News from the Benwell & Scotswood Team
Andrei Rublev, The Trinity, c.1411-25. Tempera on panel. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Dates for your diary
Sun 12 Jun - Trinity Sunday services
9.45am at St John's – Holy Communion
11am at St James – Hub Service (Holy Communion)
4pm at St Margaret's – Evening Praise and Prayer
Sunday 19th June
9.45am, St Margaret's – Holy Communion
11am, St James – Hub Service (Holy Communion)
Thursday 23rd June
Patronal festival (Birth of St John the Baptist)
11am, St John's – Holy Communion
New service pattern begins this Sunday!
St John's Holy Communion - 9.45am
Hub service at St James - 11am
St Margaret's Evening prayer and praise - 4pm
We have decided on a new pattern of worship in all our buildings! The aim is to have a sustainable pattern that means we can regularly gather in each church building to spend time with God and one another. We will reassess this after 6 months.
Hub service at St James - 11am every Sunday.
St Margaret's - Alternating Sundays Holy communion at 9.45am and Evening Prayer and Praise at 4pm.
St John's - Alternating Sunday at 9.45am and Thursday at 11am.
Venerable Bede - beginning with a monthly weekday service to develop into weekly. (details TBC)
Bishop Mark visits Benwell!
Mark Wroe, acting Bishop of Newcastle, dropped into St James on Wednesday as he set off walking the route of Hadrian's wall.
He met the many volunteers and congregation at our weekly welfare hub.
faithful and unchanging:
enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,
and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,
that we may truly worship you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Romans 5.1–5 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
John 16.12–15 ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
By Revd Dominic
Jesus says to his disciples: ‘I still have many things to tell you but you cannot bear them now’. What does he mean?
Perhaps it’s a bit like a teacher or lecturer at the end of a long lesson saying, ‘books away everyone, that’s enough for today’. Jesus can tell the disciples have had enough, their brains just can’t take any more, as a confused student might complain. After all, the extraordinary words and sayings and stories of Jesus must have been a lot for the disciples to cope with as their ideas about the world were challenged and their horizons stretched.
On this Trinity Sunday we turn the focus of our worship to the blessed Trinity. In doing so we encounter something that is perhaps more difficult to comprehend than the life and death of Christ, or even the coming of the Holy Spirit. As mysterious as those events are, they nevertheless have a narrative, something for us to get a hold of. They happened in a place and time to people we recognise. Gazing upon the blessed Trinity, we encounter God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who is outside of time and is a person (or people) in ways that are strange and mysterious to us.
The difficulty of perceiving, of penetrating this mystery is reflected in the music we often sing on this festival: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Though the darkness hide thee,’ ‘thou art a sea without a shore, a sun without a sphere.’
Praise and liturgy for the Trinity may often seem wordy and complicated, theology of the Trinity may often seem impenetrable, but the Trinity is hard to understand. To seek this understanding is a lifetime’s work and, though we could ever scratch the surface, it is a journey into deep understanding and wisdom.
I wonder who here this morning feels they are wise? I guess most of us would agree that thinking yourself very wise is a good indicator that you are in fact lacking in wisdom. So what is it, and how do we know when we are cultivating it in ourselves?
For the Christian wisdom is hard work and hard won. ‘Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?’ we heard in our reading from Proverbs. Wisdom is challenging us to respond and take hold of her. We hear this challenge even more clearly in the book of Sirach, in the apocrypha. ‘Search out and seek, and she will become known to you; and when you get hold of her do not let her go.’
Indeed, Sirach tells us just how much work it will be to have wisdom: ‘put your feet into her fetters, and your neck into her collar. Bend your shoulders and carry her.’ And so we are brought back to Jesus’ strange words: I have more to tell you but you cannot bear it now. Perhaps this sheds light on Jesus’ meaning: it is not simply too much for the disciple’s brains to cope with, wisdom has a weight. This weight requires more than a nimble mind, to bear it requires heart and soul.
This sense that wisdom is a burden is indicated by the Greek word used by John (batazein) which is the same word used to describe Jesus bearing the weight of the cross and also by Luke when Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow him.
The disciples, of course, are hearing this before what is to come, before the arrest and torture and execution of Jesus. These are events that the disciples had to go through, the pain was something they had to bear, before they could experience the joy of the resurrection and understand everything that Jesus had for them to come.
The disciples can’t yet bear what Jesus has to say, not because they’re not strong enough but because they’re not weak enough. They haven’t yet been through the life changing, heart opening, spirit breaking experience of the death of Christ. When they have, they will be ready, they will be prized apart and ready to receive all that Christ has for them.
This is not to say that God wanted the disciples to suffer or caused them to feel pain; ‘God does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone,’ as we are told in Lamentation 3.33. God doesn’t send pain to anyone and certainly not to teach them a lesson. Nevertheless, it is one of the great mysteries of life that trying times do come and, when we look back, we often find that these are the moments that led us into change and growth.
Perhaps this is because it seems to be a part of human nature that we all have defences, we all have barriers, we all ways of keeping other people, including God, out. I don’t think this is necessarily wrong, life throws all kinds of things at us and we all need ways of dealing with it. Yet these defences can also keep out good things, and they can keep out God and the love he has for us. Yet God knows us, he knows all our defences, and he wants us to let him in.
Trinty Sunday might seem to ask us to focus on something aridly intellectual but nothing could be further from the truth. When we contemplate the Trinity we are being called and challenged by wisdom herself to gaze into the very being of God. And what we inevitably find when we do that is God gazing right back at us. We might not understand God but God understands us.
Perhaps you have experienced this. It often comes in those little moments of challenge, those moments when something inside prompts us to admit that an attitude has been wrong, that we need to ask forgiveness, that it’s on us to mend a broken relationship. These moments, I believe, are crucial to our spiritual development, they are the moments when wisdom offers to open us up, to stretch us, even to break us, and into the space that is made pour the truth of God.
And that truth, of course, is that he loves us. Whatever we’ve done, however we may have failed, whatever may have happened to us or might have been done to us, he loves us. That doesn’t seem hard to bear, does it? And yet it often is precisely because it is us that God loves. Beyond the version we project to others, beyond who we are when no one is watching, beyond even the brokenness with which we’ve learned to live. God loves us right down to the parts we don’t even know ourselves.
That love, if we can accept it can change us for good, make and remaking us into new people, people liberated by the wisdom, truth and love of God. God has so much to give you but it will never be more than you can bear. Trust him, let him in, lower your defences bit by bit, and God the Trinity will make himself known to you and instil in you the only wisdom that really matters, that God loves you, entirely and completely.
To add names to the prayer list please email email@example.com
Prayers for others:
Val and Roy Macdonald
Tamba and Esther
The Riches Family
Julianne and James
Rest in Peace
Post Communion prayer
Almighty and eternal God,
you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
and live and reign in the perfect unity of love:
hold us firm in this faith,
that we may know you in all your ways
and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory,
who are three Persons yet one God,
now and for ever.