Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team
Dates for your diary
Wed 24 May
Ven Bede Patronal festival:
9.15am Coffee, cake and craft for women
10.30am Holy Communion
Sun 28 May
11am Pentecost Team service followed by the Annual Meeting (APCM).
Services this week
Sun 21 May
9.30am St John's, Holy Communion.
9.45am at St Margaret's, Holy Communion.
11am at St James, Hub service (Parish Eucharist).
Wed 24 May
10.30am Ven Bede Patronal festival (communion)
Thurs 25 May
10.30am Holy Communion, Ven Bede
Venerable Bede Patronal festival
9.15am Coffee, cake and craft for women
10.30am Holy Communion
This week we celebrate the feast day of the Venerable Bede. We will have our monthly coffee cake and craft for women on Wednesday, and dedicate the service of Holy communion in honour of the Venerable Bede.
We will also celebrate Holy Communion on Thursday at 10.30am, which will happen every week.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Acts 1.6–14 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 7He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’ 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
John 17.1–11 17After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 6 ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
This Thursday past was one of the great festivals of the church. Forty days after Easter we celebrated Ascension Day, Jesus, as in our reading from Acts, taken up into heaven. Sadly, as a festival it is a bit neglected, not just by the world which really doesn’t know what to make of it, but also by the church which can seem a little embarrassed too. Jesus going up like a rocket has different associations in the age of Elon Musk Space Ex etc.
I say it is a pity because ‘Lift up your hearts’ which we always say in our services is something we really do want to do, and goodness knows there is enough that drags us down. To turn our gaze firmly to the glory of Christ and the wonder of his victory and encourage those around us to do the same seems a very attractive idea, but at the same time I’m perhaps also a bit relieved we don’t make more of it.
Why is that? Well firstly, as I have already suggested because the imagery of physical space, heaven up there, is just so alien to modern thought it’s hard to know where to begin, but alongside that, in a world that feels it has outgrown organised religion along with mythical thinking there is an understandable suspicion of anything that looks like triumphalism. Does a Church keen to promote images of power and victory, as seen in the Ascended Christ, show itself to be more concerned with its own power and reputation than in embracing the shame and pain of the world?
The Glory of Christ and the pain of the world belong together. Holding them so is not easy, it can be done, but Ascension is not a stand-alone, it only makes sense coming, as it does, in the light of Easter and anticipating, as it does, next Sunday, Pentecost or Whit Sunday, the third great Festival of the church after Christmas and Easter.
On that day, often called ‘the birthday of the church’, we recall the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today we were reminded of what came first, that small group, stunned and anxious, told simply to go and wait;’ wait in the city until clothed with power from high’.
What must that waiting have been like? Not easy, there must have been moments looking back, recalling things full of shame and pain, the pain they know Jesus suffered, the pain they know because of that, things done wrong, things done badly, times of misunderstanding, failure, flight, feeling lost and bereft of the one they thought would have brought redemption to Israel-it’s all there.
But also remembering new things, glimpses of glory, the new understanding as eyes are opened to the meaning of scripture, how failures were met with forgiveness, and flight was forgotten in the joy of Easter meetings and greetings.
And now this new promise. What is this power from on high? What will be expected of them? Maybe they are fearful, maybe they already feel fired up, either way they naturally want to be up and doing, and yet are told to wait, waiting is needful, if uncomfortable.
The Gospel reading today was a part of Jesus’ Prayer before his passion, a long prayer, found only in John, it marks a transition from the time of active work, teaching, healing, signs, to what is to come-His passion, not what he does, but what is done to Him, what this gospel calls a lifting up- it is a kind of triumph a lifting up that will ‘draw all people to me’ but it is a lifting up that is torture as well as triumph the lifting up on the cross.
In this prayer, prior to that lifting, it as if Jesus sums up what he has been doing, what he hopes, for and what is yet to come and offers it all up, lifting everything to the Father. It is sometimes called the ‘High Priestly’ prayer.
Jesus if you like is doing what the disciples are now being asked to do, looking back, and anticipating, but He does so with perfect confidence in the Father’s will, entrusting everything to Him. Jesus is revealing the inner meaning of all prayer, ‘so that they may be one, as we are one.’
These days we are now in, between Ascension and Pentecost, have traditionally been a special time for prayer, to wait prayerfully asking for the Holy Spirit. Our new Bishop Helen-Ann ‘mindful of how others may interpret the words and phrases we use’, has suggested a new strap line for the Diocese, instead of ‘Growing Church Bringing Hope’ she suggests ‘Seeking, Sharing, Sending’.
‘SEEKING through being open to God’s transforming love in our worship;
SHARING through being generous with God’s transforming gifts in our hospitality;
SENDING through being engaged in God’s transforming work in the world in our service.’
These days are perfect for seeking.
If you would like to add someone to the prayer list please email email@example.com
The name will stay on the list for 1 month unless requested to be long-term.
Prayers for others:
Madeleine and her daughters
Christine, David, Philip, Neil and Steven
Moe and Mary
Rest in Peace
Post Communion prayer
Eternal God, giver of love and power,
your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world
to preach the gospel of his kingdom:
confirm us in this mission,
and help us to live the good news we proclaim;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.