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Next before Lent - Church at Home


Worship & news from Benwell & Scotswood

William Blake, The Transfiguration, ca.1780-1827

Watercolour on paper, V&A Museum, London


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This week's service:

The service starts with some quiet music; please use this to clear your mind and acknowledge the presence of God.

Farsi / خطبه

در هنگام خطبه روز یکشنبه هدفون های خود را بگذارید و به این ترجمه گوش دهید.

یا در خانه گوش دهید.

Translation of the sermon and readings for our Farsi speakers.

متن خطبه / read the translation >


Join us by watching the service live online this Sunday.

And follow the service booklet here >


Every Sunday 10.30am Venerable Bede, West Road, NE4 8AP

We meet for Holy Communion as the Benwell & Scotswood Team.


You can submit prayer requests online. This can be done anonymously or by name and the clergy and congregation will pray for you each week.


New videos for worship with children are uploaded every week by the Diocese of Newcastle.


Your donations ensure our work keeps going and our buildings stay open.


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Lent, Holy Week & Easter info

Find our information page here >

We have created a page with all the information you need about Lent, Holy Week, and Easter this year. Go have a look to keep up to date.

We are very happy to say we will be worshipping together in-person this year! To help us keep things as safe as possible, we decided it would be best to stay in one location rather than going round each of our churches, so we will celebrate Holy Week at the Venerable Bede.


Ash Wednesday 17th Feb

This year we will have two Ash Wednesday services - one online and the other in-person on 17th Feb.

Online at 9.30am

Sign up here >

We will be using Zoom so you can join in live. We will also post out some materials in advance.

If you are not sure about using Zoom, then let us know and we can help you get connected and walk you through it step by step.

In-person - 12pm at the Venerable Bede

Details here >

We will meet for our traditional Holy Communion and ashing at the Venerable Bede. Rather than marking you with a cross, to limit contact this year we will sprinkle ashes on your head.


Lent Groups

We have two online Lent groups you can join.

Difference course

Thursdays 2pm, from 25th Feb (5 sessions)

Sign up here >

Dominic and Cerys will be leading a group discussion using a course designed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. He has brought together leading thinkers and peacemakers to create a course to help us join in with God’s work of restoring brokenness and transforming relationships.

Caring for Creation

Wednesdays 6.30pm, from 24th Feb (5 sessions)

Sign up here >

David will lead us with a York Course for 2021 on the greatest challenge facing the human race: the threat to the environment, and climate change.


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Next before Lent

Reflection by The Revd Chris Minchin

Service led by The Revd Dominic Coad

Intro music

There was a Most Beautiful Lady, by Herbert Howells.

Opening prayer

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


God so loved the world

that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ

to save us from our sins,

to be our advocate in heaven,

and to bring us to eternal life.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith,

firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments

and to live in love and peace with all.

God be gracious to us and bless us, and make your face shine upon us: Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. May your ways be known on the earth, your saving power among the nations: Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy. You, Lord, have made known your salvation, and reveal your justice in the sight of the nations: Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

May the God of love and power

forgive us and free us from our sins,

heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.


Holy God

you know the disorder of our sinful lives:

see straight our crooked hearts,

and bend our wills to love your goodness and your glory

In Jesus Christ our Lord.



A reading from the second book of Kings.

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent.’

Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he answered, ‘Yes, I know; be silent.’

Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ He responded, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.’ As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

2 Kings 2:1-12

This is the word of the Lord.

(Thanks be to God)


Alleluia, alleluia. The word of the Lord endures for ever. The word of the Lord is the good news announced to you.


Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

(Glory to you O Lord)

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

(Mark 9:2-9)

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

(Praise to you, O Christ)


The Revd Chris Minchin

“We turn from the crib to the cross.”

We ended our Candlemas service (along with the season of Epiphany) a couple of weeks ago with these words. Right now we are in an in-between time. We leave behind the story of Jesus’ birth and revealing himself to the world, and now we look ahead into the wilderness landscape of Lent and on to Easter, the story of Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem, his horrific suffering and death, and the hope of him rising from the tomb.

In our Old Testament passage, Elisha and his master Elijah also stand on the verge of something, looking out across a wilderness landscape. They know that Elijah’s time on earth is about to end. They stand on the banks of the river Jordan, the border of Israel, the river that their ancestors crossed to enter the ‘Promised Land’. But Elijah and Elisha are to make this journey in reverse, back into the wilderness where their ancestors wandered for forty years. The waters are miraculously parted, and they step out into the unknown, where chariots and horses of fire swoop down and take Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, leaving Elisha, alone and grieving, to carry out God’s work.

In the Gospel, the disciples look out on different landscape, but they are still on the verge of a terrifying unknown. Jesus leads them on a journey, up a mountain they climb, alone they enter the clouds and Jesus begins to shine bright white, his holiness is revealed as he is ‘transfigured’. The great Old testament prophets– Elijah and Moses- are also there, shining bright. They are witnessing an incredible sight of awe and wonder, this an unknown place where heaven meets reality.

