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, we are drawn to your well
to seek the water of eternal life.
Refresh us with your Word.
Surround us with your Love.
And fill us to overflowing with your Spirit,
the water of life,
that we may never be thirsty. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 5 March
Reading: Luke 18: 9-14
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” a man says.
“But sir, you’ve just been in a terrible car accident. You’re bleeding and have some deep bruises. There may be internal damage!”
“There’s nothing wrong with me!”
“At least have a doctor check you out, sir. We have an ambulance right here – it wouldn’t take very long…”
“I told you, there’s nothing wrong with me!”
Then the man walks away from the car accident. His wife picks him up and drives him home. Later he dies from internal bleeding.
“There’s nothing wrong with me” can be a dangerous thing to say. Spiritually, it is probably the worst thing a person could possibly say. For a person to stand before God and say, “There’s nothing wrong with me” – that’s incompatible with Christianity, and unacceptable to God.
What is the opposite of “there’s nothing wrong with me”? Wouldn’t it be “there’s everything wrong with me”? According to the Bible, a Christian is someone who stands before God and says, “there’s everything wrong with me.” A Christian is also someone who says, “But Jesus Christ has overcome my sin. He has taken away all the things that are wrong with me.”
Today is the second Sunday of Lent. What exactly is Lent? What’s it all about? We find the answer as we focus on a story Jesus tells about two opposite people: one who said “there’s nothing wrong with me” and the other who said “there’s everything wrong with me.” I think one of them represents what Lent isn’t, and the other represents what Lent is.
This morning, we focus on these two people as we seek to learn better what Lent really is, and what it means to us today. Jesus told this story to people who were confident in their own righteousness, and looked down on everybody else. Jesus said, “Two men went up to the temple to pray – a Pharisee and a tax collector.”
Remember, the Pharisees were the people who lived good, clean lives. The tax collectors were people who swindled and intimidated others out of their money. Both of them went to the temple to pray.
“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
Maybe you can sum up his prayer this way: “I thank you, God, that there’s nothing wrong with me.”
Maybe he was right! He was a good citizen. He obeyed the law, lived a moral and upright life. He even did the religious things you were supposed to do – he gave ten percent of his income to church, and he even fasted twice a week. Really, there’s wasn’t much wrong with him.
Then Jesus focuses on the tax collector in his story – the opposite of the Pharisee. He had been stealing money from people his whole life, ruining the lives of others so that he could live it up. He knew that his whole life had been a disaster, and that he deserved to go to hell when he died. Jesus says that: “the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’”
Yes! He wouldn’t even walk up to the front of the temple, he was so ashamed of his sin. His prayer was the opposite of the Pharisee’s, wasn’t it? Maybe you can sum it up this way, “God, there’s everything wrong with me. Help me.” Jesus goes on to say that the sinful tax collector was the one that was forgiven by God, and not the perfect Pharisee.
Why? We simply could say that the Pharisee was proud, looking down on others, exalting himself whilst the tax collector was humble. Is Jesus really saying this? Is Jesus saying that the tax collector earns the forgiveness of sins by being humble?
That’s what a lot of people think, but that’s not how it works. If that’s why God forgives you, then your salvation would be completely dependent on you, and your level of humility. Then, you could never be sure if you’re forgiven by God or not, because you will never know if you have been humble enough for God to forgive you.
The truth of the matter is, neither the Pharisee nor the tax collector deserved God’s forgiveness. The Pharisee didn’t deserve forgiveness because he thought he was perfect. The tax collector didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness as well because of the terrible life he had led. Neither one deserved to be forgiven by God. God forgives people purely out of his mercy. As a result of his overflowing love, God forgives people.
God forgives people because Jesus Christ has taken away the sins of the world. Because of that sacrifice Jesus made on the cross – cleansing the world of all of its sin, he offers forgiveness to all.
