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Newsletter - 4 before Advent (Kingdom Season)

5/11/23

Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team

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Services this week

Sun 5 Nov

9.30am St John's Holy Communion

9.45am St Margaret's Holy Communion

11am - Hub service at Ven Bede (Parish Eucharist).


Thurs 9 Nov

10.30am - Holy Communion at Ven Bede.

 

Dates for your diary

Thurs 9 Nov

7pm - PCC at St James


Sat 11 Nov - Armistice day

11am - Act of remembrance at St James


Sun 12 Nov - Remembrance Sunday

9.30am - St John's Holy Communion

11am - Hub service at Ven Bede (Parish Eucharist).

4pm - Act of remembrance


Thurs 9 Nov

10.30am - Holy Communion at Ven Bede.

 

News


Remembrance

There will be an act of remembrance happening in 3 of our churches on Remembrance Sunday, 12th November:

  • 9.30am at St John's, at the end of the service

  • 11am at Ven Bede, at the beginning of the service

  • 4pm as the main service at St Margaret's

We will also hold a short act of remembrance at the memorial at St James on Armistice day, Saturday 11th November, at 11am.


We will especially pray for those places currently at war. Please do remember to donate to the Embrace Gaza appeal below.

 

Embrace - Gaza appeal

The people of Gaza are living through an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Israel’s response to the terrible events of last weekend has led to indiscriminate civilian suffering, with residents forced to move from place to place in search of safety. Food and medical supplies have all but run out; water, electricity, and fuel have been cut off.

The people of Gaza were already on their knees with 80% of residents reliant on humanitarian aid to survive. Please, can you make a donation into help in their hour of need?

You can donate online, by clicking below, or by calling 01494 897950. Your gift will support Embrace’s Christian partners in the immediate aftermath of this humanitarian crisis and to help to heal the wounds it’s caused across Israel – Palestine.



 

Bible study with translation - Tuesdays at 4.30pm

Bible study with Farsi translation has restarted on Tuesdays at 4.30pm at St James.


All are welcome whatever language you speak!


Each session finishes by 6pm. Speak to Revd Chris if you'd like more information.

 

Sunday Worship

Sunday 5th November 2023

4th Sunday before Advent

Red



Intercessions


Prayers for others:

  • Maria Hawthorn

  • George Snowdon

  • Mavis Agbeko

  • Herbert Agbeko

  • Ellis Nelson

  • Pauline Nelson

  • Michelle Wilson

  • Peter Wilson

  • Alan Taylor

  • Maureen Tayor

  • Irene Foskett

  • Lorraine Atkinson

  • Esther Kolie

  • Daniel Galbraith

Rest in peace

  • Faith Omorogbe

If you would like to add someone to the prayer list please email church@benwellscotswood.com

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



Sermon

by Revd Chris.


According to Wikipedia, if we count up all the times someone has claimed it’s about to happen, the world should have ended about 200 times since the time of Jesus.

Along with predictions of UFOs coming, and whole cities abandoning their homes one night to only skulk back the next morning, I think my favourite case of a false prophet is a chicken in Leeds who foretold the end of the world by laying eggs bearing the message “Christ is coming”. This created much fear before it was discovered that the chicken's owner had been writing the messages on the eggs before reinserting them to be laid again.


There is something about the apocalypse that fascinates humans. There are innumerable novels, TV programmes and films exploring the idea. And here in our Gospel passage Jesus is also describing the end of the world.

The story begins with the disciples and Jesus leaving the temple in Jerusalem, the disciples start pointing out the amazing buildings of the temple complex. This prompts Jesus to say that the whole thing will be destroyed anyway. Maybe Jesus was just trying to get out of the historical tour by changing the subject, but he goes on to warn them about false prophets and all the ways people will get caught up when things go wrong.


