Lent 3 - Church at Home

07/03/21

Worship & news from Benwell & Scotswood

Kara Walker, Kick'm to the curb, 2020

Posted on Instagram, @kara_walker_official

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LISTEN


Podcast service:

Including a version of 'Immortal Invisible' by James Lewis, using technology to create a choir at home!


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 meals

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


First Loss by Robert Schumann



Opening prayer


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



Confession

The sacrifice of God is a 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,

whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,

and entered not into glory before he was crucified:

mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,

may find it none other than the way of life and peace;

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.

Amen.



Reading


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

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1.18–25

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 John.

Glory to you O Lord

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

John 2.13–22

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ

Reflection

by Cerys Smith


May I speak in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen


Imagine the church hall next door, and it is the day of the foodbank. There is a long line of people queuing outside waiting for their turn. Inside, volunteers are packing bags, sorting food and tins, running around helping people, finding what they need. People are waiting for their parcels and there are boxes, crates, and bags everywhere. It's busy, and it's loud, and it seems that the whole world is there.


Then, all of a sudden, the doors fly open and in walks a man with some of his friends. He stops at the first table. The next thing you know he has turned it upside down, sending paper and pens flying. He then starts herding people out the door. Walking on to the next table, with his arm, he sweeps everything off it, sending food to floor, tins rolling across the room, eggs come crashing down, and they are now sitting smashed inside their box. The bags so lovingly and thoughtfully packed and prepared by the volunteers have been emptied, their contents now on the floor. The room is a mess.


All that the people in the hall can do is stare at this man in stunned silence. He shouts at them “you shouldn’t be here! Get out! Get out! You shouldn’t be here!” Finally, someone reacts and asks him “what are you doing? Why did you do that?”


He responds “call the police, see if I care. I will be back, and I will build a brand-new foodbank and support the community more than you ever could!” And then he and his friends are gone.


Wow! What a shock! I am sure you are thinking why did that happen? What could possibly have caused that man to do that? Why would anyone want to destroy the foodbank?


Well, I am sure that was what the people were thinking when Jesus did the same thing when he went to the temple as we heard in our gospel reading. John tells us that Jesus was that man that made a mess in my story of the foodbank, because when he went to the temple and he found people selling animals and changing money, he drove the animals out of the temple with a whip, turned over tables and poured money on the floor. He made a mess, and what a commotion and a shock that would have been, just like that man coming into the foodbank in my story and making a mess.


My story of the foodbank is a retelling of Jesus in the Temple from our gospel reading and in using the foodbank as the setting in the retelling of that story, I am not saying that having the foodbank in the church hall is wrong and I am not saying it is a bad or corrupt organisation. In fact, what I am saying is the opposite, the food bank is important. It is important to individual people. It is important to this community. It is a lifeline. It provides support. It's missional. God is at work through it and in it. And that is what the Temple in Jerusalem was to those living in Judea at the time. It was not just a church or a place of worship, and like the Venerable Bede, like St James, and all the other churches that host and run foodbanks, the temple was the centre of the community. It was important to the community because it was the place where people were and where God was with them. That is why there were people selling animals and changing money there.


If you have come to church year in and year out during Lent, you will have heard this story of Jesus clearing the temple many times before. Like we have certain readings in advent, this is one is a lent reading, and because of that it is familiar to us and we can easily forget how shocking it must have been for Jesus to walk into the temple, drive out the animals, and turn over the money-changing tables. It is certainly shocking to think about someone doing that in a place we know and that is an important part of our community life. So, by retelling the story and setting it in the foodbank we can imagine how shocking it would have been for all those living in Jerusalem at the time not just those in the Temple on that day.


But why did Jesus do that? Why did he clear the animals out of the temple? And why did he pour money on the floor and turn over tables? It seems Jesus wanted to shock people but why?


Well, it was because he wanted to shock them. He wanted to turn their world upside down. He wanted to challenge what they thought they knew. He wanted to challenge their wisdom. As Paul said in our first reading in his letter to the Corinthians ‘it is written ‘I (God that is is) will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ He is saying God will show those who think they are wise that they are not, and those who think they know that do not.


We humans value wisdom, it comes from our history and our science. And what we learn can help us to make the world and our futures better. But that wisdom has not made the world or our lives perfect because it has not gotten rid of evil. That is clear to see in our world today as we are currently living through a pandemic, there are still wars and famine, and people are still living in poverty and hunger. Even with all our wisdom we have not fixed everything or prevented bad things from happening. Do not get me wrong I am not saying wisdom is bad, not important or cannot fix things, the vaccines that have been found for Covid 19 clearly show that our wisdom and knowledge can help us find solutions to our problems and that is marvellous. I am just saying that our wisdom is not perfect and can sometimes cause problems rather than fixing them.


