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Newsletter - 3 before Lent


Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team

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Dates for your diary

Wed 8 Feb

Now 7pm at Heaton Football club

Wed 22 Feb

10.30am - Ash Wednesday (ashing and communion), Ven Bede


Services this week

Sun 5 Feb

9.30am - St John's holy communion

9.45am - St Margaret's holy communion

11am - Ven Bede holy communion (Parish eucharist)

Sun 12 Feb

9.30am - St John's holy communion

11am - Ven Bede holy communion (Parish eucharist)

4pm - St Margaret's evening worship



BBC documentary featuring our churches

We are incredibly proud of our community who feature in this documentary about the cost of living crisis. Though we believe this crisis should not be happening, the generosity and love that has been shown gives us real hope for humanity.


Adjustment to service patterns begins this Sunday

From Sunday 5th Feb, we are very happy to announce that we are moving to a more consistent pattern of worship on Sunday mornings:

  • St John's - 9.30am weekly.

  • St Margaret's - 9.45am (1st and 3rd Sundays)

  • St Margaret's - 4pm (2nd and 4th Sundays)

  • The hub service - 11am weekly at Ven Bede (St James in the Summer).

  • If there is a 5th Sunday in the month, there will be a team service.


The Big Conversation

Now 7pm at Heaton Football club

The Big Conversation has been rearranged to Wednesday 8th February at Heaton Stannington ,Football Club, Newton Road, High Heaton, NE7 7HP at 7pm. This brings together conversations that have been happening across communities over the last few months. This event will include key local decision-makers to find real solutions and ways forward for our communities.

Sign up and more info here:

or speak to Matt Dobson.


The Collect

Almighty God,

who alone can bring order

to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity:

give your people grace

so to love what you command

and to desire what you promise,

that, among the many changes of this world,

our hearts may surely there be fixed

where true joys are to be found;

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.




1 Corinthians 2.1–12[13–16] 2When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. 6 Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. 7But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’— 10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.[ 13And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. 14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually. 15Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. 16 ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.]



Matthew 5.13–20 13 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. 14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. 17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.



by Revd David

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Did anyone see the documentary film about the work of the foodbank here at the Venerable Bede and at St James Church? It was called ‘Fighting the Cost of Living Crisis‘, and if you missed it, it is available on BBC i player, do try and see it. It’s about 25 minutes and shows the work that goes on here week by week. (There is a link on the church website). You will probably recognise some of the ‘stars’ including one with four legs. Seriously it has some very moving scenes, is sensitively done and shows the food bank and the church in a good light. So much so that the media officer from the national church got in touch to express their thanks.

let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Hopefully the film does just that.

Last week Chris reminded us, as we took our candles, how we were all charged, in our baptism, to go out and be lights in the world.

Perhaps we are not always as good as we might be at letting our light shine. Leading up to Chris being appointed as Team Mission Priest, the clergy team were asked to spend some time with an external consultant reviewing the work happening in the Parish. One of the key things that came out was the need to tell our story more widely. Could we produce ‘an impact study’? In other words, could we ‘let our light shine’ a bit more. ‘This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine.’ So what is it that holds us back ?

First maybe we are not very confident we feel we don’t have much to offer. In an area of deprivation people can feel this acutely. If you are always told you are not worth much, not good at much, you can come to believe it, to internalise it. If that is the case, we need to hear other words -yes you are worth it, you really can shine. I said something the other week about how important that is to Petra and the Art Project and we want to see more of that encouragement.

But perhaps our reluctance comes from somewhere else.

Geordies may say ‘Shy bairns get nowt’, but English people are notorious for being reserved, unlike for example, I don’t know ..Italians, Americans??

Sometimes perhaps we need to look at those cultural things that might inhibit our witness, how do you feel about sharing your faith?.. Good old fashioned English manners, it reminds me of a joke graffiti; someone has written ‘Blessed are the meek’ and someone else, in a nervous hand has added ‘if that’s all right with, everybody else’.

Maybe that is not as daft as it sounds, ‘Blessed are the meek’, like today’s gospel comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Plenty more follows, warning against ‘bigging’ ourselves up. The phrase ‘blowing your own trumpet’ is from the description of the hypocrites who announce their alms giving with trumpets. Instead we are instructed, ‘when you give alms do not let your right hand know what your left is doing.’ Whether it is giving or fasting or praying the sermon insists -do it in secret and the Father who sees in secret will reward you.

So why are we told explicitly to let your light shine before others? What is the difference between letting your light shine and blowing a trumpet? How do we reconcile these things?

It’s Important to listen carefully to what the gospel reading says, and what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say

‘let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to you but

‘let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven’

The way we shine is important. Not in a way to attract the attention, the praise to ourselves, but to give glory to God. It’s not easy, it is natural to want to be valued to have what we do recognised and to be praised and thanked, it is natural but a small step from that to the Pharisee, who no longer really care about helping others but only reinforcing their own self-importance. It is hard to say simply, as we are told to, ‘we are unworthy servants who just did what we were asked to do’-and to mean it.

But just because good can be done for wrong motives, as Jesus followers, we must not back away from doing the right thing and letting it be seen. We have to outdo the Pharisees, your righteousness has to be greater. I saw one translation of this that said your righteousness must be deeper, (JB) I’m not sure if that is translation or interpretation, but it makes sense. Not more and more righteousness in some crazy kind of religious competition, but a righteousness that goes deeper, isn’t just outward but the fruit of inner transformation. It is the light of Christ in us that makes the difference.

For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

Christ comes with the power to change, to make things new, to heal, to bring salvation, to sow seeds of new community based on new standards and values, the law of love, this is the city set on a hill. We are called to be its citizens and builders. It is not about patting selves on the back, but ensuring the work continues. As citizens of that city we have our duty not to fudge and there will be times when we need to speak out and make our allegiance plain. There will be times we do that through our words and times we do it more eloquently by our deeds. There will be times for keeping things hidden, and times for shouting them from the rooftops.

Whichever it is, may it be Christ’s own light that shines, as we pray in the words of the psalm. Not unto us, not unto us, but to your Name be the Glory Amen



If you would like to add someone to the prayer list please email

The name will stay on the list for 1 month unless requested to be long-term.

Prayers for others:

  • Shno, Dara, Hani and Yani

  • Lorraine Atkinson

  • Esther Kolie

  • Edith Hutchinson

  • Lyndsey Richardson

  • Christine, David, Philip, Neil and Steven

  • Elizabeth Taylor

  • Honar

  • Moe and Mary

  • Alison Campbell

  • John Taylor

  • Irene Foskett

  • John Nicholson

  • Alan Robson

  • Michelle Wilson

  • Joan Finley

  • George Snowden

  • Claire Mozaffari

  • Herbert Agbeko


Post Communion prayer

Merciful Father,

who gave Jesus Christ to be for us the bread of life,

that those who come to him should never hunger:

draw us to the Lord in faith and love,

that we may eat and drink with him

at his table in the kingdom,

where he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.



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