9th August 2020
Weekly notices, Church at Home & watch live
(Scroll down for this week's service)
Children's Peace Monument, Hiroshima, Japan
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! (don't worry - you do not need a facebook account to watch it)
Weekly resources from 'Roots' for families to use to reflect on the Bible readings each week.
It is now a requirement to wear a face mask at indoor venues, including inside churches. You do not have to wear a mask while leading a service, including for readings or leading intercessions. The clergy will wear masks during the distribution of communion and after the service. There are exceptions to the rule and we will not challenge anyone who is not wearing a mask but assume they are legally exempt.
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.
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 David Kirkwood
Services led by The Revd Chris Minchin
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.
Old French Song by Petr Tchaikovsky
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
When Christ appears we shall be like him,
because we shall see him as he is.
As he is pure,
all who have grasped this hope make themselves pure.
So let us confess our sins that mar his image in us.
Your unfailing kindness, O Lord, is in the heavens,
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds:
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
and your justice as the great deep:
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
For with you is the well of life
and in your light shall we see light:
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.
Father in heaven,
whose Son Jesus Christ was wonderfully transfigured
before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain,
and spoke of the exodus he would accomplish at Jerusalem:
give us strength so to hear his voice and bear our cross
that in the world to come we may see him as he is;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
A reading from the book Daniel
As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One took his throne;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousand served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgement,
and the books were opened. As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God
The heavens shall praise your wonders. God is glorified in the assembly of the saints.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke
Glory to you O Lord
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’? Not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and, in those days, told no one any of the things they had seen.
(Luke 9 :28-36)
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
The gospel we have just listened to was the one set for last Thursday, the 6th August the Feast of the Transfiguration. Perhaps because it comes in holiday time, perhaps because it is usually on a weekday, perhaps because we have the same reading just before Lent it’s a festival we sometimes overlook. It is not like that in the Eastern Church. For Orthodox Christians this is one of the most important feasts of the year. It is marked by special liturgies, prayers and hymns. There is a tradition of bringing grapes and blessing the first fruits of the vine, and of course there are beautiful icons. The highly stylised representations of Christ show him at the centre of an explosion of light before which the apostles cower in confusion, an attempt to represent a glory that exceeds what can be seen. The awe with which the church keeps the whole day is clear in these prayers from the liturgy,
Lightning flashes of divinity proceeded forth from Thy flesh: therefore, the chosen prophets and apostles sang and cried aloud: Glory to Thy power, O Lord.
The visible sun was eclipsed by the rays of Thy divinity when it saw Thee transfigured on Mt Tabor O my Jesus Glory to Thy power, O Lord.
The orthodox scholar Bishop Kallistos comments ‘the feast is not simply the commemoration of a past event in the life of Christ…it is turned toward the future.’. ‘it shows us the glory which our humanity once possessed and the glory which by God’s grace it will again recover at the Last Day.’
The Transfiguration gives us a window into heaven.
But for the last seventy-five years this is a day that has carried other meanings too.
‘Brighter than a thousand suns’ is the title of one of the first books about the creation of nuclear weapons. It is a reference to a text from the Hindu Scriptures,
‘If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky’
These are words that came into the mind of Robert Oppenheimer, one of the chief architects of the bomb, as he witnessed the first ever nuclear explosion, the so called ‘Trinity’ test, on 16th July 1945.
Another observer noted
‘The lighting effects beggared description. The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun’
But Oppenheimer also recalled other words from the same Hindu scripture ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’
Just a few short weeks after the Trinity test on the 6th August 1945, the feast of the Transfiguration, these words became true for the people of Hiroshima. First the ‘Pika’ or blinding flash then the ‘don’ the terrific noise of the explosion, then the blast and the fire and black rain and finally the mysterious sickness caused by invisible waves of radiation that would continue to destroy for decades to come. ‘Concentric circles of death ‘Dr Akizuki Tatsuichiro Three days later on the 9th August, exactly 75 years ago today, it would be the turn of Nagasaki.
