Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team
Services this week
Sun 27 Nov
9.45 - St John's Holy Communion
11am - Ven Bede, Hub Service (Parish eucharist)
4pm - St Margaret's Holy Communion
Dates for your diary
Wed 7 Dec
7.30pm - 'Real Conversations' event at St James
Wed 14 Dec
6.30pm - Carol service at St John's
Wed 21 Dec
3.30pm - Community carols at St James
Sat 24 Dec
4pm - crib service at St Margaret's
11.30pm - Midnight Mass at Ven Bede
Sun 25 Dec
11am - Christmas Day Service at Ven Bede
Advent & Christmas Programme
Find full details of our Christmas events here >
It's coming up quickly! Publicity for our Advent & Christmas services and events will be appearing shortly. But make a note of the dates and times of the following events:
Wed 14 Dec, 6.30pm - Carol service at St John's
Wed 21 Dec, at St James, 2pm - Christmas event opens, 4pm Community carol service.
Sat 24 Dec, at St Margaret's, 2.30pm - Messy Church, 4pm - crib service.
And 11.30pm - Midnight Mass at Ven Bede
Sun 25 Dec - 11am - Christmas Day Service at Ven Bede
Real Conversations, Wed 7 Dec & Wed 11 Jan, 7.30pm at St James
Real Conversations is about bringing together communities to share, celebrate and discuss how faith and community groups have been moved to work within their local areas and the impact they have in addressing some important and big issues.
'Small Conversations' - will take place together over food across two sessions on Wednesday 7th December and Wednesday 11th January, 7pm-9.30pm at St James' Church.
Sign up and more info here: realconvos.org
or speak to Matt Dobson.
Service times Review
After consultations, we started after Easter with a new pattern of worship and committed to reviewing this pattern after six months. To help us do so, we would like to hear from you. There is a questionnaire which we hope you will find time to fill in and return by Sunday 18th December.
We know we have not been able to find a pattern that is ideal for everyone but with your co-operation hope to do the best we can. Once we have looked at the responses, we will think about what changes may be needed, talk to Churchwardens and DCC’s as appropriate, and take a proposal to the next PCC on the 19th January. Any changes will then take place.
We are also keen to make sure that those who are unable to come to church are not excluded. Online worship continues to be offered and we are happy to arrange home communions as needed. Please let us know.
Bishop's Christmas Appeal
Bishop Mark is appealing to you to give a gift to help WERS and Walking With carry on helping asylum seekers and refugees. Can you help to support their seeking of sanctuary here?
Donations can be made through the diocesan giving page for the Bishop’s Christmas Appeal, or cheques made out to ‘Newcastle Diocesan Board of Finance’ can be posted to: Finance, Church House, St John’s Terrace, North Shields, NE29 6HS. Please write ‘Bishop’s Christmas Appeal’ on the back of the cheque. More information is available here.
Pendower Christmas Fair - Saturday 10 Dec, 1-3pm.
Head along to the Sunnybank Centre for the Good Neighbour Project's Christmas fair!
There will be a tombola, stalls, crafts, Christmas trail, food and drink, and more!
They also looking for tombola items - chocolate, alcohol, crafts, cakes etc. If you can donate anything then please take it along to the Sunnybank Centre (14 Sunnybank Avenue, Pendower Estate, NE15 6SD)
Lighting the Advent Wreath
2nd Sunday - the Prophets
Lord Jesus, light of the world,
the prophets said you would bring peace
and save your people in trouble.
Give peace in our hearts at Christmas
and show all the world God’s love.
O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power
and come among us,
and with great might succour us;
that whereas, through our sins and wickedness
we are grievously hindered
in running the race that is set before us,
your bountiful grace and mercy
may speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honour and glory, now and for ever.
Romans 15.4–13 4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name’; 10and again he says, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’; 11and again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him’; 12and again Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.’ 13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3.1–12 3In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’3This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” ’ 4Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 ‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’
by Revd Anne Advent marks a new year in the church calendar – and be assured that things will not be as they were before! Having followed the gospel of Luke for a year, we now turn to the gospel of Matthew in our journey of faith. Many other things in life will also change – so what might help us find our way when we feel lost in an unpredictable world?
What 3 Words – is an app on smart phones which gives you three words to enable you to pin-point exactly where you are on the planet. If you are lost, then you can look up the 3 words for your location to give to rescue services so they can find you.
Where else might we find 3 guide-words to help us when we’re lost?
What 3 Words could we take from our daily Bible readings?
Let’s look for 3 guide-words in today’s readings:
Matthew’s story of John the Baptist – is a call to REPENTANCE
John the Baptist heralded change. He proclaimed, loudly and clearly
‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ ….
In his local language John effectively said:
‘Things will not be as they were before’ – so repent of your old hypocritical ways and open your hearts to God in new ways.’
‘Don’t assume you’ve got it all right and that you have a free ticket to enter God’s presence.’
John proclaimed seismic changes and a new world order through the life and times of Jesus Christ, and the key word into the new way of life was ‘REPENTANCE’.
We also face significant changes in our time – the old familiar normal has gone; A new normal is needed. A key word into the new way is ‘REPENTANCE’
Things will not be as they were before…
…before the pandemic, …before Ukraine, …before the climate crisis, … before the cost of living crisis – when our needs have grown and our resources are reduced.
How we adapt to change begins with us – wherever people are. We can resist the new way the world will be and hang on to our familiar ways as they unravel before us… or we can welcome new ways of being bonded together in the transforming love of Christ.
There are hopeful new ways to address the urgent issues of our time – new ways of living, new ways of being together, new ways of setting aside differences and making peace. But first we must be willing to let go of some of the familiar ways which have served us well in former times. In evolutionary terms – those who don’t embrace change die and those who do adapt survive.
We also need to face honestly the ways in which we may have used traditional values to judge and control the behaviour of others, as the Pharisees did. For them tradition became more important than transformation. What about us? Do we sometimes imagine that tradition is more important than transformation in Christ?
So maybe we are called to repent of some of our intransigent ways?
St Paul, in his letter to the Romans, offers us a second word for our threesome: ACCEPTANCE.
Paul entreaties us to welcome and accept one another in a spirit of harmony – just as different notes can harmonise into transcendent songs of praise.
‘May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
‘Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you….’
This is not just about us being welcomed and accepted, but also us welcoming and accepting others – wherever they come from, whoever they may be, whatever opinions they may have, however different they may be to the friends we like to spend time with.
It may mean, for us in the Benwell and Scotswood Team, finding new ways for our four churches to live and work together in harmony as a team – accepting one another in a spirit of hopefulness.
We have been invited to complete a questionnaire – to help us discern the right way ahead – to reflect on what is working well and what could be better done as a team; a team bonded in the name of Christ. When we write our answers, let them be a prayer for what we believe is God’s way. Let us see this questionnaire not as a way of lodging complaints about the way things are, but rather as an expression of hope for the ways things could better unfold.
Ask not ‘What does this team do for me? Rather ask, ‘What can I do for the team?’
We pray for the leaders of nations – that they can work together for the benefit of the world. We pray for our governments – that they may work together for the benefit of the country. Let’s remember that such prayer begins with us – that locally we can work together for the benefit of our communities.
Prayer is the direction for our actions.
We may say: For all that has been, thanks; for all that will be – Yes!
This is a prayer of Hope
Our third word is HOPE. Paul says:
‘May the God of hope fill you all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’
So where may our hopes lie?
Perhaps in the new Thursday service at St John’s – where new people are being welcomed – here is a true ‘mission wing’ of the team – as St John’s church was originally conceived….