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)
Bright, shining God, shimmering in the darkness of winter,
we approach you today with your light in our hearts.
We wait for you, we watch for you,
just as the watchmen await the first signs of morning.
Walk with us throughout Advent,
and light our feet as we walk perhaps a little unsteadily
towards the birth of the ‘light of the world’.
(Taken from Roots)
Prayer for Israel and Palestine
how we long for all peoples to be gathered up under the wings of peace
and yet your heart is shattered and your sides pierced by swords of grief.
Beloved city, may mercy and justice walk in your streets and markets,
show us how to look into each others eyes with love and equity
so that all humanity might die to violence
and live to trust our neighbours once again.
(From the Methodist Circuit newsletter)
Reflection from 26 November
Reading – John 3:16,17; 22,23; 31-35
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Jesus went to be with John, his cousin, who was baptising out in the open air in what presumably was a very shallow part of the river in the desert.
“The one whom God has sent speaks the words of God.”
The baptism of Jesus begins his ministry of teaching, we guess, when he was about 30 years old. And before that, we guess that he’d been working with his father Joseph in carpentry and in building in the villages. He knew a great deal from the common things of the world about a great mystery. And the great mystery that Jesus preached and taught in his parables was what you might call a fourth dimension.
When we read Jesus, we see Jesus and we hear the words in the stories, we get a kind of injection of that other dimension, which he called the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven.
The imagination, the imaginal, these are not Jesus’s words, but are the words of those people today who cogitate on what that something else is, that other condition in which human beings can live while they are here, and we pray, in the hereafter.
Nicodemus, who comes in that early part of John’s Gospel from which the reading comes, is a Greek name of a Jew, and it has the meaning of something like, “The people conquer at last over the tyrants and slave masters.” And we can think of Nicodemus at one end of the social scale and Jesus at the other end of the social scale, but all confronting daily the brutalities of the world empire, the Roman empire, and its cruelties, in roads frequently lined with crosses upon which hung human beings dying.
Nicodemus is a rich inhabitor of Jerusalem. And later, with Joseph of Arimathea, he becomes responsible for a very expensive burial of Jesus in a rich man’s tomb. Nicodemus is a frightened rich man, needing help to see what is around him in the darkness; a symbol for our highly confused age. Nicodemus longed for clear light. On this baptism day of Clara, it’s the right gospel to hear, of Nicodemus’s search for clarity, as we turn our eyes towards the Christmas hope for a coming Saviour of all humans.
Well, somebody once sent me a short video of hidden messages in parts of the Bible. We avoid reading the lists in the Old Testament, and to some extent in the New Testament. They’re the pages that if you read through the Bible, you tend to skip over, and this little video was on Genesis 5, which is just a list of names. We could conjure up the meanings of those names if we got a dictionary and looked up the Hebrew words. The grand title was that God named humankind. That’s the beginning of the gospel. And then this list of names: Adam, meaning ‘man’; Seth, meaning ‘appointed’; Enosh, meaning ‘mortal’; Cainan, meaning ‘sorrow’; Mahalaleel – ‘blessed God’; Jared – ‘shall come down’; Enoch – ‘teaching’; Methuselah – ‘his death shall bring’; Lamech – ‘despair’, Noah – ‘comfort’.
Names are absolutely crucial in the Bible. What you’re named is very, very important indeed. We call the first names Christian names, if we belong to Christian churches and so those names put together would have this meaning: “Man appointed in mortal sorrow. The Blessed God shall come down teaching that his death shall bring the despairing comfort and rest.” Those are those names if you decipher them. So, there’s code in the Bible if we’ve got time sometimes to prize it out. Names are an un-secret code which can be sought out by anybody that wants to. Names are the jewelled studs of scripture. And the scripture as a whole is like a sky at night, full of stars. And those stars are names.
You might find your own in there and they’re very important to the gospel. Your name, Clara’s name, is known by God in Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the original prayer at birth. What does your name mean?
In baptism confirmation in the Church of England, or at school in my day, you’d hear prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, which is like the Breviary in Catholic Church. And the Breviary at a confirmation of baptism has this question, “What is your name?” This is the bishop asking you, “Who gave you this name?” And the answer is given you, “My godfathers and my godmothers at my baptism, wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God and an inheritor of the kingdom of God.”
So it’s a good answer to think about baptism as being really a token of your Christian life proceeding. Whatever our name given in baptism becomes data. The meaning of the name is the data for freedom, says the Scripture. Freedom. What a word to conjure with at this time of hellish happenings in various countries on Earth. “For freedom,” says God, “I have set you free.”
When the Bible started to be translated on a large scale with the printing press a few centuries ago, there used to be a picture of the Christian sometimes as the front picture of the Bible. John Bunyan, who wrote the famous book Pilgrim’s Progress, was often pictured in a darkened room with one little candle and a solemn expression on his face, and on his knee an enormous Bible, and him trying by himself to make sense of the words which were at last in the English language and not in Latin. And it awaits the one who has made God known, the savour of God’s name, to make our names meaningful in our minds.