What do you think of if you hear the word ‘atomic bomb’? One problem with the way the bomb is recalled in the West is that it is very rarely recalled through the experience of the men women and children who were there. Sometimes its depiction is from above, a godlike perspective, looking down on the now familiar, but then novel, ‘mushroom’ cloud. Sometimes the story is told as a triumph of scientific endeavour. (Truman’s first announcement of the event) Sometimes it is the bomb that saved lives by shortening the war. Sometimes it is posed as a moral or philosophical dilemma ‘Was it really necessary’? Sometimes it is the neutral territory of graphs and tables found in epidemiological studies.
The statistics of what happened on those days are indeed staggering. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost and colossal damage wiping out schools, hospitals and transport networks as well as factories and homes. (The mayor of Beirut spoke of this week’s explosion in his city as ‘like Hiroshima’ but in truth horrendous as it was it was nowhere near as devastating ) But as we have been learning with covid19, what are the statistics without the stories?, just numbers not lived experiences. Behind the mind-numbing statistics, there are stories, stories that can still be heard, although year by year the living witnesses, or ‘hibakusha’, grow fewer. For years, these were stories that no one wanted to hear, for many there were years when they were not sure they wanted to tell them. There was stigma attached to being associated with the bombing and there was deep trauma. But by telling their stories, over time, ‘this cloud of witnesses’ the ‘hibakusha’ community has grown in strength and confidence and become a profound witness to the reality of nuclear war. When we think of nuclear weapons perhaps we should learn to listen and to think first of their voices.
Five years ago, I was in Japan, on Sabbatical, and was privileged to meet one of those witnesses, Nobuo Nishimoto and to hear his story. Sharing the peace with him I felt a sense of great gentleness but also the vivid impression that the events he described were not history but living reality, just a breath away. Here is a little of his story - a fuller version is printed out and available online.
He starts by telling how on August 9th, having worked a night shift at the Mitsubishi factory, his boss asked him to stay for another shift. He was too exhausted and refused, even though that went right against his deeply ingrained Japanese ethical values.
Next morning, he was woken up with a start to find his room in disarray.
I rushed to look outside. I saw a dust cloud covering the entire city and giving out a loud booming sound. It was right after the atomic bomb exposure. I ran to the bomb shelter in the next neighbourhood with my mother. Two people came in from the Urakami district. ‘Urakami is all wiped out, a new type of bombs hit the ground’, people were agitated, and we couldn't understand what it was all about, however I realised that Urakami district was in deep trouble.
Urakami was where his younger brother was at school, he had actually passed and greeted him on his way back from the night shift. Hours passed, other family members arrived, but there was still no sign of him. Nobuo decided he must go out and search.
We were walking right in the middle of hell. Urakami district was full of burned debris all over. I saw many charred dead bodies in that burnt debris. I saw a terrible body, a mother who was holding her baby in her arm. How cruel a scene that was? Someone tried to talk to me, breathing feebly, with a little voice, saying, ‘A student, let me drink some water.’ I wondered if my brother might be lying down in the school like this person. I searched for the fate of my brother in that hell wilderness, looking into charred faces or squeezing my way along debris. I saw thousands of people wandering around and looking for dead bodies and ashes. I gave a glance to the enormous dead bodies floating on the Urakami River, and I finally arrived at the Nagasaki Shogyu school.. The school building and the factory were burned down. Rice, miso, bean paste and soy sauce ingredients which were stored in the burnt building, gave off a bad odour.
…While I was searching for my brother, I went to see the factory. I saw many burnt machines and I found blocks of bones I also found the block of bones by the machine which I was in charge of. I wondered who it could be, someone must have operated this machine on my behalf. If I had obeyed Mr Kato's order yesterday morning, this burned bone would definitely have been me.
