Lent 2 - Church at Home

28/02/21

Worship & news from Benwell & Scotswood

Eric Gill, The Carrying of the Cross, 1926

Wood engraving on paper, Tate London

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LISTEN


Podcast service:

Listen out especially for the hymn this week with an acapella verse from members of the congregation!


Farsi translation / خطبه

< متن خطبه / read the translation

NEWS

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.

Free and cheap hot meals in Benwell

Cornerstone:

Every Wednesday you can order cheap hot meals from Cornerstone. Get your orders in by Wednesday 10am for free delivery within 2 miles of Cornerstone. Call 0191 2260941 or drop them a message on Facebook. Find out more here >


Foodcycle:

From 19th April FoodCycle Benwell will dish up free, nutritious meals for the local community every Monday from 7pm - 8pm. Find out more here >

WORSHIP TEXTS


Intro music


Andantino by Dmitry Kabalevsky.



Opening prayer


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



Confession

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.



Collect


Almighty God, by the prayer and discipline of Lent may we enter into the mystery of Christ’s sufferings, and by following in his Way come to share in his glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.



Reading


A reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans.


For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Romans 4.13–25

This is the word of the Lord.

(Thanks be to God).



Gospel


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

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’

Mark 8.31–38

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ

Reflection

The Revd Dominic Coad


Our reading from Romans this morning gives us a chunk of Pauline theology to get our teeth into. Such a prospect may excite you or it might be the sort of Bible passage that you prefer to leave well alone; perhaps you even feel a little intimidated by it. Well, that would be understandable but I think it is worth tackling these readings, especially during Lent when we seek to draw closer to God through study of his word.


Paul writes: ‘For the promise… did not come to Abraham… through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.’


Sometimes, this passage is interpreted to say that, in Jesus and Paul’s time, the Jewish people had little understanding of the grace of God and were trying to earn their salvation by obeying all the many commandments of the law. This attempt to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps had led them to become increasingly obsessed with trivial rules and minor infractions and forget that God cares about what is in a person’s heart.


One problem with this view is that its negative characterisation of Jews as having spurned the grace of God in favour of their own self-righteousness feeds into the terrible history of European and Christian anti-Semitism. Another problem is that it isn’t accurate. In the 1970s a scholar named E.P. Sanders wrote a book in which he studied Jewish sources from Paul’s time and discovered that they were not, in fact, overly legalistic, nor did they believe that salvation was to be found in obeying the law. He argued instead that the Jews of Paul’s time understood that being God’s people was predicated on the grace of God bestowed on them in the covenant with Abraham, the promise of which Paul speaks in this morning’s reading. Keeping the law was a way of living in grateful response to God’s grace, a way of living that marked out Israel as the people of God.


Since that book was published, New Testament scholars have accepted Sanders’ conclusions about the Judaism of Paul’s time and yet, in my experience at least, we still hear a good deal of talk which paints Judaism as a religion of legalism and the world before Christ as a graceless place. In fact, Paul is clear that God’s grace was not unknown before Christ but rather reaches its fulfilment in Christ. The people of Israel already knew God’s grace in God’s covenant with Abraham, so much so that in Romans 11 Paul says that ‘the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable’ and that ‘all Israel will be saved’.


I suspect that one reason we are so fond of painting Judaism as legalistic is that we all like to be right. It is an attractive idea and one we hear rehearsed about many groups: that other people out there are looking in all the wrong places for meaning in their lives and freedom from death whilst we Christians can congratulate ourselves that we’ve got it right.


Now, it is fundamental to our faith that salvation is only found in Jesus Christ. But it is precisely because of this that we must reject any sense of self-congratulation, crediting ourselves with seeing the truth where others have missed it and imagining that we have, in some way, earned our salvation through right believing. Indeed, Paul gives this warning himself in Romans 11, saying, ‘do not become proud, but stand in awe’ and do not ‘claim to be wiser than you are.’


