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Newsletter - Easter 6


Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team

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Dates for your diary

Thurs 18 May

10.30am, Ascension day - launch of Ven Bede weekday service

Sun 28 May

Pentecost Team service followed by the Annual Meeting (APCM).


Services this week

Sun 14 May

9.30am St John's, Holy Communion.

11am at St James, Hub service (Parish eucharist).

4pm at St Margaret's, Holy Communion.

Thurs 18 May

10.30am Ascension Day, Holy Communion, Ven Bede



Ascension Day, Thurs 18 May - launch of new weekday service

From Ascension Day on 18th May we are launching a new service weekday service.

Join us every Thursday at 10.30 am we will hold a service of Holy Communion at the Venerable Bede, NE4 8AP


Pentecost team service and world lunch

On Pentecost Sunday 28th May we will have a team service at St James at 11am.

Directly afterward we will hold our annual meeting (see below) but as a reward we will have lunch together!

At Pentecost we celebrate the diversity of our church, so we are asking everyone to bring a dish to share from your own culture, or a different culture you feel connected to!


APCM - Sun 28 May, 12pm

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 it will happen on 28th May at St James at 12pm, directly after the team service.

For all the details and paperwork please click here.


Items for the notices.

If you would like to announce something in the newsletter or the church service, please send the item in advance to Kath McIntyre at the church email address

Please include details and no more than 2-3 short sentences about the item. If you have a preferred image please also include it in the email.


Worship texts

The Collect

God our redeemer,

you have delivered us from the power of darkness

and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:

grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life,

so by his continual presence in us he may raise us

to eternal joy;

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.




Acts 17.22–31

22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we too are his offspring.” 29Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’



John 14.15–21

15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’



Revd Chris

Where do you see God in the world? Do you expect to encounter God through holy places? Nature? Holy people? Words? Art? Worship?

In our first reading Paul is in the heart of Athens, in a place of debate, in a city of philosophers and scholars, and in the Areopagus no less, the courts of justice where they consider religious matters, and he is there to defend his Christian faith. But Paul does not need to worry, he sees that God has gone ahead of him, God is already there.

Paul notices how religious the Athenians are, they have many idols around the city showing their natural desire to seek after God. Amongst them he has seen an altar dedicated an ‘unknown God’. Paul tells them that this unknown God is in fact already within them, this God is “the one in whom we live and move and have our being.” Paul tells them God is the creator, present to each and every one of us, each person bears the image of God and therefore we can encounter God in each other.

Of course Paul is concerned about these idols around and about – for Paul, God cannot be contained in statues.

As an artist who trained in drawing, painting, and carving. I therefore always feel slightly uncomfortable when the Bible says things like “we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals”. Am I sinning every time I do a drawing? I especially find it uncomfortable, because for me art is a way of looking for God, to look at the world and understand it, and to look for God in it.

One thing people often say to me is that they don’t understand art, or they only like what they can understand. But that’s not the point, because if an artwork were just meant to be easily understood then it would just be a diagram in a text book. And sometimes there is no obvious meaning other than the beauty of colour and shape, or the feeling that it gives, because God isn’t limited to what you understand, to the places and things that work for you.

It goes both ways – God is bigger than anything any artist can imagine, but God is also certainly bigger than the thoughts of those who think they have got everything right.

The issue is when we try to reduce God to either an idol, an object, or our own prejudices and preconceptions of God.

An idol claims to reveal God, but ends up distracting, or getting in the way of God. We can limit ourselves to all sorts of idols, things that become the desire of our hearts – success, money, relationships, or even being convinced of our own correct opinions. The message of Paul is that it’s not up to us to bring God to anyone, because God is already there, God goes ahead of us everywhere we go. And in creating art we encounter the creator God within us, but we are reminded that God is vast, mysterious, infinite and goes beyond us.

Obviously I’m biased, but seeing many of those who come to the art group throughout the week is truly inspiring. Because you can see people becoming artists before your eyes. One thing that always typifies an artist, is they are never fully satisfied with what they have done. There may be some satisfaction and joy at seeing something you have made, but there is always something more, something they want to do better next time, something that they would tweak or change or want to practice more to get right, or some meaning they want to know more deeply. This is because nothing can be fully contained in a single creation.

Being attentive to looking, observing what you’re drawing, being diligent with practising with your materials, and being open to inspiration, allows incredible things to grow from your imagination. And it’s an endeavour that can never be finished.

I think we should think of our lives as art. The artwork of a Christian is meant to be love, to create love in the world, to imagine new ways to love, to create love where there is none. But we know that nothing can truly sum up the fullness of God’s love. We use the materials and tools of kindness, compassion, words, actions, justice, and mercy. And no, we will never get it perfectly right, but we can always keep trying, keep practising and improving.

Fortunately Jesus says he gives us an “Advocate, to be with you for ever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”

The Advocate helps us to keep the commandment to love, it means we do not need to fear looking for God in the unexpected and imperfect places. We do not need to dismiss the ways others come to know God, because God has chosen to reveal himself there already, and it’s not up to us to stop him or limit God to what we think. For “In him we live and move and have our being”.

The promise is that we have someone to help us. Yes we are all imperfect, but we have an advocate, the Holy Spirit, literally one who argues for and defends us. In the world, in ourselves, and in each other, is the incredible richness of the creator God already. We have the Holy Spirit within us, who helps us to know an infinite God ever more deeply as we practise the art of creating love each and every day.



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:

  • Maria Hawthorn

  • Madeleine and her daughters

  • Michelle Madison

  • Lorraine Atkinson

  • 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

  • George Snowden

  • Claire Mozaffari

  • Herbert Agbeko

Rest in Peace

  • Joan Finley

  • Gladys Carr


  • Lily-Mae and Taylor


Post Communion prayer

God our Father,

whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life:

may we thirst for you,

the spring of life and source of goodness,

through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

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