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2 before Lent - Church at Home


Worship & news from Benwell & Scotswood

Still from the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 film by Stanley Kubrick


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This week's service:

The service starts with some quiet music; please use this to clear your mind and acknowledge the presence of God.

Farsi / خطبه

در هنگام خطبه روز یکشنبه هدفون های خود را بگذارید و به این ترجمه گوش دهید.

یا در خانه گوش دهید.

Translation of the sermon and readings for our Farsi speakers.

متن خطبه / read the translation >


Join us by watching the service live online this Sunday.

And follow the service booklet here >


Every Sunday 10.30am Venerable Bede, West Road, NE4 8AP

We meet for Holy Communion as the Benwell & Scotswood Team.


You can submit prayer requests online. This can be done anonymously or by name and the clergy and congregation will pray for you each week.


New videos for worship with children are uploaded every week by the Diocese of Newcastle.


Your donations ensure our work keeps going and our buildings stay open.


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Communal worship continues

The Venerable Bede on Sundays at 10.30am.

Read the full message here >

Communal worship is still permitted, but we will continue to assess the situation very carefully and meet for public worship only if we feel it is safe and if we can comply with guidance.

If you are particularly vulnerable or anxious then please do stay at home. Let us know if you are struggling in any way and we will do all we can to help.

If you do come to church please be extra vigilant and do not approach people from other households at all, especially before and after the service. And remember the social distancing guidelines.


Ash Wednesday 17th Feb

This year we will have two Ash Wednesday services - one online and the other in-person on 17th Feb.

Online at 9.30am

Sign up here >

We will be using Zoom so you can join in live. We will also post out some materials in advance.

If you are not sure about using Zoom, then let us know and we can help you get connected and walk you through it step by step.

In-person - 12pm at the Venerable Bede

Details here >

We will meet for our traditional Holy Communion and ashing at the Venerable Bede. Rather than marking you with a cross, to limit contact this year we will sprinkle ashes on your head.


Lent Group - the Difference Course

5 sessions, each week on Zoom. Time t.b.d.

Sign up here >

Dominic and Cerys (the ordinand on placement with us from Cranmer Hall) will be leading a group discussion using a course designed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. He has brought together leading thinkers and peacemakers to create a course to help us join in with God’s work of restoring brokenness and transforming relationships.

We will meet on Zoom once a week for 5 sessions.


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2 before Lent

Reflection by Cerys Smith, ordinand

Service led by The Revd David Kirkwood

Intro music

Largo from the New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak (played by Catherine Lewis).

Opening prayer

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


God so loved the world

that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ

to save us from our sins,

to be our advocate in heaven,

and to bring us to eternal life.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith,

firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments

and to live in love and peace with all.

God be gracious to us and bless us, and make your face shine upon us: Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. May your ways be known on the earth, your saving power among the nations: Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy. You, Lord, have made known your salvation, and reveal your justice in the sight of the nations: Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

May the God of love and power

forgive us and free us from our sins,

heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.


Almighty God

Give us reverence for all creation

And respect for every person,

That we may mirror your likeness

In Jesus Christ our Lord.



A reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians.

Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Colossians 1.15–20

This is the word of the Lord.

(Thanks be to God)


Alleluia, alleluia. The word of the Lord endures for ever. The word of the Lord is the good news announced to you.


Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

(Glory to you O Lord)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John 1.1–14

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

(Praise to you, O Christ)


By Cerys Smith (Ordinand at St Johns, Durham on Placement with our team)

May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Some passages of the bible we like more than others, some have special meaning, some are chosen to mark special occasions, or some resonate with us. For me, this morning’s gospel reading, John chapter 1 verses 1-14 is one of those. In fact, this passage at the very beginning of John’s Gospel is my favourite passage of the whole bible. The imagery it creates; the information it gives us; and the story of hope it tells, is really powerful and has been an important part of my journey of faith. I am sure you are familiar with this passage as you will recognise it from the readings we have in advent and at Christmas as part of the story of the birth of Jesus. However, it is not just about that, although that’s part of it, it is about the meaning of everything Jesus was and is and did.

So how do we see the meaning of everything Jesus was and is and did in a passage that is full of imagery? What information does it give about Jesus? and what is the story of hope it tells us?

Well, we begin with where John begins: ‘In the beginning…’

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

When I studied the Gospel of John a couple of years ago, in a bible study organised by my diocese, we were asked to describe what this would look like if you had to create it for a film sequence and recently in ordination training, we were asked was there a piece of music that would fit this scene.

