4th October 2020
Weekly notices & Church at Home
(Scroll down for this week's service)
Vincent Van Gogh, The Red Vineyard at Arles (1888); Oil on canvas, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, 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.
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.
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 Anne Marr
Service led by The Revd David Kirkwood
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.
Prelude op.28 no.6 by Frederick Chopin
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.
We confess to you
our lack of care for the world you have given us.
Lord, have mercy. (Lord, have mercy.)
We confess to you
our selfishness in not sharing the earth’s bounty fairly.
Christ, have mercy. (Christ, have mercy.)
We confess to you
our failure to protect resources for others.
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.
you call us to fullness of life:
deliver us from unbelief
and banish our anxieties
with the liberating love
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
A reading from the book of the Prophet Isaiah.
Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watch-tower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.
And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?
And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!
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.)
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: ‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’
Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
This is the gospel of the Lord.
(Praise to you, O Christ)
by The Revd Anne Marr
May I speak and may we all hear in the name of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
You could be forgiven for wondering why the Sunday lessons recently all seem to be about vineyards. Vineyards do seem to feature a lot in Jesus’ parables. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding – wine seems to be an important feature of the day. Even today the town, which claims to be Cana of the wedding story fame, has a huge tourist trade in wine; so much in fact that the locals hope that when Jesus comes again he will turn the wine back into water.
Vineyards are commonplace across the hillsides of the Jordan valley – the climate conditions and drainage are just right for growing grapes. But the big reason for the cultivation of grapes had more to do with the Israelites settling in the land promised to their forefathers. Following generations of a nomadic existence, being able to settle in one place meant they could cultivate the land and become farmers, not just shepherds. Wine was the social celebratory sign of being ‘settled’. In fact shepherds became the poor relatives: owning or working in a vineyard was much more lucrative and highly respected.
In Jesus day a vineyard was highly valued, carefully guarded and managed. It would be walled with a watch-tower to apprehend thieves. This also served as a dwelling place for the gardener. All essential wine-growing equipment would the there including a press and wine vats. Absentee land-owners would lease the vineyard to tenants, who would make their living from growing and wine making. The land-owner would get an agreed proportion of the wine or sales, usually collected by the owner’s servants. Stories about vineyards were commonplace, and Jesus used the imagery to good effect.
There was also a deeply rooted scriptural symbolism to vineyards. The passage from Isaiah helps us to understand why. The vineyard was a familiar metaphor for ‘the household of Israel’ – (Isaiah 5.7): not just an area of arable land for settling in, but a nation - fully equipped for defence, for productivity and for social and spiritual welfare - a nation of justice and fullness of life as willed by God. Isaiah sings of God establishing his vineyard of Israel with everything needed for strong growth and a good harvest – then the despair in finding it mismanaged, neglected and only wild untended grapes growing.
The Jews would understand the metaphor. The ‘vineyard’ is Israel - and its welfare is entrusted to the ‘tenants’ – its people, and particularly the chief priests and elders, who are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the nation is properly managed on behalf of God, and fruitful. Isaiah’s cry reflects the sad reality that God’s intentions were not being fulfilled – that Israel proved to be negligent in its entrusted responsibilities under God.
Jesus addresses his parable to the chief priests and elders of the community, clearly pointing to their poor management of the affairs of God. They had become so enchanted by their own importance and power that they began to think themselves as owners who could do as they pleased with the nation entrusted to their care. The beating and casting out of God’s ‘servants’ was a clear reference to the treatment of the prophets and their disregarded warnings.
When Jesus tells of the owner sending his son – he is clearly referring to himself and here is a foretelling of what will become of him; his destiny is to be killed by the self-seeking ‘tenants’ – by the very people entrusted with God’s vineyard of life, who had mismanaged God’s gift and become too big for their boots, forgetting to whom they were accountable. It is no surprise that Jesus’ audience were infuriated.
Jesus uses the parable to outline his own identity and destiny. He goes on to reinforce this by scriptural references to being the ‘cornerstone’ of the building – the key supporting stone which holds everything in creation together – yet rejected by those with a powerful self-centred agenda.
The parable tells us much about three things: God; ourselves; and Jesus.
It tells of God’s trust – giving the human race the compliment of responsibility as custodians of the world on God’s behalf.
It tells of God’s patience – in sending messengers to warn and advise.
It tells of God’s judgement – which in the end is very stern and final; and takes out of our hands the task we were meant to do.
It tells of human privilege – all that is gifted to us to meet our needs and more.
It tells of human freedom – God is not a task-master to be feared – but one who liberates us and trusts us to make our own choices and judgements.
It tells of human answerability – we are ultimately accountable to God for our actions.
It tells of human susceptibility – to being seduced by self-interest, and energised by rebellion.
It also tells us about Jesus – his identity as the Son of God, and the sacrifice he was willing to undergo to help make reparations and forge new ways of living.
The parable can be interpreted for our times in many ways, but perhaps most appropriately, especially at harvest time, the vineyard as the ‘environment’ comes to mind:
The vineyard is God’s creation, filled with everything needed by its inhabitants.
The tenants are all of us – custodians of the planet and entrusted to care for the environment and its productivity – and to be its guardians for future generations.
The prophets are the environmentalists and scientists warning us of the consequences of serious neglect and misuse, and the impending death of wild-life and the ecosystem on which we depend - all we have been given for our welfare.
One contemporary prophet is David Attenborough. When asked for one simple message to us all, he said: ‘Waste nothing; value everything.’
Are we being given opportunities to turn the tide and heal the injuries?
Is this the gospel of hope which Jesus offers?
Maybe next time we raise a glass of wine to toast the harvests of our days, we could think a prayer for United Nations and all our leaders – that they may heed the warnings of environmentalists; also a prayer for research engineers - seeking ways to reduce our impact on the planet; and a prayer for ourselves – that we may live responsibly and sustainably in God’s vineyard.
Today is also the day when we remember St Francis of Assisi whose appreciation of God’s presence in the natural world has much to teach us as we seek to care for our world. So we will use some prayers of his: Firstly The Song of Brother Sun and Sister Moon:
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings. To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name. Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour, Of You Most High, he bears the likeness. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, And fair and stormy, all weather's moods, by which You cherish all that You have made. Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water, So useful, humble, precious and pure. Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong. Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,Mother Earth who sustains and governs us, producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs. Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial. Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned. Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death, from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will. No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks, And serve Him with great humility.
St. Francis’ vocation prayer - that we might do God’s will:
Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our minds. Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that we may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
As we pray these prayers we remember Francis and his way of life; we give thanks for his inspiration and example and we pray for the church all who follow the Franciscan way today and that all may be encouraged and inspired.
We pray for all who are poor
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.
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.
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.
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:
All creatures of our God and King Lift up your voice and with us sing, Alleluia! Alleluia! Thou burning sun with golden beam, Thou silver moon with softer gleam! Refrain:
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice, Ye lights of evening, find a voice! O praise Him... Thou flowing water, pure and clear, Make music for thy Lord to hear, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou fire so masterful and bright, That givest man both warmth and light. O praise Him... Dear mother earth, who day by day Unfoldest blessings on our way, O praise Him! Alleluia! The flowers and fruits that in thee grow, Let them His glory also show. O praise Him... Let all things their Creator bless, And worship Him in humbleness, O praise Him! Alleluia! Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son, And praise the Spirit, Three in One! O praise Him...
To finish our prayer we ask God’s Blessing in words St. Francis loved:
The Lord bless us and keep us. May He show His face to us and have mercy. May He turn His countenance to us and give us peace. The Lord bless us all, and
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
Little Fugue by Domenico Zipoli.