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)
in an ever-changing world, we come to you for stability.
In a world of so many choices, we come to you for guidance.
In a world so full of knowledge, we come to you for wisdom.
In a world awash with rights, we come to you to discern our responsibilities.
In a world of countless opinions, we come to you to discover what you think,
that we may be faithful in our promises and wholehearted in our service
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)
Reflection from 24 September: MoU reset
Readings – Exodus 24: 3-11, Jeremiah 31: 31-34, Romans 12: 1-2 and John 15: 1-10
So this is the annual covenant service, the renewal of our covenant with God. And I would like to suggest this morning that might be one way of understanding it, is the renewal of our memorandum of understanding, our MoU, with God, with ourselves and our neighbours. A covenant is shaped by the understanding of a particular period of time in our lives. The covenant we heard in the Old Testament reading was sealed by blood.
We might seal a covenant by a memorandum of understanding, by a letter, but I don’t think necessarily we would seal it by blood in this day and age, would we? To show how serious a covenant is, how serious an agreement is, a memorandum of understanding, a letter, a contract, is, we seal it.
But in fact, in our own lives, we know that sometimes memoranda of understanding or contracts or covenants are broken. That’s the reality of our humanity, is it not?
In the book of Jeremiah, God says, well, you’ve broken the covenant with me, but I’m going to write it now, a memorandum of understanding, I’m going to write it in your hearts. I’ll put it inside your head so that you’ll not forget it. And St Paul is inviting us to renew our understanding, to renew our covenant by the transformation of our minds.
I think the gospel takes a step further on the issue of being in a covenant with ourselves, with one another, and above all, with God. The gospel reading today refers to something even deeper within that tradition of John and John’s community, an understanding of the gospel as love. God is love, John says. We heard in our text today: remain in the vine, remain in love, so that you produce fruit. Outside of love, outside of the vine, there is no fruit to be produced. And then verse 9 – “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you, abide in my love.”
The renewal of something that has been broken requires deep love.
So this week we saw a breaking on a covenant, on an agreement between two countries. Between the United States of America and Iran, there was an exchange of prisoners. Sanctions were dropped, but as soon as the prisoners reached another country in freedom, sanctions were brought back. I thought that was not very honourable, myself. The covenant has to be a memorandum of understanding, and once broken has to be restored, and it will take a great deal of work on that.
But I come down here to share something much more personal. I said something about Iran because we have visitors today from Iran. But this is about a break in a covenant in my personal life that I might not have come to terms with yet. It has been a long time, 41 years, when I lost my first child. My first wife and I were expecting a baby, and the baby was born dead. I was in theological college and people wanted me to say that that was the will of God, that my child died because of the will of God. And though I was dedicating my life to work for the gospel through the church, because I thought that was the will of God. But suddenly, I couldn’t say it was the will of God that that my child had died. Something in my understanding, in my spirituality, got profoundly broken. Between me, and God; between me, myself, my journey, my future; between me and my church where I was coming from. I could not accept it was the will of God.
I carry it with me, with the hope that in eternal life, I will understand better. And I hope that one day all things will be brought together under Christ and reconciliation, renewal will happen deep in the heart of God, in my heart, in the life that was lost etc. But I gained something profoundly there. I lost something and I gained something else: that God is love and God accompanies me so much in my journey and that the love of God embraces me.
On the day of the burial – in Brazil, we bury within 24 hours and my child was born dead during the night. On the evening of the next day, we are burying my child in a hill far away, in a borrowed tomb, and the rector, the minister that was responsible for the college, said, “Today’s very sad. The sun is going down and there’s no two ways about it, it’s a tragedy. But tomorrow the sun comes out again and you have to pick up the pieces of your life and carry on. And that was done by the grace of God, His company, His love, His presence.
What about the power, sovereignty of God? There’s a phrase in the reading today and the hymn that we sung just before the reading about God the Father. I might not be able to say within my own broken, limited understanding of God, ‘God Almighty’, but perhaps if I add the phrase, the word Father, would I be able to say ‘Father Almighty?’ Will you pray for me? I’m sure you will.
Our government in the UK is breaking all MoUs that it has had with us. This week in particular in the issue of environment, breaking all the promises about the environment, the arrangements about the environment being delayed as if there wasn’t a crisis. But also in the provision of health, health care and education, not wanting to deal with the junior doctors’ strike or the schools’ building crisis. On immigration, human rights, we are prepared to break the covenants, the memoranda of understanding. This government still represents the country, your spirit, my spirit, but does it still represent us?
But I trust in the grace and power of God that yes, it is possible to renew our covenant.
Your local ecumenical partnership between the URC and the Methodist Church that has produced this congregation, this presence here, that worships on a Sunday service that comes during the week. I’m very aware of this community, that you have your own ministries, and you can keep going. It would be good to have a presbyter here with you serving in a full-time capacity.