For me, this part of the passage has always conjured the image of some sort of cosmic swirling of light and particles in a vacuum of space. The sort of thing that you would see in a science fiction film or science documentary. The music that I hear playing every time I read this is the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as it starts with silence and gradually builds to a grand crescendo, which I feel mirrors the imagery here. If you are able, I would really recommend you read this passage while listening to that piece of music. It gives me the goosebumps every time.

But what does this imagery have to do with telling us about who Jesus was and is and did?

Well, as we know, Jesus was not just anyone with his story starting right back before the dawn of time. In this imagery, John traces Jesus’ life back to the very beginning before creation and telling us that he was not created because he was with God before the creation. This imagery that John uses helps us to understand that Jesus was there from the very start of everything and he is not just one person in one place and one time, because through him all things were made and is the one who contained and contains life.

And that “… life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.”

Here John is telling us that Jesus is the light of the world and that he challenged the darkness before creation and now challenges the darkness that is found in the world today. I think we can all agree that the Covid pandemic is part of that darkness and that we need Jesus in our lives so that we challenge it with his help because Jesus’ light shines in the darkness and the darkness can not overcome it. But how do we have the light of Jesus in our lives? Well, last week we heard about the example of faithful waiting by Simeon and Anna and that if we wait faithfully, we can draw closer to God. And that is what we need to do, we need to draw closer to the light of God, the light of Jesus who shines in the darkness so we will not be overcome because the darkness cannot overcome the light. This gives us hope in our waiting, that by drawing close to God, we can overcome the darkness of the pandemic.

Another important part in our story of hope that John tells us is that the Word that was with God and was God in the beginning, the light that shines in the darkness, “was coming into the world” and “the Word became flesh” that is, became human, became one of us. He became, in fact, the human being we know as Jesus and who we meet and welcome at Christmas through this and other readings. He came to enlighten everyone, not just his chosen but all that he gave life to. The Word came to encounter and engage with the world. However, John tells us that there was a failure to recognise him, there was no understanding of him, and he was rejected and crucified. Jesus came as the Word from God. He came to communicate something from the Father to us, that is why John calls him “the Word”, but there was and still is a preference for the darkness to light, so the full grace and truth of God that Jesus came to communicate and reveal to us was not accepted by everyone. However, John tells us that those of us who accept him and receive this grace and truth have seen God’s glory revealed in Jesus and become the children of God, entitled to all the rights and privileges that brings. Therefore, God so loved the world that he sent his beloved Son to become flesh—and to die on a cross— “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” and from our first reading in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, “through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”

So, in our Gospel reading we have learnt quite lot about who Jesus was and is and did. Jesus was with God and is God in the beginning, he is the light of the world and came in human form to challenge the darkness and if we draw near to that light, we can also challenge the darkness of our world and not be overcome by it. He came to communicate and reveal God’s truth and grace so that we may become the children of God and he came to reconcile us to God through his crucifixion.


Prayers of intercession


Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

The Church

Those called to lead and guide us at a difficult time.

Bishop Christine, Bishop Mark beginning his new Ministry in the Diocese.

Thanks for our fellowship with all worshippers throughout the world those meet online and those gathering for worship. For all who feel cut off from the community and sacramental life of the church.

Give thanks for the good news of Christ and pray for the Church in its work of mission and evangelism.

God of mission

Who alone brings growth to your Church,

Send your Holy Spirit to give

Vision to our planning,

Wisdom to our actions,

And power to our witness.

Help your church to grow in numbers,

In spiritual commitment to you,

And in service to those in need,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

The World

• Those in government, and those faced with difficult decisions. Those facing uncertain futures and loss of work or income. Families feeling trapped at home especially victims of bullying and domestic violence

• Medical staff and health professionals including all working in mental health Places whose health services are most vulnerable and undeveloped.

• A more sustainable use and equitable allocation of the world’s resources and a serious effort to put an end to poverty and exploitation.

The Sick & Suffering All who have asked for our prayers

• Jill Sorley, Joyce Phillips, George Snowden, the Riches family, Dee Humphrey, Claire Mozaffari, Eric Harling, Herbert Agbeko

• All affected by Covid19

The Departed Those we have known and loved and whose examples we cherish. All victims of Covid 19.

In these uncertain times we ask for courage.

O Lord we beseech you to deliver us from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; and from fear of death. Help us O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. (Akanu Ibaim , Nigeria)

Lord's Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father,

who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.


Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might, thy justice like mountains high soaring above thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all, life thou givest, to both great and small. In all life thou livest, the true life of all. We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.

Great God of all glory, great God of all light, thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight. All praise we would render; O help us to see ‘tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

And the love of God

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

Be with us all evermore.


Outro music

Rondo from the Sonatina in E flat by Jan Ladislav Dussek.

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