In despair Nobu returned home but then a civil defence worker came to say his brother had been found and was waiting for his family near the school
Anyway, we went to Nagasaki Shogyu school, in the hell wilderness. My third visit, but there we found him! He was there! My brother was burnt severely across all of his back and looked pitiful. He was lying down on a roof piece by the school entrance there were two rice balls by his face that someone must have given him. He ate half of one. ‘It must be painful’ ‘You suffered so much’, my mother comforted him in a faltering voice, yet surprisingly my brother’s response was quite calm. I covered him with a shirt that I wore. His injury was beyond burns his scar burned deep inside his muscle. It must be beyond painful. I was trying to give comforting words while I was covering him with my shirt, but my voice wouldn't come out. Instead my tears came down all the way. Just before the atomic bomb dropped, he had been digging a shelter, thousands of degrees of radiant heat smacked into his back and knocked him down. I was speechless. The one who was supposed to obey his master but said ‘no’ to him had survived, the other lost the toss. He went out of the shelter only for two minutes and was killed. That moment determined their destinies. The atomic bomb is cruelty and injustice. A young man, whose soul received that fearfully sad destiny, left without a word, no complaint or curse. Two days later he took off to heaven quietly with the family watching over him.
‘The middle of hell’, ‘The hell wilderness’, time and time again survivors’ accounts use this language. Buddhist art, like medieval Christian art depicted hell with fire and intense misery and human torment and survivors felt they had somehow inexplicably entered that world.
Transfiguration gives us a window into heaven. Hiroshima and Nagasaki a window into hell.
And yet is that the whole story? Listening to the witnesses hearing their stories can it be we see another kind of Transfiguration?
Despite what Nobuo suffered there was in him a great well of gentleness and compassion a willingness to forgive, a concern for others, and for the future. This is a common thread in the testimony of the hibakusha, harrowing as their stories are, they are filled not with self-pity, but a determination that their experience might contribute to a more peaceful future. (That some light might come from the darkness.)
Sadako’s story, the story of the paper cranes and the reason we have these cranes here today fits into that pattern. At heart It is about tragedy enlightened by hope. a story of transfiguration,
You can see more of her story at https://sadakosasaki.com or follow the links on our website. Sadako was a seemingly healthy girl whose life was cut short by leukaemia almost ten years after she was exposed to radiation from the bomb. Her strong will to live symbolised by her folding paper cranes hoping folding a thousand might bring her life. The determination of her friend that she should not be forgotten led to the creation of the Children’s Monument in the Hiroshima Peace Park. Today thousands of children and adults from across the world visit and offer their paper cranes and read the inscription "This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world."
Her brother Masahiro put it like this
"Her death gave us a big goal. Small peace is so important with compassion and delicacy it will become big like a ripple effect. She showed us how to do it.”
As we recall both the Transfiguration of Christ and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may we be touched by those ripples of peace and may they continue to spread.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Archbishops Justin and Stephen Bishop Christine, those involved in finding a new Archdeacon and Bishop for this diocese.
Abigail and all preparing for ordination or whose ordinations are ‘on hold’.
All still unable to attend church and feel cut off from the fellowship and sacramental life of the church.
For the Peace of the world. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all victims of war and violence.
The people of Beirut and Lebanon
Those facing uncertain futures and loss of work or income.
Refugees and asylum seekers.
The Sick & Suffering
All who have asked for our prayers
The Riches family
Linda, Stuart, and their son David
All affected by Covid19
Those we have known and loved and whose examples we cherish.
All victims of Covid 19.
Rejoicing in God’s new creation,
as our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
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.
Listen to the music here:
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that thou art-- thou my best thought by day or by night, waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word; I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord; thou my great Father, I thy true son; thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
Be thou my battle shield, sword for my fight; be thou my dignity, thou my delight, thou my soul's shelter, thou my high tow'r: raise thou me heav'n-ward, O Pow'r of my pow'r.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, thou mine inheritance, now and always: thou and thou only, first in my heart, High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won, may I reach heaven's joys, O bright heav'n's Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
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
Evening in the Meadow by Vladimir Rebikov