13th September 2020
Weekly notices, Church at Home & watch live
(Scroll down for this week's service)
Francisco de Zurbaran, Christ on the Cross, c.1627, Oil on Canvas; Art Institute of Chicago
Sunday, 10.30am at St James'
We meet for Holy Communion as the Benwell & Scotswood Team. Let us know you're coming if you can!
Still at home? Watch the service live on Facebook! (don't worry - you do not need a facebook account to watch it)
Weekly resources from 'Roots' for families to use to reflect on the Bible readings each week.
When you come to church remember:
Sanitise your hands when you enter and leave.
Wear a mask (unless you are legally exempt, or if you are reading or leading intercessions)
Stay 2m apart.
Stay at home if you feel unwell (contact us if you need anything!)
APCM - Sunday 11th October
Our 'Annual Parochial Church Meeting' will be directly after the service on Sunday 11th October. This is when we elect people to roles on the PCC, and we hear reports on our activities and finances.
Anyone on the electoral roll can vote. You can join the electoral roll if you are over 16, baptised, and live in the parish or have worshipped with us for at least 6 months.
Baptisms on Sunday 20th September
We are very happy to announce that during the service on 20th September we will baptise several Farsi speaking members of our congregation. Some of them have waited patiently since asking to be baptised before lockdown. Please pray for all the candidates as they take this big step in their Christian life.
You can now submit prayer requests online. This can be done anonymously or by name and the clergy and congregation will pray for you each week.
Help keep our work going and our buildings open.
If you can, please give by standing order - regular donations help us to have a better estimate of our income and ensure we can keep our activities running.
Reflection by The Revd Chris Minchin
Service led by The Revd Dominic Coad
or listen and read along here:
The service starts with some quiet music; please use this to clear your mind and acknowledge the presence of God.
Andantino by César Franck.
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.
your Son came to save us
and bore our sins on the cross:
may we trust in your mercy
and know your love,
rejoicing in the righteousness
that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A reading from St Paul's letter to the Romans.
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God.
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ So then, each of us will be accountable to God.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God
I am the light of the world, says the Lord.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness
but will have the light of life.
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.
Glory to you O Lord.
Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’
This is the gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ
by The Revd Chris Minchin
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“we have sinned against you and against our neighbour in thought and word and deed”; “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins”; “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. “May the God of love and power forgive us and free us from our sins”.
Forgiveness is at the core of Christianity, it’s talked about a lot. We talk about sin as something you lot out there do, and forgiveness as something we, the church, have to offer. Forgiveness becomes a transaction and you can pay us for the service.
Forgiveness is very much one of those things that is easier said than done. And we make it even harder if we see ourselves as the ones to arbitrate forgiveness, when we are the ones most in need of forgiveness ourselves.
Thus, Peter asks Jesus: “‘how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”
He does not mean, exactly 77 times, he means an exponential amount, seventy time seven, he means again and again, beyond any limit you would set yourself. Seven is one of those Biblical numbers which symbolises completeness – 7 days of creation, 7 days of the week, and every 7th year was the year of ‘Jubilee’ when the ancient Israelites were to cancel all the debts they had made with each other and free their slaves.
Jesus then tells Peter the parable of the unforgiving servant, a story of a servant who is forgiven a huge debt by his master, who, in turn, when he encounters another that owes him a much smaller debt, grabs the man by the throat , demands his money, and throws the man into prison.
It’s a story of blatant hypocrisy. And Jesus is accusing Peter of the same. Peter asks how many times he should forgive, presuming, first of all, that he is the righteous one who will be doing the forgiving, rather than the one who needs forgiveness himself. Secondly, he sees forgiveness as something that is limited, a mechanical action, rather than an attitude from his heart that should form his character and all his relationships.
We can never draw perfect comparisons between parables and real life, that’s why Jesus told the stories rather than dishing out lists of rules. But I felt I could not talk about forgiveness this week without talking about the deep and hurtful failings of the Church of England as an institution. I apologise, as I know for some of you this is a painful topic. Unfortunately child abuse, and abuse of vulnerable adults has happened in the Church of England. Sexual, physical, mental, spiritual abuse. Please know that if you are a survivor of abuse, you absolutely do not have anything to be ashamed of, and I can guarantee you are not the only one in the room.
But the Church of England does have something to be ashamed of, an institution that I am also part of and a representative of. As an institution we have ignored it, covered it up, and attempted to make amends, not to help the victims, but to save our own reputation.
