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, be here with us today.
Let us hear you speaking
with words we understand deep in our being.
As we hear your voice,
comfort, encourage, challenge and motivate us.
May your Holy Spirit inspire us, unite us and guide us.
Breathe on us afresh.
Renew our hope in your love and resurrection.
Speak new life to everyone,
wherever they are in the world. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 21 May
Readings: 1 Peter 4: 12-14; 5: 6-11, John 17: 1-11 and Acts 1: 6-14
The Ascension assures us of a living Saviour. Acts 1:3 says that after his suffering, Jesus showed himself to his disciples and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. Verse 8 tells us that the disciples were called to become witnesses to the living Saviour. However, the disciples needed Jesus to show them these convincing acts that he was alive. In order for them to know beyond all doubt that Jesus was alive, they needed to be certain that they weren’t imagining this or that Christ’s body hadn’t, in fact, been stolen by someone and was rotting away in some unknown hillside tomb.
In Luke’s account of the post-resurrection appearances, we know that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognise Jesus. Thomas had to put his hands into the holes of Christ’s hands and feet before he believed. Jesus had to appear in the upper room where the disciples had locked all doors before they would believe that he was truly alive. So, the question for us today is, do we believe that Jesus is alive? Because, unlike the disciples, we aren’t seeing this first hand. We must know and believe in our hearts that our Saviour is a living one before we can share this with others.
Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension enables him to work in our lives; to forgive our sins and to use the Holy Spirit to give us the courage and conviction to share this good news with others. Christ’s ascension into heaven is a certainty that this mission has been accomplished. It shows that God accepts Christ’s sacrifice for us and demonstrates that Christ’s work of redemption is complete. So, our mission, our testimony to others outside the sanctuary of God’s house, is encouraged by the essential assurance that Christ is our living Saviour. But it’s not enough just to have this conviction because the ascension secondly promises the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus promises the disciples that they will be baptised by the Holy Spirit. Although Jesus is no longer with them, they won’t be left alone. For they will be baptised in the Spirit and the Spirit will overwhelm and immerse them as it works within them.
Baptism in the Spirit in the Bible has always been used to describe the initial coming of the Spirit. Jesus is not talking about subsequent blessings from the Spirit working within us but that initial visit from the Spirit to us when it takes over our lives to bring about spiritual rebirth and change. This Spirit is another counsellor guiding us in response to God’s plan for each of us. Acts 2: 38 says, ‘Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven and you will receive the Holy Spirit.’
When we repent and turn from sin, we put our faith in Christ, who gives us his Holy Spirit, and we trust that the Spirit will give us all the strength and resources we need. The Spirit is the third person of the Godhead sent into our lives to empower each of us to be a living witness for Christ. And the Spirit doesn’t come to override our free will, but to help us and empower us if we allow ourselves to be immersed within it.
We can’t manage to fulfil our Christian missions without God working within our lives. We can’t live in our own strength. God’s spirit will come and empower us when we exercise faith and obedience. When it comes to bearing witness to Christ and talking about our faith, we need to trust that the Spirit will help us obey the command or to share the good news with others without fear of the consequences, without fear of ridicule, without fear of persecution. And of course, God could do all of this without us, but he chooses to use each and every one of us to further his mission here on Earth.
And so the Ascension assurance, secondly, promises us that if we step out in faith and take the opportunities that the Spirit gives us and allow the Spirit to work within us, then we can go and be living witnesses for Christ.
But finally, it doesn’t stop there because the Ascension is also a guarantee that we will see Christ again, although right now he might be hidden from our sight. Jesus, visibly and bodily, ascended into heaven before the disciples very eyes. I can only imagine the encouragement they would have felt in the knowledge that Christ raised from the dead is now exalted and lifted up into glory and the visible evidence to them that Christ shares God’s throne in heaven and has been exalted to God’s right hand.
This isn’t because it’s a sign of rule and authority and power and dominion. But it’s a sign that God raised Jesus from the dead, seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, because he, God, Lord, Holy Spirit, will all have the final word in the Godhead Trinity. And this must bring us hope and encouragement in our own lives. Because the message of the Ascension is that we are sent out on God’s authority. And we can have confidence that God’s mission will never fail because Christ has ascended.
So, unlike the disciples and the meditation, there’s no point looking intently at the sky above us and looking for Jesus there. The Ascension promises us that Jesus’s bodily ascension is also the guarantee of his bodily return from heaven at some point in the future. Christ is coming again, so we need to get on and share the good news with as many people as possible before he returns. We need to fulfil the instructions he left us. And indeed, it’s arguable that we have a responsibility to fulfil our Christian calling.
Faith isn’t just coming and sitting on a Sunday morning and not doing anything more. Faith isn’t our private meditations at home in the comfort of our own homes. Faith is going out, putting into practise the teachings of Christ and sharing the good news, fulfilling God’s mission on earth. When Jesus comes again, will he be able to say to us, ‘well done, good and faithful servant?’ Or will we be found wanting, having lived a life of fear and doubt?
I urge us all in the week ahead to take a moment to pause and reflect on the Ascension. What does it mean for us as modern-day Christians? Do we believe Christ is alive and show this through our words and deeds? Do we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, allowing it to empower us and work within us as we serve our God? Do we follow the instructions Christ left us to be good and faithful servants and to go out and share the good news?
We have a risen Lord ascended into heaven. May all of us in our own way, according to the gifts and the talents the Spirit gives each of us fulfil God’s calling until that time we all see Christ again. Amen.
Readings for 28 May
Acts 2: 1-21 (NIV)
The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Psalm 104: 24-34, 35b
- 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13
- John 20: 19-23
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 communion service and welcome of a new member, led by URC lay preacher and Christ Church member, Graham Hinton. 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.
28 May – Graham Hinton (URC lay preacher and Christ Church member) – Holy Communion
4 June – Christ Church worship group
11 June – Christ Church worship group – parade service
18 June – Revd Dr Dong Hwan Kim (Methodist minister) – Holy Communion
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.
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
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
22 June – Congregational Meeting, 7pm
7 July – Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade Display
10 September – Congregational meeting
23 September – Table-top sale in aid of Communicare Counselling Service
30 September – URC Learning Hub (focusing on small groups and intentional relationships)
14 October – Quiz night in aid of Communicare Counselling Service
19 November – Congregational meeting
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- North Hillingdon Methodist
- Hounslow URC
thank you that you speak to us
in language we understand.
With love and grace,
forgiveness and hope in our hearts,
help us to speak to others –
with or without words –
so that they might hear you speaking through us.
(Taken from Roots)