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Newsletter - Advent 4


Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team

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The bombed Mary of Urakami Cathedral


Services this week

Sun 18 Dec

9.45 - St John's Holy Communion

11am - Ven Bede, Hub Service (Parish eucharist)

4pm - St Margaret's Evening worship

Wed 21 Dec

6.30pm - St James' Carol Service

Sat 24 Dec

4pm - St Margaret's Crib service

11.30pm - Ven Bede, Midnight Mass

Sun 25 Dec

11am - Ven Bede, Christmas Day communion


Dates for your diary

Wed 21 Dec

2.30pm festive activities at St James

4pm - Community carols at St James

Sat 24 Dec

2.30pm Messy Christmas Eve at St Margaret's

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, 2.30pm - 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


Exhibition at St James

The 'Something Wonderful' art club in Benwelll invite you to their latest exhibition of artwork and interactive art activities!

The exhibition opened on Friday and will be viewable when the building is open.


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.

Find the questionnaire here >

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.


Worship Texts



Lighting the Advent Wreath

4th Sunday - Mary

Lord Jesus, light of the world,

blessed is Gabriel, who brought good news;

blessed is Mary, your mother and ours.

Bless your Church preparing for Christmas;

and bless us your children, who long for your coming.



The Collect

God our redeemer,

who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary

to be the mother of your Son:

grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour,

so we may be ready to greet him

when he comes again as our judge;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.




Isaiah 7.10–16 10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.15He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.



Matthew 1.18–25

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.



by Revd David In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen

Today is the Last Sunday in Advent, our waiting period will soon be over and next Sunday Christmas will have come. Promise and Fulfilment are two different things.

The Advent season is about promise, anticipation, hope, looking forward to something yet to come.

Christmas is about fulfilment, the waiting is over, joy and celebration can abound.

If you are not sure what the difference is think about a certain football game taking place today, right now there is promise, anticipation, hope, and plenty of it. Later today there will be an explosion of emotion, tears laughter, joy and celebration and someone will be lifting the trophy. Fulfilment.

All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

Words from today’s gospel reading, from St Matthew. This is the year of Matthew, and we will be hearing a lot of his gospel, we will see how promise and fulfilment are themes close to his heart and these words will come up again.

Promise and fulfilment. What the prophets promised or what God promised through them is now fulfilled. Promises made and written down long ago are coming to fruition in Jesus. So where is the outburst of joy?

If we are looking through this gospel hoping to find that. we may be sadly disappointed.

In fact, if we stick with Matthew, we have a bit of a problem. When lighting the wreath, we heard that today is a time to think especially about Mary but if we really want to hear her story we must go to St Luke. He is the one who has all the best Mary stories; the coming of the angel Gabriel to tell Mary she will bear Jesus, the meeting of the expecting mothers, Mary and Elizabeth, the inn with no room, the baby in the manger, the shepherds, and the angels. All in Luke, not Matthew. There is joy in the Christmas story ‘Fear not for I bring tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.’ But again, that is from Luke.

Matthew tells a story of promise and fulfilment, but it is different. Darker. Told more from Joseph the man’s viewpoint, with Mary far more in the shadows. The message of the angel here is not to Mary, but to Joseph. His dream which enables him to overcome his initial inclination to put aside his shamefully pregnant betrothed and take her to wife. As the story continues, we enter the realm of power-politics, deceit, and violence. We have got too used to the story of the magi as an opportunity to bring a bit of colour into the nativity story, cuddly camels, and exotic costumes. We forget it is about tyranny, and the will to crush all opposition, evil which ends with massacre. The terrible slaughter of all children under the age of two, collateral damage in the struggle for power. Again, Matthew uses those words ‘this was to fulfil what was written in the prophet.’ No joy in fulfilment, but ‘Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be comforted for they were no more.’

It is all quite depressing but if we follow Mary as found in Matthew, this Mary of the shadows, can we gain a new insight into what fulfilment might mean.

To begin, Mary finds herself about to be put away rejected if not actively shamed. She has no power of her own to choose her fate she is exposed and utterly dependant.

The recent ‘No more 1 in 3’ Mothers Union campaign reminds us that 1 in 3 women and girls around the world have experienced domestic abuse or gender-based violence. Abuse as PCC members who recently completed awareness training found, can be linked to conceptions of honour, the honour code seems close to Joseph’s mind. Violence and abuse linked with a lack of power is a much wider problem, certainly not absent from our ‘modern’ world. God’s promise finds fulfilment through this powerless Mary, protecting and empowering her. What does that mean for us and those in need of protection and empowerment today?

For Matthew’s Mary, the shadow of violence is never far away, even in the moment of homage paid by the magi the gift of myrrh, ointment for embalming the dead, ‘breathes a life of gathering gloom,’ a reminder of powerlessness and pain to come. Next, we see Mary the asylum seeker, forced to flee from persecution seeking sanctuary in a foreign land, carrying a new life, she is forced to make a new life, relying on the hospitality of others. Again, she finds herself powerless, dependent on political events beyond her control, able to return only when the regime has changed. We can imagine her feelings too, hearing news of the massacre of those left behind. I do not need to say how contemporary it all sounds.

This Mary vulnerable, utterly dependant enduring all the anxiety and danger of life as a refugee is still the guardian and bearer of the promise.

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ {Jesus means Saviour} That is the promise, and the fulfilment? Well where is it?

There is another name, a name from the prophecy of Isaiah, which Matthew uses to sum up the promise, Immanuel, ‘God is with us.’

In this ‘shadow Mary’, we have followed, can we glimpse something of how God with us. Not on the surface of things but in the depths, the depths of human experience that include powerlessness, abandonment, and anguish. Sorrows as well as joys. True fulfilment of the promise of this Jesus who will save the people from their sins can only come through this complete immersion in our life. God with us.

That is what this Mary assures us of, God is with us, yes in the sunny and in the joyful times, but with us also in the pain and the darkness. Christ the saviour is here fully and completely, he has given himself and nothing is held back. So, this Mary gives us assurance we don’t need to wait for the promises to be fulfilled, this is the day of fulfilment. Immanuel, God is with us.




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:

  • Daniel and Luda

  • Shakira, Donna, Sophie and family

  • 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

Rest in Peace:

  • Janice Blake

  • Nick Emmott-Dart

  • Thomas Rogers</