Greetings from Eileen
Greetings from Eileen
Quoting from Rev’d Canon David Tomlinson in the Bishop’s Leadership Team: ‘Everything has changed, then changed some more, before changing again’. I am sorry to be missing many of you because the pandemic has kept you ‘out of circulation’ so to speak. The change is your deprivation of a great deal outside your self-appointed confines. For others, the quote sums up the continual adapting to the behaviour of the virus and variants. If this is having a disturbing effect on you, please do not keep it to yourself. Please talk to someone you trust (they would not feel that you’re troubling them), even a medical professional (e.g. the GP), one of our church family (perhaps our churchwardens, or lay leaders like Lynne Lobley or Joyce Wilson), or me! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch either via the website or in-person.
This week, I took courage and ventured to London for the launch of TEAHOUSE, a support and development network for the Church of England 0.2% Chinese heritage clergy and ordinands-in-training. With the recent political decision providing settlement for eligible citizens from the return of HK to China, the Archbishop’s Council is pleased for this group’s advice to welcome new British Chinese into our churches. Among my roles outside our parishes are as Northern Province Executive Member of the Anglican Minority Ethnic Network (AMEN) – an independent national advisory network, and Durham Diocese UK Minority Ethnic Advisor. Here are a couple of photographs that appeared in this week’s Church Times newspaper.
It is of great sadness that support for Afganistan has collapsed with the return of chaos and fear. For years, difficult decisions had been taken to deploy men and women both military and for aid with significant traumatic sacrifice. Please pray for everyone affected including all fleeing from danger and for those who can help. In the meantime, please also pray for other global matters: Haiti; France; Timor; and other places having to recover from natural and climate disasters; and places where the virus has resurged. Amidst all this, brave paralympians are competing in Tokyo, where the challenges are not only the various competitions.
Please do join our broadcast of TOGETHER ON SUNDAY that went live last Sunday if you have not already done so. Only 15 minutes, it features St Andrew’s, Winston.
Our churches are open daily for private prayer, and have resumed collections for the Foodbank.
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 are now permitted to sing together in church! Provision for singing without face coverings is also available in both churches.
Youth Saints Holiday Club Show and Tell takes place this Thursday 26th August 2-5pm in Gainford.
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
- Youth and Young People’s Ministry and Mission (integrated programme for both parishes): everyone interested in co-leading or contributing to our plans is invited to meet at 12 noon on Sunday 22**nd August 2021 (after the service) at St Mary’s Church, Gainford.
- WEDDING! Please pray for Darren Elmer and Kerry Grant as they get married in St Mary’s, Gainford on Wednesday 25**th August 2021.
The Collect for the 12th Sunday after Trinity
Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray
and to give more than either we desire or deserve:
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things
of which our conscience is afraid
and giving us those good things
which we are not worthy to ask
but through the merits and mediation
of 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
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’ 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’
66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ 68 Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ 6 He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
“This people honours me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.”
8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’
14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’
21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’
11th after TRINITY (Rev’d Eileen Harrop)
John 6:51-58 (Rev’d Eileen Harrop)
We have heard in several consecutive Sundays the symbolism of bread. First, we heard of Jesus feeding thousands from 5 loaves and 2 fish on a remote mountainside. Then we heard him say to the Jews that he is the bread that came down from heaven, and that those who ate that bread would have everlasting life. Jesus feeds us. He is the Bread of Heaven, and the Bread of Life.
The Jews complained that Jesus had made a provocative claim, and now, John tells us that Jesus makes what they would consider a more outrageous claim.
“The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Their ‘complaining’ is turned into a dispute. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
We need to understand Jesus’ words in context of his conversation with the Jews. This has to do with their ancestral history. The Jews following God’s leading in exile had demanded flesh to eat after God had provided them with manna from heaven.
But the Jews choose to be fixated on the literal reference of ‘the flesh’. So, when Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” they are outraged. God had indeed provided the Israelites with the flesh of quails when they complained about manna. But the consuming of blood fundamentally transgresses their religious food laws.
There is no doubt both then and now that the literal meaning of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood is a horrible cannibalistic notion. Of course, that is not what Jesus meant. Consider this, when Jesus says, “I am the Light of the World” we do not hesitate to understand him. ‘Light of the World’ is undoubtedly used as a metaphor but it is a comfortable metaphor.
John’s writing is clear to the earliest Christians, whose following of Jesus brought them into a crisis of separation from their families and neighbours. Jesus’ Jewish followers had become outcasts from their communities. This conversation that Jesus has with the Jews would be remembered by his disciples when he institutes the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Jesus’ conversation brings deeper significance not only to his disciples at the Last Supper but to all disciples thereafter. We are not only enacting what Jesus did at the Last Supper each time we celebrate Communion: ‘On the night he was betrayed Jesus took the bread…and after supper he took the cup of wine’. Rather we ‘proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes’. Because people rejected Jesus’ reaching out to give them the food of eternal life, he was crucified.
Jesus draws attention to heaven because mortality is an incomplete picture of reality in the Kingdom of God. You might remember Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews, asked Jesus: “How can anyone be born after having grown old?” and now the Jews ask: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” These questions are like riddles whose answers are obvious to the insider but opaque to the outsider.
John writes that those who believe have ‘seen his glory’. Friends, be very clear: Jesus did not wish for anyone to be outsiders, but some chose not to see his glory and understand.
Yes, this teaching is difficult because we are invited to see differently what is in the world and of the world. Those who feed on Jesus will see and understand more and more with God’s heart and mind. We will be nourished with heavenly understanding. But these insights will separate many from those who do not live in Christ. There will be a tension about our lives amongst those who do not believe in Christ.
But remember this, the context of all Scripture and the whole story of God’s love for the world is summed up in this very Gospel: ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…’. Also remember that ‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him’. Those who believe and have godly insights no longer belong to the world, but we have God’s full and unlimited capacity and capability to love, and therefore, in Christ, to love and live in peace with all.
Thanks be to God.