Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team
Services this week
Sun 13th Nov
9.45am - St John's, Holy Communion
11am - Ven Bede, Hub Service with Act of remembrance (Parish eucharist)
4pm - St Margaret's, community Act of Remembrance
Dates for your diary
Tues 15th Nov
7pm - PCC meeting at Ven Bede
Sun 27th Nov
11am - Advent Sunday celebration service at Ven Bede.
You are welcome at any of our services this Sunday as we remember those who have suffered in war and pray for peace in the world.
Join us for Holy Communion at 9.45am at St John's and 11am at Venerable Bede. At 4pm we will hold a stand-alone Act of Remembrance at St Margaret's Scotswood.
Dance Night at St John's - 26 Nov, 6.30pm
A night of fellowship and fun!
Join us for dancing (line dancing, sequence, barn dance, twist, waltz, tango) there will also be a buffet and raffle. All abilities welcome!
Tickets £4 (speak to Edith or Joe for details)
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
2 Thessalonians 3.6–13 6 Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. 9This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. 11For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 13Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.
Luke 21.5–19 5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’ 7 They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ 8And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them. 9 ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ 10Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12 ‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.
By Revd David
‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place ‘
These words from the Gospel have a very contemporary ring, war and insurrections are part of the daily diet brought to us by TV internet newspapers etc ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues’ .. all very familiar territory -Is this then the End? Are these ‘The Last Days?’
Sadly, we only need to know a little about history to realise the church has been confronted by these things ever since Jesus spoke the words. Wars and rumours of wars, plagues and famines are the very stuff of history, the tragic experience of humanity in every age.
Today is Remembrance Sunday, a tradition started after the 1914-18 war. A war it was hoped would be the war to end all wars. It wasn’t. World War Two followed and since that war ended in 1945 every year wars have followed wars in a dreadful procession of suffering and death. So, the answer to the question ‘are these the last days?‘ may seem fairly obvious to us. ‘Not necessarily’, ‘the end will not be yet.’ The danger for us is not that we assume the end is coming but that we let this continuity of tragedy lead to a hardening of heart, we simply accept it as a normal state of affairs- so that’s OK then, it’s just the way the world is, nothing can be done. Remembrance Sunday can challenge that complacency, but to do so the way we remember is as important as what we remember. We need to keep it real.
This little book ‘The Railway Man’ by Eric Lomax, made into a film with Colin Firth, has a lot to teach about keeping it real. Eric was a bit of a local hidden treasure, he lived up in Berwick until his death in 2012 and the film features some local landscapes including Berwick’s famous railway bridges. ‘The Railway Man’, it sounds harmless enough, Eric’s generation, back in the days of steam, loved trains and everything to do with them and he was no exception, but the heart of this story is not at all nostalgic, rather one of terrible suffering. Eric was captured by the Japanese and forced to work on the notorious Burma to Siam railway, the infamous ‘Bridge over the river Kwai’. He was found with a hidden radio, and things became even worse. He endured horrific beatings and torture. After the war he carried the scars of that treatment, not so much on his body as in his mind. Remembering was a source of unhappiness, destabilising his attempts to start a new life. He recounts how huge anger, bitterness and hidden pain fed through destructively into his relationships.
Remembering can be hell. David Jones the artist and poet writing of his experiences in World War 1 said ‘The memory of the war is like a disease’.
Nowadays it is a disease, a disease with a name, PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and hopefully that means some support for sufferers. Not back then. It took twenty years for Jones’ experiences to be transformed into the epic war poem ‘In Parenthesis’. It took more than thirty years and retirement and remarriage in the early 1980’s before Eric was able to face the reality of what was done to him and find a way of remembering that was healing.
Eric was eventually helped by Helen Bamber the founder of the organisation Medical Victims of Torture, now called Freedom from Torture. It is an organisation that still does wonderful work, including here in Newcastle, with those who continue to suffer from past abuse.
Through the Foundation Eric found out that one of those involved in his torture was still alive, a man who did the interpreting and for whom Eric had developed a special loathing. After the war this man, Nagase Takashi, had been overcome with remorse, written about his experience, and worked hard to overcome Japan’s culture of militarism and work for peace. Eric read his book with its graphic account of a particular torture session using what has become known as ‘water boarding’, he realised as he was reading, he was the man being tortured. He also read how later Nagase had felt a sense of forgiveness on visiting allied graves. He and especially his wife Patti questioned how guilt could simply vanish, especially as he, Eric, had not forgiven him. In anger Patti wrote a letter not expecting any reply, she was surprised to get a polite and sorrowful response.
Very courageously they not only continued to correspond but agreed to meet. In the film Eric takes a weapon with him, still wanting his revenge, there was no weapon, but Eric freely admits I had started the search for Nagase with murder in mind. The book has an extremely moving description of their encounter and the bond of shared suffering and humanity that emerged between the two men. In the end before leaving Eric read out a formal letter saying how, though he could not forget what happened in 1943, he assured him of his total forgiveness.
I felt that I had accomplished more than I could ever have dreamed of. Meeting Nagase has turned him from a hated enemy with whom friendship would have been unthinkable, into a blood brother. If I'd never been able to put a name to the face of one of the men who had harmed me, and never discovered that behind that face there was also a damaged life, the nightmares would always have come from a past without meaning. And I had proved for myself remembering is not enough if it simply hardens hate.
We need to remember in a way that keeps things real but also opens up new pathways, pathways to forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.
Alongside our special acts of remembrance today we make our remembrance of Christ. Taking bread and wine, breaking, offering, sharing. These gifts then become for us a promise and foretaste of the reality of Christ’s kingdom. They open a way for us, a way that doesn’t ignore or normalise the reality of evil but transforms it through love. The call to remembrance is also a call to forgiveness, to forgive and to be forgiven.
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:
Cath and Dave Welsh
Christine, David, Philip, Neil and Steven
Pat Whitten and family
Moe and Mary
Rest in Peace:
Post Communion prayer
God of peace,
whose Son Jesus Christ proclaimed the kingdom
and restored the broken to wholeness of life:
look with compassion on the anguish of the world,
and by your healing power
make whole both people and nations;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.