In our reading from 1 Corinthians, Paul calls it foolish. And in our gospel reading from John, the story of Jesus in the Temple shows us that Jesus came to challenge our foolish human wisdom because he challenged the wisdom of making the Temple a marketplace, as that is not what it was for. It was a place where God dwelt amongst his people and could reveal himself to them but because it had been turned into a marketplace God could or would not reveal himself to them there, so they relied more on their foolish human wisdom and not through the revelations of God. As I said, Jesus came to challenge our foolish human wisdom because we cannot know God through it but rather, we can only know God by revelation, and it is only as God chooses to reveal himself to us that we can know him.


But how can we be open to God revealing himself to us if we become like the marketplace in the Temple, busy, messy, and full of distractions?


Well, God chose to reveal himself in Christ through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and accession so that he could redeem his people and the world. Jesus refers to this and foretells it in our Gospel reading when he says, “Destroy the temple, and in three days I raise it up.” He was not talking about the actual Temple in Jerusalem. That temple had taken forty-six years to build so no wonder the people in the Temple thought he was mad when he made that statement. Jesus was actually talking about his own death and resurrection. This is because, as the theologian Tom Wright says, “He is the true temple: he is the Word made flesh, the place where the glory of God has chosen to make his dwelling.” What Jesus was foretelling was that his body will become the new temple, the new place where people can come to meet with God. Paul also writes later on in his letter to the Corinthians that our bodies are temples too as dwelling places for the Holy Spirit.


So how do we meet God in the body of Jesus Christ and how do we become temples for the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit?


Like Jesus clearing the Temple in Jerusalem of animals and money changers, we need to clear space in our lives and in our own foolish human wisdom. We need to give God space and time to reveal himself to us through Christ, through Jesus’ death and resurrection so we can see God reveal and call us into a new relationship with him through the repentance of and the forgiveness for sins. But we must be careful. We must not be tempted to ask for signs or seek after God’s wisdom of saving power. Asking for signs is asking God to prove himself to us, to get him to jump through hoops and do it our way. Although Jesus did work miracles which were signs of God’s power and love for us, when asked in the Temple “what sign can you show us?” he was evasive and cryptic. We should not ask God to do things our way as our foolish human wisdom is not perfect and can cause problems. Also, we are not God. Seeking after the God’s wisdom has not been good for us as with the story of Adam and Eve.


So, in this time of Lent, in this time of resisting temptation we should not be tempted to ask God to show us signs or seek the wisdom of God but rather clear space in our lives for God to reveal himself to us as we journey with the story of Jesus through to his death and resurrection at Easter, and even beyond to his ascension a couple months later. Christ crucified is what God gave us for our salvation rather than our foolish human wisdom as it is the power and wisdom of God as Christ’s death on the cross says more clearly than anything else that God’s love for us has no bounds.


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.


O God our creator,

whose good earth is entrusted to our care

and delight and tenderness,

we pray:

May those who sow in tears

reap with shouts of joy.


For all who are in captivity to debt,

whose lives are cramped by fear

from which there is no turning

except through abundant harvest.

May those who sow in tears

reap with shouts of joy.


For all who depend on the earth for their

daily food and fuel,

whose forests are destroyed

for the profits of a few.

May those who sow in tears

reap with shouts of joy.


For all who labour in poverty,

who are oppressed by unjust laws,

who are banned for speaking the truth,

who long for a harvest of justice.

May those who sow in tears

reap with shouts of joy.


For all who are in captivity

to greed and waste and boredom,

whose harvest joy is choked

with things they do not need.

May those who sow in tears

reap with shouts of joy.


We pray for all who are sick in body, mind or spirit, amongst them:

  • 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

and for those who have departed this life, including:

  • Lillian Monaghan


Turn us again from our captivity

and restore our vision,

that our mouth may be filled with laughter

and our tongue with singing.

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 James Lewis' 'choir' version >


Immortal, invisible, God only wise,

In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,

Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,

Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.


Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,

Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;

Thy justice like mountains high soaring above

Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.


To all life Thou givest, to both great and small;

In all life Thou livest, the true life of all;

We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,

And wither and perish, but nought changeth Thee.


Great Father of Glory, pure Father of Light

Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;

All laud we would render, O help us to see:

’Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee.



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


Ecossaise by Carl Maria von Weber.

We are committed to our churches being safe places for everyone. Read our policy below and contact us if you have any concerns about the safety of a vulnerable adult or child:

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