Newsletter: 12th – 18th September 2021

Greetings from Eileen

Dear friends,

I count among my blessings true examples from both our churches Christians living out their faith joyfully in our communities. This Saturday’s re-scheduled FUN DAY in Gainford is one such example.  Not only are Geoff, Sue, and Peter St Mary’s Churchwardens, Geoff is also a lead organiser for Fun Day; Sue in charge of the Tea Tent; and Peter will be there (even at the height of haymaking) setting up the main gazebo and electrics for this commuity event.  We have other examples in Winston with Tea and Chat, village lunches, the Millennium Field committee and the Recreation Field committee.

Each of us involved in these ways encourage opportunities for people to share or put aside their burdens even for a while, and to flourish together. I would love that any who are uncertain of their faith or who wonder about returning to church may choose to know Christ because of your joyful witness.

The Church of England has designated September as Creation-tide.  Because God’s created world has suffered by people’s choices and actions, we must give urgent and sustained attention to changing our ways.  Our diocese has co-organised an Environmental Conference 9.30am -1.30pm this Saturday 4th September on ZOOM. Register using this link if you would like to join in.

This week I was among the clergy presiding in a somewhat outrageous event in Bishop Auckland – a funeral service for the death of our world.  “Christians should be at the forefront of the environmental cause and movement because in our care for Creation we reflect our love of the Creator.” (Revd Nicky Gumbel, Pioneer of the Alpha course) Check out this link for practical things we can all choose to do that would help restore our world.

Next Thursday our youth group resumes as the first YOUTH SAINTS monthly meeting. Please spread the message to friends and neighbours with young people. ‘It’s buzzing!’ say the youth to their parents.

Youth Bible Time is also resuming from 5.45pm in St Mary’s Church, Gainford. Young people from both our parishes and others from nearby places are all welcome!

Have you watched our broadcast of TOGETHER ON SUNDAY

Our churches are open daily for private prayer.
We welcome everyone to join us at services in church every Sunday:
• 9.30am at St Andrew’s Church, Winston
• 10.45am at St Mary’s Church, Gainford
Our congregations now sing together in church! Provision for singing without face coverings is also available in both churches.

God is with us. May Christ, who by his incarnation, gathered into one, all things earthly and heavenly, fill you with joy and peace.

Rev’d Eileen Harrop

Our churches continue to be open for private prayer.

Please read the separate page outlining the church’s modified approach

Click for St Mary’s Coronavirus Information

Click for St Andrew’s Coronavirus Information

Notices

  • Congratulations to Patrick and Liz whose wedding takes places in St Mary’s Church, Gainford at 11.30am Saturday 11th September 2021.
  • JAZZ ON THE GREEN takes place this Sunday 12th September at 1pm on Gainford’s Green. Bring a lunch picnic as you relax to the jolly strains of this excellent returning group of Jazz musicians who have always delighted us. Bring your friends and family, and have a afternoon with us. Donations gratefully received!
  • ‘Living in Love and Faith’ is a national study that everyone in dioceses across the country is encouraged to participate. The issues relating to gender and relationships need open consideration with Christian understanding. Barnard Castle Deanery is holding sessions that we can join. On six successive Wednesdays commencing 15th September the LLF course will be held in St Mary’s Church, Barnard Castle at 7.00pm. For those who prefer to join online, sessions will take place on Thursday evenings (7.00pm) commencing October 21st over Zoom. To sign up email: info@stmarysbarnardcastle.org.uk
  • Bishop Paul will be baptising and confirming Tom Deakin on Sunday 19th September 11am in St Andrew’s Church, Newton Aycliffe. Everyone is welcome. Rev’d Sarah Cliff will be covering at St Mary’s, Gainford as Eileen will be presenting Tom to the Bishop.

The Collect for the 14th Sunday after Trinity

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.

