Lent 1 - Church at Home


Worship & news from Benwell & Scotswood

William Blake, The Second Temptation, ca.1816-1825

Illustration from "Paradise Regained"

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Podcast service:

Farsi translation / خطبه

< متن خطبه / read the translation


Lent Groups start this week

We have two online Lent groups you can join.

Difference course

Thursdays 2pm, from 25th Feb (5 sessions)

Sign up here >

Dominic and Cerys 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.

Caring for Creation

Wednesdays 6.30pm, from 24th Feb (5 sessions)

Sign up here >

David will lead us with a York Course for 2021 on the greatest challenge facing the human race: the threat to the environment, and climate change.

Lent, Holy Week & Easter info

Find our information page here >

We have created a page with all the information you need about Lent, Holy Week, and Easter this year. Go have a look to keep up to date.

We are very happy to say we will be worshipping together in-person this year! To help us keep things as safe as possible, we decided it would be best to stay in one location rather than going round each of our churches, so we will celebrate Holy Week at the Venerable Bede.

40-day Challenge from Cornerstone

Follow the Facebook page of our friends at Cornerstone Benwell where they will be posting a little challenge each day throughout Lent.

Facebook page >

Also, every Wednesday you can order cheap hot meals from them. Get your orders in by Wednesday 10am for free delivery within 2 miles of Cornerstone. 0191 2260941 or drop them a message on Facebook.


Intro music

Romanze by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

Opening prayer

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


The sacrifice of God is broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart God will not despise.

Let us come to the Lord, who is full of compassion,

and acknowledge our transgressions in penitence and faith.

Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin:

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Make me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me:

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Cast me not away from your presence

and take not your holy spirit from me:

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,

whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness,

and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:

give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit;

and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save;

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.



A reading from the book of Genesis.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’

Genesis 9:9-17

This is the word of the Lord.

(Thanks be to God).


Praise to you, O Christ, King of eternal glory.

The Lord is a great God,

O that today you would listen to his voice.

Harden not your hearts.

Praise to you, O Christ, King of eternal glory.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

Glory to you O Lord

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well please.’ And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

(Mark 1:9-15)

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. Amen

My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!...

Wordsworth’s Joy and wonder at seeing the rainbow is something I hope you can identify with. Seeing a rainbow as child or an adult has a capacity to thrill to enchant to make us wonder. If you have ever felt something of that and can recall it then please hold onto that thought. It may seem strange to start Lent with an image overflowing with light and colour, with joy. After all, here we are as usual on the first Sunday in Lent, in a church stripped of colours, any flowers gone, the usual songs of joy in the service, glorias and alleluias pared away. ‘Miserere me’, ‘Have mercy on me’, not ‘Glory to God in the Highest ‘is the Lenten note and we can think of it as a miserable time.

But if we take the bigger picture we see how this stripping away of some things, including things we enjoy, is not about being gloomy or depressed but is meant to help us rediscover that capacity for joy and wonder.

We are encouraged to strip away or lay aside what is secondary or inessential- not just in worship but in our lives so as to centre again on what is really important, what is of the essence in our church our faith our life and to find there the source of joy and wonder.

Sadly, it is all too easy for the joy and wonder of living to be eroded, restricted even crushed. How so?

There is an argument that living in a Scientific age erodes our sense of wonder, as another romantic poet John Keats put it:

Do not all charms fly

At the mere touch of cold philosophy?

There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:

We know her woof, her texture; she is given

In the dull catalogue of common things.

Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,

Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,

Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine –

Unweave a rainbow

Dis-enchantment is a theme of sociologists who suggest that science somehow takes the mystery out of life and, in banishing the gods, somehow all things become drab and grey. The mystery has gone. The atheist Richard Dawkins hits back at this point of view, and in this at least, perhaps we can agree with him. In his book entitled ‘Unweaving the Rainbow,’ he points out that science can increase our capacity for wonder; because we know the rainbow is the effect of light refracted and reflected in drops of moisture, not the bow of a god or the necklace of a goddess, does that really make it less marvellous. If so, the fault is in our lack of insight and narrowness of imagination rather than in the science. As people of faith, we should learn from the scientist’s enthusiasm. As Paul Simon sang on his 1986 album ‘Graceland’ these really are the ‘days of miracles and wonder’.

That is not to say the miracles of science and technology are problem free. A lot has moved on since 1986 when Simon sang of Staccato signals of constant information.

