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Newsletter - Advent Sunday


Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team

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Services this week

Sun 3 Dec

Please note - 9.30 at St John's and 9.45 at St Margaret's now cancelled due to icy conditions

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

Thurs 7 Dec

10.30am - Holy Communion at Ven Bede.


Dates for your diary

Mon 18th Dec

St James Christmas lunch 12-2pm

Christmas fayre 3.30-5pm

Carol service 5pm

Wed 20th Dec

6.30pm, St John’s Carols

Christmas Eve, Sun 24 Dec

9.30am - St John's Holy Communion

11am - Ven Bede hub service

4pm - St Margaret’s crib service

11.30pm - Midnight Mass at St James

Christmas Day, Mon 25 Dec

10am - Ven Bede



Please note - 9.30 at St John's and 9.45 at St Margaret's now cancelled due to icy conditions. 11am at Ven Bede will continue as normal. Please stay safe while travelling.

Advent & Christmas events 2023

Carols from St John's

Wednesday 20th December, 6.30pm

Location: St John's Benwell Village, NE15 7PL

Christmas Dinner

Monday 28th December 12-2pm

Location: St James Benwell, NE15 6RS

Christmas Fayre & carols

Monday 28th December

Fayre from 3.30pm

Carol service at 5pm

Location: St James Benwell, NE15 6RS

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sunday 24th December (Christmas Eve)

9.30am - St John's Benwell Village, NE15 7PL

11am - Venerable Bede, West Road, NE4 8AP

St Margaret's Crib service

Sunday 24th December, 4pm

Location: St Margaret Scotswood, NE15 6AR

Midnight mass

Sunday 24th December, 11.30pm

Location: St James Benwell, NE15 6RS

Christmas Day

Monday 25th December, 10am

Location: Venerable Bede, West Road, NE4 8AP


Mavis Agbeko

It is with huge sadness that we announce the death of Mavis Agbeko, a much loved and long standing member of St James.

Her funeral will be on 5th December at St James, at 12pm, followed by a committal at the West Road crematorium.

Please keep her family and friends in your prayers at this time. May she rest in peace, and rise in glory.


Embrace - Gaza appeal

The people of Gaza are living through an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Israel’s response 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.


Sunday Worship

Sunday 3rd December 2023

1st Sunday of Advent



Prayers for others:

  • Maria Hawthorn

  • Herbert, Lucy, and Luke Agbeko

  • Ellis Nelson

  • Pauline Nelson

  • Michell Wilson

  • Peter Wilson

  • Alan Taylor

  • Maureen Tayor

  • Irene Foskett

  • Lorraine Atkinson

  • Lynn Mosby

  • Diana Humphrey

  • Esther Kolie

  • David Veitch

Rest in peace

  • Mavis Agbeko

  • Joan Bellingham

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.

Advent wreath

1st Sunday - the Patriarchs

Lord Jesus, light of the world, the mothers and fathers of our faith heard your call help us to hear your call at Christmas to bring justice and peace to the world as we journey in the hope of your promise. Amen.


by Revd David

We just came back from Japan last week where we were visiting our son, two young grandsons, Tetsu and Tomo and of course our Japanese daughter in law, Hiromi and her extended family. It takes a little bit of adjustment moving between cultures, you must be careful about removing shoes for example, toilet slippers are not a thing here, and in Japan blowing your nose on the metro is definitely a no no.

Culture shock is something psychologists have identified, the disorientation that comes from moving from the culture we know to one that is completely different. Many of or church family and many other people in our community have the experience of living in different worlds and moving between them and you will know how challenging it can be.

Even within one culture there are ‘subcultures’. I’m sure Lydia will know all about the strange subculture of a theological college. In fact, the whole church has its own culture, language, and rituals. As society and the church drift further apart, this cultural gap is confusing for many.

Christmas is perhaps the one season where church and society still seem aligned. I guess ninety-nine per cent of people in the UK will know Christmas is coming. I guess most will know it is something to do with Jesus being born. But are church and society really in step? The Church has a whole season of Advent, which we begin today. It is not the same as Christmas. It is meant to prepare for Christmas, counting down, hence the Advent wreaths and calendars, but is quite distinct. Traditionally it wasn’t time for a daily chocolate, it was a bit like Lent, quite sombre, the four last things, death and judgement, heaven and hell were the topics to chew on. The scary language of our readings, reminding us of the End, are part of this Advent culture. I don’t think the Fenwick Christmas window will be featuring the four last things any time soon.

So how do we deal with cultural gap? Do we start the party early, join in the fun with carols and fairs and shopping and parties, or do we stand back and try and hold onto the ‘not yet’ that is such a big part of traditional ‘Church Advent’? Waiting, not jumping in. Promise not fulfilment. Everyone must make their own judgment but maybe it helps if we realise this tension is there and now, right at the start of Advent, think how we might best spend these next few weeks. We might not want to give up all the fun, but can we make some kind of space for this other quieter, more prayerful Advent?

Of course, in a way it is all a bit absurd, for four weeks, we pretend we are watching and waiting for the Saviour to come and then, in four weeks’ time, we ring our bells, give our presents, put up the Christmas crib, place the baby in it, and say ‘Rejoice the Saviour has been born’. Absurd, not because it’s untrue, but because the event we prepare for and will celebrate, took place already, 2000 years ago.

So why do we do it? Why do we pretend? To understand another culture, it’s good to observe, to research, to learn, but that is not the same as entering into that culture, being immersed in it. If we go to St James Park to see a game of football, at one level it’s absurd, twenty-two grown men kicking a ball around while fifty thousand, apparently sane human beings, sing and shout and weep tears of joy or pain. Only by entering into the experience can we begin to understand. Of course, you might still think it’s absurd, but I hope you get the point . Participation is everything.

Advent and Christmas together give us the opportunity to enter the story and make it our own. Just as participation in Lent helps us understand the mystery of Easter more deeply, so participation in Advent will heighten our appreciation of the Christmas mystery, God with us. Yes, there is playacting and looked at from outside it may seem very strange, even a form of escapism, but from the inside it looks very different. By taking part, through prayer, listening, watching and expectantly waiting we can begin to grasp how the truth of what happened all those years ago is not simply past, but a living reality that continues to bring joy and peace. ‘Be born in us we pray’ can become not just a tired phrase but a heartfelt longing. This kind of play-acting can drive out another kind of play acting whereby we call ourselves Christians, but fail to let the reality of God’s Love reshape out lives and our world.

‘Incarnation’ is a big church culture word. What it means simply is in Jesus God is born as man, God immerses Himself in our human life participating in all its pain and all it’s glory. By doing so He not only affirms the value of all that is good and true in every culture but deepens and transforms those things. Immersed in our life he enables us to be immersed in His divine life. Can this reality shape our next few weeks? If so it will be about a lot more than the peculiar practices of Church culture. It might not always be easy, but it will be a Culture Shock not to be feared but welcomed. Amen


Almighty God,

give us grace to cast away the works of darkness

and to put on the armour of light,

now in the time of this mortal life,

in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;

that on the last day,

when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead,

we may rise to the life immortal;

through him who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.


Almighty God,

as your kingdom dawns,

turn us from the darkness of sin to the light of holiness,

that we may be ready to meet you

in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.


Isaiah 64.1–9 64O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence— 2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! 3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 4 From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. 5 You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. 8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity for ever. Now consider, we are all your people.

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

Gospel Reading

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

Mark 13.24–end 24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’

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

Post Communion

O Lord our God,

make us watchful and keep us faithful

as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;

that, when he shall appear,

he may not find us sleeping in sin

but active in his service

and joyful in his praise;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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