Amen

The First Reading

James 3:1-12

 

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

The Gospel

Mark 8.27-38

 

27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ 28 And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ 29 He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’

Sermon

4th after TRINITY SERMON (Rev’d Eileen Harrop at St Andrew’s, Winston)
James 2.1-10, 14-17; Mark 7.24-37

Who is welcome in Christ’s family? That is one of the questions that link our 2 readings today. In both the answer is found in the way we behave, that is by the way we show welcome and express God’s perfect law of love towards others.

The New Testament writer James, who may either be James, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples or James, one of Jesus’ brothers, a son of Joseph and Mary.  Whichever the author is, both were close to Jesus and witnesses of his life.  James asks those who profess their faith in Jesus: “…do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?

He does not hold back in remarking about his Christian brothers and sisters showing better behaviour towards some people than others.  What he describes about Christians then, is evident today: even I have experienced this.  He challenges them for preferring the visibly well dressed and wealthy.  They are treated with courtesy and deference, while the poor and dishevelled person is ordered ‘to sit here or stand there’.

Sadly, persons who show this form of favouritism demean and ingratiate themselves, when they lower themselves in the company of the rich or famous, or the rich and famous.
There is the reverse form of favouritism too.  Assumptions are made about someone born into a family of high status that he or she would not wish to associate with ‘the likes of us’ and should be ‘brought down a peg or two’.

Last week I was in conversation with an active civic leader, who is politically partisan. He told me how stand offs and posturing are normal behaviours at council meetings.  Even as he justified this sort of differential behaviour as ‘games’, he spoke passionately against cronyism and favouritism as corrupt practices. Members of a church once wrote to the Archdeacon accusing me of advancing the causes of a wealthy philanthropist who I was tasked to work alongside.  They said, “No one with that much money is a real Christian.”  Friends, in fact, the history of the early church reveals that Christians first met in the homes of wealthy widows, which they paid to be adapted into places dedicated to Christian worship.

I also met with Bishop Paul recently and asked if we were involved with receiving Afghans in exile.  I asked him “what would a good welcome look like”? In one sense we would not be welcoming people in exile in the same way we welcome one another because of the context of their needs.  Listen again to our Bible passage from James: “If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?”  Amongst us here today, we don’t welcome one another by providing food, clothing and shelter but we do say ‘Go in peace’.  Yet when we welcome those in need with practical help, it flows from Christ in us, our living faith and testifies to our Christian love.

James sums up his rebuke saying: “So, faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead”.  James is not saying that faith is inadequate for the salvation of our souls.  But he says that our Christian lives will be unproductive, like a sterile fruit tree or non-flowering rose shrub,

In our Gospel reading, Jesus has an interesting conversation with a Syrophoenician woman, a non-Jewish person, who pleads with Jesus for her daughter’s deliverance. So that his disciples see and understand, Jesus tells her that his priority is to deliver the Jewish people. In the original Greek text, Jesus tells her that choice food should not be preferentially fed to the family dog.  The woman replies that even they would receive crumbs that have fallen under the table. Jesus commends and blesses her with her daughter’s healing.

In the next scene Jesus heals a deaf man, and we know he healed a great many people regardless of their nationality, their wealth, or their status.

We are all naturally wary of others who are different in one way or another, partly because we know cultural dissonance exists across different cultures.  And sometimes we may unwittingly be hostile or cold towards those who ‘are not one of ours’ (whatever that means).  But we must seek God’s help intentionally to consider what being impartial means as Christians.  Do we shun those who are different or difficult? Do we stand aside because it may be more embarrassing to try? There is no condemnation in Christ, but I pray that in the power of God’s Spirit we would love and welcome all with the same love of God that is given freely to us.  Amen

Written by Rev'd Canon Eileen Harrop

Reverend Canon Eileen is the incumbent for St Mary's, Gainford and St Andrew's, Winston.

September 11, 2021

Join Us at services in our churches every sunday

10:45am at St Mary’s Church, Gainford

9:30am at St Andrew’s church, winston

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