He didn’t know the half of it, as we look around and see a world plugged into digital devices, flitting from one thing to another, with shorter and shorter attention spans, more linked into the whole world and yet more cut off from one another, connected but lonely, we see a level of alienation inequality and injustice that grow year on year. The argument that whatever it promises modern living restricts and kill our capacity for joy and wonder gains credibility. And all that without the pandemic. Far from liberating humanity has technology only fashioned new chains? At some level it is inevitable that we are sucked in and shaped by our culture we cannot really turn our back on technology, and it is abuse rather than use that should most concern us. but maybe Lent can remind us that we all have some responsibility for resisting what is wrong and working to reshape that culture. Why not spend some time this Lent looking for rainbows? Relearning things we have forgotten, rediscovering the tradition of our Faith with its insight into prayer and silence- wisdom rather than knowledge. How about some form of digital fast, even if only for a few hours? Connecting with others can be hard in lockdown but prayer ‘connecting with’ God is always possible and, if we look for them ,there are still ways of being generous, of showing solidarity ,of seeking for justice and of giving and receiving support.

Our loss of Joy and wonder may take contemporary forms but far from being a merely modern problem it is as old as the history of humanity bound up with our loss of God. Christians use the very unfashionable word sin to describe this loss. Perhaps it is unfashionable as it is felt to be anti- science, committing us to literal belief in Adam and Eve, perhaps because it has been used to foster guilt and anxiety and to keep one set of people dependent on others, perhaps just because it makes us look at parts of ourselves, we would rather ignore. Whatever the reasons I just wonder if we can put them aside and see the truth that human pride, greed and selfishness, the essence of what we mean by sin, are indeed destructive of human happiness, losing what they try desperately to secure.

As Jesus says ‘he who wants to save his life will lose it’ or in the words of another poet William Blake:

He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy;

But he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity's sun rise.

Of course, our capacity for joy and wonder can also be crushed or damaged by things beyond our control the knocks we receive as we go through life. Our dreams can be shattered, our hopes disappointed through no fault of our own and physical or mental pain can severely limit our capacity for joy. Let’s return to the rainbow. The rainbow in Genesis, is the sign of God’s promise a sinful world is washed away in His judgement, but it is His will for the world to be reborn. This Covenant Promise of a New World looks out beyond Noah ‘Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ’ Here at last is Gods living word, a word not of condemnation but forgiveness.

So, this Lent we may or may not be called to greater effort, but we are certainly called to the acceptance of gift. The rainbow is formed as light shines through the droplets of moisture in the clouds and is refracted and reflected in them; if we can let the light shine even in our clouded places even through our tears maybe just maybe something wonderful will happen. Amen

Post script

Words on joy by Thomas Traherne.

You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars: and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because people are in it who are everyone sole heirs as well as you. Till you can sing and rejoice and delight in God, as misers do in gold and Kings in sceptres, you never enjoy the world.

Prayers of intercession

With confidence and trust let us pray to the Father.

For the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, for our Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, for our Bishops Christine and Mark, for the mission of the Church, that it is a faithful witness and it may preach the gospel to the ends of the earth,

let us pray to the Father.

Lord of compassion,

in your mercy hear us.

For the peace in the world that a spirit of respect and reconciliation may grow among nations and peoples, for the fair distribution of Covid vaccines around the world, for places of conflict and persecution which even in a global pandemic are too numerous to list,

let us pray to the Father.

Lord of compassion,

in your mercy hear us.

For the poor, the persecuted, the sick, and all who suffer we pray for Jill Sorley, for Joyce Phillips, for George Snowden, for the Riches family, for Dee Humphrey, for Claire Mozaffari, for Eric Harling, for Herbert Agbeko, for Anastasia Miklewright, for Margaret Wall, for all affected by Covid 19, for refugees, prisoners and all-in danger; that they may be relieved and protected,

let us pray to the Father.

Lord of compassion,

in your mercy hear us.

For those whom we have injured or offended,

for grace to amend our lives and to further the reign of God,

let us pray to the Father.

Lord of compassion,

in your mercy hear us.

In communion with all those who have walked in the way of holiness we remember those who have died and those who love them, we remember especially Audrey Mathison and all those who have died due to Covid 19.

let us pray to the Father.

Lord of compassion,

in your mercy hear us.

God our Father, in your love and goodness you have taught us to come close to you in penitence with prayer, fasting and generosity; accept our Lenten discipline, and when we fall by our weakness, raise us up by your unfailing mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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.


Jesu, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly, while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high; hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past; safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last!

Other refuge have I none; hangs my helpless soul on thee; leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me. All my trust on thee is stayed, all my help from thee I bring; cover my defenseless head with the shadow of thy wing.

Plenteous grace with thee is found, grace to cover all my sin; let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within. Thou of life the fountain art; freely let me take of thee; spring thou up within my heart, rise to all eternity.


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

Little Prelude by J.S.Bach.

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