27th September 2020
Weekly notices, Church at Home & watch live
(Scroll down for this week's service)
Pussy Riot, A Punk Prayer (2012); Video still, performance at Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Moscow
Sunday, 10.30am at St James'
We meet for Holy Communion as the Benwell & Scotswood Team. Let us know you're coming if you can!
Still at home? Watch the service live on Facebook! You can also read or print the service booklet here >
Help keep our work going and our buildings open.
If you can, please give by standing order - regular donations help us to have a better estimate of our income and ensure we can keep our activities running.
We are now accepting contactless donations!
We have new equipment to take contactless donations in the building thanks to help from the Diocese and a neighbouring church! You can use credit/debit cards and Apple/Google Pay devices. This will hopefully help offset decreased cash donations as a result of Coronavirus, and it is less of an infection risk than coins and banknotes.
It is really simple to use:
You will see a screen and card reader on the table.
On the screen select a pre-set amount or choose how much you want to give.
Tap your card or device on the card reader... and you're done!
NHS Test and Trace - QR code
In addition to our own contact list, you can use the new NHS app to scan our 'QR code' when you enter the church building. This will automatically contact you if someone is exposed to Covid-19, it will also protect your data privacy.
Everyone with a smartphone is strongly recommended to download the NHS test and trace app here >
Don't worry it's not complicated, and you can find helpful advice and instructions if you click on the link above.
Important reminder - keep your mask on
Please keep your mask on as you leave the building on Sunday until you are out of the gates. And keep 2m apart at all times.
We know it is uncomfortable, but before and after the service is the moment of highest risk, as people move around, queue in the doorway, and talk. Please avoid chatting and respect that others may be feeling vulnerable but don't want to say. Although worship can continue, we are currently discouraged from socialising with anyone from another household. It is tough, but we're doing it to look after each other. Please always remember:
Sanitise your hands when you enter and leave.
Wear a mask (unless you are legally exempt, or if you are reading or leading intercessions)
Stay 2m apart.
Stay at home if you feel unwell (contact us if you need anything!)
Harvest Festival - Sunday 11th October
10.30am at St James' Benwell.
You are invited to join us for our Harvest festival at our Sunday service, when we celebrate the gifts of God's creation and those who work to provide us with food.
If you can, please bring non-perishable food items to donate to the West End Foodbank.
APCM - Sunday 11th October
Our 'Annual Parochial Church Meeting' will be directly after the service on Sunday 11th October. This is when we elect people to roles on the PCC, and we hear reports on our activities and finances.
Anyone on the electoral roll can vote. You can join the electoral roll if you are over 16, baptised, and live in the parish or have worshipped with us for at least 6 months.
You can now 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.
Reflection by The Revd David Kirkwood
Service led by The Revd Dominic Coad
or listen and read along here:
The service starts with some quiet music; please use this to clear your mind and acknowledge the presence of God.
Chanson Triste by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
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.
O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers
of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive and know
what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
A reading from St Paul's letter to the Philippians.
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,
he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
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 Matthew.
(Glory to you O Lord.)
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
This is the gospel of the Lord.
(Praise to you, O Christ)
by The Revd David Kirkwood
May I speak, and may we all hear, in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Are you doing what you are told? Are you making sure you are keeping all the Covid rules and regulations, some of which Dominic has just reminded us of? It is quite hard, last week the local lockdown, this week new national rules, and then for us, the church has its own interpretations and regulations. Thank goodness for Chris who has been helping us keep up with all this in our risk assessments and thank you to everyone for doing your best to comply. It can be hard.
In his announcement this week the P.M. suggested one reason we find it hard to follow the rules was because we are a ‘freedom loving people’. Did he have a point? Whether we agree or not it is certainly true that an attachment to freedom can lead to conflict with authority. At some level and, maybe I’m speaking for myself here, we don’t always like doing what we are told. If I’m asked to do something that’s one thing, but if I’m told to , that’s something else, and my first reaction is likely to be ‘Why should I?’ or even ‘You can’t tell me what to do.’
Maybe I’m just naturally bolshie, but I suspect its more than that, I am of a generation that grew up questioning authority, in the sixties and seventies young people were not happy to take things on trust and wanted to think and decide for themselves. But it goes much deeper than one generation. Core beliefs of our society, democracy and science are in their origins bound up with a questioning of claims of authority, they insist on the right to question and overturn both institutions and beliefs which are based only on such claims. Scepticism about authority means scepticism about obedience, and if not exactly a dirty word ‘obedience’ has certainly come to have a whiff of something unhealthy about it.
Questions about authority and obedience may have a contemporary ring but they go back a long way and here, in today’s gospel they take centre stage.
When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’
It is no accident that this takes place in the temple or that those who question Jesus in this way, are those who already exercise authority, the elders, and chief priests. They have a prior claim to authority, and this is the place from which they exercise it and they recognise that in some way Jesus challenges and threatens that. We read elsewhere how ‘he taught as one with authority not as the scribes’ and this exchange follows on almost directly from Jesus expelling the moneychangers from the temple. ‘It is written my house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a robbers cave.’