Obviously at this time there are some very uncomfortable resonances. We are in an uncertain world, where there is war in Israel once more, famine and earthquakes, pandemics and storms, climate change and political change. I have heard more and more people suggesting maybe these are the signs that the end is nigh.


I think there have been so many hundreds of false predictions of the end of the world because, when humans can't make sense of huge and entirely senseless events, we create apocalyptic stories and predictions to cope with uncertainty.


This is why authors and filmmakers also use these themes in their imaginations to help us explore what makes us human, what would we be like when we are pushed to the extreme. Jesus, similarly, is trying to prepare his disciples for this uncertain world and its uncertain future.


Biblical scholars think that these passages may have been written after the temple was actually destroyed by the Romans. But whatever the historical reason for these apocalyptic predictions, there is a message: uncertain times are inevitable, and what matters is not reading the signs in the sky, but who we are. Jesus says:

“But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.”


I don’t think Jesus is saying that these awful things will be a test to pass or fail, but that integrity matters at all times. Uncertainty is scary, it is stressful, it usually something we can do nothing about, and it is inevitable. The world is bigger than us and everything is temporary. Our church buildings won’t stand forever, our institutions change and develop and collapse, nations, economies, and weather are more and more unpredictable, and amongst all that there are some real horrors happening. People are hungry and people are dying, and it is too big for us to comprehend.


Jesus' message is that no matter how uncertain the world is, who you are within it matters. Your actions matter. When it seems that you are too small to make a difference, that there is no point, Jesus tells us there is a point. We are called to be the body of Christ in all situations, not just when it’s convenient, not just when its easy. When we are surrounded by events bigger than us, we don’t give up. Despite what many world leaders may say, in times of war and disaster there are no excuses for acting with injustice.


Christ is not there for when times are good, for lovely families, traditions and fancy church buildings, for coffee mornings and Christmas fayres. Christ is God who comes as a human being to our world in all its uncertainty, its joys, war and peace. In Christ we are reminded of our humanity, we are reminded of God’s love for us, that who we are is seen and loved by God and that all people are created by God and are precious.


When the world seems so incomprehensible and cruel, when we feel like we could never make a difference so we may as well give up, we remember that Christ came as one person. We are here today because of his direct interactions with real people like you and me, this is what the kingdom of God is and how it is built. Not through grand institutions, but through a community of people who choose to love, who choose the bricks and mortar of justice, truth and peace. Never underestimate the power you have in showing love and care to the real people you meet each and every day, because you are the kingdom of God, which will last longer than any building or nation, and will endure any war or famine, and maybe even the end of the world.


Amen



Collect

Almighty and eternal God,

you have kindled the flame of love in the hearts of the saints:

grant to us the same faith and power of love,

that, as we rejoice in their triumphs,

we may be sustained by their example and fellowship;

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.


or

God of glory,

touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,

that we with all creation

may rejoice to sing your praise;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Readings


Micah 3.5–end

5 Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry ‘Peace’ when they have something to eat, but declare war against those who put nothing into their mouths. 6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without revelation. The sun shall go down upon the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; 7 the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God. 8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. 9 Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob and chiefs of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, 10 who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong! 11 Its rulers give judgement for a bribe, its priests teach for a price, its prophets give oracles for money; yet they lean upon the Lord and say, ‘Surely the Lord is with us! No harm shall come upon us.’ 12 Therefore because of you Zion shall be ploughed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.

This is the word of the Lord. All: Thanks be to God.



Gospel Reading


Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. All: Glory to you, O Lord.


Matthew 24.1–14 24As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ Signs of the End of the Age 3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ 4Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Messiah!” and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs. Persecutions Foretold 9 ‘Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

This is the Gospel of the Lord. All: Praise to you, O Christ.



Post Communion

Lord of heaven,

in this eucharist you have brought us near

to an innumerable company of angels

and to the spirits of the saints made perfect:

as in this food of our earthly pilgrimage

we have shared their fellowship,

so may we come to share their joy in heaven;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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