top of page

Advent 3 - Church at Home

13th December 2020

Weekly notices & Church at Home

(Scroll down for this week's service)

Jacob Jordaens, The Holy Family and Saint John the Baptist, c.1620

Oil on wood; National Gallery, London


Sunday, 10.30am at Venerable Bede, NE4 8AP

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

Join us in Church >


Join us by watching the service live online this Sunday.

Watch live >

And follow the service booklet here >


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

یا در خانه گوش دهید.

< خطبه / Listen in Farsi

< متن خطبه / or read the translation


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.

Submit prayer requests >


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

Kids' Resources >


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

Giving >



Advent & Christmas 2020

We will have a mix of in-person and online services and events this year.

Find all the information here >

Key events:

Carols from St John's

ONLINE Thursday 17th December, 6.30pm

Pub Quiz (St John themed special) -

ONLINE Friday 18th December, 8pm

Blessing of the Crib

ONLINE Thursday 24th December, 4pm

Midnight Mass

Venerable Bede, Thursday 24th December, 11.30pm

Christmas Day Service

St James, Friday 25th December, 10.30am

Please note there will be no service in person on Sunday 27th December.

New windows for St John's - Faculty

St John's are putting in new windows to improve ventilation and insulation. You can read the notice here.

Any objections may be submitted via email to

Cornerstone - takeaway cafe and hot food deliveries

Our friends at Cornerstone Benwell on Wednesdays and Thursdays are offering:

  • Take-away service for beverages and sandwiches.

  • Hot meal home delivery service from 11.30am. Main course £3.00 and/or dessert £1.00.

Phone Cornerstone before 10am on those days and Amy will take your order.

0191 2260941

Armstrong road, NE4 7TU

Find all the info here >



Advent 3

Reflection by The Revd David Kirkwood

Service led by The Revd Chris Minchin

Watch live at 10.30am >

< خطبه / Listen in Farsi

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

Intro music

Reflections on 'Let All Mortal Flesh' (adapted from an arrangement by Christopher Tambling)

Opening prayer

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

Lighting of the Advent Wreath

(light a candle at home if you can!)

3rd Sunday – John the Baptist:

Lord Jesus, light of the world,

John told the people to prepare,

for you were very near.

As Christmas grows closer day by day,

help us to be ready to welcome you now. Amen.


When the Lord comes,

He will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness,

and will disclose the purpose of the heart.

Therefore in the light of Christ let us confess our sins.

Turn to us again, O God our saviour,

and let your anger cease from us:

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Show us your compassion, O Lord, and grant us your salvation:

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Your salvation is near for those that fear you, that glory may dwell in our land:

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.


God for whom we watch and wait, you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son: give us courage to speak the truth, to hunger for justice, and to suffer for the cause of right, with Jesus Christ our Lord.



A reading from the prophet Isaiah.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

(Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11)

This is the word of the Lord

(Thanks be to God).


Alleluia, alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Alleluia.

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

(Glory to you O Lord)

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.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” ’, as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing

(John 1.8-8, 19-28)

This is the gospel of the Lord.

(Praise to you, O Christ)


The Revd David Kirkwood

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

There were once three brothers, they all wanted to devote themselves more seriously to living the Christian life; one decided to go and look after the sick, one preferred to become a peacemaker, and the third went into the desert to pray. After a time the first two were becoming rather disillusioned. Their attempts to do good were meeting with little success. The sick were demanding and ungrateful and refused to follow sound advice. Those at enmity with each other, far from being willing to be reconciled, were only prepared to work together in order to turn on the would be peacemaker. So the two went off to visit the brother in the desert. He had become a monk, spending his time in simple daily tasks and in prayer. When they told them their troubles, at first he said nothing and then ‘he acted out a little parable: he took a jug of water and poured the water into a bowl and made them look into it. The surface of the water was all ruffled and reflected nothing. A few minutes later, he made them look into it again: this time the surface was smooth and they could see their own faces reflected. So, he explained, unless you become tranquil you cannot know your own faults.‘ The implication is obvious without that essential self knowledge it is impossible to help others.

It’s a story from the early days of the church when following the example of John the Baptist many people went literally into the desert, seeking God in prayer. Known as the ‘desert fathers’, although there were some women in their ranks, their stories and sayings were written down and passed on. This one is retold by Simon Tugwell in his book about prayer called ‘Ways of Imperfection’

It is a good story for Advent reminding us of that like the physical wilderness, this desert season can be a time not so much for doing but for waiting. Watching and waiting. If we are honest many of us find this hard. Like the first two brothers we would rather be out there being active doing something worthwhile. We don’t like waiting, we don’t like wasting time. One of the difficulties of the past few months has been the time we have had to spend doing nothing, or at least not being able to do the things we would normally do. Waiting, watching and waiting, that's what we've been doing isn't it these last few months. We are probably desperate to get up and be doing again. But before we do that, and thankfully, with the coming of vaccines it looks like that may be possible in the new year, perhaps this Advent is a good time to keep a finger on the pause button just a little longer. Stopping, pausing is not necessarily a bad thing, of course waiting can be frustrating, the loss of control, the uncertainty, the anxiety about what might come next, are all part of the frustration of having to wait. We live is a culture that encourages instant gratification through credit through advertising through consumerism It says continually you don't have to wait you can have it now. The pandemic has cut across all that but before the wheels start turning again Advent can reminds us that it was never really true anyway. Sometimes we need to stop we need to wait. We need to look into the bowl. This isn't about looking at ourselves to admire our reflection, like some kind of Narcissisus. Advent encourages us to look with a different purpose, to see ourselves and not as isolated autonomous beings but as a part of a people. God’s people; a people with a past, a present and a future.

