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)
Living God, Spirit within us,
we worship you in spirit and in truth.
Be real and known to us.
Help us, for a moment, to put aside fripperies and glitz,
all the jobs still to be done, the tasks that await us,
and look instead to you for truth, meaning and purpose.
Make yourself known in words and in silence. Amen.
(Adapted from Roots)
Reflection from 7 May
Readings: John 14: 1-14 and Acts 7:55-60
In those words that we’ve just heard, Jesus exhorts his followers to continue doing the works he’s been doing. And Stephen just will not shut up. He will not stop proclaiming Jesus. It made me think, how do we measure up to those things? What makes us Christians different to anyone else? What are the marks of a Christian? What are the traits, if you like, of Christians?
When I started thinking about traits, my mind went to a television advert, from the 70s or 80s, for Hamlet cigars. The gentleman there holding the baby became known as the Baldy Man because there was more than one advert around this character. In this one they are posing for a family photograph. The camera doesn’t work. It all goes horribly wrong. And then you see him sitting smoking his cigar and all is well again, you know, and that was the theme.
However, that’s not what I want you to dwell on this morning. I’m not selling cigars. You will notice here, I’m sure, a family trait. This wonderful hairstyle where people like me sometimes grow it long on one side and take it right over the other side. And that’s what’s happening here. Grandad’s got it, Dad’s got it, and lo and behold, the baby here has it as well.
We probably all know about families with a physical likeness which repeats from generation to generation. We might say ‘oh, he’s the image of his father’ or ‘you should have seen our uncles ears’. As long as it isn’t ‘noses run in our family’ – that’s always a dodgy one! There are also attitudes and preferences and convictions that carry through generations: ‘that’s exactly what your mum would have said’ or ‘so and so would have reacted just like that’ or ‘that could have been your granddad talking’. Maybe we say ‘they’re a chip off the old block’ or ‘you can tell they’re a Smith or Jones or whatever the family name is.’
So these readings made me think what makes us say about someone, ‘they’re a Christian’ or maybe ‘they’re a real Christian.’ What are the marks, the signs, the traits, the qualities of a Christian. How do you recognise somebody as being a Christian? I’m going to invite you to talk to one another about what the signs, the traits, the marks of a Christian that you might notice in someone.
One example was missionary work in Serbia, which I don’t think is for all of us, but certainly some outreach to let people know about our faith and encourage them into it can be taken as a mark of a Christian, I think. The Salvation Army distributing food to poor people in Slough. Again, I think we can take the general thing about Christians being interested in helping those in need, loving as Jesus did.
Church: going to church for recharging batteries, receiving teaching, receiving love, receiving care and then being able to take that out into the world. Thinking about why a Christian might come to church and how that could then affect their life outside of the church. Which raises an interesting question about whether all Christians go to church.
There’s also belief – having belief. Empathy. Someone who thinks of others. Compassion. So these are the sort of qualities, the types of things we see in a person and say, ‘Oh, they’re a Christian’ and I can think of a few people over my lifetime where I’ve been very convinced that because of their actions, because of their words, that they are indeed deeply faithful in the Christian faith.
I want to put all that alongside the things that we have heard in these readings, the things it’s suggesting that we as Christians should believe so that we can show this to others in our lives. And so from the John reading, we’re reminded that we should have belief, we should trust in God and in Jesus and that we should believe in eternal life with Jesus. These are the things that we need to talk with people about, show people about. And that we know that Jesus is our way to God. These are all contained in these words of Jesus to his disciples. We should believe that Jesus shows the true nature of God and that his words and his actions are God speaking and working through him. And a Christian would continue to act towards people and love them as Jesus did.
So we have empathy, compassion. We have helping those in need in whatever way it is. And another one that comes from this is believing in prayer and believing that prayer will be answered: ‘you may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.’
Looking at the account of Stephen’s stoning shows his conviction. We need to remain convinced. We hear about Stephen’s speaking up, his perseverance and his faith which goes to the end of his life and beyond. He forgives those who were stoning him in a very similar way to the way Jesus forgave those who crucified him. And all of that was from this man who would not give up, would not stop telling people about his faith. It didn’t go unnoticed by Saul, of course, who later, as you know, became a convert to Christianity and was renamed as Paul, and we rely so much on many of his teachings, and his letters.
So all of that coming from these readings, I think, is giving us guidance as to how we should be. What we should believe, how we should act, how we should persevere. How does that match up for us as we follow the one who said I am the way and the truth and the life? Is Jesus always front and centre in our lives and visible to others? What do others actually see?
