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Newsletter - Easter 5

28/4/24

Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team

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Services this week


Sun 28 April

9.30am - St John's Holy Communion

11am - Hub service moves to St James (Parish Eucharist)

4pm - St Margaret's Evening prayer


Thurs 2 May

11am - Ven Bede Holy Communion


 

Dates for your Diary

Thurs 2 May

7pm - PCC


Sun 19 May

11am - Pentecost Team service followed by Annual Meeting (APCM) at St James'

 

News




 

Don't forget! The Hub service is now at St James on Sunday


The 11am hub service will be at St James from Sunday 21st April and will remain there during the warmer months (until about October).






 

Congratulations and thank you!





Congratulations to all 14 people who were confirmed by Bishop Helen-Ann last Sunday!


And a huge thank you to everyone who helped prepare for the service with cleaning, cooking, music, serving, welcoming, prayer and support!


 

Notice of annual meetings (APCM)


Pentecost Sunday, 19 May 2024, 12pm

St James Benwell, NE15 6RS

(Followed by Pentecost lunch!)


The 'Annual Parochial Church Meeting' meets once a year and receives reports on changes to the electoral roll, general parish activities, and finances. It is also when we elect members of the PCC and churchwardens. This year's meeting will be held directly after our Team Pentecost service.



 

Bishop Helen-Ann becomes patron of the Foodbank


It is fitting that the week Bishop Helen-Ann is with us is also the week she became patron of our own Newcastle Foodbank!


She says about the appointment: “I hope that in my role as a patron I will be able to use this platform as Bishop of Newcastle and as a Lords Spiritual to highlight the many systemic issues of injustice that make the foodbank a necessity of daily life for so many people.

“I hope also to be able to shine a light of hope on the stories of community and kindness that I see. The foodbank itself was started by the Church and it is rightly proud of its origins, something that my invitation to become a patron connects with in a way that I find deeply inspiring. It is a great honour indeed.”


 

Dentaid Dental Bus at St James

The Dentaid dental bus was based at St James' this week offering free dental care to members of the local community who struggle to access treatment.


People have been seen for a range of procedures, from childhood consultations to full dental extractions.


The BBC were also on hand documenting the initiative, you can read about it here:


or listen here:









 

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 28th April 2024

5th Sunday of Easter

White/gold


Collect

Almighty God,

who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ

have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:

grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires,

so by your continual help

we may bring them to good effect;

through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.


or

Risen Christ,

your wounds declare your love for the world

and the wonder of your risen life:

give us compassion and courage

to risk ourselves for those we serve,

to the glory of God the Father.



Readings


Acts 8.26–end

 

26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Get up and go towards the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ (This is a wilderness road.) 27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.’ 30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ 31He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

  ‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,

   and like a lamb silent before its shearer,

     so he does not open his mouth.

33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.

   Who can describe his generation?

     For his life is taken away from the earth.’


34The eunuch asked Philip, ‘About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ 35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?’ 38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

 

This is the word of the Lord.

All:  Thanks be to God.



Gospel


Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

All:  Glory to you, O Lord.


John 15.1–8


15‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.


This is the Gospel of the Lord.

All:  Praise to you, O Christ.


Post Communion

Eternal God,

whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life:

grant us to walk in his way,

to rejoice in his truth,

and to share his risen life;

who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.


Intercessions


Prayers for others:

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Paulette Thompson

  • John Peterson

  • Cecil Harlock

  • Maria Hawthorn

  • Herbert Agbeko

  • Ellis Nelson

  • Pauline Nelson

  • Michelle Wilson

  • Peter Wilson

  • Alan Taylor

  • Maureen Taylor

  • Irene Foskett

  • Lorraine Atkinson

  • Pat Law

  • Moe and Mary

  • Hilary Dixon

  • Lynn Mosby

  • David Veitch

Rest in peace

  • Val Smith

  • Gordon White

Those being baptised

  • Jase Barnett

  • Bobby Patrick

Other

  • The ongoing situation in Russia, Ukraine, Gaza, Iran, Sudan and all other places at war.