Looking back to the past is been something we do each week in Advent. As light our Advent Crown each candle reminds us of those who have gone before. The patriarchs and matriarch's, mothers and fathers of our faith, the prophets, John the Baptist and next week Mary the mother of our Lord. We are asked to see our past and present in the light of that purposeful past a past which prepares for and converges on the coming of the Christ.

We are also looking to the future. Dominic reminded us on the 1st Sunday of Advent of that focus on ‘The End’, Christ's coming again, a future that we are promised will be God’s future. All those cries of pain all that thirst for justice will be heard, the ‘night of weeping’ will indeed become the ‘morn of song’.

Which brings us to the present. The present in Advent is the time for waiting. The uncomfortable time? Perhaps looking in the bowl we don’t see our place in a purposeful past and a liberating future. We see shadows of failures and mistakes in the past and still have deep anxiety for the future, for ourselves, our loved ones and for the world. If that is the case what can we do? The answer is the Advent answer, wait; watch and wait.

One of the most popular Christmas stories is Charles Dickens ‘Christmas Carol’ the three spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future all come and visit Ebeneezer Scrooge and seeing what they unfold enables him to change but the change can only be made in the present. The present may be the uncomfortable place but it is also the place open to change.

Our Advent Spirits Past, Future and above all Present can speak to us today but before we rush out to buy the turkey and bellow ‘Merry Christmas one and all’, let’s remember where we started Advent is not so much not about doing but waiting. The reason we need to wait is in order to receive. The gift is not from ourselves or at our command, like all gifts by its nature it comes from somewhere else, someone else. A gift implies a giver.

Our watching and waiting embraces some self examination and some self knowledge but to be truly in the spirit of Advent it must go beyond.

In today’s gospel John the Baptist speaking of the Christ says, ‘Among you stands one whom you do not know’.

There is One who stands among us even as we wait. How well do we know Him? He is the Giver and the Gift. May our waiting and watching be focussed more fully on Him that we may be made ready to receive.

I’d like to finish with some words from Fr Jean de Caussade:

It is but just that we should wait for God’s time since, we have kept him waiting so long, and the great graces we ask of him deserve to be desired and waited for with patience and perseverance.

Here is a counsel in a few words, leave the past to the infinite mercy of God, the future to his sweet Providence, and the present give up entirely to the love of God,..with the assistance of his grace which will never fail you…


Prayer intentions

Watchful at all times,

let us pray for strength to stand with confidence

before our Maker and Redeemer.

That God may bring in his kingdom with justice and mercy

let us pray to the Lord:

Lord, have mercy.

That God may establish among the nations

his sceptre of righteousness.

let us pray to the Lord:

Lord, have mercy.

That we may seek Christ in the Scriptures

and recognize him in the breaking of the bread,

let us pray to the Lord:

Lord, have mercy.

That God may bind up the broken-hearted,

restore the sick and raise up all who have fallen,

· the Riches family

· Dee Humphrey

· Claire Mozaffari

· Eric Harling

· Herbert Agbeko

· James Garratt

and all affected by Covid-19

let us pray to the Lord:

Lord, have mercy.

That the light of God’s coming may dawn

on all who live in darkness and the shadow of death,

let us pray to the Lord:

Lord, have mercy.

That, with all the saints in light,

we may shine forth as lights for the world,

remembering those who are now in God’s loving arms, especially Bill Ager.

let us pray to the Lord:

Lord, have mercy.

We commend ourselves and all for whom we pray to the mercy and protection of our heavenly Father:

Silence is kept.

Almighty God,

as your blessed Son Jesus Christ

first came to seek and to save the lost;

so may he come again to find in us

the completion of his redeeming work;

for he is now alive

and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

God for ever and ever.


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.


Listen to the music here >

Be still for the presence of the Lord, The Holy one, is here. Come bow before him now In reverence and fear. In Him no sin is found, We stand on Holy ground. Be still for the presence of the Lord, The Holy one, is here. Be still for the glory of the Lord Is shining all around; He burns with Holy fire, With splendour He is crowned. How awesome is the sight, Our radiant King of light! Be still, for the glory of the Lord Is shining all around. Be still for the power of the Lord Is moving in this place; He comes to cleanse and heal,

To minister His grace. No work too hard for Him, In faith receive from Him, Be still, for the power of the Lord Is moving in this place.


Our Lord says, ‘I am coming soon.’

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Outro music

Tambourin by Jean Philippe Rameau.

bottom of page