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)
Lord, help us to come with open hearts and minds,
eager to spend time with you,
longing to learn more about you,
wanting to take more of who you are
out to the world –
until everyone has come to you.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 8 January: Called by name
Readings – Isaiah 43: 1-4 and Matthew 3: 11-17
Think about some of those words in Isaiah. And in particular, the idea of being summoned by name that Isaiah says as a prophet reporting the word of God to the people. Isaiah says that God says, “I’ve summoned you by name. You are mine.” I don’t know if anybody knows what their name means. My name is Catherine. I’m always delighted to know that Catherine means ‘pure’. I think that’s a lovely meaning of a name. Wells is my second name. I’m assuming that sometime in the past that means that my ancestors lived near water, or a well, or perhaps in the place named Wells. My dad is Peter, and his name means ‘rock’. The two most popular boys’ and girls’ names for 2020 were Olivia, which is taken from the olive tree and Noah, which means ‘rest’ or ‘peaceful’ It’s really interesting to think about what our names mean and our names are really individual to us.
Isaiah said to his people that God had called them by name, and also you are mine. It’s a great declaration to his people, full of promise and protection. The people that he was talking to at the time were suffering conflict and invasion. They’d been invaded by the Babylonian Empire.
In Matthew we see something related and similar. That idea of belonging to God, the idea of being loved and known. This time it’s in the story of John the Baptist and Jesus. We see a similar relationship in that gospel passage when God says to Jesus, “This is my own dear son, with whom I am pleased.” We see that love and tenderness and pride reflected in God’s words, as well as fulfilling the very practical need to authorise and acknowledge Jesus as his son and his right to act in his father’s name. In both of those passages in Isaiah and in Matthew, we see God describing Israel and Jesus as mine, suggesting that belonging and commitment and protection but also that acknowledgement of their authority and their need to be in relationship with God and serve God too. There’s value and love in God’s call to individuals and alongside that sense of calling he gives authority and affirmation and encouragement as well.
What do you do when you get a present? We’ve just had Christmas. What do you do when somebody gives you a Christmas present before Christmas Day? Are you the person that opens it then and there so that you can say thank you to them? Or are you a person, who like a friend of mine, says “that’s wonderful. Thank you so much. I’ll put it under the tree” and then you don’t get to find out whether whether they’ve opened it or liked it or not. The most gratifying thing when you give something is to have somebody open it then and there to accept it, to thank you for it, to say “Oh yes, that’s wonderful. Thank you so much. That’s what I wanted” and to take it, use it and to thank you for it.
God’s love to us is like that gift. It works like that too. The baptism of Jesus shows us that we need to do something with that love; that we need to accept it, to take it, to respond to it. And like Jesus say “Thank you. Yes, I want you in my life. I love you too.”
What we see in that passage from Matthew is Jesus’s acceptance of God’s love. He’s incredibly humble. He goes to John. He says that he wants him to baptise him and he wants to show everyone there that he’s given his life to God’s service. Jesus shows us how important it is to focus on God and respond to that love and say “yes, we’re going to do what God requires.” His focus, his actions are about God. He wants God’s purposes.
I don’t know if you remember being baptised. Mostly we get baptised as babies in the Methodist Church, so you might not remember necessarily your own baptism, but you might have seen other people’s baptisms since. Here in the Bible, and when we do it in church as well, it signifies a new start, a commitment to God. A way of God coming to God and saying, “I want you in my life. I give my life to you.” If we go back to God’s words, “I’ve called you by name. I’ve summoned you by name and you are mine.”
It becomes clear across both the passages that this is a two-way, not a one-way process. It involves God’s love and his call, and our response and commitment back to that as well. We’re not truly God’s, not truly belonging to him, unless we commit back to him and give ourselves and our lives freely and humbly to him as Jesus did.
So just some words to reflect as you reflect on putting your name into God’s hands:
Called by name. The name that is me. You know my name and you know me. What does my name mean to you? To others? Love, peace, joy, help, integrity, wisdom, commitment, loyalty, rock, friend, servant. You’ve called me by name. The name written on your hand, and I am yours. Not just called once, but called many times over many years. Called to be a light to the nations. A witness to your love through Jesus in so many ways. Is it really possible that there are things that only I can do or say or be in the places where you’ve put me? Small things that start off the ripple. Large things that shake the order of the world. A light to the nations, a witness. It sounds grand. Impossible for me, insecure, uncertain, hesitant. And yet you promise. You promise to hold me, you promise to help me. You promise to fill me with your power and your strength. The power and strength that never runs out.
Readings for 15 January
John 1: 29-42 (NIV)
John Testifies About Jesus
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John’s Disciples Follow Jesus
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Isaiah 49: 1-7
- Psalm 40: 1-11
- 1 Corinthians 1: 1-9
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 our worship group. 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.
15 January – Christ Church worship group
22 January – Dr Paul Ashitey (URC lay preacher)
29 January – Revd Andrew Pottage (Methodist superintendent minister) – communion service
5 February – Alan Yates (URC lay preacher)
Church charity news
Church charity for 2023
Our church charity for 2023 is Communicare Counselling Service. Our next fundraising event will be the coffee morning on 4th February.
You can find more details about Communicare Counselling Service, our church charity for 2023 at:
From our denominations
From the Circuit Newsletter
H4All Wellbeing Winter Warm Packs
With the cold weather snap pending H4All will shortly be receiving a consignment of Winter Warm packs which are FREE for distribution to Hillingdon residents.
These will include:
- Hot water bottle
- Branded thermometer card
- Green Doctor flyer
Clients must take whole packs – they cannot be separated out. These can be picked up from Key House, 106 High Street, Yiewsley, Middlesex, UB7 7BQ.
We may possibly be able to arrange a bulk delivery to a provider or individual delivery to clients – but this will be on a case-by-case basis and not guaranteed.
Our Winter Wellness Directory 2022/23 is a comprehensive guide to help navigate various challenges and stay well throughout the colder months and is available on our website https://www.h4all.org.uk/
Lastly a reminder that H4All have a FREE Wellbeing Service that supports Hillingdon residents (18+):
- To better manage long terms health conditions
- With complex health and social care needs
- Who are Lonely or socially isolated
- At risk of conditions exacerbating
- Need access to other services
Referrals can be made by phone on 01895 54 34 34 or through our website https://www.h4all.org.uk/refer-to-us
Other church events
CTU Friendly Bible study series
Tuesdays, 1.15 – 2.15 pm. Quaker Meeting House, York Road.
Until 21st February 2023
Currently focusing on the book of Judith. All welcome.
URC 50th Anniversary Service
Saturday 15th April at Methodist Central Hall
For more information, please visit https://bit.ly/urc50
Who said what in these words taken from this week’s reading? (John 1: 29-42)
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Hayes End Methodist
- St Andrew’s, Ealing URC
May you know Jesus’ presence in your heart and in your life –
wherever you go,
whatever you do,
whoever you meet.
May you know God’s presence in your heart and in your life,
now and always.
(Adapted from Roots)