are quite pessimistic as the author deals with wickedness, bloodshed, injustice, worshipping other gods alongside God, oppression of people, profaning the Sabbath and useless leaders who are blind to social realities, greedy or drunk. In the midst of all this the author longs for God’s mercy. In aftermath of war and exile the prophet has a vision of what God will do next. God, the prophet holds, will create a new heaven and a new earth where the people will be joyful, where there will be no more tears or distress, where babies don’t die and where the old live to ripe old ages. At the end of the prophecy we have this striking image of the wolf and lion feeding together, the lion turns vegetarian and the serpents will no longer bite. Instead of war, destruction and pain we will be offered a new creation where we live as God intends.
In our Gospel reading Jesus seems to frighten us. At the start of the passage, the disciples are admiring the beauty of the Temple when Jesus tells them that the temple will be destroyed and every stone in it thrown down.
In the ancient world the Jewish Temple built by Herod the Great was a wonder of the age. We remember Herod as a butcher, but the ancient world knew him as a builder. He enlarged the Temple, doubling its size, in a project which started 19 years before Jesus’s birth and continued through Jesus’s lifetime by Herod’s successors. It was finally finished in the year 64 yet just six years later, in the year 70, the Romans tore it down and left it in ruins. It was never rebuilt. When the Temple was destroyed Christians remembered the words we heard today from Jesus as prophecy.
In the time leading up to the destruction of the Temple, and the end of the Jewish state, false prophets emerged offering false hope. It’s not surprising as in desperate times people will believe many strange things. At least 15 people claimed to be the long-promised Messiah – most promising to lead a revolt against the despised Romans.
After warning of false leadership Jesus said there would be wars and rumours of wars. In Luke’s version these events were the things that would happen before the Temple was destroyed; in the year 69 the Roman empire was convulsed by civil war, insurrection, and chaos. After two revolts, Nero took his own life in the year 68. After this Galba was made emperor to be deposed, and murdered, by Otho who then took his own life as another claimant, Vitellius, headed towards Rome with an army. Vespasian, the commander of Syria rebelled and deposed Vitellius. Five emperors in a year – makes this last year with three Prime Ministers and two monarchs seem somewhat tame in comparison.
When Jesus mentioned wars and rumours of wars perhaps he meant this chaotic year where the government changed four times amidst turmoil and bloodshed especially as the Jews seized their chance in the chaos to rebel against Rome and asserted their independence. That rebellion ended badly for the Jewish people and the state of Israel and it’s wonderful Temple was destroyed.
We as Christians have often looked at this passage and understood it as Jesus commenting on what the end of the world would look like, perhaps being unaware of the history of the Jewish revolt against Rome and the destruction of the Temple which took place shortly after Jesus’s ministry on earth.
It’s a passage that has resonance and power for us in our world today. We are acutely aware of wars and uprisings, of nations rising again nation, kingdom against kingdom. We see images on our TV screens of once-beautiful cities being destroyed, of historic buildings and monuments reduced to rubble, of areas devastated through the effects of war. We hear of earthquakes and families and we’ve experienced pestilence ourselves, here in the UK as well as across the world, throughout the Covid pandemic. We’re aware that there are still people of faith being persecuted in our world today.
With Isaiah we long for a world made new but, with Jesus, we’re conscious of the world as it is. These twin themes of hope and reality come into play more than ever at Remembrance when we hope for a world where we no longer resort to war and violence to settle our differences but where we understand the realities that besiege us. We long for the Russian wolf to lie down with the Ukrainian lamb but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen just yet. We long for peace but have a lump in our throat every year when we remember those who have died in war, conflict and terror. We look at the poppies, evocative symbols of blood and peace, and wonder how many more names will be added to our memorials.
Yet our readings offer hope. Isaiah does offer a remade world where we live as God intended and Jesus’ words are true. Jesus tells us not to be frightened, and not to worry about how to defend ourselves against persecution; that we will be given the words we need to speak. We are urged to stay firm, and we will win life.
Our reading from Revelation also offers hope with its vision of a crystal-clear river “flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.” The tree of life, bearing fruit and leaves for the healing of the nations. A time when there will be no more darkness.
