Newsletter: 25th-31st July 2021

Dear Friends,

Do you feel you and we have entered a new post-pandemic phase as Government legislated restrictions have been lifted? Are you celebrating summer holidays with family and friends? In the past week of sunshine and warmth, I have noticed wild swimming being enjoyed in the River Tees in our parishes.

In reality, mixed feelings and polarised views are more evident than before, and while more are protected by vaccination, covid-19 infection is noticeably active within our communities.

The Prayer of St Columba is particularly apt, as we put our trust not in changeable voices but seek God’s guiding before us, above, below, and behind us.

Both St Andrew’s, Winston and St Mary’s, Gainford PCCs have met to discuss and agree on how we proceed with services and churches opening throughout the week. I am thankful to God that we have given one another the opportunity to express hopes and concerns, and to listen to one another. 

Our churches are distinct and different in capacity and shape. Therefore I hope you would welcome the decisions taken to assure everyone of caring for one another’s well-being and transitioning sensibly from previous measures. 

Please read the separate page outlining the church’s modified approach taking effect from this Sunday

Click for St Mary’s Coronavirus Information

Click for St Andrew’s Coronavirus Information

Welcome back if you have waited for the freedom and joy of singing together. We also hope that as more are fully vaccinated, that you would have confidence to return if you have hesitated to return previously. Clear guidance will also be provided on site.

If you are unable to come in person, do join us TOGETHER ON SUNDAY on YouTube at 10am. Our broadcast first available last Sunday is here

Many have been curious to know more about our work with schools and young people. We have had to go entirely online for Gainford Primary School’s Leavers Service and for our introduction to younger Youth Saints Holiday Club.  Here are 2 YouTube links to watch and to pray for the young people in our parishes: >here< and >here<

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

Interment of Ashes

Please pray for the families and friends of Joy Wilson; Doris Walker; and Lesley Allison, whose interment of ashes take place this week in our churchyards of St Mary’s, Gainford and St Andrew’s, Winston.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for the families and friends of Joy Wilson; Doris Walker; and Lesley Allison, whose interment of ashes take place this week in our churchyards of St Mary’s, Gainford and St Andrew’s, Winston.

Pray for Communities in Continental Europe affected by floods

Please pray for all who are not only battling covid-19 but also who have lost homes and loved ones from floods.

Pray for Sportsmen and Women and accompanying teams in the Olympics in Japan

A great competition, the Olympic Games is struggling. Please pray those representing their countries, the organisers, and the people of Japan.

The collect for the 8th Sunday after trinity

Lord God,

your Son left the riches of heaven

and became poor for our sake:

when we prosper save us from pride,

when we are needy save us from despair,

that we may trust in you alone;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Weekly Readings

The Gospel: John 6:1-21

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.

 

5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’

 

10 Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.

 

14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’ 15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about Three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.

Sermon

 

7th after TRINITY SERMON (at St Mary’s, Gainford)
Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

 

One of the earliest Bishops, Irenaeus of Lyons, a Greek born about 100 years after Jesus, said: ‘The Glory of God is a human being fully alive’.

These words resonate powerfully in my experience of our covid-19 dominated 17 months.

As people blessed with the knowledge of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, I know that others are drawn to us when we emanate God’s glory. Even strangers recognise something compelling when God’s glory shines from our being, and sometimes by what we say and do. Collectively, as in our first reading we are ‘…a holy temple in the Lord… built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.’

Well today’s Gospel passage presented me with a salutary lesson and in context of Irenaeus’ words. Not that I feel chastised in re-discovering Jesus’ example from Word of God, but it sums up what I have to learn and to receive.

Here are the words of our Gospel again:

‘The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.’

Jesus’ disciples, the apostles, had worked hard. They had gone to homes in towns as Jesus’ commissioned to share the Good News, healing many and blessing them. Now they returned to tell Jesus all they had done.

Jesus listened and heard that ‘…many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.’ Friends, I confess that this describes my life in these past 17 months: I had been coming and going, and had no leisure even to eat.

It is my nature to rise to challenges quickly, intentionally, and fully, drawing on every available resource and opportunity. I was already in hyper-drive a couple of months before this pernicious virus advanced on us from the East, already on alert with family in East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. I followed closely the fate of churches in the East that became ‘super spreaders’ of Coronavirus. When North America was overwhelmed, I was on alert for my globally dispersed family. By the time our churches in England were ordered to close, I had set up our online broadcasting facility.

I even filmed myself conducting Communion at our high altar in case it would be a very long time before we could celebrate Communion in that way. Our committed churchwardens unquestioningly acted on our new pattern of holding church and community together. We have been relentless in adapting to new ways of doing church. Having never done online broadcasts previously, we were quite quickly deemed experts. We increased support for our school, and our pew sheets morphed into substantial weekly newsletters.

But friends, when Jesus heard that his disciples ‘…were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat’, ‘He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’’ Jesus said to them… ‘Come away…and rest a while.’’

I want you to know how deeply moved I am that all of you desire my well-being. Each time we greet one another, whether it is after our church services or if we happen to meet unplanned, you always enquire about my well-being, and I see the concern in your eyes and hear it in your voice. Thank you.

A colleague said to me recently: ‘The body you have is the only one you’ve got’. A depleted, overstretched, and worn-out disciple is not ‘a human being fully alive’. I did not feel ‘fully alive’! Several weeks ago, I asked God if He still desired that I continue or if I was due for new pastures, because I was running out of puff here. God’s answer has come clearly to me. I was running out of puff because I had not been listening to God’s voice in your voices. I had not heeded the brokenness of my own body. And I had not heeded the One in whom my ministry and my whole life rests. As Jesus said to his followers then, he says to me now: ‘…rest a while’.

Friends, these 17 months have been hard on everyone. Each of us have been affected differently. We need to be kind and gracious to appreciate one another. And we all need to recover; to re-centre our lives on the joys that God desires for us, and not on this unwelcome virus. In days to come we will continue to be wary and weary. But because ‘God’s glory is a human being fully alive’, let us time to rest awhile. It may seem humanly counterintuitive, but the fruitfulness in our church and parish would not be the result of us pushing ourselves but in trusting the Lord and blessing one another to do as he invites: ‘Come away…and rest a while’. Amen.

Written by Rev'd Canon Eileen Harrop

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

July 23, 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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