Newsletter: 15th – 21st May 2022

Greetings from St Mary’s and St Andrew’s

Dear friends,

Who is our church? I hope that everyone who receives my greetings knows that together we are church. Together we are many more than those attending services at St Andrew’s, Winston and St Mary’s, Gainford. Ahead of our Annual Meetings on Sunday 22nd May after each of our services, I have been reflecting with thanksgiving and prayer on all who are part of our church family in each place. In this country, the parish church of the Church of England has responsibility to care for the spiritual life of everyone who lives, works, and spends any amount of time, in the parish. We are blessed that this newsletter extends our church family beyond our parochial boundaries. I am reminded by these words from scripture of who and what is church:

You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
You are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

 

God calls each of us as members of Christ’s family, to live and endeavour in these ways, which are the ministry and mission of the church:

Just as shepherds watch over their sheep, you must watch over everyone God has placed in your care. Do it willingly in order to please God, and not simply because you think you must. Let it be something you want to do (1 Peter 5:2)

(Jesus said:) I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must also bring them together, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

Sunflowers

Christian Aid Week

Commences this Sunday and is a reminder that the family of God includes those in need elsewhere in the world whom we may never meet but whom we are called to help. We are answers to their prayers because there is nothing they can do to change their situations. In Zimbabwe, the climate crisis is causing aching hunger for families. 7,000 miles away, the war in Ukraine is driving up food prices in Zimbabwe and globally. We thank God for teams on the ground whose work is made possible by the generosity of donors from churches everywhere this week. In St Andrew’s Church and St Mary’s Church, envelopes for donations are available in church or donate online https://envelope.christianaid.org.uk/envelope/teesdale if you prefer.

Messy Church

Building on foundations laid in Youth Saints, Baptisms, Weddings, our relationship with schools, intentional prayer, and articles in the Parish News magazine, we are delighted to welcome families to Messy Church at St Mary’s, Gainford, this Sunday. We look forward to meeting more families who are new to regular fellowship and worship in church. From 3.30-5.30pm we will celebrate The Holy Spirit in anticipation of Pentecost in song, crafts, Bible stories, conversation, and a meal together.

God is with us and has given us a place with the saints in light. With the risen life of Christ within you, go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia!

Rev’d Canon Eileen Harrop

The Notice Board

  •  Bereavements: Please pray for
    • Paul, Sandra, and the family of Connie Raine whose funeral service is at 1.30pm on Monday 16th May 2022 in St Mary’s Church, Gainford, followed by private Committal at Wear Valley Crematorium. Friends are invited to 4 Waters End, Gainford after the service, and donations are gratefully received for the British Heart Foundation and St Mary’s Church, Gainford.
  • Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM): Both annual meetings will be held after services at St Andrew’s, Winston and St Mary’s, Gainford on Sunday 22nd May 2022. We encourage everyone to support these meetings, which are important in the formal life of our churches, but will be succinct and brief.
  • Ukraine Refugee Accommodation Sponsors: A small number of sponsors in Gainford and Winston are preparing to accommodate Ukrainians seeking temporary accommodation. We have formed a Support Group, who will have and share the latest information. If you would like to know more, please email Jill Starr:
  • Platinum Jubilee! St Andrew’s Church with Winston Parish have launched a programme of celebratory events to honour Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
    • Songs of Praise at 8.30 p.m. on Thursday 2nd; followed by lighting the beacon at 9.45 p.m. with accompanying music and a toast to the Queen
    • Decorate your home, farm, or garden: If you live in the parish, have fun decorating and your jubilee decorations will be judged on the weekend
    • 70 Acts of Service: Our Queen has kept her promise of service to her subjects with grace and commitment. An appropriate response is the suggestion of 70 acts of service Visit HOPEtogether.org.uk for some suggestions for you to consider throughout this Platinum Jubilee year. Why not do these as family or a group of friends and share out the ideas? We’d love to hear how you get on.
    • Sunday 5th – Parish picnic in playing field from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday 5th with music; history exhibition in village hall; quiz night in Bridgewater Arms at 6 p.m. Village Photograph at 4p.m.
  • Platinum Jubilee! On Sunday 5th June 2022 St Mary’s Church with Gainford and Langton Parish will celebrate the 70 years of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11’s reign
    • Opening and blessing a new Community Herb Garden on St Mary’s Churchyard
    • A Service of Praise and Blessing at 12 noon on the Green
    • Garden Party on the Green with music provided by a local band

The Collect for the 5th Sunday of Easter

Almighty God,
who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
grant that, as by your grace going before us
you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help
we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Post Communion Prayer

Eternal God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life:
grant us to walk in his way,
to rejoice in his truth,
and to share his risen life;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.
Amen

The First Reading

Acts 11:1-18

1 Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, 3 saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’ 

4 Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, 5 ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. 6 As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” 8 But I replied, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” 9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” 10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. 