And in that little creed of the rosary of names in Genesis 5, some of you brought up as Catholics will know how people pray the rosary and go through the beads. Each bead is a prayer, usually to Mary, the mother of God, but it reminds us of the coming to Earth of God the Saviour, and the name of Mary and the name of Jesus and the name of the Holy Spirit. And so these prayers are the bread of life, the Thanksgiving, the Eucharist; for the greatest thing, the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is our charm against sorrow. We remember today as well the name of Jesus, the name of Nicodemus – ‘the people conquer’ and the prayer of God in the names that we give to our children.
Revd Jon Dean
Readings for 3 December
Mark 13: 24-37
24 “But in those days, following that distress,
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
The Day and Hour Unknown
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Isaiah 64: 1-9
- Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19
- 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9
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 for the first Sunday of Advent 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.
3 December – Richard Reid (Methodist local preacher) (1st Sunday in Advent)
10 December – Christ Church worship group – parade and gift service with scratch nativity
17 December – Christ Church worship group – carol service
24 December – Revd Maggie Hindley (URC minister) – Christmas Eve service
25 December – Neil Mackin (Christ Church member) – Christmas morning service (10.30am)
Carol sing along
I hope you will be able to join us this year for our carol service on Sunday 17th December. We hope to have a service of great carols to really get us into Christmas and the great gift the Christ Child is for us all. What we need now is your nominations for your favourite carols, the ones that speak to you and bring you joy, peace and wonder at this time of year. Additionally you can nominate favourite readings and poems etc. that we can also include. If you are willing, you can also introduce /read your suggestion on the day but that is entirely optional. So let’s make it a really special service where we can belt out those fabulous carols and songs that make Christmas so special. Contact Joanne by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message for her in the office by 1st December.
CTU Christmas carols
Wednesday 6th December, 4.30pm at The Pavilions
This year’s CTU Christmas carols at the Pavilions will be held on Wednesday 6th December at 4.30pm. If anyone would be interested in being part of a singing group to sing a few carols please let Louise know.
Christmas at Christ Church
Sunday 10 December, 11am – Parade and gift service with scratch nativity
Join us for our annual gift service. This year we are joining in with Trinity’s gift appeal and there are Christmas tree tags available via the office. Each tag has a recipient and age range (e.g. female, 45-50, girl 6-7). If you would like to join in, please pick up a tag and bring an appropriate gift-wrapped gift with the tag attached to the service. The gifts do not have to be large items, even a large bar of Dairy Milk would be a welcome gift for someone in need.
Friday 15 December, 12noon – Carols and mince pies
Join us for a carol service in the chapel followed by mince pies. All are welcome.
Sunday 17 December, 11am – Carol service
This year’s carol service will be a ‘Songs of Praise’ style carol service and we are inviting nominations for carols to include. If you would like to nominate a carol, please contact Joanne Mackin by email on email@example.com or leave a message via the church office by 1 December.
Sunday 24 December, 11am – Christmas Eve service
Our Christmas Eve service will be led by URC minister, Revd Maggie Hindley. All are welcome.
Monday 25 December, 10.30am – Christmas Day service
Our Christmas Day service will be led by Christ Church member, Neil Mackin. All are welcome.
We are soon to join in Christmas worship but can I make a plea?
For many of us the Nativity stories in Matthew and Luke are not literal history. We are not convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was born to a virgin or in Bethlehem. Nor are we are convinced that his birth was heralded by angels, shepherds and wise men. Nor we do believe there is any historical evidence for a massacre of babies on the orders of Herod the Great. But we do want to celebrate Christmas as an expression of how the divine can enter into the human experience. Could we be recognised and not be excluded by being asked to pretend that we believe the Nativity stories are true? That they contain Truth but that they are not true.
Voices in Accord – Christmas Time is Here
Saturday 9th December, 2.45pm, North Hillingdon Methodist Church
An afternoon of festive songs and carols from Voices in Accord, conducted by Alison Elcoat. No tickets required, everyone is welcome, but there will be a retiring collection in aid of the charity Save the Children, who work to help children in need all across the globe.
From the Circuit
Festive Fun at Hayes End
Hayes End Methodist Church on Uxbridge Road is hosting Festive Fun on the afternoon of Saturday 2 December. Opening at 2.00pm, it finishes with Glori Kitchen, which serves free healthy, wholesome and nutritious hot food to the local community from 5.00pm. Entrance is free with bouncy castles, Christmas crafts and the chance to take your photo in the stable. There is a £1 charge to visit Father Christmas. Come with your friends and have some fun!
Dates for your diary
|CTU Christmas carols
|Congregational meeting with bring and share lunch
|Carols and mince pies
|Christmas morning worship
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- North Harrow Methodist
- St John’s URC, New Barnet
- Uxbridge Quakers
Lord, we begin our Advent,
waiting for you with love and patience.
Help us to remember that you will return for us
and for those yet to know you.
Help us to be patient and alert,
but help us also to be doing and serving
and building your kingdom.
Your kingdom come on earth,
as it is in heaven. Amen.
(Taken from Roots)