Newsletter: 3rd – 9th April 2022

Greetings from Eileen

Dear friends,

Passiontide begins this Sunday. It also means we are coming to the end of Lent. We seem propelled through this Lent by weighty earthly concerns: the stubborn spread of covid-19 infection; the trespass of Ukraine bringing them suffering and sorrow; and challenges in our own situations.

I hope many of you would choose to come to see the Passion story of Jesus performed on Good Friday because this dramatic enactment retells God’s greatest gift to us and the greatest love story of all time. Dwelling on our present troubles, it is all too easy to ignore the story of Jesus’ final hours lived for and with us. Yet this story carries the hopes and victory for us all in all situations.

How would you spend Good Friday this year? After the torrid pandemic, and for those with children and grandchildren this torrid time has meant disruption and separation from them. You may be among many who have plans to go away, and take a break together. But if you have not made definite plans, I encourage you to spend the afternoon of Good Friday 15th April at one of the 2 performances (each around 90 minutes) at the Passion Play in Bishop Auckland at 12 noon and 3 pm.

THE EVENT IS FREE but Durham County Council requires the event to be ticketed. Please go online for tickets: https://passionplaybishopauckland.org/

Click the link at the top menu bar for tickets. This directs you to book individual tickets for the performance time you wish to attend, and tickets will be sent to your email address. For groups of 6 or more people, please email tickets@passionplaybishopauckland.org

Also use the same email address if you wish to be allocated a space in the accessible area. Although seats are not provided, wheelchair users and the person accompanying (bringing their own portable seat) will have a secure place zoned for this purpose.

For parishioners in Winston wishing to find out about attending as a group, please email info@gainfordwinston.church For those in Gainford wishing to attend the 3pm performance and travel with the St Mary’s Church group, please contact Geoff Taylor: Geoffandsue379@gmail.com

This Sunday’s Services: Join us for Holy Communion in St Andrew’s, Winston at 9.30am and in St Mary’s, Gainford at 10.45am. At both services, Communion is available as bread and wine (or in one form – bread) from the high altar. After the service at St Mary’s, catch up over a cuppa.
Everyone is welcome to the Passiontide Choral Evensong at 6pm in St Mary’s, 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 Canon Eileen Harrop

Sunflowers

Notices

Gainford C of E Primary School is in St Mary’s Church at 9.15am Wednesday 6th April for their Easter Service.

Youth Saints meet at St Mary’s, Gainford a week earlier on THURSDAY 7th APRIL due to Holy Week services. The Bible group meets at 5.45pm with Youth Saints starting at 6.30pm. Older youth gather for Creation Club at the same time. New members are always welcome!

Churches Together in Gainford invites everyone to the Service of the Stations of the Cross at St Osmund’s Church on Friday 8th April 2022 at 2pm.

A NEW SERVICE FOR ALL THE FAMILY including those with little ones! MESSY CHURCH starts on Palm Sunday 10th April 2022 at 3.30pm and includes a light tea at the end. Hosted at St Mary’s Church, Gainford, Messy Church welcomes families from both our parishes and beyond. Spread the word to your neighbours and friends. Give it a go!

Thank you to those who came to the Churches Together in Gainford Lent Lunches, which raised £190 for the missions to Seafarers.

HOLY WEEK

PALM SUNDAY 10th April 2022

▪ Holy Communion 9.30am St Andrew’s, Winston and 10.45am St Mary’s, Gainford, with distribution of palms.

▪ Messy Palm Sunday Service – see notice above.

MAUNDY THURSDAY 14th April 2022: 7pm St Mary’s Church, Gainford, Service of Holy Communion with the Washing of Feet and Stripping of the Altar

GOOD FRIDAY SERVICES: 9.30am led by the Bishop’s Chaplain Rev’d Canon Dr Chris Knights at St Andrew’s, Winston, and 10.45am Churches Together service led by Rev’d Canon Tim Ollier and Fr Thomas Mason at St Mary’s, Gainford and on the Green.

EASTER SUNDAY! Join us for the great celebration of the resurrection of our Lord with Easter Communions at 9.30am St Andrew’s, Winston and 10.45am St Mary’s, Gainford

Regular Events

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 info@gainfordwinston.church 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

The Collect for Palm Sunday

Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
through 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

Post Communion Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us
that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters
we do also for you:
give us the will to be the servant of others
as you were the servant of all,
and gave up your life and died for us,
but are alive and reign, now and for ever.
Amen

The First Reading

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

1 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4 who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. 6 If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

The Gospel

Isaiah 43:16-21

16 Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings out chariot and horse,
    army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
    they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild animals will honour me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21     the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

The Gospel: John 12:1-8

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.