11 At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14 he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.” 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 

17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’ 18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’

The Gospel

John 13:31-35

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Sermon

for 4th Sunday of Easter: Rev’d Canon Eileen Harrop, 8th May 2022
(Acts 9.36-43; John 10.22-30)

I admit to being a ‘Trekkie’, that is someone who followed the television series ‘Star Trek’. ‘Star Trek’ badged itself as ‘going where no man has gone before: the final frontier’! In that series, the officers used to tap their badge to communicate to their spaceship ‘Starship Enterprise’.

Why am I bringing this to mind today? Some people seem to think that my communication with God is a bit like that. It has often been said to me that the weather was favourable, or an event was successful, because as your priest with my clerical collar, I had spoken well to God.  In another childhood television series, the agents communicated to No.1 by saying into a pen: “Open channel D”. Perhaps in my case, it might be “open channel G”!

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is badgered by Jewish officials to confirm that he is the one whom God has sent to be their saviour – the Messiah. Be straight, they say: ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ But Jesus says, he already told them who he is on many occasions and in all sorts of ways, but they had not believed him. “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me… but you do not believe.” Jesus says: those who know who he is, hear and know his voice, even as the sheep hear and know the shepherd’s voice.

Among us here today, you know that you belong to God. We celebrate Easter. We are raised to life everlasting because we belong with Jesus, whom God had raised to life everlasting. None of you need to be badged with a clerical collar nor appointed Priest to belong with Jesus, the Shepherd. Unlike the communicator badge in Star Trek and ‘the pen’ of the Man from UNCLE, you can open your channel to speak to and hear God’s voice directly, and at any time. Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” But in truth, you do not hear God’s voice, because sometimes you do not open your channel to him. Whether inadvertently or knowingly, I have not always heard God’s voice.

• When life seems comfortable and all seems well, I might thank God but have not waited to hear his voice.
• When trouble comes, it seems my instinct is to ask for solutions, to remove or resolve the trouble, instead of hearing what God has to say about all of it.
• Sometimes I dive straight into challenging and questioning God as if he made the trouble.
• I have also heard it said that it is the Rector’s/Vicar’s job to hear what God is saying then tell her parishioners.

Jesus uses the analogy of Shepherd and not Sheep Farmer to describe himself. Some of you may be, or may know, sheep farmers, and we might discuss how to distinguish the 2. But Jesus describes the characteristics of the Shepherd simply: “I know them, and they follow me… No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Jesus declares his special relationship with each of us. Belonging to Jesus is not dependent on hierarchy, symbols of clothing, appointments by the church, or whether one is a new, young, frisky, laid back, or old sheep. The strength of this relationship is firstly predicated on the authority of Jesus, the Shepherd: “What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.” Jesus acknowledges God and what God has given him. Jesus has authority to claim us to himself, and the power to hold us. Our relationship with Jesus is secondly predicated on us: “My sheep hear my voice… and they follow me.” The noise and voices of and in the world may hinder us from hearing God’s voice, but his voice is always there to be heard. Nothing, no one, can snatch us out of God’s hand; but we can choose not to hear God and not to be a sheep of Jesus the Shepherd.

I ask you: do you love this church and the parish which is a gift for fellowship and worship? Then clear the clutter of your heart and mind to hear God’s voice. Does a friendship or family relationship matter to you? Check in with God that you may know how to be blessing to the people God has given you. Does the success of an event matter to you? Speak to God about what is important about it: ask God about the weather; pray about those whom you want to come; pray about people and resources you need to put on the event; ask God to reveal His purposes. Remember, our lives are powered by the same power, which raised Jesus from death that we may have eternal life. Jesus said: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” We are in it together. Jesus is urging us to believe all he is and all he offers every one of us.

Let us pray: “Jesus, Shepherd of your sheep, we welcome you as Lord of our lives. Help us to hear your voice in every situation and prompt us to hear you always. Remind us to call upon you that everything we do will be what is best and right for us according to your perfect will. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen”

Written by Rev'd Canon Eileen Harrop

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

May 15, 2022

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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