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)
Light of the world,
This Advent season comes to us as an annual reminder that you are not a God of distance,
of high-heavens and of power,
Rather, you are a God of presence, of earthly-ordinariness and of poverty.
If you have a candle, find it and something to light it. Put it somewhere you can see it. If you do not have a candle, use a lamp. As you light the candle, or light the lamp, say these words:
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never put it out.
Sit in silence and notice the light and the shadows in the room. When you are ready, offer this time of worship to God:
Jesus, you are the light of the world, the light of my life, I offer this time to you in worship and prayer and praise. Amen.
(Taken from The Vine)
Prayer for Israel and Palestine
God of the poor, the widow and the orphan,
Why do we kill husbands and parents and hope?
God of life and love and longing
Why do we woo death, hatred and despair?
We are like lost children, who want our inheritance
At the expense of our relationships.
As you wait for us to come to our senses
Forgive us that we have squandered peace
Our own and yours, for the sake of our anger and greed.
Show us how to walk humbly, love mercy and desire justice for all people
In all places and with all people cause our pride to step aside
for the poorest, the most desolate and the displaced,
because amongst them you are walking too. Amen.
(From the Methodist Circuit newsletter)
Reflection from 3 December
Readings – 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9, Mark 13: 24-37
It happens. The sermon begins and, before you know it, your eye lids get droopy and you have dropped off; not waking until there is a coughing and shuffling sound as the next hymn is announced. Once the sermon has happened; it has happened. If you sleep through it, all those profound questions you had about the Bible readings and what, if any, significance they might have for your life will remain unanswered. If only you had been able to stay awake. Maybe the coffee, you look forward to at the end of the service, should be served at the beginning of the sermon.
Of course, falling asleep is not just for church time or, even, bedtime. You can be watching a fascinating programme on television only to wake and discover that you have missed a huge chunk of it. You can be travelling and, before you know it, you are at your destination or maybe, even, beyond it. You can sometimes even be asleep whilst, apparently, still being awake. Do something familiar and/or monotonous and you can easily find yourself mechanically doing it whilst your conscious mind is somewhere else.
Sometimes falling asleep, when you did not intend it, is just embarrassing and irritating; but sometimes, it can be dangerous. If you fall asleep whilst at the wheel of a motor vehicle, or whilst operating machinery; your moment of inattention can have devastating, possibly fatal, consequences.
We are told that not having the right amount and the right quality of sleep at the right time can have a damaging effect on our mental and physical health; but being asleep at the wrong time can have adverse consequences too.
It is not just individuals that find themselves falling asleep at the wrong time. Whole communities and their leaders can too.
After the 7 October Hamas terrorist attacks, the Israeli government and security services were accused of having fallen asleep and failing in their first duty to protect their citizens. Whether the accusation is upheld, once all the facts have been thoroughly investigated, is a matter for another day. If it is, then that falling asleep, perhaps multiple falling asleeps, of different agencies, will be seen to have had devastating consequences not just for Israelis but citizens of Gaza too and beyond.
Amongst the issues the current Covid Enquiry is having to address is that the UK government of the day had fallen asleep and failed in its first duty to protect its citizens by not having a plan, including supplies of protective equipment, for a worldwide pandemic and, in consequence, more people died and social life and the economy was disrupted far more than was necessary.
It is easy for a community to drift into complacency and to assume that what has become routine is the way it is always going to be and that’s ok; rather than being constantly watchful and alert that things can change in a moment and when least expected.
It is particularly easy for a church community to fall into that trap. A religious community is, by its nature, made up of people who have a predisposition to doing and thinking the same things religiously. Once a tradition has been established; an unconscious complacency can easily set in that that the tradition becomes the boundary of what we ought to be doing and thinking.
Our Gospel reading is a warning to the community of Jesus’ followers that they need to stay awake because God in Christ can be experienced in the most unexpected places and at the most unexpected times. It is a warning to individual followers and it is also a warning to the whole community. The warning is not just for Jesus’ first disciples. That “whole community” is all who seek to follow in the way of Jesus and includes us.
Advent, of which this is the first Sunday, can easily be a time for us to unconsciously fall asleep as we busy ourselves with our individual and church preparations for our traditional celebration of Christmas. Without realising it; our attention, becomes so increasingly absorbed by what we need to do to continue our traditions and meet what may be expected of us in doing that by others that, before we know it there is no space left for an awareness of the presence of the incarnate God in Christ now nor any space left for an awareness of what may be expected of us now by the incarnate God in Christ.
Staying awake to that is the challenge.
The Gospel reading does, of course, look beyond the present to “a day or hour no one knows” (NRSV 13:32); but the call to “keep awake” (13:35) in it is a call to be awake in the present precisely because the timing of that day or hour is unknown to us. So, it is a call to us to be alert to where God may be present, or imminent, in what we can see is going on now.
In the reading the teaching is illustrated by a fig tree which comes into leaf when Summer is near. As people living in the Middle East would have been alert that Summer was about to begin if they saw a fig tree in leaf; so, Jesus teaches that we should be alert to the signs of God being present now and what that tells us to expect of God’s presence being imminent.
In our Epistle reading, Paul sees the signs to look out for in the spiritual gifts the members of the early Christian community in Corinth have received. In the letter he speaks of them “not lacking in any spiritual gift as (they) wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1: 7 NRSV). It is these gifts, which they already have, which Paul sees as the sign that God in Christ is present and is also imminent in their community.
So, what then of us? What are the gifts which are already there to be discovered in each other and ourselves, if we are awake and alert, that are a sign of God’s spiritual presence and imminence with us? What do we see in our lives and the life of the community beyond the walls of this building, if we are awake and alert, that are a sign of God’s spiritual presence and imminence with us?
Our readings urge us to realise that the thing we say we celebrate at Christmas: incarnation, God being with us, is about more than a commemoration that God was with us in the past and re-enacting a tradition of the past that is limited to that and instead is about actively answering these two questions so that we are alert to where, and how, and with whom, God is present now and what those answers tells us about where, and how, and with whom, God will be present in the future.
There is a time to sleep but this is not it.
Readings for 10 December
Mark 1: 1-8
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Isaiah 40: 1-11
- Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
- 2 Peter 3: 8-15a
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 second Sunday of Advent will be a parade and gift service with scratch nativity led by Christ Church member, Stephanie Marr. You can find the order of service here. The gifts for the gift service will be donated to Trinity’s Christmas Present appeal. Gift tags for gifts are available in the church office. There will also be a retiring collection for Action for Children.
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.
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)
31 December – Revd Dr Leao Neto (Methodist minister) – Holy Communion
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
You can find details of other Christmas services taking place in Uxbridge on the CTU website:
Advent and Christmas services across the Harrow & Hillingdon Methodist Circuit are available at:
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.
Dates for your diary
|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:
- South Harrow Methodist
- St Margaret’s & St George’s, Harlesden (URC/ Moravian)
- Uxbridge Salvation Army
Lord, as we go into our week
may we look for more of you.
Help us to see more clearly,
to see further, to see what you see,
to see the whole picture –
and to live our faith each and every day.
(Taken from Roots)