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. There will be no newsletter next week due to the half-term break. The next issue of the newsletter will be sent out on 3 November.
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)
Creator God, we worship you,
and we praise you for we are
For the wonder of who I am
I praise you;
safe in your hands
all creation is made new.
(Taken from Roots)
Prayer for Israel and Palestine
God of peace and compassion,
We pray for all impacted by the escalation in conflict in Israel-Palestine
For all who are mourning
For all who are fearful, today, and for what may lie ahead
For all traumatised and re-traumatised by what they have experienced.
Enable us to stand in solidarity with people of peace
May your Spirit bring peace and healing to your troubled world.
(from the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference)
Reflection from 15 October
Reading – Matthew 22: 1-14
In our reading this morning, Jesus is telling a parable about the Kingdom of heaven, likening it to a wedding feast prepared by a king for his son. It’s a lavish party, a big celebration. The invitations have been sent, the food has been ordered, the decorations are up and everything is set, all ready for a big feast. But no-one shows up. So the invited guests are chased up. “Where are you? The party is ready!” But instead of saying “Hooray! Party time! I’m on my way”, the guests respond instead: “Oh sorry, I’m working” or “I’m busy out in the garden” or “I had other plans” or worse yet “I’m washing my hair.” It’s quite understandable that the person organising the party would be quite angry about those kinds of responses.
All that food, all that effort – well, it can’t go to waste, can it? So the king sends out his servants to invite those out and about in the streets nearby to come to the feast. And they come and get dressed up and join in with the party. Except for one person, who turns up but isn’t dressed up to join in and ends up being thrown out because of it.
It’s a familiar parable, this story about the invited guests who refuse to come and instead are replaced by others who wouldn’t have otherwise been invited. We find the same parable being told in Luke’s gospel (Luke 14: 15-23) although Luke’s version has less violence than Matthew’s. In Luke’s gospel, the invited guests simply make excuses and are replaced with the poor, the disabled, the blind and the lame, and the host simply states that the invited guests will not get a taste of the feast.
In Matthew’s gospel some of the guests mistreat the servants who send out the invites and kill them. In response to that, the king destroys the murderers and burns their city. Matthew’s replacement guests include those who are bad as well as those who are good and has one guest thrown out into the darkness for not being correctly dressed.
But like all parables, neither Luke’s version nor Matthew’s version speaks to us directly. They don’t give us clear-cut directions or answers – they speak in images and can be interpreted in various ways. In their original context, they’re being told to a specific group of people who are the ones listening to Jesus’s words and the ones who this story is being aimed at. Like everything else in the Bible though, we try to look at it with our 21st-century eyes and think about what God might be trying to show us through these words.
In this parable, as with the one we heard last week, Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders. The first group of invited guests in the parable presumably represent those who would already have considered themselves to be God’s chosen people. People like the religious leaders that Jesus is speaking to. They’re the ones who would perhaps expect to be included in God’s invitation – and they are included, of course. They’re the first ones invited. But they don’t accept the invitation and so others are invited in their place and they are left out. Not because they weren’t invited, but because they weren’t willing to accept the invitation because other things took precedence over the invitation. And so, the guest list is opened up to others who do accept the invitation.
But clearly, just accepting the invitation and turning up isn’t enough because we have this one person who’s just dressed in their normal clothes and is unable to give a reason why they didn’t make an effort. I don’t think this is really about what we wear on the outside, but what’s inside our hearts. This person just wasn’t prepared to enter whole-heartedly into the celebration.
If we think of this as being an invitation to enter God’s kingdom then the message is that’s it not enough just to show up. We have to join in too, we have to commit ourselves and rise to the occasion. We have to respond to the invitation whole-heartedly.
The original feast was quite exclusive with a specific group of guests chosen and invited. I wonder sometimes if we as Christians can be a bit like that too. Not intentionally, but through our culture and our traditions, through our language, in the unspoken, and perhaps unconscious, expectations of the way things are done, the behaviours that are expected. For those of us who walk through these doors every Sunday, it is easy to forget that there are invisible barriers to many which stop them crossing over our threshold.
William Temple (former Archbishop of Canterbury) is quoted as saying that the Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of non-members. I wonder how true that really is. Are we really outward-looking or can we be a bit insular at times? We think of ourselves as being welcoming and inclusive, but research would suggest that almost all churches think they are more welcoming and inclusive than they actually are.
It’s hard to see ourselves from the perspective of someone who is not part of our church family. Many of us sitting here this morning have been coming here for years – it’s a comfortable, familiar place. But for someone who has never stepped foot in this church before, it may well have taken some courage to do so. How can we make it easier for others to want to cross our threshold? How can we be more welcoming as a church and ensure all people who come in here know that God is for them – whoever they are?
Come to the feast. Come and be welcomed. Come and join in with all your hearts and know that you are welcome here in this place.
Readings for 22 October
Matthew 22: 15-22
Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Isaiah 45: 1-7
- Psalm 96: 1-9
- 1 Thessalonians 1: 1-10
Readings for 29 October
Matthew 22: 34-46
The Greatest Commandment
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Whose Son Is the Messiah?