There’s a story told about a young police cadet. He was taking his assessment exam and was given this as a scenario: You’re on duty in the High Street. A jewellery robbery is in progress. A dog is loose and runs across the road, causing an accident involving a car that has been driving erratically anyway. You notice that the driver of the car is the Chief Constable. In the meantime, a group of skateboarders are causing havoc on the pavement and close-to-violent reactions from shoppers. You also become aware of a pensioner who seems to be in a state of confusion and is clearly vulnerable. State your priorities, bearing in mind the provisions of the Mental Health Acts. The cadet paused, scratched his head and then wrote: ‘I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.’
When are we sometimes tempted to take off our uniforms and mingle with the crowd. A question for each of us: I once saw a poster which said if you were taken to court accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
So what are your marks? What are my marks as a Christian? Can others see them? Who do I represent? In consequence, what is expected of me? How can I represent Jesus or represent him more to those I meet in everyday life?
Readings for 14 May
John 14: 15-21 (NIV)
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Acts 17: 22-31
- Psalm 66: 8-20
- 1 Peter 3: 13-22
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, Joanne Mackin. 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.
14 May – Christ Church worship group – parade service
21 May – Jo Davies (Methodist local preacher)
28 May – Graham Hinton (URC lay preacher and Christ Church member) – Holy Communion
4 June – Christ Church worship group
Church charity news
Church charity events
The following events are currently planned to help fundraise for this year’s church charity, Communicare Counselling Service. Details will follow nearer the time.
Table-top sale – Saturday 23rd September
Quiz evening – Saturday 14th October
Silent auction – November
You can find more details about Communicare Counselling Service, our church charity for 2023 at:
Visit to Chiltern Open Air Museum
Sunday 4th June
Join a trip after morning service on Sunday 4th June to the museum, where we can explore the rescued buildings, enjoy the gardens and beautiful Bucks scenery and say hello to the farm animals.
We’ll share cars so please let me know beforehand if you need a lift or can offer spaces. Mobility scooter loan may be possible, but let me know in good time if you need one. Light refreshments available or bring a picnic. Cost on the day £11.50 adult; £10.50 over-60/disabled/student; £8.50 child 4-16, cheaper if you book online yourself in advance. Get in touch if you have any questions.
1st Uxbridge GB at the Coronation Concert
After a short train journey with our leaders and a walk through Windsor’s streets filled with flags, lions, crowns, balloons and buzzing concert-goers, we found our seats in the stands in plenty of time. We spent the next few hours happily chatting together, singing pop anthems and getting more and more excited as the arena slowly filled up. The choice of food beforehand was gargantuan, including fish and chips, ice cream, pizza, churros, burgers, and much more! The huge queues were worth it, and you got to meet all sorts of people while you were waiting. This, together with the fact that I was with my GB best friends, was probably my favourite aspect of the Coronation concert.
Once the concert was underway, a highlight for the girls of 1st Uxbridge was, of course, the famous Katy Perry. We got not one, but two songs from her. Andrea Bocelli’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was just spine-tingling and the warm orange glow from our wristbands really set an incomparable mood. But there wasn’t just singing! Some amazing performances from the world’s greatest pianist Lang Lang, and the incredibly talented Lucy from the recent TV show The Piano also touched me very much. I was glad that the show included some performers living with a disability as well as perfectly ordinary people from all walks of life. The choirs were a favourite for me, including the 300 strong one singing “Brighter Days” and the Commonwealth choir from around the world. It made the Coronation events more relatable for my generation.
As darkness fell over the arena, the drone light show was absolutely unbelievable! A favourite for many was the blue whale emerging from the top of the stage then rolling over in the sky. Just so beautiful… I will always remember the address by the Prince of Wales. It was a short but touching dedication to his father the King. We sang the National Anthem with all our hearts. As there were 20,000 of us, you can imagine how impressive it all sounded.
What topped it all off was the glorious weather we had, even 20 degrees at some point, with a bright blue sky, fluffy clouds, and a beautiful sunset behind Windsor Castle. This evening was unforgettable and historic, and thanks to you, we can all say, “I was there.”
A million thank yous from all of us at 1st Uxbridge for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Georgie Hill, 1st Uxbridge GB n:counta group (Seniors)
CTU Bible study
CTU Friendly Bible Study series
Tuesdays, 1.15pm – 2.15pm at the Quaker Meeting House, York Road, Uxbridge
18th April – 6th June
Focusing on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. An hour-long session with tea available afterwards. All are welcome.
Dates for your diary
21 May – Congregational meeting
4 June – Trip to Chiltern Open Air Museum
10 June – URC Learning Hub (focusing on Whole-Life Worship), 10am – 1pm at St John’s URC, New Barnet
23 September – Table-top sale in aid of Communicare Counselling Service
14 October – Quiz night in aid of Communicare Counselling Service
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Kenton Methodist
- Brentford Free Church (URC/Baptist)
The blessing of God, known and unknown,
be with us and the world this week.
Guide us in our distress,
strengthen us in our hope,
and lead us in your peace. Amen
(Taken from URC Worship Notes)