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Newsletter - Remembrance Sunday


Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team

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Services this week

Sun 12 Nov - Remembrance Sunday

9.30am - St John's Holy Communion

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

4pm - Act of remembrance

Thurs 16 Nov

10.30am - Holy Communion at Ven Bede.


Dates for your diary

Mon 18th Dec

St James Christmas event (time tbd)

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




There will be an act of remembrance happening in 3 of our churches on Remembrance Sunday, 12th November:

  • 9.30am at St John's, at the end of the service

  • 11am at Ven Bede, at the beginning of the service

  • 4pm as the main service at St Margaret's

We will especially pray for those places currently at war. Please do remember to donate to the Embrace Gaza appeal below.


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.


Bible study with translation - Tuesdays at 4.30pm

Bible study with Farsi translation has restarted on Tuesdays at 4.30pm at St James.

All are welcome whatever language you speak!

Each session finishes by 6pm. Speak to Revd Chris if you'd like more information.


Sunday Worship

Sunday 12th November 2023

Remembrance Sunday



Prayers for others:

  • Maria Hawthorn

  • George Snowdon

  • Mavis Agbeko

  • Herbert Agbeko

  • Ellis Nelson

  • Pauline Nelson

  • Michelle Wilson

  • Peter Wilson

  • Alan Taylor

  • Maureen Tayor

  • Irene Foskett

  • Lorraine Atkinson

  • Esther Kolie

  • Daniel Galbraith

Rest in peace

  • Faith Omorogbe

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.


by Revd Chris.

In today's gospel we have ten bridesmaids who take their lamps to meet the groom on the way to his wedding banquet. On the off-chance that the groom is running late, five of them bring extra oil for the lamps, and five do not. Just like any modern wedding, things are, of course, running late. The foolish bridesmaids run off to get more oil, only to return to find the doors to the banquet already shut and they are not to be let in.

As someone not renowned for my organisational skills, I can't help feeling offended by today's gospel. The implication seems to be that disorganised people will not get to go to heaven. I am most certainly not going to make it in…

When I was about 25 I discovered I am dyspraxic. Not quite to the extent some others are. But if there's the slightest change in floor level, I'll trip over it, if there's a door frame I'll walk into it. If I have a cup of coffee, there will be a trail of drips behind me. Anything requiring short-term memory for factual information, like dates and times, then my brain will simply choose to playback white noise instead. I also find it difficult to visualise how long a task or a journey will take, hence why I'm always late. Basically, I'm a bit of a mess, but at least I am an officially diagnosed mess. And it comes with other benefits - creative thinking, adapting well in a crisis, and sensitivity and focus on the person or task in front of me.

I think a lot of us would sympathise with the foolish maids in their disorganisation, we all get things wrong, and we all need a helping hand at some point. Also, to be honest, those who get everything right can be really annoying, we prefer people who are bit more ‘human’.

This is one of those passages that is easily misread to mean only the best get into heaven - the best in show, the class swots, the beautiful, the clever, the strong and the organised. Those who do well at life can pat themselves on the back feeling reassured that they have won their place in heaven, and the rest of us can sit outside in the dark feeling jealous.

However, we know from Jesus's teaching, and through 2000+ years of prayer and learning, that we can't get into heaven of our own accord. None of us can be prepared enough. None of us are good enough, and if anything, we have learnt that the weakest sinners are the ones who are the ones Jesus reaches out to help first.

So what is going on here - how do we make sense of this story? First, let’s consider what is missing from the story. There is one person who is conspicuous by their absence. There are bridesmaids, but where is the bride? The metaphor of bride and groom is one that appears throughout scripture, the groom usually signifies Christ and the bride signifies God’s people. We are the bride.

In Jesus’ time, the wedding ceremony would have been held at the home of the bride’s family and the feast afterward would be held at night in the home of the groom’s family. When the time came for the feast to begin, it was the role of the bridesmaids to accompany the couple with their lamps, to light the way to the banquet, and guide them through the darkness. Their job was to bring the light, to get the bride and groom safely to the feast.

We can interpret this story as a promise that Christ is coming, that Christ will come for us, his bride, and that he promises to take us to the wedding banquet, the promise of eternal life in heaven. It is a promise that God sees you when the world does not, that when you are weak and powerless, and forgotten as unimportant, there is already a place at the banquet reserved for you. But there is also a message for those who have power, positions of responsibility, and gifts and abilities, those who forget their responsibility to love their neighbour, who make excuses for not having compassion- God also sees them.

Today is Remembrance Sunday, and we think particularly of the darkness of war. Remembrance, with a time of silence and poppies which grow where there were once battlefields in France, are traditions that come from the end of the first world war - “the war to end all wars”. Of course, it wasn’t the end. There have been many more wars, and at this time we see war raging in Ukraine and the Holy Land. There are no easy paths out of war, but those of us with power and responsibility have a duty to light our lamps, to light the way of hope. We do not get to put justice and love on pause just because the night is long and the path is hard.

Despite what may have been said by certain politicians, the protests this weekend calling for a ceasefire in Palestine are absolutely not ‘hate marches’, to inflame and encourage far-right counter-protesters is an abuse of power. To call for the protection of innocent people caught in a war is the most appropriate thing we can do at Remembrance. To call for a ceasefire is not to condone the kidnapping and murder of Israelis, but to say that darkness cannot conquer darkness. The ones who have not kept their lamps burning, who have run out of the oil of compassion, the ones who have let the darkness overcome, are the ones who have sought power over peace, those who think their own interests should come at the expense of another’s. All of us need to remember those who have died in war, we must keep this memorial so that their sacrifice is not just a light that once shone in the past, but a light that guides us now, that guides us into a world of justice and compassion.

We live in a complex world, but one truth does not cancel out another, the pain of one does not justify causing pain to another. Similarly, the promise of Christ’s eternal love for the weak and the powerless is no excuse for those with power and responsibility to do nothing now. Some of us have lamps to light, and oil to burn, some of us have ways to shine in the world already, but will you choose to let your light shine?



Almighty Father,

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.


God, our refuge and strength,

bring near the day when wars shall cease

and poverty and pain shall end,

that earth may know the peace of heaven

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


1 Thessalonians 4.13–18

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.15For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.16For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.

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

Gospel Reading

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

Matthew 25.1–13 25‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” 7Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” 9But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” 10And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” 12But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” 13Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

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

Post Communion

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.


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