The United Reformed Church is trying to reconnect, to renew its relationship with LEPs around the country. In 2021, they produced a report that showed how important the LEPs are for the URC. I don’t know if you saw that, the General Assembly report. In 2023, they brought a proposal that will set aside six ministers in the URC. to serve in ecumenical settings And I think you should talk to your synod, to see if one of them could come here.
Of course, you run your own church, and there is a body of Christ more than just pastors and ministers. But the URC is trying to reconnect with the LEPs. It’s good, isn’t it? Good news. It might take a little while, as it does, to renew covenants. In my case with God, eternity.
Let me ask you, as we come to the conclusion of this sermon, is there an area in your life that you feel that you need to renew your covenant, that you need to rewrite your memorandum of understanding? Is there some way in your life, personal life, that you think you could do with mending a broken covenant?
There is good news. It is possible to mend it. It’s possible to rewrite a memorandum of understanding. Start today and take it slowly forward, surely and steadily, steadily and surely. Abide in love, Jesus says. And St. Peter says in his letter, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
Love covers a multitude of sins. Maybe a covenant with God, like in my case. Maybe a covenant with yourself, where something is broken and needs mending. A promise you made to yourself that is not quite happening. Maybe a covenant with somebody where a gesture of love might be required.
Let us renew our covenant with God today, with ourselves and with those whom we love, as best as we can. Let’s slowly rewrite the memorandum of understanding between ourselves, others, God, and with ourselves. Let’s abide in love.
Revd Dr Leao Neto
Readings for 1 October
Matthew 21: 23-32
The Authority of Jesus Questioned
23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Ezekiel 18: 1-4, 25-32
- Psalm 25: 1-9
- Philippians 2: 1-13
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, Anne Byfield. 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.
1 October – Anne Byfield (URC lay preacher)
8 October – TBC
15 October – Christ Church worship group
22 October – Richard Reid (Methodist local preacher)
Starting 4th October, alternate Wednesdays 12.30pm – 2.30pm
Welcome Wednesdays will be a warm space for socialising for both the members and community of Christ Church and anyone who needs a warm space or company. It is primarily a time for us as the church to open a space for socialising and being together and being open to anyone who wants to join us. It will run from 12.30pm until 2.30pm on alternate Wednesdays in the meeting area from 4th October till the end of the year. We will serve tea, coffee and biscuits along with cuppa soups and bread or toast. Some books and magazines will be provided along with a few games if people would like to have these available. You can also come along and bring your craft project if you wish.
Welcome Wednesdays will be running on the following dates: 4th October, 18th October, 1st November, 15th November, 29th November and 13th December. If you have any questions please see Joanne Mackin.
We hope you will join us for our Welcome Wednesdays whenever you can make it.
Church charity news
Quiz supper – Saturday 14 October, 6.30pm in the Watts Hall
Come and join us for a fun quiz evening along with a supper of fish and chips (or sausage/veggie burger/chicken and chips). Tickets cost £15 per person. Booking forms are available in the meeting area. Please return your completed form and payment to the office by Friday 6 October.
You can find more details about Communicare Counselling Service, our church charity for 2023 at:
CTU Bible exploration: Just Economics
Tuesdays, 12.30pm – 1.30pm
What should the goal of the economy be? Why isn’t our current system enabling people to flourish, especially as the cost of living crisis bites? Could a change in approach help us solve the climate crisis? What does our Christian faith have to say about the economy?
“Just ECONOMICS” is a six-session small group course, opening up some of these questions and starting a conversation about how the economy might be re-shaped to enable the wellbeing of all people and the planet.
Suitable for individual or group study, this course is designed for people with no background in finance or economics. It is rooted in ideas found in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and compares this with other thinking around money, poverty and wealth, leading us to examine our own attitudes to systems of worth and how our society could be changed for the better.
Each week we will be exploring a different theme as follows:
3 October – Enough
10 October – Growth
17 October – Value
24 October – Freedom
31 October – Change
The sessions will be held in the chapel at Christ Church on Tuesdays from 12.30pm – 1.30pm until 31 October. All are welcome to attend.
Dates for your diary
|URC Learning Hub (focusing on small groups and intentional relationships).
|CTU Bible exploration group
|CTU Bible exploration group
|Quiz night in aid of Communicare Counselling Service
|CTU Bible exploration group
|CTU Bible exploration group
|CTU Bible exploration group
|Congregational meeting with bring and share lunch
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Hayes End Methodist
- St Andrew’s, Ealing URC
- Uxbridge Quakers
Go forward with a heart renewed by grace, and may the Holy Spirit empower you to live a life that reflects the love of Christ to the world. Amen.
(Taken from The Vine)