The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

SERMON

Sermon for Mothering Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent: Rev’d Canon Eileen Harrop, at St Andrew’s, Winston on 27th March 2022 (2 Corinthians 1:3-7; Luke 2:33-35; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32)

It is not eccentricity in the Church of England that today we celebrate MOTHERING Sunday instead of Mothers’ Day. We are invited to think about the attributes and unique aspects of mothering rather than limiting our celebration to our mothers, as dear as our mums are to us.

There is a common reference to such characteristics in the natural world; we say, ‘mother earth’. From mothers, new life is brought into the world. From the earth, especially in this season of Spring, comes new life.

In a story from the Old Testament, not among our Bible readings this morning, a mother was revealed by her sacrificial love of her child. King Solomon was asked to determine between 2 women, which one was the baby’s mother. He asked the women, “shall I divide the child?” because he could not know which of them was his mother. One woman said ‘yes, do it’. The other begged for the baby to be spared; to be given to the other woman if there was no other way.

The real mother put her rights aside rather than harm her child.

In our Gospel reading, Mary and Joseph present the infant Jesus to the temple – it was the custom to present their eldest son to God. There they are met by Simeon, a devout and elderly man who had received God’s promise that he would meet the Messiah, God’s anointed Saviour, before his death. When Simeon sees Jesus:

(He) blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

Simeon foretells the destiny of her son. Simeon knows what is going to happen to Jesus because the scriptures had foretold the Messiah’s birth and life. Now I have not bore nor mothered a child. But even I can imagine that Simeon’s words would have troubled Mary: ‘and a sword will pierce your own soul’.

I have observed that mothering is a life on a roller-coaster, sometimes so full of joy and delight but others indescribably worrying or worse.

On one occasion when Jesus might have been a boy of perhaps 9 or 10 or 11, he remained in the temple listening to the reading and discussions on the word of God in the scriptures. Their family had been to Jerusalem for a big festival, and they had left but Jesus did not follow. Mary was frantic at finding he was not with them, then later annoyed: he should have known better. Have you done that to your mum before? I have. Not like Jesus remaining in God’s house, but there was a band on Singapore’s National Day marching along the streets in our neighbourhood. I was mesmerised and followed it. My mother’s reaction was much like Mary’s. Looking back, I remember apologising to Mum because I had caused her to be distressed, but at the time, I did not understand why she was so worried.

The nature of mothering comes from God. In St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he wrote: ‘the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4 who consoles us in all our affliction…’ The way in which we are consoled teaches us and instils in us that recognition of need in others, ‘so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction’.

Mary is mentioned on several occasions in Jesus’ life. Sometimes she is that typical proud mother, like at the wedding in Cana when she instigated his performing the first miracle of turning water into wine. She says to the wine servers: “do whatever he tells you”!

But on other occasions, what happens to her son renders her totally helpless. How terrible is it to be a mother watching her son brought out from a flogging chamber, unrecognisable by his gaping wounds, then hauled up the crucifix to die that slow and cruel death. God anoints mothers with such inner strength and depth of love that perhaps only those blessed to mother a child would have.

In the Gospel reading for the 4th Sunday of Lent, the nature of mothering is revealed in the story of a father. We know that story well: I have asked one of our young people to read it to us. (Luke 15)

This is a parent whose child has chosen to take his inheritance and spends it wildly. In those days, to take one’s inheritance while the parent is still alive is to regard the parent as good as dead.

When after a long time that son returns, it is the parent who sees him in a distance. The parent had never stopped looking out in hope. God is as this father, who runs to receive his child, whose joy is boundless and unconditional, and who celebrates with the finest feast. Do you know that at that point the father had no idea the son had returned to stay? Perhaps the son would again ask for more money and leave. But no, the father just rejoices because he is able to see and embrace and welcome his son home.

God calls on the Church, and each church everywhere, to love and welcome, suffer and embrace, with this boundless nature of mothering. The nature as illustrated and given by God to bring about new life, to nurture, to take pride, to rebuke, to console, and to be there in all circumstances.

So today, while we give thanks for our mothers, we give thanks to God in whom are all the characteristics of mothering.

Amen

Written by Rev'd Canon Eileen Harrop

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

April 3, 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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