Weekly newsletter: March 21 2021

The Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist, Wingates

 

21 March  2021

 

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

                       

Service of the Word

 

Hebrews 5:5-10

5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ 6 And he says in another place, ‘You are a priest for ever,  in the order of Melchizedek.’7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

 

John 12: 20-33

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’ 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me. 27 ‘Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, ‘This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

 

Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Gracious Father, you gave up your Son out of love for the world: lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion, that we may know eternal peace through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Homily – John 12: 20-33 - Malcolm Wearing

We live in an age when to be famous, for anything, seems to be the most important thing in life.  Whether it be through YouTube, Instagram or reality TV shows, the chance to become famous for just being famous is entrancing to some people.   Andy Warhol once famously stated that in future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes, in some ways his statement turned out to be prophetic.  The internet and social media has democratised fame in a way that now almost anyone can become famous, but by no means everyone does.  But why do people seek fame, is it for the trappings of wealth and material things that come with it, or at its heart is it that all of us want to be admired, to be glorified by others, as it makes us feel special?

In some ways this morning’s Gospel seems to be an indication that Jesus is beginning to get celebrity status.  Read the first paragraph, and ask yourself what is really different about this experience to someone trying to get to see a famous film or music star, working up though the echelons of minders, to try and gain access to the celebrity? By this stage in his ministry Jesus had done many miraculous things; word of his healings, his new and ground-breaking interpretation of the scriptures and his courageous challenging of the settled order had spread though Judea and Galilee.  People wanted to see, wanted to talk to, wanted to just be near this person who they felt was very different from anyone they had seen before.

It would have been easy for Jesus to just ride the wave of this excitement, to preen himself in front of this crowd, to soak up the adulation that they were apparently eager to shower upon him.

But he doesn’t

His message is very clear, Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  In other words, stop fixating on the here and now, on the material things, on what seems important, and focus on what is vital.  Don’t glorify me as a person, whatever you may think I have achieved, Glorify God though my works done here on earth.

I think this takes us back to the very heart of our season of Lent, the temptations in the desert, when the Devil temps Jesus with all the Kingdoms of the world.  Are these crowds, through their adulation not just offering Jesus the same thing, an earthly solution to a problem that needed fixing on a heavenly scale?  Jesus was aware that the rift between mankind and God couldn’t be fixed with a sticking plaster, only his example of rejection of worldly power and its prizes would truly show us how we have to live our lives to be able to walk alongside God.

But what should this injunction to hate our life really mean to us?  It seems a bit scary at first sight, should we despise all we are and all we do?  I don’t think so, rather I think it tells us to be very careful about what we value as the most important things in our lives.  Going back to the culture of celebrity we started with, what is valued in that culture?  Good looks, often filtered in such a way that they are impossible to achieve in reality.  Wealth and possessions, but are those with them any happier for having them?  Constant attention, that just like a drug can lead eventually to dependence, and ill effects when it all gets too much or is withdrawn.

I think Jesus rather wants us to have a life which is actually good for us, and which is compatible with the values of his Kingdom.  St Francis of Assis put this very well in his famous prayer, asking God that we might understand rather than ask others to understand us, that we might seek to console rather than demand to be consoled, and that we might learn to receive through the act of giving generously to others.

This doesn’t mean we should put on sack cloth, give away the TV set and live in miserable piety, but it does mean we should really value what we have, who we are just as ourselves, and not chase after ever more things and ever more acclaim.  We are beloved by God; knowing and understanding that love, and sharing that love with those around us should always be our aim in life, everything else, though nice to have, is just a trapping along the way, not a thing to focus on.  AMEN

 

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LENT COURSE

Faith Pictures – a fresh way to talk about things that matter

Faith Pictures is a short course designed to help Christians talk naturally to friends, neighbours and colleagues about what they believe. The heart of the course is about helping people to identify a single picture or image that embodies something of their faith. This is because the kinds of communication which best stick in the mind are concrete and rooted in story.

The course aims to be accessible and light-hearted, without jargon or inflexible methods. Each session contains a short video and encourages discussion.

ON ZOOM.

Every Tuesday in Lent  at 7.00p.m.   

Every Thursday in Lent at 2.00p.m.

Please email Carol, Angela or Malcolm to let us know you want to join us and we will send you the link and more details.  Thank you.

 

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Zoom Coffee mornings

On Sunday mornings at 11.30 am we hold a coffee morning on Zoom to which members of all churches in the Team are invited. For  access codes, please email Carol. Come along and join us!

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National Day of Reflection

On Tuesday, 23 March, there is to be a Day of Reflection to mark the anniversary of the first lockdown and to remember those whose lives have been lost to the Covid 19 virus.

Church will be open for private prayer from 11.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.

 

Christian Aid Area Coordinator

After 37 years in the role, Brian Palin from St James' Daisy Hill is looking to retire from the role of Westhoughton Churches Area Coordinator for Christian Aid.  If you are interested in taking on this important role, or know someone who might, from next year, please get in touch with Carol.  Brian would be happy to speak to you about what the role entails.

This year Christian Aid Week is 10th - 16th May.  Due to COVID_19, no house to house collections can take place.  If you would like to do something else to raise some funds for this charity on behalf of our churches, again please get in touch.  Thank you.

 

Revd Carol H Pharaoh

Team Rector Blackrod, Daisy Hill, Westhoughton & Wingates Team

 

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FOOD COLLECTIONS   Urban Outreach say thank you for your support. 

You can bring your donations with you when you come to a Sunday Service in any of our churches. Just place your donations in the Grub Tubs provided.  You can also bring donations to St John’s, Wingates between 10 – 11 am on the first and third Saturdays of every month. (Next collection day Saturday  3 April 2021)

You might find it easier to make a financial donation to Urban Outreach.  You can do this via their website  https://www.urbanoutreach.co.uk/

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SERVICES IN HOLY WEEK

St. Katharine’s: Monday – Wednesday 7.30 p.m. Holy Communion

St. Bartholomew’s: Wednesday 7.30 p.m. Stations of the Cross

                                    Maundy Thursday: 7.30 p.m. Holy Communion

St. John’s:   Good Friday 2.00 p.m. Reflective Service