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, you invite us to turn,
to make a new start and to follow you.
You call us beyond ourselves.
You call us to welcome friend and stranger
until the whole world has turned
and worships you. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 15 January: Choices
Readings: Isaiah 49: 1-7, John 1: 29-42 and 1 Corinthians 1: 1-9
What are you like when it comes to making choices? Are you someone who makes a fairly quick decision on what to choose, or are you someone who need to think about the options available, weigh them up and take your time to choose? Perhaps it depends on the kind of choices you have to make – whether they’re big choices or little everyday choices. There are often many little choices that we have to make in the course of our daily lives – what to wear when we get up in the morning, what to have for breakfast, what to watch on TV, what to have for dinner. That last one is one that I sometimes find a bit overwhelming, I have to admit, partly because of having to work within the constraints of what I’d like to eat vs what my children will actually eat!
These are the everyday choices we make, but there are big choices in life too – and these are the ones that we often need to take time over and weigh up. Should I apply for or accept that job? Is this person the one I want to be my life partner? Do we want to have children? Where do we want to live? Sometimes we look back and feel happy with the choices we make and sometimes we regret them and wish we could go back and make a different choice. But having to make choices is part of life.
In the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, we hear a lot about the Israelites being God’s chosen people, the people who God cares for, bringing them out of Egypt and promising to bring them to a land “flowing with milk and honey”. Throughout the Old Testament we read of how God protects his people, teaches them and punishes them when they turn away from him towards false idols or disobey the laws that he has set out for them. In Deuteronomy, we read these words:
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”
(Deuteronomy 7: 6)
We hear this reminder of being chosen by God in our reading from Isaiah. In the NIV translation, the passage we heard earlier is given the sub-heading “The Servant of the Lord” and this servant is chosen by God, called from their mother’s womb. But there’s a shift here with regards to the people regarded as God’s chosen people. At first, the calling to be God’s servant refers to bringing Israel back to God, but then the Lord says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
(Isaiah 49: 6)
Those who God has chosen to extend his salvation to is now expanding to include the Gentiles as well as the Jewish people. A salvation that we as Christians believe comes through Jesus and we hear this echoed in our second reading when John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is God’s Chosen One and “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. And when the two disciples who are with him the next day when he encounters Jesus again hear him refer to Jesus as the “Lamb of God”, they make the choice to follow Jesus and to tell others about him.
We’ve moved from God’s chosen people to Jesus, God’s chosen one, and then in our final reading today, we hear Paul referring to himself as being “called to be an apostle” and those who are “called to be his holy people”. Called rather than chosen. It’s an invitation to follow, and one that we have a choice about whether or not to accept. And although we may feel that God calls us to a particular place or to a particular role, we are given the choice of whether or not to follow that call. That said, while the choice is ours over whether to accept God’s call, God is often rather persistent in his call!
When we choose to accept God’s call, we often open ourselves us to new opportunities and situations, finding ourselves doing things that we never imagined we would, or could, do. We might feel apprehensive about making the choice to follow God and to live a life of faith, but I believe that when we do make that choice, God will equip us with the things we need to be his people, to share our faith, and to share God’s love with those around us.
Those of us sitting here this morning or watching online have made a choice to do so today. For many of us, living a life of faith is a choice that we feel we made quite some time ago, whereas others may just be exploring, finding out more. But accepting God’s call and living a life of faith isn’t a choice that we make once; it’s a choice that we make over and over again. When we hit bumps in the road, when life is hard, when we have difficult questions, when we read horrific things in the news and wonder how a loving God can let such things happen – each time we have the choice about whether or not to keep moving forward in faith.
When we step outside of our church buildings and into our daily lives, we have a choice too over how we express our faith in our everyday life. We spend only a short time each week inside our church. But if we’re called by God, we’re called to share our faith not just here in our church building where it feels safe and comfortable to do so, but also outside our church building – called to be God’s people wherever we are, wherever God has placed us. It’s not just about who we are here in this church – what we do every day matters to God too.
When we’re here in this church, we’re God’s gathered church, taking time to focus on God and worshipping together. But it’s outside of these four walls, outside of the gathered church in our scattered lives where life really happens and where God has placed us and called us to be. And our challenge as Christians is how do we follow God’s calling in our everyday lives outside of this church building, and how do we support each other and pray for each other in our call to live as Christians in our everyday life.
Let us pray:
Lord, we thank you that you call us all, where we are and through what we do. In our everyday lives this week, help us to be open to your promptings and to be aware that what we do outside these four walls matters to you because it is where you have placed us and called us to be. Help us to follow your call wherever we are in the week ahead. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.
Readings for 22 January
Matthew 4: 12-23 (NIV)
Jesus Begins to Preach
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Jesus Heals the Sick
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Isaiah 9: 1-4
- Psalm 27: 1, 4-9
- 1 Corinthians 1: 10-18
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, Dr Paul Ashitey. 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.
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)
12 February – Graham Hinton (URC lay preacher and Christ Church member) – parade service
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:
How did Jesus describe himself?
At our Sunday morning service on January 15, Louise engagingly invited us to think of the biblical titles of Jesus. Perhaps now we could think of what Jesus said about himself? The Christian Church has long debated who Jesus was. Would it be better to debate what he said?
Hits through the Decades
Wednesday 25th January, 7pm at the Beck Theatre
The Beck Community Choir presents Hits Through The Decades – a montage of your favourite songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s! Lawrence Hoskins is part of the Beck Community Choir and will be taking part in this concert, which will also be signed in Makaton throughout.
The show is on Wed 25 January 2023 at 7pm, and tickets cost £10 (£8.50 for concessions). Tickets can be booked online at https://becktheatre.org.uk/Online/tickets-hits-through-the-decades-hayes-2023 or by calling the Ticketing Line on 0343 310 0044.
Lawrence will also be treading the boards again next month, along with Louise George in WOS Productions’ next show, The Drowsy Chaperone and we’ll be sharing more details about this soon.
From our denominations
Join the URC’s 50th Anniversary Choir
If you love singing, join the URC’s 50th anniversary choir!
We’re looking for voices in a variety of styles, to reflect the diversity of the denomination, to sing at the Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving on Saturday 15 April 2023 at Methodist Central Hall Westminster.
You must be available for the rehearsal day from 10.30am to 4pm on Monday 10 April 2023 at the American International Church, 79a Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4TD and the rehearsal and service from 12 noon to 5pm on Saturday 15 April 2023 at Methodist Central Hall, Storey’s Gate, London SW1H 9NH.
Members of the choir will receive the music in advance and have a rehearsal day in central London and then a final rehearsal on the day at the hall ahead of the service.
Unfortunately, we are not able to cover travel expenses. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
For further information, please email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please complete the form online at https://bit.ly/urc50-choir to register your interest. The deadline for registering your interest is Monday 27 March 2023.
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
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Kenton Methodist
- Brentford Free Church (URC/Baptist)
as we pray for the coming of an everlasting kingdom of love,
we ask for your strength and support in our own lives.
Help us know of your true love for ourselves,
and the truth to which we are called.
May we be inspired by the love of your Call
and be your hands and your feet in the world.
For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are yours,
for ever and ever. Amen.
(Taken from the URC Worship Notes for 22 January 2023)