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Advent 4 - Church at Home

20th December 2020

Weekly notices & Church at Home

(Scroll down for this week's service)

Dame Werburg Welch, Annunciation


Sunday, 10.30am at Venerable Bede, NE4 8AP

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


Join us by watching the service live online this Sunday.

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.


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.



Advent & Christmas 2020

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

Key events:

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.

Thank you carol singers!

Thank you to our spectacular singers at the online carol service at St John's. If you would like to watch the service then you can find it here >

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



Advent 4

Reflection by The Revd Chris Minchin

Service led by The Revd David Kirkwood

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

Intro music

Gymnopédie no.1 by Erik Satie.

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!)

Fourth Sunday of Advent - Mary: Lord Jesus, light of the world, blessed is Gabriel, who brought good news; blessed is Mary, your mother and ours. Bless your Church preparing for Christmas; and bless us your children, who long for your coming. 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 our redeemer,

who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary

to be the mother of your Son:

grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour,

so we may be ready to greet him

when he comes again as our judge;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.



A reading from the second book of Samuel.

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.

(2 Samuel 7.1–11,16)

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 Luke.

(Glory to you O Lord)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

(Luke 1.26–38)

This is the gospel of the Lord.

(Praise to you, O Christ)


The Revd Chris Minchin

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

Our first reading declares God is homeless:

“I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.”

It’s part of the history of the Jewish people, they had always travelled as refugees and been in exile and God travelled with them in a tent containing the tabernacle. But now they are settled the king thinks it wrong that he lives in a solid house built of cedar wood, when God stays in a tent.

God sees the king’s thoughts as honourable, but he basically says “but I never asked you to do that”. God’s dwelling among people, to come close to us, is God’s choice. God says he is homeless and chooses to remain homeless. God says he will give his people a place to stay and rest and grow, and he will be there, but it is not so that he can stay static, contained and confined. He is a living part of your community.

We see echoes of the passage from 2 Samuel in the nativity story when there is no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn. They must sleep in a cow shed. And we see echoes of Jesus’ ministry – he moves about, he has nowhere to lay his head.

We cannot make God do anything. We can make all the plans we want; we can decide on a vision of how we think things should be for our churches and communities, but ultimately nothing will happen unless God has chosen to do it already. God has to choose to come to us and dwell with us. And he does just that, unfailingly, he draws close to us and dwells within us.

So what does that mean for Mary in our Gospel passage? Did Mary have a choice about whether she would bear the incarnate God into this world, Jesus Christ?

Some argue that Mary didn’t have a choice, an angel turns up and tells her she will give birth to God’s son, the Holy spirit will ‘overshadow’ her, she will become pregnant without having sex. And it is only after the angel has announced what will happen that she says ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Does that count as consent?

There is something that sounds creepy about this. But I think it’s not so simple. Gabriel’s message isn’t an offer which she can accept, neither is it a simple statement of what will happen whether she likes it or not. The message, I think, is Gabriel is trying to reassure her that God is doing something in her life. Mary’s response is honest and truthful, she accepts. Yes she is confused, worried, but also trusting. She has an active relationship with God – the choice is not forced by one or the other, that the homeless God will dwell within her is an act of complete integrity. It is who she is, it is a meeting of two wills in perfect assent. I think it’s essential that Mary has a choice and says ‘yes’, even if God already knew she would.

We are also called to a relationship with God. When we pray we won’t force God to do anything, God does what God does. But when we pray, when we come to God we attune ourselves to him, we discover God’s will and there we also discover ourselves. We grow closer to God and obey God’s will in humble submission, not because we are forced, but because there we find ourselves. There we find what God knows to be true knows already. God sees who we are, knows who we are, better than we know ourselves. We can trust that in relationship with him we will grow and flourish.

The Gospel writer here is looking to Mary as the archetypal Christian, she appears to be a powerless woman in a misogynistic society, unmarried and pregnant, who has to give birth in an animal shed. Yet within her is the power to transform the world. She brings the presence of God into the world, which is all any of us could ever hope or want to do.

"Let it be with me according to your word" (Luke 1:38) she says as she approaches Jesus’ birth. Echoing the future words of Jesus himself as he approached his death "Not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).

Are you able to say those words? "Let it be". Look to Mary’s example and try, because then you will find yourself and you will find God dwells within you too.


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.


Lo! he comes with clouds descending, once for favored sinners slain; thousand, thousand saints attending swell the triumph of his train. Alleluia! Alleluia! God appears on earth to reign.

Ev'ry eye shall now behold him, robed in dreadful majesty; those who set at naught and sold him, pierced, and nailed him to the tree, deeply wailing, deeply wailing, shall the true Messiah see.

Ev'ry island, sea, and mountain, heav'n and earth, shall flee away; all who hate him must, confounded, hear the trump proclaim the day: Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment, come away!

Now Redemption, long expected, see in solemn pomp appear! All his saints, by man rejected, now shall meet him in the air. Alleluia! Alleluia! See the day of God appear!


Our Lord says, ‘I am coming soon.’

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Outro music

Tralalala Tulipan by Béla Bartók.


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