These stories reminded me of an image many of you have described to me, in the town of Orumieh, near the borders of Iran and Turkey. Where many of you have embarked on a journey into the wilderness, walking many miles to cross the border where cars and lorries, not chariots of fire, swooped down to smuggle you to Europe. You have stood on the edge of an unknown world in the hope of following God to a place you can live freely and worship him. The destination of Benwell may be an unlikely place for Heaven to meet reality, but nonetheless, here it is. I believe here is a place where God is present and calling us all to know him better.

For the rest of us, have you ever made a brave decision? That feeling of ‘knowing’ you must do something, you are terrified because it means stepping into the wilderness, making yourself vulnerable, exposing yourself to failure and hurt. Maybe it was choosing to change your job. Maybe it was admitting your failings and saying sorry. Maybe it was telling someone you loved them. Maybe it was going to speak to someone who could see needed help. Maybe it was finally making the bravest decision of all- to ask for help yourself.

Of course, for every time we have made a brave decision, we have all made a hundred cowardly ones. We avoid situations that worry us, that require honesty or vulnerability. Rather than facing up to what we know to be right, we protect ourselves with distractions. We fill up our lives with comforts, with being busy, with money and entertainment, with mortgages and holidays, with drink and drugs, with sex and with social media. Most of us would rather stare at the light of our screens than risk being shown for what we truly are in the stark light of God. Many of these things are not necessarily wrong, but we all use them to avoid the fear of silence and loneliness, the fear that we may be inadequate. We create all this noise to drown out painful thoughts and memories.

I find it telling that in both our readings it was necessary to just shut up. In the Old Testament, prophets keep trying to dissuade Elisha from journeying on- telling him his master is about to die so surely there is no point in continuing to following him. Elisha keeps replying “Yes, I know! Be silent”. In the Gospel, Peter does not know what to say when confronted by something he does not understand, so he starts gabbling about building shelters. But he is quickly silenced by the voice of God saying ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’

We stand on the verge of Lent, the Christian season of fasting, penitence, and giving to others. It is a time to simplify your life, a time to be quiet. It is not the same as Ramadan in Iran, nobody will force you to do anything, it is entirely up to you to decide what to give up or what to take up. It is maybe much more difficult- a time to reflect and on what has become a noisy distraction, and what it is you are avoiding. It is a time for renewal and growth, and that is terrifying because it requires complete honesty with yourself and God. Lent is the time to be brave, to shut up, and follow God by stepping out into the unknown.

I challenge you to take time for silent prayer in Lent. Start off small. Try five minutes, just acknowledge that God is there with you, try to not think. Offer yourself to do whatever God calls you to do. Don’t worry if you hear nothing back at first, he will speak, but it will almost never be in the way you expect. And if you find that you are being called to do something that scares you, then remember that the brave decision is almost always the right one.

To help you with this, I would like to end with a quote from St John of the Cross, to think about when you pray:

“To reach satisfaction in everything, desire satisfaction in nothing. To come to possession of everything, desire the possession of nothing. To arrive at being all, desire to be nothing. To come to the knowledge of everything, desire the knowledge of nothing.” (Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book One, Chapter 13)


Prayers of intercession


Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

The Church

• Ourselves, as we continue this time of separation; that we maintain the bonds of fellowship.

• Our bishops Christine and Mark, our Area Dean, Christine and the clergy and lay ministers of this team.

• For all who feel cut off from the community and sacramental life of the church.

• Give thanks for the good news of Christ and pray for the work of this parish as we seek to share God’s love.

• Richard Colpitts and Carol Hawthorn married at St James on Saturday

• Marianna Radka being christened this Sunday and Myla Rose Hagan last Sunday at St Margaret's.

The World

• Those in government, and those faced with difficult decisions. For the fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world. Those facing uncertain futures and loss of work or income. Families feeling trapped at home especially victims of domestic violence.

• Medical staff and health professionals including all working in mental health. Places whose health services are most vulnerable and undeveloped.

• Relief for those experiencing poverty, for all refugees, Freedom for those whose rights have been violated.

The Sick & Suffering

All who have asked for our prayers

• Jill Sorley, Joyce Phillips, George Snowden, the Riches family, Dee Humphrey, Claire Mozaffari, Eric Harling, Herbert Agbeko, Anastasia Miklewright, Margaret Wall

• All affected by Covid19

The Departed Audrey Mathison

Those we have known and loved and whose examples we cherish. All victims of Covid 19.

Lord God almighty, open wide the door of my heart and illumine it with the grace of the Holy Spirit, that I may seek what is pleasing to your will. Guide my thoughts and my heart, and lead my life in the way of your commandments, that I may always seek to fulfill them, and that I may grasp the eternal joys of the heavenly life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Venerable Bede)

Lord's Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father,

who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.


Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might, thy justice like mountains high soaring above thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all, life thou givest, to both great and small. In all life thou livest, the true life of all. We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.

Great God of all glory, great God of all light, thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight. All praise we would render; O help us to see ‘tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

And the love of God

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

Be with us all evermore.


Outro music

Little Fugue by Domenico Zipoli.

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