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Newsletter - Sunday next before Lent


Your weekly update from the Benwell & Scotswood Team

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Dates for your diary

Wed 22 Feb

10.30am - Ash Wednesday (ashing and communion), Ven Bede

Sat 18 Feb

10am St John's coffee morning in aid of the Turkey-Syria earthquake appeal.

Sat 4 March

Quiet day - trip to Alnmouth Friary


Services this week

Sun 19 Feb

9.30am - St John's holy communion

9.45am - St Margaret's holy communion

11am - Ven Bede holy communion (Parish eucharist)



Turkey-Syria Earthquake appeal

We are collecting for Time to Help UK, who are raising funds to provide much-needed aid to those impacted by the devastating earthquake. Several Turkish members of our community volunteer with Time to Help.


Quiet day at Alnmouth Friary

Sat 4 March

On Saturday 4th March we will be going on a trip for a restful day of quiet and reflection at the beautiful Alnmouth Friary on the Northumberland coast. There will be an opportunity to spend time in quiet and there are beautiful grounds and beach to explore, and we will join the brothers for midday prayer and holy communion.

The coach will leave from St James at 8.30-9.00am

We will leave Alnmouth at 4.30-5.00pm

Please let us know if you would like to come. There is a sign up sheet at the back of church or you can send us an email. We will be asking for a donation towards travel and the Friary, but there will be free places for anyone who wants one.


Ash Wednesday

10.30am, 22 Feb at Ven bede

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. In this communion service we are signed with the cross in ash on our foreheads.

Ashing an ancient sign of penitence and the forgiveness freely given to all by Christ on the cross.


Lent group

Wednesdays 6.30pm beginning 1st Marh

We will meet every Wednesday at Kathy Germain's house throughout Lent (please get in contact or ask Kathy or the clergy for details) at 6.30pm.

If you are interested in joining the group let us know!

As a small group we will meet and discuss the Archbishop's 2023 Lent book Failure: What Jesus Said About Sin, Mistakes and Messing Stuff Up. It helps us look at what we do when we do get things wrong and what Jesus says about it.

We will have some free copies, but if you would like to buy your own copy you can order it here.


BBC documentary featuring our churches

We are incredibly proud of our community who feature in this documentary about the cost of living crisis. Though we believe this crisis should not be happening, the generosity and love that has been shown gives us real hope for humanity.


Worship texts

The Collect

Almighty Father,

whose Son was revealed in majesty

before he suffered death upon the cross:

give us grace to perceive his glory,

that we may be strengthened to suffer with him

and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.




Exodus 24.12–18 12 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’ 13So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14To the elders he had said, ‘Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.’ 15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.



Matthew 17.1–9 17Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’



by Revd Chris

The story of Jesus we usually tell is about Christ coming down to us in those dark times. God stepping into the world, to become like one of us sinners.

Today’s gospel is one of those stories that goes the other way, about us going up to God. About Jesus, Peter, James and John going up a mountain, a holy place. It is meant to remind us of the story of Moses ascending the mountain, where he encountered God in a stormy cloud and was delivered the Ten Commandments. About us reaching God through faith and action.

Jesus is the way God breaks through into our world. Revealed in a way we can understand, in human flesh, birth and death, words and friendship, in food and drink. But in what we call the ‘transfiguration’ we glimpse the other side, see God more directly – something incredible, indescribable, incomprehensible.

It is one those moments that the presence of God shines so brightly it cannot be denied. Moments like this probably define how we think about God in popular culture more than anything else, light shining from heaven, booming voices, near death experiences of walking into the light, heaven as sat upon perfectly fluffy clouds, always light…

But those moments are few and far between. In the Bible as well as in real life.

Especially in moments of darkness and desperation, we want that powerful transcendent God to make everything better, we want escape, to disappear, wrapped up in God’s arms like a loving parent does to a child. When we fear and doubt, we want that definitive proof, that God exists and cares. And we want to make a record of it, to always be tangibly reminded of it, just like Peter wanted to build three shelters to mark the occasion.

I believe these sorts of incredible experiences do happen, but certainly not often and not to everyone.

But why not? When we want or need something so badly, and when we believe it is true, why does it not happen?

Someone asked me to pray for them the other day. They were obviously upset, I didn't know what about, she said she wasn't religious, but she would try anything right now.

It was a tricky pastoral situation – I was trying to dream up some words of comfort but with no idea what would be helpful. All I could say, was that of course I would pray for her, and that prayer, if anything, is a sign that there is still hope when things are really dark, when there is nothing left and nowhere else to turn. Fortunately this seemed to give comfort.

I doubt there was a bright shining light for her, but there was a sense of hope, a spark in the dark night. But is hope a false comfort? or is it the resulting feeling from something real and beyond us?

I suppose, some atheists would suggest that this is just a psychological trick to make yourself feel better. Maybe… But I think that hope in the darkness is real, when we are left with nothing, no peace, no joy, no comfort. We turn to something beyond ourselves and draw comfort from it. With that glimpse of hope, we glimpse the inexplicable light, when we are empty, we draw on the well of energy from elsewhere, an invisible sun shines on us. This I think is just a hint of the ‘transfiguration’ experience that all of us know.

Yes, those moments of a shining light are few and far between and most of us won’t experience it. But I think that is because our faith does have to meet reality, this is why I think why the voice of God shouts at Peter “this is my Son… listen to him!” Basically “shut up and pay attention to what is in front of you".

I think it is the same for Moses when he was given the ten commandments - love God, love one another, don't do bad things. Basic rules for life. In Jesus, what we are given is a human worth listening to, worth following, a flesh and blood human who reveals the presence of God.

Most of the time the answer to prayer is “love God and love your neighbour”, you are the answer to your prayer. But sometimes we need to draw on that well of hope, feel warmed by that invisible sun, the hope of the all-powerful, incomprehensible creator of the universe.

I cannot prove anything to you, but I can tell you that I do have hope, and it is real.




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:

  • Shno, Dara, Hani and Yani

  • Lorraine Atkinson

  • Esther Kolie

  • Edith Hutchinson

  • 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

  • Joan Finley

  • George Snowden

  • Claire Mozaffari

  • Herbert Agbeko


Post Communion prayer

Holy God,

we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ:

may we who are partakers at his table

reflect his life in word and deed,

that all the world may know his power to change and save.

This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.



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