Weekly Update #179 – 19 November

St Columba’s United Reformed Church

30 Northumberland Square | North Shields | NE30 1PW
Weekly Update #179    19th November 2023
From the Minister               It’s (not quite) Christmas!

Christmas clockQ: What do the singer Michael Bublé, the presenter Graham Norton, a racoon, and a monster-sized Venus flytrap have in common?

A: They all star in 2023 Christmas adverts for major supermarkets or department stores.

Yes, Christmas is coming, as the plethora of Christmas movies, and greatly increased frequency of perfume adverts on tv clearly attest. We church folk may like to think we are above the fray, but it isn’t necessarily so. I still remember the Church Meeting (not at Saint Columba’s) where the same person who had just railed (at length) against the commercialisation of Christmas then went on to announce that the Church Christmas Fair would be taking place in early November “in order to get in ahead” of other local congregations! Here, in 2023, the North Shields Christmas Market will be taking place just outside the doors of this church on 9th and 10th of December, and we’ll be taking the opportunity to invite people inside. We started planning for our Advent course (see below for details) months ago, and already a group has gathered to organise our Christmas Eve carol service. Things are liable to get busy – at home, at church, and all around us. Feel free, though, in the coming weeks, to pause at times, to take a breath, and remember the birth of Jesus.


Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

O God, help us to remember that …
You shall know him when he comes
Not by any din of drums
Nor by the vantage of his airs
Nor by anything he wears,
Neither by his crown,
Nor by his gown,
For his coming known shall be
By the holy harmony
His presence makes in thee.                        From the 14th century
Worship   Sunday 19th November

10.30 a.m.    Our annual “Shoe Box Service” led by Mrs Shirley McKay and members of the congregation, focusing on the work of Compassion UK.

(Trevor is leading worship at Robert Stewart Memorial URC in Newcastle)

Livestreamed Worship from Saint Columba’s

To watch the morning service live, catch up with it later in the week, or view previous services, click here.

Worship Next Week

Sunday 26th November

10.30 a.m.   Service led by Trevor Jamison, on the theme ‘The Reign of Christ’.
6.30 p.m.     Memorial Service – a contemplative communion service, led by Trevor Jamison, remembering those associated with Saint Columba’s who have died during the previous twelve months.

Bible readings for this week      
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18        God responds negatively to complacency
Psalm 90: 1-8, (9-11), 12  ‘Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart’
1Thessalonians 5:1-11      Being children of light, not darkness
Matthew 25:14-30              What do we do with the things that belong to God?You can read the Bible passages online at https://www.biblegateway.com/
Reflection on the Readings

the man dug a hole and hid his master's moneyMatthew 25:14-30 is a worrying reading. It’s a story featuring slaves which displays no qualms about the institution itself. If this is a story about God and humankind then does it portray God as some sort of bad-tempered slave owner? Of course, this parable was told in a time when slavery was accepted as a reality, whatever one thought about it. It was not told in order to endorse it. Slaves are regarded as the property of the owner. Since God made us, sustains us, and demands our obedience you can see why a master-slave image might have worked for a story in Jesus’s setting, even if it’s not one that sits easily with us, or with our culture. Most worrying is the picture of the angry master, telling off the slave who did no work, and consigning him to ‘outer darkness.’ Note, though, that it did not matter whether a slave did more or less in order to gain the master’s approbation and reward. The slave who generated five talents got an equal reward to the one who generated two talents. All you have to do to make the master happy is to do something rather than nothing. With God, you don’t have to be a spiritual superstar to make God happy. Even your smallest effort and achievement is enough for God.

Image: https://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/parable-talents/ © Arabs for Christ, CC BY SA.

A hymn that responds to the reflection

God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending, which includes the verse,
“Treasure, too, You have entrusted,
Gain through pow’rs Your grace conferred;
Ours to use for home and kindred,
And to spread the gospel word.
Open wide our hands in sharing,
As we heed Christ’s ageless call,
Healing, teaching, and reclaiming,
Serving You by loving all.”

News and Notices

Food Hamper Donations for Bay Food Bank Welcomed

From 12th November there will be a food hamper box in the church hall for those who wish to make donations to the Bay Food Bank – tea, coffee and tinned goods are particularly welcome.


Saturday 18th November – HANDS Christmas Coffee Morning

HANDS Christmas Coffee Morning takes place on Saturday 18th November, 10.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m.  Coffee/tea and mince pie/cheese scone £2.00. Tombola, handicrafts, cake stall. Proceeds to Ukraine Appeal.

Thursday 23rd November at 7.15 p.m. at Saint Columba’s – ‘Exodus in a Night’

Trevor Jamison is giving a talk on the Old Testament book, Exodus, and all within an hour: slavery and liberation, Moses, as both the baby in a basket and the adult confronted by a burning bush, biblical plagues and the origin of Passover, manna in the desert and the Ten Commandments, plus lots more! Come along on the night or watch online via the church YouTube channel.

Forgiving and Forgetting: Advent meetings 2023

Starting on 27th November, Trevor Jamison and Louise Sanders will be leading a four-session Advent course, “Forgiving and Forgetting”.

Mondays 27 Nov, 4, 11, 18 Dec                
2.30 p.m. at St Andrew’s URC, Monkseaton.
7.15 p.m. on Zoom.

Thursdays 30 Nov, 7, 14, 21 Dec
7.15 p.m. at St Columba’s, North Shields.

Take part in the meeting which best suits you.

Image: Kevin Mayhew Ltd.

Next Update – Sunday 26th  November

Trevor Jamison will edit the Update for 26th November.  To get your information in both the online and printed editions, please have it with him by Tuesday 21st November.

Keeping in Touch

You can contact your Elder, the Minister, or Church Secretary.

Minister: The Reverend Dr Trevor Jamison     Church Secretary: Alison Drew
minister.northshieldsurc@gmail.com               [email protected]
0191 290 1193         07896 899538                 0191 251 9774

Copyright © 2023 St Columba’s United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.

Registered Address:

St Columba’s United Reformed Church

30 Northumberland Square

North Shields, Tyne and Wear NE30 1PW

United Kingdom

St Columba’s United Reformed Church Charity is a registered charity in England & Wales, number 1164784.

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