Greetings from Eileen
Almost 4 weeks have passed since my departing for Singapore, and before next week is out, God willing, I shall be back in our parishes. Partings are not my favourite moments, but no words adequately describe my gratitude to God for his favour on my family during this time.
I confess that I had not expected to feel so alien on returning to my native country and now I wonder how strange I may feel being back in County Durham. Having 3 meals every day is an unusual phenomenon too!
4 years is quite a long time not to have been with my parents and siblings, and perhaps the pandemic with its rigours and anxieties has had a greater disorientating impact than I realised. Thank you for your prayers and understanding. I am grateful to Bishop Paul for his compassionate permission of special leave.
As the schools take a half-term break, let us pray that many families and those who work at schools will enjoy rest and time with their families during this short break.
We are presently in the few weeks of transition after Epiphany as Lent approaches. Next week, I shall provide more detail about the set times during Lent when everyone is invited to study God’s Word more deeply, to reflect prayerfully, and have conversations about our journey in the world and in our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. There is a time set aside in St Andrew’s, Winston led by Lynne Lobley, and an hour from 7 to 8pm on the 16th, 23rd, 30th March at St Mary’s, Gainford. Lent begins on 2nd March Ash Wednesday with a quiet service with Ashing at 9.30am in St Andrew’s, Winston for both parishes.
Services on Sunday 20th February 2022
Before listing our forthcoming services, I wish to thank Peter Graham for reorganising and leading last Sunday’s service at St Mary’s, Gainford at only a day’s notice. Both my colleague Rev’d Canon Dr Alan Bartlett and our appointed reader had to isolate due to closeness to infected persons.
The Service of the Word was very well received and greatly appreciated. St Mary’s Gainford’s churchwardens approached Area Dean Alec Harding, who has given permission for Communion by Extension this Sunday. This means the congregation at St Mary’s, Gainford will able to receive Communion from our authorised lay leaders.
◦ St Mary’s, Gainford – 10.45am Communion Service (lay led with Communion by extension)
◦ St Andrew’s, Winston – 9.30am Lay-led Service of the Word
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
• Non-residentiary Canon of Durham Cathedral Installation Service
The cathedral has written to invite members of our parishes to this service on Sunday 6th March – the cathedral’s 3.30pm Choral Evensong. If you would like to come, please contact Tom (e-mail email@example.com), who is arranging minibus transport (£2 per person). The service is live streamed for those who are unable to attend but able to access Facebook.
• Durham Diocese
Together with the other 2 northernmost dioceses (Newcastle and Carlisle) of York Province has invited parishes to participate in the ‘Small Faithful Rural’ Residential Conference at The Sill Retreat Centre, near Hadrian’s Wall, on the 10th and 11th of June: https://www.smallfaithfulrural.org/
The cost for 2 days overnight-stay with full board, speakers, and all resources is £100 per participant. This is an excellent opportunity for us, following our parishes’ Vision Day, to draw on the experience of others with support of our diocese to develop our ministry and mission now and in the years to come. Tom Deakin, coordinating our participation, is in conversation with our PCC treasurers for a subsidy arrangement. Please contact Tom firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to sign up.
On Thursdays our youth group YOUTH SAINTS monthly meeting. Please spread the message to friends and neighbours with young people.
Youth Bible Time is also resuming from 5.45pm in St Mary’s Church, Gainford on the same Thursday. Young people from both our parishes and others from nearby places are all welcome!
Our Growth Fellowship, formerly the Young Leaders Fellowship, is now open to anyone to join from both parishes as well as those within the surrounding area – young adults interested in developing themselves, understanding more about the Bible or those interested in joining in with a regular programme of activities (both indoor and outdoor) are all welcome. Please contact us email@example.com if you are interested in taking part!
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 churches continue to be open daily for private prayer.
Please read the separate Covid page outlining the modified approach for each church for details.
Click for St Mary’s Coronavirus Information
Click for St Andrew’s Coronavirus Information
A Prayer for our Churches and our People
You have gifted the Church
through the goodness of your Grace
to be your hands and do your work,
to be your voice and share your words,
to bring healing to a fallen world
and broken lives made whole.
You have gifted your people
with the blessings of your Spirit,
the power to transform lives
and make all things new.
Now may our hearts receive,
our mouths proclaim,
our hands prepare for service,
that the love that we have known
might overflow the lives we live
and pour into the hearts of others,
that all might receive your Grace,
your renewing Spirit and your love.
The Collect for the 2nd Sunday before Lent
you have created the heavens and the earth
and made us in your own image:
teach us to discern your hand in all your works
and your likeness in all your children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things,
now and for ever.
God our creator,
by your gift
the tree of life was set at the heart of the earthly paradise,
and the bread of life at the heart of your Church:
may we who have been nourished at your table on earth
be transformed by the glory of the Saviour’s cross
and enjoy the delights of eternity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The First Reading
New Testament Reading
1 After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! 3 And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. 4 Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; 6 and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.
Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,
“Holy, holy, holy,
the Lord God the Almighty,
who was and is and is to come.”
9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,
11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
17 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they put out, 23 and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. 24 They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?”
Short Message for the 3rd Sunday before Lent: Rev’d Eileen Harrop, read at St Mary’s, Gainford on 13th February 2022
Our Gospel passage draws attention to paradoxes of the world. These paradoxes abound today as much as they were evident in Luke chapter 6.
- A great many people ill with diseases and with troubled minds and spirits are desperate and urgently seek healing and peace.
- There are people poor, hungry, sad and sorrowing; those hated for their honesty and speaking truth; and the excluded, the reviled, insulted, and defamed. In their need and worldly troubles, these people are blessed.
- Then there are those who delight in filling their lives with worldly wealth, who are unrestrained in feasting and pleasure; and
- those who place their confidence in the praise of people, and who covet worldly glory.
In their satisfaction and worldly riches, woe will befall them.
The blessed live alongside those who will find their life of riches not all it is cracked up to be.
When we think about these paradoxes, we realise they do not surprise us. This seems even unsurprising with or without Jesus on the scene. Some people suffer poverty, but their persevering honest living deserves respect. Others with great material wealth and money may wallow in pleasure today but fall to great disgrace tomorrow. Such paradox is unsurprising, but that is not Jesus’ lesson for us in Luke chapter 6.
As followers of Christ, our lesson is revealed in the scenes immediately preceding and following this Sunday’s passage. Luke tells us this is what took place just before the world’s paradoxes were revealed:
Verses 12 to 16: ‘Now during those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles…’
Then our reading today begins in verse 17:
‘He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples…’
• We learn that Jesus prepared himself by prayer – he went to a place where he could and would pray all night and received power from God the Father.
• We learn that having discerned from God his will, he appointed individuals by name. Then Jesus went to the places where he was needed with those whom he had appointed.
• We learn that there were a great many more disciples learning from Jesus, not only the named disciples. The lessons and wonders of Jesus’ ministry were not, and are not, reserved for an elite few.
And then Jesus teaches his disciples that this is how we are to understand and act on the world’s paradoxes:
Verse 27: “…I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.”