2nd August 2020
Weekly notices, Church at Home & watch live
(Scroll down for this week's service)
Constantin Brancusi, Fish, 1926, Bronze, metal and wood; Tate Gallery, London
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!
Join us in Church >
Still at home? Watch the service live on Facebook! (don't worry - you do not need a facebook account to watch it)
Watch live on Sunday >
Weekly resources from 'Roots' for families to use to reflect on the Bible readings each week.
Kids' Resources >
Online worship - let us know what you think!
We want to know what's been working for you with online services over the last few months and how to keep them going post-lockdown. We have a very short (anonymous) survey, so please fill it out.
It is now recommended that we wear face masks in church and other enclosed public spaces. We encourage you to wear one as it will help limit the spread of the virus. But if you cannot wear one we won't be asking you why and you should not let it stop you coming to church.
You do not have to wear one if you cannot because of a health condition or it will cause you severe distress, and children under 11 do not have to wear one either.
The clergy will wear a mask during the distribution of communion. Please remember the most effective way to stay safe is to remain 2 metres apart, wash or sanitise your hands regularly, and stay at home if you feel unwell.
Cranes for Peace
Help us make 75 origami cranes to mark 75 years
since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to support CND's campaign for peace.
You can make them at home, we have some simple instructions to follow and we hope to make a display at St James' when they are all finished.
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.
Submit prayer requests >
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.
Reflection by The Revd Chris Minchin
Online service and president at Communion: The Revd David Kirkwood
Watch here at 10.30am >
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.
'Album Leaf' from Lyric Pieces by Edvard Grieg.
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.
Lord God, your Son left the riches of heaven
And became poor for our sake:
When we prosper save us from pride,
When we are needy save us from despair,
That we may trust in You alone;
Through Jesus Christ or Lord. Amen
A reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans.
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God
We do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.
Glory to you O Lord
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ!
by The Revd Chris Minchin
‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’
The disciples are ready to ask the crowds to move on. This is too much for us. We’ve done the show, but we’re not caterers. They have been out all day, in a deserted place. The disciples have focused on the important stuff, curing the sick. And now they see the crowd’s need, they are far from home and will be hungry, it’s time to pass responsibility.
How quick are you to set your limits or the limits of others? ‘Well, we just can’t do that, there’s no point trying. We’re not like other churches. We don’t have the resources, we don’t have the volunteers.’
‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ Or how about: ‘We have nothing here but cold buildings and some go-pack tables. We’re getting older and we’ve done our bit, so let’s call it a day.’
The feeding of the 5000 might be a familiar story to many of us. But it’s about more than a showstopper miracle from Jesus, magicking up a fantastic lunch from nothing. It is about hospitality; it is about the disciples' willingness to give. It is about the offering of what we have, not because we think what we have the best to offer, or because we think we are the best person for the job, but because, however measly, Jesus will give thanks for it and multiply it and work miracles with it.
First let’s talk about what we can offer as a church here in Benwell and Scotswood. I know there is some anxiety about what the future will look like, will we go back to how everything was before lockdown, will we stop activities or close buildings, what will the ‘new normal’ be like. Those of us on the Mission Action Planning group were discussing this last weekend. And the answer is, of course nothing will go back to exactly how it was before lockdown. But does that mean unwanted changes are coming? Does that mean the beginning of the end for us as a parish? No of course it doesn’t!
I can’t tell you what it’s going to be like, because I don’t know, we have to work it out together - all of you will have a part to play in it, no matter how long you’ve been coming here. We have to assess what is really important to us, what isn’t important to us, what should be important to us that currently isn’t, and what has been too important to us but maybe shouldn’t be. What we value, what you value, has a place here; we will listen to each other and we will work it out together.
The important thing is not to be like the disciples and say what’s impossible, what we can’t do, that we see things that need to be done but it’s someone else’s responsibility. The scary thing then is to offer what we actually have, not what we wish we had. We offer our buildings, and groups, and time, and money our prayers and worship. If you’re willing to offer it, God will give thanks for it and work miracles with it.
You know, in the story of the feeding of the 5000, I always wondered why the Gospel writer was so specific to mention that Jesus asks the crowds to sit down on the grass. It’s a nice detail, but why mention it? I wonder if it’s because at the beginning the writer is keen to say that it was such a desolate place. It's a deserted place, but look! They sit down on the grass! It is a desolate place but there are shoots of growth here, there is a change, there is life, even this place can be habitable, comfortable, a place for community and feasting. It fits with those Old Testament passages where God promises to be revealed in the wilderness, and deserts will bloom and grow. Where the ancient Hebrews are led to a promised land of milk and honey. I wonder, if God can do so much with such a barren place, how much can he do with this place if we offer it to him?
Lastly let’s talk about what you personally can offer. We see and hear about Jesus and think it would be lovely to offer myself, but really, I’m not the one he wants. I have a feeling that, like me, deep down, this is because a part of you believes you’re just not good enough, you have low self-esteem, feel anxious, you’ve made mistakes before, and you don’t want it publicly confirmed just how rubbish you actually are. Maybe you’re hurt and tired, and you feel it’s someone else’s job to be kind, I’m the one who needs some kindness.
The problem is, while you wait for someone to show love and care to you, there is someone else out there waiting for you to do the same and will be left waiting a long time.
You are good enough. because it's not about you or your capabilities, it’s about what God can and will do. Offer yourself to God, no matter how small and useless you feel. Don't run away from what is uncomfortable and difficult anymore. Be the kind person, because someone needs to step out and do it. Offer yourself to God, to love and be loved for eternity, to go against everything in this world that brings people down, makes them less, makes people suffer.