In today’s reading, God offered forgiveness to both the Pharisee and the tax collector. But only the tax collector received God’s forgiveness. Why? Because, he longed for the grace of God whilst the Pharisee rejected it. The tax collector received God’s grace not because he has a humble personality but because he has a really hungry heart for God’s help.
Yes, our God never turns his face from those who say, “There’s everything wrong with me. Lord, have mercy on me. I am a sinner.” He is swift to give his grace to sinners who long after him.
Martin Nystrom beautifully described a heart that our God is seeking, as follows:
“As the deer pants for the water, So my soul longs after you. You alone are my heart’s desire And I long to worship. I want you more than gold or silver, Only you can satisfy. You alone are the real joy-giver and the apple of my eye.”
Now we are in the period of Lent. These next several weeks are a time for us to look deep into our hearts, to long for God’s grace. This is what Lent really means to us. During this journey, I pray that we see how serious and terrible our sins are and we also see how wonderful and deep our God’s love is. May God bless you as you walk in this Lenten journey with a deep desire for him. Amen.
Revd Dr Dong Hwan Kim
Readings for 12 March
John 4: 5-42 (NIV)
5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
The Disciples Rejoin Jesus
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.”
Many Samaritans Believe
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Exodus 17: 1-7
- Psalm 95
- Romans 5: 1-11
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 a parade service led by Christ Church member, Stephanie Marr. 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.
12 March – Christ Church worship group – parade service
19 March – Ade Benson (Methodist local preacher) – Mothering Sunday
26 March – Revd Maggie Hindley (URC minister) – Holy Communion
2 April – Neil Mackin (Christ Church member) – Palm Sunday
Tuesdays, 12.30pm – 1.30pm
28th February to 28th March 2023
Bible passages, discussion, quietness, reflection, prayer using Churches Together material and “Worship in Stillness”, by Susan Sayers.
14th March: Sin, suffering and hope – God of acceptance.
21st March: Relationship and reconciliation – God of growth.
28th March: Parenthood and adoption – God who heals.
The sessions will also be available to join via Zoom using the following details:
Meeting ID: 975 3521 4949
Church charity news
Church charity fundraising ideas needed
We are looking for ideas of ways that we can fundraise for Communicare Counselling Service throughout this year. There are a few events currently being considered – a cream tea in late Spring/early Summer, a quiz evening in the autumn and a silent auction around November time. Another idea which is being considered is a table-top sale if anyone would be interested in helping to organise this.
If you have any ideas for fundraising activities or would like to organise a fundraising event, please let one of the elders know so that we can start putting some fundraising events in the church calendar.
You can find more details about Communicare Counselling Service, our church charity for 2023 at https://christchurchuxbridge.org.uk/activities/churchcharity2023
Other church events
URC 50th Anniversary Service
Saturday 15th April at Methodist Central Hall
For more information, please visit https://bit.ly/urc50
From the Methodist Circuit
Revd Dr Dong Hwan Kim is currently running a Lent course reflecting on the Lord’s Prayer. He has shared some videos on YouTube reflecting on this which can be accessed through the links below:
Pinner Taizé Service
Pinner Methodist Church, Love Lane, Pinner HA5 3EE will be holding a Taizé service on Sunday 12th March at 6.30pm. The service will have music, readings and prayers reflecting on the theme of “Love”. The retiring collection is for Christian Aid for their “Turkish & Syrian Earthquake Emergency Appeal”.
Part-time Circuit Administrative Assistant
The Circuit is currently looking for a part-time administration assistant for 1 year maternity cover. The role will consist of jobs such as general administrative support, data entry, and distribution of information. The post will be for 15 hours a week, worked over 3 days. Salary of £11.95 per hour. For more information visit https://tinyurl.com/circuitadminasst
Closing date for applications: midnight on Sunday 2nd April
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)
Thank you that we are accepted.
Thank you that we belong.
Thank you that you give us the water of life to drink.
Help us to be accepting of others,
and invite them to drink your water too. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)