We live in dark and dangerous times and the future often feels scary and uncertain. Jesus does not promise that the road ahead will be an easy one – danger and darkness may well lie ahead. But this broken world in which we live is not the end; darkness will not have the final word. God is creating a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more darkness. Even though it may feel at times like the darkness is winning, it will not have the final word. The darkest hour may come just before the dawn, but we have hope that the dawn will come. God is always with us. Amen.
(adapted from the URC worship notes reflection for 13 November, written by Revd Andy Braunston)
Readings for 20 November
Jeremiah 23:1-6 (NIV)
“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.
5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Saviour.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Luke 23:33-43
- Psalm 46
- Colossians 1:11-20
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 Methodist local preacher, Cathy Smith. 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.
20 November – Cathy Smith (Methodist local preacher)
27 November – Revd Jonathan Dean (URC minister) – communion
4 December – Cathy Smith (Methodist local preacher)
11 December – Christ Church worship group – parade and gift service
Christmas at Christ Church
Advent Bible Study – Tuesdays 11am from 29 November until 20 December
Join us in the chapel or online via Zoom as we reflect on the theme of making room at Christmas through some of the key players in the Christmas story. Please see Louise for more details.
CTU Christmas Carols at the Pavilions – Wednesday 7 December, 4.30pm
We have been asked to provide a group to sing some Christmas carols at the CTU Christmas Carols at the Pavilions on Wednesday 7 December at 4.30pm. If you would be interested in taking part, please let Louise know.
Gift service – Sunday 11 December
Our gifts from this year’s gift service will be donated to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Present Appeal. If you would like to bring a gift, new and unwrapped gifts and toys for children would be welcomed. Our service on this Sunday will be a parade service and will also feature a scratch nativity.
Carols and Mince Pies – Friday 16 December, 12noon
Our annual carols and mince pies will take place in the chapel on Friday 16th December at 12noon. All welcome.
Carol Service – Sunday 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.
Christmas Day service – Sunday 25 December, 11am
Our Christmas morning service will be led by Methodist local preacher, Sue Lloyd.
Church charity news
Children’s Christmas card competition
Congratulations to Amirah who was the winner of our 50th Anniversary Children’s Christmas Card competition. Christmas cards featuring Amirah’s winning design will be available at coffee mornings from 19 November at £2.50 for a pack of 5 cards. All profits from sales of the Christmas cards will be donated to Halo.
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
Hillingdon Interfaith Community – Interfaith Week Events – 12-20 November 2022
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.
Songs for an autumn evening – Saturday 19 November, 7pm
Hillingdon u3a singers present ‘Songs for an autumn evening’ featuring additional items by the Hillingdon u3a Guitar group and the Hillingdon u3a Ukulele group. The concert takes place at Christ Church on Saturday 19 November at 7pm. Tickets cost £10 (£3 for children) and include light refreshments. Tickets are available on the door or from members of the u3a groups.
News from BB & GB
On Remembrance Sunday we attended the Act of Remembrance at the Uxbridge Peace Memorial. Our Colour Party represented us at the Civic Service at St Margaret’s Church beforehand and paraded down Windsor Street along with the Scouts and Guides. We had a great turnout, with everyone looking smart. Sam and Emma laid our wreath.
From our denominations
Community Carol Service – 4 December
The Circuit will be hosting a community carol service at the Lighthouse Centre, Queen’s Walk, South Ruislip, Middx HA4 0NL. The service is on 4th December, starting at 4pm. Come and join us for a fun time carolling this Advent.
Carol Singing with LCRF – Thursday 1 December, Oxford Circus Underground, 3-8pm
We hope to raise two or three thousand pounds for LCRF (London Churches Refugee Fund). Please, if possible, let us know when you plan to come (3-4.30, 4.30-6 or 6-8pm) and if you can bring a nice loud instrument. Email Maggie Hindley (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will send a reminder nearer the time.
PS We also need people who don’t mind not singing to shake buckets.
PPS Santa hats provided – but Christmassy dress is most welcome and helps attract attention.
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 (email@example.com)
Closing date for applications: 5pm on Monday 21 November 2022
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- South Harrow Methodist
- St Margaret’s & St George’s, Harlesden (URC/Moravian)
Lord, show us where and how we can serve you,
the king who serves and gives yourself for us.
In our words and in our lives,
we will worship you. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)