This is certainly a most appropriate thought for Lent, as we seek to understand more deeply what Christ has done for us. A true appreciation of Christ’s death and resurrection begins in humility, in understanding that we are entirely dependent on his faithfulness, not on our own faith. As Paul says at the end of this morning’s reading, everything depends on Jesus who was ‘handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification’


As we have seen, Paul’s view of our justification as reliant on Christ is not a break from how God dealt with his people previously. In our reading this morning, Paul talks about Abraham and how his faith was ‘reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Because Abraham trusted God’s promise, he and all his descendants would know God’s grace through the covenant. This is what righteousness means in this context, to be placed in a right relationship with God.


In this part of Romans, Paul is arguing for the inclusion of all people, not just the people of Israel, in the covenant. Just as Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as righteousness, so too will the death and resurrection of Christ make all people right with God. It’s helpful here to explain something that the English translation doesn’t make clear: the words righteousness and justified in this passage are in fact translations of the same Greek word. So, when Paul says that we are justified by Christ’s resurrection, he is saying the same thing as when he says Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.


This is Paul’s message to his first century readers, and to us: the grace that God had given, through Abraham, to the people of Israel is now, through the death and resurrection of Christ, available to all. The law, which had never been the basis of God’s grace but had nevertheless identified the people of Israel as those who inherit the covenant, is no longer a marker of who is and is not member of the people of God.


Right relationship with God, whether for Christians or the people of Israel, has always depended on God’s grace. In Christ, we all become inheritors of the promise to Abraham and members of the people of God. During Lent, we rightly focus on rededicating ourselves to God through prayer, study and fasting. We do so not because we can justify ourselves to God by works under the law nor because we are congratulating ourselves for winning our salvation through right belief. Instead, we know that being in right relationship with God rests entirely in the grace given us in Christ, grace which extends to us the promise made to Abraham.


This Lent, we can all make our own small commitments to God; commitments to study and prayer. These commitments, these Lenten disciplines, help us to know God’s grace more deeply, to understand more fully the inheritance into which Christ has brought us and so know God more fully. And in knowing God more fully we may hope to love him more deeply and so know his love in our lives and the peace that it brings. Amen.



Prayers of intercession


We pray to the Lord for courage to give up what obscures God and ourselves, to offer ourselves to him this Lent.


Give your Church the courage

to give up her preoccupation with herself

and to give more time to your mission in the world.

We pray for Archbishop Stephen, Bishop Christine, and Bishop Mark


May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus

bring forgiveness to your people

and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation.

Lord hear us,

Lord Graciously hear us


Give your world the courage

to give up war, bitterness and hatred,

and to seek peace.

We pray for all people who suffer needlessly at the hands of others


May the shoulders of the risen Jesus,

once scourged by soldiers,

bear the burden of political and military conflict in our world.

Lord hear us,

Lord Graciously hear us


Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy

in our families, neighbourhoods and communities. And to build peace with all who are different to us.


May the presence of the risen Jesus,

his body once broken and now made whole,

bring peace and direction as we live with one another.

Lord hear us,

Lord Graciously hear us


Give us the courage

to give up our selfishness as we live for others,

and to give time, care and comfort to the sick.

  • Ali Zareie and his family

  • Jill Sorley,

  • Joyce Phillips,

  • George Snowden,

  • the Riches family,

  • Dee Humphrey,

  • Claire Mozaffari,

  • Eric Harling,

  • Herbert Agbeko,

  • Anastasia Miklewright,

  • Margaret Wall,

  • all affected by Covid 19


May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch,

and the light of his presence fill their rooms.

Lord hear us,

Lord Graciously hear us


Give us the courage to give up our fear of death

and to rejoice with those who have died in faith.

Especially we hold in our minds. All those we have lost.


May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross,

walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony,

and walk with us and all your Church

through death to the gate of glory.


Lord hear us,

Lord Graciously hear us

here and in eternity. Amen.



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.



Hymn

Listen to the hymn here >

Listen out especially for the hymn this week with an acapella verse from members of the congregation!


Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come: 'tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures; he will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease: I shall possess, within the veil, a life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine; but God, who called me here below, will be forever mine.



Conclusion


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.



Outro music


Mazurka by Frederic Chopin.

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