We have spent millions on admin, legal costs, and insurance, but next to nothing on reparations and counselling and therapy for survivors. I am sad to say at times I have personally seen the church put concern for its own reputation over the safety of the vulnerable. Soon the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse will publish report after years of investigation and listening to survivors, and the church will be criticised for its poor safeguarding procedures and intentionally obscuring or conveniently forgetting the words of abuse survivors that were so hard to speak.
In the parable we heard, what is the worst thing that the unforgiving servant does? The terrible thing is not the unpaid debt to his master. Far worse is the false virtue, contrite, kneeling and begging for patience, all the while being ready to blame another, throw them in jail and make them suffer. The lack of integrity and hypocrisy is the issue.
My message this week is to the Church of England as an institution. Contrition, humility, forgiveness, are things you must live out not just talk about. When Jesus talks about forgiving seventy-seven times, seventy times seven, he means forgiveness needs to characterise all our actions, it needs to go in all directions, and before you offer it you must recognise your own need for it. For the church, we need to start with recognising our own need and the great debt we owe to survivors of abuse.
Your deeds must match the forgiveness you have received, and for the church, those are some mighty deeds that must be done to match the forgiveness we have asked for over child abuse. How can you expect someone to listen to words of forgiveness, reconciliation, love and goodness, from the mouths of senior church leaders when their experience is one of abuse at their hands, or eyes glazed over while someone suffers in front of them. There is forgiveness, but for those in authority, for those with power, my goodness you better watch out if you do not act with the same love and forgiveness that you have been given.
My message to those who have been hurt and abused, or who are being hurt and abused. I cannot take away the pain that you have suffered. But I can promise we will do all we can to make this a safe place where you are valued and listened to, and hopefully begin to heal.
It is time to begin loosing the bonds of pain, hurt, shame, and secrecy. If you have been hurt and never spoken up about it, then speak up now, it does not matter how long ago it happened. If you have been hurt and did speak up about it, speak up again and shame on the person who did not listen, shame on that hypocrite that calls themselves Christian and did nothing. If you are suffering right now, or have a worrying feeling that someone you know is suffering, then speak up now. If you are worried you could be capable of abuse, then speak up now and break the cycle. You can talk to any of us clergy, but you may prefer to talk to one of our safeguarding officers, all their details are on the website at benwellscotswood.com/safeguarding. We promise to listen, and we will act to protect you.
If you have been hurt by the church or anyone else, forgiveness is for you to give, not for us to demand or expect. You have had your choices taken from you, your dignity and self-worth, and on top of the you have been shunned and ignored when you did speak up. But you are not powerless, forgiveness is yours to give, you can choose to give it or withhold it, you are the one with the power.
If you are ready to forgive, and you may not be- or even if you want to want to forgive but can’t yet- do not forget that forgiveness, by its very nature, begins by declaring the wrongness of what happened to you. It never excuses those actions or pretends they did not happen, and it should absolutely shine a light on those actions and say this should not have happened.
To forgive, is to say so you are no longer defined by the hurtful actions done to you, but by the love that you have to offer. Forgiveness is a process, it is something you need to live out every day, and some days will be harder than others. But, you are not alone - to have the potential to forgive is to have the very power and presence of God within you.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Those called to lead and guide us at a difficult time.
Archbishops Justin and Stephen, Bishop Christine, those involved in finding a new suffragan Bishop for this diocese.
All still unable to attend church and feel cut off from the fellowship and sacramental life of the church.
For our parish as we seek to proclaim good news to all.
Gordon and Carol Bates, married at St James giving thanks for 55 years together.
Those facing uncertain futures and loss of work or income.
Victims of bullying and domestic violence
The health service.
Refugees and asylum seekers.
The Sick & Suffering
All who have asked for our prayers
The Riches family
Linda, Stuart, and their son David
All affected by Covid19
Those we have known and loved and whose examples we cherish.
All victims of Covid 19.
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.
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,
to his feet your tribute bring;
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
who like you his praise should sing?
praise the everlasting King.
Praise him for his grace and favour
to our fathers in distress;
praise him, still the same as ever,
slow to blame and swift to bless;
glorious in his faithfulness.
Father-like, he tends and spares us,
All our hopes and fears he knows;
in his hands he gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes:
widely as his mercy flows.
Angels, help us to adore him;
you behold him face to face;
sun and moon, bow down before him,
praise him all in time and space.
praise with us the God of grace.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
And the love of God
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all, evermore. Amen
Vivo by Dmitri Kabalevsky.