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 David

 

‘I am the true vine’  One of the great ‘I am’ sayings from the Gospel of John. Last week we heard ‘I am the Good Shepherd’, elsewhere we find others.- ‘the true Bread’, ‘the Light of the World’, ‘the Resurrection’, ‘the Way the Truth and the Life’,  …

All  deceptively simple, single images - one or two words, basic symbols understood across different cultures, and so in some senses universal, and yet carrying many levels of meaning, especially when read against the background of the Bible.


Take the Vine, it is a sign of blessing wherever wine is found, the scriptures reflect this, in the promised land not only will there be milk and honey, but oil and wine, each will sit under his vine and fig tree.  But Jesus and his hearers would have known other Bible passages where vine and vineyard are not just general signs of blessing but symbols of Israel itself, the chosen people are God’s vine.

You transplanted a vine from Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.

 

Although this might still seem positive, in fact the image comes to have real ambiguity. As the prophets rebuked the people for their disobedience to God, the vine comes to represent an unfaithful people, a people under judgement.

Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish.

The Vineyard in Isaiah is an image of a people who have abandoned God and are now abandoned by Him.

The vineyard of the Lord Almighty  is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah  are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;  for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

The same theme is found in Jeremiah,

 I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine.


This is the background to Jesus saying. ‘I am the true vine.’ Unlike the old Israel, which was unfaithful and turned away from God, He comes perfectly fulfilling Gods purpose, those united to Him will become God’s new people, destined not for failure but fruitfulness.

What should we take from this?  Well of course it should make us hopeful. We are still in the Easter season still celebrating the resurrection, the victory of Christ, and looking to Him expectantly for that fruitfulness. But at the same time, we can’t afford to ignore the note of warning; united with Christ, fruitfulness, blessing, abundance; cut off from Christ, sterility, uselessness, death. As St Augustine put it ‘either the vine or the fire’.


Last time I preached on this text we were just emerging from Covid. We were only too aware what it meant to be cut off- cut off from church, from friends, from families,  from our everyday routines. But, as I remarked then, and still believe, Covid also did us a favour. It reminded  us how important all those connections are and how we should cherish them, it also encouraged us to find new ways to connect, with each other and with the  communities we serve.


Listening to people in other churches it is clear many congregations are still struggling with the aftermath of Covid, no doubt in some ways we are too, but it is not all withered branches, there are clear signs of fruitfulness too. In a few weeks we have our parish annual meeting, as we look back on the year there have been so many different activities it’s hard to  cover them all. Just one example, a fortnight ago, it was a real blessing to have Bishop Helen Ann with us, as fourteen people made their Confirmation commitment. She clearly enjoyed the occasion commenting on the day ‘this is my kind of church’ and writing afterwards,

It was a terrific morning and I was delighted to be with you all. Thank you for the wonderful hospitality and welcome. Please pass on my gratitude for the lemon curd cupcakes, absolutely delicious!

 

Such fruitfulness –not just the cup cakes -is a tribute to the hard work, co-operation and commitment of many people,  so again thank you to all, and perhaps to Covid too!

  ‘I am the Vine you are the branches’

To be fruitful we must be one not just with one another, but with Christ.  If His life flows in us growth will follow just as bud and blossom, but how?

Do you remember the lock down?  how everything seemed to stop suddenly? How quiet things were? how alongside the understandable anxiety there could also be a real sense of tranquillity and peace? Covid put the brakes on and that wasn’t all bad. As we are once more immersed in our busy world does that have a message?


 

After the Confirmation the Bishop was going straight from the service to London for a week in the House of Lords where she was on duty leading daily prayers. Marking her first year in post she sent a letter to the clergy reflecting on that.

 

I remember Archbishop Rowan Williams once saying that regarding prayer, ‘you’ve got to let God in, for a part of the day with nothing else going on’. To me that speaks powerfully to the (yes, brief) time of prayer at the start of the business of the House of Lords, and to the opportunity that prayer offers to us all. This is not a pious invitation to be worthy, but rather to place ourselves and all whom we encounter in God’s presence so that it might inform and inspire all of our lives.

 

‘you’ve got to let God in, for a part of the day with nothing else going on’.

Not easy, especially when we are busy, or under pressure, but a reminder that prayer is not an optional extra, but the way we are united with the Vine. United with Him, but only united with Him we will bear fruit.   Amen 


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