20th September 2020
Weekly notices, Church at Home & watch live
(Scroll down for this week's service)
Winifred Knights, Santissima Trinita (c.1924); The Estate of Winifred Knights
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)
New videos for worship with children are uploaded every week by the Diocese of Newcastle.
New social distancing restrictions in the North East
Fortunately worship can still go ahead. But we are reminding people please do not gather in groups before and after the service, including outside, and respect that others may be vulnerable and not necessarily feel they can chat. Please also 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!)
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.
Baptisms this Sunday
This Sunday we have the joy of baptising Fereshteh, Eliya, Mehdi, Morteza, and Somita. Some of the live service will be conducted in translation between Farsi and English. Please pray for all of them as they take this huge step in their Christian life.
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 Dominic Coad
Service 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.
Andantino by Dmitri Kabalevsky
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.
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit
upon your Church in the burning fire of your love:
grant that your people may be fervent
in the fellowship of the gospel
that, always abiding in you,
they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service;
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 the book Jonah.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.
The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’
But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’
This is the word of the Lord
(Thanks be to God)
I am the light of the world, says the Lord.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness
but will have the light of life.
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.
Glory to you O Lord.
‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’
This is the gospel of the Lord.
(Praise to you, O Christ)
by The Revd Dominic Coad
I wonder what you think when you hear this parable. A landowner hires five groups of labourers, a first group early in the morning, then more at 9, midday, 3 and 5 o’clock. When it comes to the end of the working day they all queue up to receive their wages and each receives pay for a full day’s work. Does it strike you as unfair? These groups of labourers had worked for very different amounts of time and yet, at the end of the day, they all received the same amount.
Jesus is teaching us about what fairness looks like in the Kingdom of God. In Jesus’ time, day labouring was a very unstable way to make a living, you would simply turn up at the beginning of the day and hope someone hired you. If you weren’t hired, you’d have no money, and if you were hired late in the day, you’d have very little money. There was no social welfare system so if you didn’t have enough money, you wouldn’t have enough food that day.
We still have day labourers in our society today - people who arrive at an appointed place and hope for work - and it is just as unstable. Such employment practices aren’t legal but they do happen and it is the most vulnerable members of our society, often migrants and refugees, who have no other option but to work in this way. There is a great deal in common between our society and that of Jesus, where those who fall through the cracks in the system have nowhere to turn.
The manager in Jesus’ story understands this and gives all the labourers the same amount of money. He doesn’t give them what they’ve earned, he gives them what they need. That’s what fairness looks like in the kingdom of God. This is a radically different way of viewing economic justice and it goes against the grain of what society has taught many of us from a young age. You have to earn your place in this world, don’t you?
Well, not according to Jesus, yet this attitude is prevalent today. Think how often we hear complaints about people ‘sponging off the state’ or that immigrants shouldn’t benefit from our nation’s wealth when they haven’t paid anything in. Many people feel that they’ve worked hard all their lives and resent others seeming to get something for nothing. But Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is different: people are paid according to what they need, not how much they’ve earned.
Listening to the story from Jonah, we might reflect that we are also susceptible to feeling a lack of graciousness when it comes to forgiveness. Jonah was furious with God for forgiving the people of Nineveh, he didn’t see why, after a lifetime of wrong doing, people should simply be forgiven by God. Indeed, Jonah is so angry about it that he sits down and asks to die – quite a tantrum.
How often are we too guilty of this judgment? Just as we might feel that we’ve worked hard to earn our money, we might also feel we’ve worked hard to be good. Why should forgiveness be given so freely to those who have done wrong? We see this in the way society treats those who have been in prison, with former offenders often finding it difficult to get work and find a place back in society.
We see this problem too as we face the current challenge of how to best organise our society to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. We need people to follow the rules and those who don’t can’t be ignored, for everyone’s safety is at risk. Yet how do we ensure compliance without descending to spying on our neighbours or arguing with rule breakers in the streets? The answer must be that we begin from a place of forgiveness and love.
God is not denying that the people of Nineveh have behaved badly, nor that Jonah has tried hard to be righteous, but he says to Jonah ‘is it right for you to be angry?’ and explains to him that he has created the people of Nineveh, saying, ‘shall I not be concerned about… more than a hundred and twenty thousand people?’ In the same way, the landowner says to those who laboured all day, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last, the same as I give to you.’
The story of Jonah and the parable of the labourers in the vineyard teach us what fairness means in the kingdom of God. They should also prompt us to think about what people are worth; they are worth much more than the economic value of their labour, or the judgment of the wrong things they have done. It is a measure of God’s mercy that a criminal can be given grace just as freely as an innocent refugee. It is also a measure of our world that an innocent refugee can be locked up as though they were a criminal.
In our parish we know well the value of people who others have rejected and we are proud to count in our church family refugees who have had to flee their own homes. It is wonderful to be such a diverse church family and we are enriched by the different ways we have all come to faith.
This Sunday we will have baptized Fereshteh, Eliya, Morteza, Mehdi and Somayeh and will have heard their testimonies of how Jesus has changed their lives. Jesus said that in the Kingdom of God the first shall be last and the last shall be first and this is surely true when it comes to our baptisms. Whether we were baptised as infants many decades ago, or as adults more recently, we are all equally members of the body of Christ. God makes no judgment between us; he does not favour those who have been Christians all their lives over those who found faith later in the day.
So this Sunday is really special for our Iranian brothers and sisters. I know that getting to this point has been a very challenging journey, with much hardship. I know too that there are still many challenges ahead, as they seek to gain their leave to remain and build a life in the UK. Sadly, much of this is out of our hands and we must all pray that the grace and generosity of God will be given to our friends even through that most unlikely of conduits – the Home Office.
This Sunday we celebrate that in baptism they become full members of our church and, whatever their status in the United Kingdom may be, fully citizens of the Kingdom of God. These baptisms are a sign to us all of the gracious economics of that Kingdom, in which the first will be last and the last will be first. It doesn’t matter how you came to it; God’s grace is equally available to us all. None of us has earned a place any higher or more senior than the person (or infant) who has just been baptised. Now it is up to us to work to make these economics, the economics of the labourers in the vineyard, true not only in the Church but in all the world, that there may be justice and peace for all.
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.
For Chris and Lynne married at St James on Saturday.
For all being baptised today, especially Fereshteh, Eliya, Mehdi, Morteza, and Somita.
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
Those we have known and loved and whose examples we cherish.
All victims of Covid 19.
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.
There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more keenly felt than heaven:
there is no place where earth's failings
have such gracious judgement given.
There is plentiful redemption
through the blood that Christ has shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the head.
For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind;
and the heart of the eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple,
we should take him at his word;
and our lives would be illumined,
by the glory of the Lord.
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
Andante by W.A.Mozart