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 is here – present always and everywhere.
Let us make God the focus of our thoughts and worship.
Blessed be God’s glorious name;
may God’s glory fill the earth.
May the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 27 November – Lifting up our eyes
Readings: Psalms 121, 122 and Ephesians 1:15-23
The broadcast media often mention in talks and films the British love of escape into mountains. There is an echo of Bible texts like Psalm 121’s first words: “I lift up my eyes to the hills: From whence comes my help?” Thinking of these words reminded me of my doctor’s advice to walk up a steep hill every day.
Those words too bring to my mind the much-admired Labour leader in the nineties of the last century, John Smith. After he had his first big heart attack, the doctor advised him to go mountaineering. I’m not sure they would do that today, but he started to become what they call a Munro bagger, to see if he could walk up all the Munro mountains. There are over 200 of them and before he died from another heart attack, he had walked up 108 of them. I remember that story because my family was very fond of John Smith and his common sense as we perceived it. Obviously not everybody would have said that, and we often thought about his life and his death. He received Christian burial on the Isle of Iona, which is quite dear to Reformed Christians.
Thinking on such things can bring a Christian to contemplate here lies the essential nature of biblical symbolic language. Crucial means ‘To do with the Cross’ and for the Christian the key to the code of Biblical symbolic language (including the mountains) is the one symbol of the cross on which a man was nailed. In Jesus’ day, people were very familiar with the sight of crucifixion. It was a daily sight for people living near the cities in Palestine in that most cruel religion which enslaved half of the known world, the Roman Civilization.
How does symbolic language give us something truly essential for seeing life? The Greek, Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches understand Biblical language as ikon, iconic, symbolic pictures. They believe that the way the Bible speaks to us is essentially in visual images which transform our thinking and our behaviour (for good).
Clearly we pray that this may be so as an admonition for all who smash up lives in war. A long time ago I used to lead groups of ordinands with Michael Ipgrave, who has become the Bishop of Lichfield, and we used to go to Poland. This was just after the iron curtain had come down, We’d go into Polish churches and see the attempts being made by the Catholic Church to alter the icons of the Stations of the Cross, many of which would be called by any stretch of the imagination anti-Semitic. The Jew pointing out at Jesus as the sacrifice; this kind of terrible misuse of iconography. When we’d been in Poland for a time, we used to get a bus across the border into Ukraine and go to Lviv, a wonderful city with its Orthodox churches of different kinds. We would go in and hear the choirs. I remember going to the Armenian Orthodox Church Orthodox and hearing singing completely unlike the Russian and the Polish Catholic music and thinking, as we were encouraged to think, of the Armenians who had been massacred at the time of what we call the First World War. These terrible treatments of human beings who were or are our Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters and how can we make sense of this terrible history? We’re living in times when we desperately need interpretation of the icons of peace. To change our natures for good morning by morning at the bus stop or in the car.
Orthodox Christians can prompt us to imagine the Garden of Eden of Adam and Eve as a mountain of striving for light and peace and goodness, a mountain of spiritual growth available to all minds by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.
All we need is the prayer which we so often say which speaks about hallowing the name of God, the words of Jesus himself. What other prayer do we need? Because it’s all there. And Psalms 121 and 122 give us mountain vision. Ephesians 1 gives us the absolute image of our Ark, the Church, as being incorporated in the ultimate safety of the Body of Christ. Let us be confident of seeing this Advent blessing and then we can visualise the coming of peace in Europe and the world.
The teachers and thinkers of the early church often spoke of uniting heart and mind as the essential lesson of the Holy Spirit for an entire human life. The practice of the words of Jesus when he prayed, “on earth as in heaven”. The Advent motto for all of us Then we can visualise the coming peace of the world.
And the strong words of Jesus as he shows us his vision of the Upper Room. Here it is. You don’t need any more iconography. A piece of bread which we take into our mouth and a little cup of wine which we take upon our lips. By taking simply the bread and the cup and making the words of the Prodigal, “I will arise and go to my Father” our own. His words can be our words now. Amen.
Revd Jon Dean
Readings for 4 December
Matthew 3:1-12 (NIV)
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the Jordan River.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptising, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Isaiah 11:1-10
- Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
- Romans 15:4-13
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.
4 December – Cathy Smith (Methodist local preacher)
11 December – Christ Church worship group – parade and gift service
18 December – Christ Church worship group – carol service
25 December – Sue Lloyd (Methodist local preacher) – Christmas Day 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
Christmas cards on sale
Christmas cards featuring Amirah’s winning design from the children’s Christmas card competition are now available at coffee mornings 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
How would Jesus of Nazareth view the Church?
Cathy Smith reminded us of how the Temple had become corrupted (in all senses). Are there lessons for us?
For many churches are unwelcoming. That may not be the intention of those that worship. But we hold services that can only be understood by those of us already used to them. We ask people to contribute to a collection. We sit apart from each other and to a visitor appear cold. We use religious language that few can understand. We seem fascinated by what a Holy Book has to say and are often led by preachers who give more attention to the things of two thousand years ago than they do to the life we live now!
I am often reminded of the lady that I once overheard in the Meeting Area. She looked into the “chapel” and said “I don’t mind coming out here but you won’t get me in there!”
Things to think about?
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.
URC Local Area Group newsletter
The December issue of the URC Metropolitan North Local Area Group is now available and can be read online here.
Hillingdon Warm Spaces
Drop-in for warmth, company and a cuppa.
Mondays to Fridays
9.30am – 1.30pm Hillingdon Park Baptist Church (Tel: 01895 814424)
10am – 12noon St Margaret’s (Tel: 01895 258766)
10am – 2pm Christ Church (Tel: 01895 258956)
10am – 3pm Salvation Army (Tel: 01895 234088)
10am – 11am Waterloo Road Church (first Wednesday of the month only) (Tel: 01895 257663)
10am – 3pm Salvation Army (Tel: 01895 234088)
11am – 1pm St Margaret’s (Tel: 01895 258766)
9.30am – 11.30am Waterloo Road Church (first Saturday of the month only) (Tel: 01895 257663)
Other activities with a warm welcome
Tuesdays and Thursdays
10am – 2pm Café at Christ Church (Tel: 01895 258956)
Monday to Friday
12noon Lunches at Hillingdon Park Baptist Church (Tel: 01895 814424)
A warm spaces register can also be found online at https://www.warmwelcome.uk/
Communion Services in the Circuit and LAG
Our next communion service at Christ Church will be on Sunday 29 January. If you would like to attend a communion service in December or early January, please see the list below of communion services taking place around the Circuit and LAG:
Sunday 4th December
10.30am – North Harrow Methodist, Northwood Methodist
11am – Cannon Lane Methodist
Sunday 11th December
9.30am – Eastcote Methodist, North Hillingdon Methodist
10.45am – Ruislip Manor Methodist, Wealdstone Methodist
11am – Hayes Methodist, South Harrow Methodist, Yiewsley Methodist
2pm – Trinity, Harrow (URC & Methodist)
Sunday 18th December
10.45am – Kenton Methodist, Ruislip Methodist
11am – Hayes End Methodist, Ickenham URC, Pinner Methodist
Saturday 24th December
5pm – Pinner Methodist
Sunday 1st January
10.30am – Trinity, Harrow (URC & Methodist)
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Wealdstone Methodist
- Wembley Park URC
Lord, lead us and help us to follow you.
Lord, lead us and help us to keep our eyes on you.
Lord, be at the centre of our lives, our thinking and our actions.
Make us useful in your service,
and show us how we can live
so that our lives point towards Jesus. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)