Greetings from St Mary’s and St Andrew’s
In last week’s newsletter, I recalled Jesus’ words in John 4:34-35: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.”
Here is an example of waking up and looking around. Last Sunday afternoon, I dropped in on Messy Church. Every month since we launched this new expression of church for families and children, God has blessed us with growth – a new family on every occasion.
On this occasion, not only did we have 2 more families joining in (including one mother and daughter, who have never attended our Sunday services), we had 3 fathers come in with their children mid-session to see what Messy Church was all about. They had heard about it and wanted to check it out. In the 5 minutes or so that they were able to stay, their children joined in the singing or saw the tea that everyone was enjoying at the end. The children loved their brief experience and said they would be back. Why wouldn’t they? The church was buzzing; the pulpit transformed into the tree that Zacchaeus climbed; Messy edible craft lit up Tea time; and even adults joined in Messy action singing!
Friends, ‘the fields are already ripe for harvest’!
As I write, Gainford’s Fun Day on Saturday is still to come. It has been, and we hope it will continue to be, a collaborative effort involving St Mary’s Church and the Parish community. Join me in saying a big thank you to Geoff, our churchwarden and vice-chair of St Mary’s PCC, who has been on the planning committee for many years. When I think of our lay leaders in St Andrew’s and St Mary’s, Isaiah 40:30-31 comes to mind:
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
God, the most holy and glorious Trinity is with us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
– Rev’d Canon Eileen Harrop
St Andrew'sServices this weekend
- + Sunday Holy Communion
St Mary'sServices this weekend
- + Sunday Holy Communion
The Notice Board
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO GAINFORD WOMENS INSTITUTE WHO CELEBRATE THEIR CENTENARY ON TUESDAY
Please pray for Esme Rose McLuckie, who is being baptised on Sunday 26th June 2022, for her parents Pete and Kim, and her Godparents Sarah, Michelle, Dean, and James.
Praying for God’s Mission in ‘WIN & GAIN’: Did you know that a prayer meeting is convened every Tuesday evening from 7pm to pray that we hear God’s voice, seek His direction, and ask for help and provision for our churches’ ministry and mission? The venue is either at Jen’s, Rosalind’s, or at St Mary’s Church, but if you would like to know more or to join us, please contact Jen: firstname.lastname@example.org who can add you to the weekly email on where to meet and on particular prayer items.
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: email@example.com
Gainford FUN DAY Saturday 25th June 2022: Thank you to everyone who has helped with St Mary’s Tea Tent and the church’s display. What a blessing that as many as would wish can gather for fun and laughter in such a place of beauty and plenty.
Advance notice! On Monday 18th July, ITV, 9pm, the Long Lost Family Special filmed in St Mary’s Church and on Gainford’s green with Brenda Clayton talking about her grandfather Harry Miller. It is part of the story of the young WW1 soldiers, who were found more than 100 years after they fell at Passchendaele.
The Collect for Trinity
O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Post Communion Prayer
comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken,
you have fed us at the table of life and hope:
teach us the ways of gentleness and peace,
that all the world may acknowledge
the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
The First Reading
23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 Then they went on to another village.
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ 58 And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 59 To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ 60 But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ 61 Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ 62 Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
1st Sunday after TRINITY: Rev’d Canon Eileen Harrop, 19th June 2022 (Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-39)
This Sunday I’m going to address head-on our Gospel story about the man tormented by demons liberated when demons left him and destroyed instead a herd of pigs. This is a familiar story where pity is given to the pigs and to the swine herdsmen who lost their herd. Jesus’ act of delivering this man from a life blighted by demons is marginalised. I believe it is because of its importance that our attention is diverted.
At the start of Luke chapter 8, we are told that ‘Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.’ All 12 disciples were with him and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, including Mary Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza. Several women with wealthy households such as Susanna and many others were in that group too and used their personal resources to support the ministry journey. They had crossed the Sea of Galilee to evangelise.
On landing, the first person who greets them is this trouble man. Imagine the reaction of the group as their boats arrive. This man has no clothes on. He is a very worrying sight. He has been living in the open and among the tombs for a long time. He had previously broken out of chains and shackles; he had been bound because he was deemed to be dangerous. He was a terrifyingly sorry and distressing sight. Luke reports: ‘When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice’ and I am imagining this to be a desperately dreadful cry.
When Jesus sees the man, he saw his plight. Jesus did not seek to protect the women and men who had come with him from this man. The man was naked although dirty from rough living, and likely to have been covered in bruises and injuries from his shackles. He was not armed, and he fell down in front of Jesus, before crying out.
Jesus saw a man overrun by demons. Jesus commands the unclean spirit to come out. The words that follow do not belong to the man. It is the opposite of what he wants and needs. ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’
Jesus hears both the man’s unspoken voice and demons’ words and recognises that what is cried out is not from that man’s heart and mind.
I’m going to pause at this point. I suspect that there are very few amongst us, including myself, who would proactively seek out troubled people such as this man. If truth be told, we may believe there is no hope for such a tormented person. The man in the Gospel story had already been regarded as a danger to others, to be shackled rather than be treated gently and with compassion. That is unless such a person is a family member, a son, daughter, father, mother – someone we love.
There is no evidence that the man’s demons were symbolic demons. That is, that his demons were a breakdown of mental health manifested in a variety of ways. When Jesus asks the man directly for his name, he is lucid: ‘Legion’ he answers, and we are told ‘for many demons had entered him.’
We also know that some mental health problems are not due to demons. Some who were in that group with Jesus ‘had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities.’
The point I am inviting us to consider is our attitude towards people who are visibly disturbed and whose distress is abnormal and even frightening. In recent years, there is increasing attention to mental health so that people with mental health disturbance are less ostracised.
But as Christians who have the privilege of learning from and following Jesus, let us observe how Jesus regarded and treated this tormented man. We know that Jesus always called on God the Father’s authority. We know that Jesus was always full of compassion, did not condemn, while noticing all that was before him. Jesus recognised the man’s plight and did not fear nor react dramatically towards the demons.
Here is the take-away from this passage: when ‘people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.’
If we believe that the power Jesus had is given to us, then by faith, we too can liberate people from torment. Why would we prefer to doubt that this could be true?
Let it not be that we choose to believe only when it is needed for someone we love and close to our hearts.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us. Amen.