Jesus represents an alternative source of authority a direct threat to these men and they intend to confront it. How does Jesus respond? By laying out his claim? By asserting his rights? By questioning their claim or their rights? By going back to Scripture? No, none of these. As so often when confronted with hostile questioning Jesus responds with a question of his own.
if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?
This poses a dilemma if they accept John, then they will be asked why they did not follow him, if they reject him, they will alienate the people, who are sure John spoke having the direct authority that comes from being of a prophet of God. So, they refuse to answer, as Jesus has surely anticipated, and he in turn refuses to answer the question of His own authority.
Jesus then turns the conversation in a significant way, no longer will it be the question of authority that is under the spotlight but the question of obedience. Again characteristically, Jesus uses a story to make his point before following up with another question. Two sons are both asked to work in the vineyard, one says he will but doesn’t, the other says he won’t, but does, and the question, ‘which one did the will of the father?’ ‘which one was the obedient son?’ This time they have no choice but to answer, not the one who said, but the one who did, and Jesus applies the story to them. The prostitutes and tax collectors heard John and turned their lives around but not you; they are going into the kingdom of heaven before you.
It’s a fascinating exchange. Jesus refuses to make claims to authority for himself and yet he clearly commends obedience, and obedience is not a matter of words but deeds.
Jesus speaks with authority but where does that come from? Where does any authority come from? Not an easy question. From a holy book? From Science? from tradition? From democracy? When Pilate is cross examining Jesus in John’s gospel the question of authority is again centre stage. Pilate asks, ‘Are you a king?’ and Jesus replies ‘to this end I was born and for this cause I came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me.’
Truth possesses an authority all its own, and because of that has a universal appeal and can be universally recognised but, not all recognise truth and not all want to recognise it. Pilate famously and dismissively replies ‘What is truth?’ As Christians we believe that truth, the truth of God, is found uniquely in Jesus and sharing that truth, bearing witness to that truth, is part of the task of being a Christian, the heart of the mission of the church. But witnessing to the truth is not the same as winning arguments or dominating air- time or making claims to authority. It doesn’t guarantee that we will be listened to or given a seat at the table. It may mean facing ridicule and being marginalised.
Today’s readings remind us that the way we witness is as important as what we witness to or think we are witnessing to. The question we are asked to face is not so much ‘by what authority?’ as the question of the parable ‘which one did the father’s will’? If obedience is out of favour it maybe in part for good reasons a distorted view of authority having led to a distorted view of obedience but that does not excuse us from facing the question.
Jesus Himself is the perfect example, not of making claims to authority, but of practicing obedience. That is what the first reading was all about.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited
-authority was His from the beginning being the form, the image of God, far above all human authority
but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross.
- Obedience is at the heart of what Jesus is about, not the exercise of power, but willing service, humbling himself to share in our humanity, to share its trials, its dependence, its temptations and limitations, share its sufferings became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross.
Jesus shows God’s self -emptying, from the form of God to the form of a slave, to draw near to us in weakness. This is not the normal way of those in authority, where, as Jesus says, ‘their great one’s lord it over them and make them feel the weight of their authority’. This is a new way, a pattern for those who would follow, ‘whoever would be great let him be as one who serves.’
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus is exalted. Having humbled himself now God lifts him up. ‘Those who exalt themselves will be humbled. Those who humble themselves will be exalted’
Jesus is lifted up, His true nature shown so every knee should bow, should recognise that true authority that is exclusively His, the authority as of the Father’s only Son. That lifting up has already happened, it is the Resurrection and the Ascension. It is with us in our worship as we bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord but this is still only a foretaste, for every knee, and every tongue, it is yet to come, but come it will.
He Humbled himself to share in our humanity that we might share in his divinity
The prostitutes and the tax collectors are already entering the kingdom, may we in joyful obedience be glad to find ourselves numbered with them. Amen
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Archbishops Justin and Stephen, and our Bishop Christine.
All still unable to attend church and feel cut off from the fellowship and sacramental life of the church.
For our parish as we seek to proclaim good news to all.
Those facing uncertain futures and loss of work or income.
Victims of bullying and domestic violence
The health service.
Refugees and asylum seekers.
Reversal of environmental damage caused by humanity.
The Sick & Suffering
All who have asked for our prayers
The Riches family
Linda, Stuart, and their son David
All affected by Covid19
All victims of Covid 19.
Those we have known and loved and whose examples we cherish.
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.
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, every tongue confess him king of glory now; this the Father's pleasure, that we call him Lord, who from the beginning was the mighty word.
At his voice creation sprang at once to sight, all the angel faces, all the hosts of light; thrones and dominations, stars upon their way, all the heavenly orders, in their great array.
Humbled for a season, to receive a name from the lips of sinners unto whom he came; faithfully he bore it spotless to the last, brought it back victorious when from death he passed.
Bore it up triumphant with its human light, through all ranks of creatures to the central height; to the eternal Godhead, to the Father's throne, filled it with the glory of his triumph won.
Name him, Christians, name him, with love strong as death, but with awe and wonder, and with bated breath; he is God the saviour, he is Christ the Lord, ever to be worshipped, trusted and adored.
With his Father's glory Jesus comes again, angel hosts attend him and announce his reign; for all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow, and our hearts confess him king of glory now.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
And the love of God
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all, evermore. Amen
Prelude no.1 by J.S.Bach