News from the Benwell & Scotswood Team
Einar Forseth, fish mosaic on the floor of the chapel of unity,
Coventry Cathedral, 1961
Dates for your diary
Sun 1 May - Hub service moves to St James
11am at St James'
Thurs 5 May - St John's weekday service
10.30am at St John's
Sat 7 May - Howay day (new date)
10am - 1pm
Sun 22 May - APCM
12pm (after the morning service)
Don't forget this Sunday we move to St James!
From this week join us every Sunday at 11am at St James' Benwell.
Every week, we will have singing, refreshments after the service, and communion with both bread and wine (though the wine will be entirely optional).
We will keep some distance between chairs and encourage mask-wearing and hand sanitising.
Exhibition of artwork by Artep Avordno and the art club
Our Easter liturgy will also be the first time to see an exhibition of recent works by Artep Avordno and members who have attended our art club sessions at St James.
Explore their works and her studio after the service and celebrate their hard work with a glass of fizz!
This incredible range of work is the result of just a few short weeks of taster sessions. We have just received news that we have secured some funding to help these sessions continue - so watch this space for more!
Howay day! (rescheduled) Sat 7th May
On 7th May, 10am to 1pm we will be getting together at St John's to discuss mission opportunities, and for you to have your say in planning for future service patterns in the parish. Brunch will be provided!
Rather than an 'away' day, we thought we'd have a 'Howay' day to gear us up for the future.
St John's service this Thurs 5th May, 10.30am
Join us this Thursday morning for a service of Holy Communion and fellowship with the lovely people of St John's Benwell Village. You will find us on Ferguson Lane, NE15 6NW, next to Green Tree Nursery.
APCM - Sunday 22 May, 12pm
This year's 'Annual Parochial Church Meeting' will happen directly after the Sunday service.
The happens once a year and receives reports on changes to the electoral roll, general parish activities, and finances. It is also when we elect members of the PCC and churchwardens. ADCMs (Annual District Church Meetings) will happen at the same time (these will run consecutively prior to the APCM).
who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
with the sight of the risen Lord:
give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life
and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Acts 9.1–6 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’
John 21.1–19 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’
Revd David Kirkwood Easter is not just one day in the church calendar Easter is a whole season so here we are back in St James but still with our Easter colours of white and gold, our Easter songs with lots of Alleluias and our Easter flowers, having done without all through Lent now we celebrate, and our readings continue to remind us of the Resurrection. In fact, the Easter season lasts all the way until Pentecost, or Whit Sunday, when 50 days after Easter we recall how the Holy Spirit came on the first disciples. 50 days of Easter rejoicing outweigh the 40 days of Lenten fasting.
But in truth Easter is more than a season, on the first Easter Day, when Jesus rose from the dead, a new reality dawned on the world. We continue to live in the light of that new dawn, not just for one day, or fifty days, but every day and for ever. Easter changes everything.
Today’s Gospel is another reminder of that transformation.
It begins with the disciples confused and unsure what to do, they have met the risen Jesus but what now? What does it mean? Peter is keen to deal with the uncertainty by going back to what he knows best –‘I’m going fishing’ and the others agree to join him. But it doesn’t work out, the emptiness they feel in their hearts is mirrored in the emptiness of their nets.
And then.. and then, a voice calls from the shore ‘Children have you no fish ?’ ‘No’. ‘Well, let down your nets on the right side of the boat’ It is a voice that compels obedience and they do as they’re asked. The empty nets are now so full it is impossible to haul them in.
Just as in the garden Mary Magdalene suddenly recognised Jesus when he called her name and called out ‘Rabboni’ (teacher), so the beloved disciple suddenly knows who it is and calls to Peter ‘it’s the Lord.’ That is more than enough for Peter, always the impetuous one, he plunges into the sea, keen get to Jesus as soon as he can. This means more than their fishing trip no matter how many fish are in the net.
On the shore Jesus is there, waiting for them the fire lit and breakfast cooking. He asks for some of the catch and Peter again is ready to help, dragging the heavy net ashore. Then a simple meal as he gives them bread and fish.
What memories this evokes; the early days, when he called them from their fishing nets and told them they would now fish for people, the meals they have shared along the way. The meal when he blessed 5 loaves and two fish and 5,000 were fed, and how then the people wanted to make Jesus their king. The meal from these last days when he broke bread and blessed wine before the people called ‘crucify’ and ‘we have no king but Caesar’.
Making sense of this past, this present, and the coming future is not straightforward. After breakfast the confusion of bittersweet emotions comes to a head as Jesus quizzes Peter.
‘Do you love me more than these?’ Not once but three times he asks him. ‘Do you love me?’ ‘Peter felt hurt because he asked him three times’. We know why he felt hurt don’t we? Three times Peter had denied Jesus, just as he told him he would when Peter swore he would be ready even to die alongside him.
And now three times Jesus asks ‘Do you love me’?
No wonder Peter feels pain and grief.
Why does Jesus ask , why does he keep on asking?
If someone is continually asking ‘do you love me’?, it might be a sign of insecurity, of a need for reassurance. Not so for Jesus, as Peter says ‘Lord you know everything, you know I love you.’
So why does Jesus ask and why does he keep on asking, why does he twist the knife?
Clearly it is not for Jesus’ own sake. This is for someone else. Firstly it is for Peter. Not the twist of a knife but maybe of a corkscrew. Each twist takes the point in deeper but it is necessary to pull out the cork.
For Peter to be set free from the feelings of guilt and shame he carries, to experience the Easter transformation where it is most needed, the point must penetrate to the heart. He must face the reality of who he has been and who he is now, only then will he be ready for the future, who he will become. A future where he must feed and tend the sheep but also follow and ‘go where’ he ‘does not wish to go’.
This time there will be no turning back Jesus is showing him the path and strengthening him to walk in it. This interrogation that brings pain also brings healing. But if this is for Peter, it is not for him alone. The gospel writer as we heard last week just before this passage says ‘these things were written so you might believe .. and by believing might have life in his name.’ This interrogation is meant for other listeners too. Can Jesus’ gentle but persistent questioning be the way to life for us too? Instead of ‘Simon son of John’ can we hear our own name?
‘Simon son of John , do you love me more than these?’
Whatever our shame or guilt, our denials, or our mistakes, Easter brings something new.
‘A second time he said to him Simon Son of John, do you love me?’
It may not be pain free, change can be uncomfortable, but the end of these things is life and peace and joy
He said to him the third time, Simon Son of John, do you love me?
To add names to the prayer list please email email@example.com
Prayers for others:
James, Christina, Anastasia, and Xavier
The Riches Family
Nnenna Nkemdilim Owulu & Nneka Mkemjika Owulu
Rest in peace
Ukraine, Yemen, Ethiopia and all places at war.
Post Communion prayer
your Son made himself known to his disciples
in the breaking of bread:
open the eyes of our faith,
that we may see him in all his redeeming work;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.