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’
45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Leviticus 19: 1-2, 15-18
- Psalm 1
- 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8
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 Methodist local preacher, Richard Reid. 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 October – Richard Reid (Methodist local preacher)
29 October – Revd Bridget Powell (URC lay preacher)
5 November – Ken Pearce (Christ Church member)
12 November – Revd Julie King (Methodist minister) – Remembrance Sunday, 10.50am
Church charity news
Our next fundraising event for our church charity will be a silent auction which will take place in November. A silent auction works by people donating items to be auctioned. Then the descriptions are circulated and everyone gets to bid on any item they fancy. To bid you send your sealed bid to us privately and the highest bid at the close of the auction wins. You won’t know what other people have bid but you can up your bid at any time until the closing date if you wish. After the closing date, the winners will be notified and asked to pay for their items.
Of course, in order to have a silent auction, we need items for people to bid on! They can be new or preloved, handmade or shop bought, physical items or offering to carry out a service. For example, you could make a cake, offer homemade jam, offer a hand-knitted blanket or toy, offer unwanted Christmas or birthday presents, do some ironing or help out with a spot of gardening. For handmade things it could be something already made or something you will make to order.
We last held a silent auction in 2020 which included items like home-baked scones and tea bread; a hand-made baby quilt; an offer to wrap up to 10 Christmas presents; knitted toys; pot plants and magazines.
If you have something you would like to promise for the auction, please contact Louise (publicity@ christchurchuxbridge.org.uk). The deadline for sending ideas for auction items is 31 October. The list of items will then be circulated to allow people to bid on the items offered. You will be able to bid by email, phone or through placing your bid in a sealed envelope marked ‘Silent Auction – FAO: Louise George’ and dropping it into the church office.
You can find more details about Communicare Counselling Service, our church charity for 2023 at:
From the Circuit
Circuit Praise Service
The Circuit Praise Service will be held on Sunday 29th October at 6pm at the Lighthouse Centre.
Christmas craft coffee morning
There will be a Christmas craft coffee morning held at Ruislip Manor Methodist Church on Saturday 4th November. Beginning at 10am and lasting until 12noon, there will be various craft items for sale – plenty of home made cake, hand crafted greetings cards, and other stocking fillers.
The coffee morning will be in support of the charity Tommy’s, which is the largest UK pregnancy and baby loss charity, funding research into stillbirth, premature birth, and miscarriage and providing trusted pregnancy and baby loss information and support.
Kintsugi Hearts at Greenbelt
I am writing to thank your church or group for contributing to the amazing display of Kintsugi inspired hearts that we were able to make in the URC tent at the Greenbelt Festival recently. We had over 800 hearts sent in and they looked wonderful.
Many people commented on them and asked about them. At the end of the festival we gave them away to festival goers as gifts from the URC and we received lots of very positive feedback. It was so good that so many churches and groups from around the UK contributed and helped the URC tent to be such a welcoming place.
Many thanks again for your thoughts, prayers, and beautifully crafted hearts. Look out for the way your group can contribute to next year’s Greenbelt!
Stephanie Twilley (on behalf of the craft team)
The Wizard of Oz
25 – 28 October at the Winston Churchill Theatre
Follow the yellow brick road with WOS Productions, in collaboration with Argosy Players, as we present ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Featuring all the iconic moments and songs from the 1939 MGM film, including ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, ‘Merry Old Land Of Oz’ and ‘We’re Off To See The Wizard’, this enduring family favourite sees young Dorothy Gale travel from Kansas over the rainbow to the magical Land of Oz. A perfect show for all the family to enjoy!
Louise George, Sophie George and Lawrence Hoskins will be performing in this production which will be on at the Winston Churchill Theatre in Ruislip from 25 – 28 October. More details available at www.wos-productions.org.uk
Wednesday 25 October until Saturday 28 October: 19:30
Saturday 28 October: 14:30
Child (4-16): £16
Other concessions: £16 (Wed 7.30pm and Sat 2.30pm only)
Dates for your diary
|22 October||Congregational meeting|
|24 October||CTU Bible exploration group|
|31 October||CTU Bible exploration group|
|1 November||Welcome Wednesdays|
|15 November||Welcome Wednesdays|
|29 November||Welcome Wednesdays|
|10 December||Congregational meeting with bring and share lunch|
|13 December||Welcome Wednesdays|
|15 December||Carols and mince pies|
Can you find these words hidden in the word search?
Praying for other churches
w/c 22 October 2023
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Methodist Circuit General Manager, Circuit Property Manager and Circuit Administrative Assistant
- URC local area group
- Uxbridge churches
w/c 29 October 2023
This week we hold our own church, Christ Church in our prayers. Please pray for those involved in the process of appointing a new minister and for our church elders as they work together, helping to keep our church moving forward during this time. We also pray for our staff who help support our work as a church and for our church family to help us continue to find ways to share the love of God in the heart of Uxbridge, trusting that God will guide and direct us in the road ahead.
Lord, this day and every day,
may we touch many lives for you by our living,
by allowing your love to flow in and through us,
reaching all among whom we live, and work, and play.
May we be generous with our time and resources,
and may you be glorified in all we do.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)