The power of the Word

In today’s Gospel reading, Luke describes Jesus speaking in public for the first time. He speaks to his own people in the synagogue at Nazareth, where he was brought up. He reads the words of the prophet Isaiah, promising good news for the poor, freedom for prisoners, healing for the sick and justice for those who are downtrodden. And he tells his own people, ‘These words are being fulfilled today, even as you listen.’ The promises that God made to the people are being kept, in the life and ministry of Jesus. 

Words are powerful. We can choose to speak words of love, or of hatred; words that build people up, or knock them down. Once we have spoken a word, it’s hard – or impossible – to take it back.

The words of Jesus are especially powerful. No one who heard him speaking was left untouched by him. Those who heard him either became his disciples, or his enemies. In the end, Jesus’ teaching made him too many powerful enemies, and they put him to death on the Cross.

The words of Jesus are still powerful today. He calls us to repent; to change our lives and accept God’s forgiveness. He challenges us to bring good news for the poor and the captives, the sick and the downtrodden. The words of Jesus are words that call us to action. We can’t ignore them.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be held from 18th-25th January. This year’s resources have been prepared by the churches of the Middle East, and are available at https://ctbi.org.uk/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2022/  The theme is ‘We Saw his Star in the East.’

For this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we are pleased to welcome Rev Dr Stephanie Burette, Solway Fellow and Chaplain at University College, who will speak at both Masses on Sunday 23rd January.

Parish Reading Group

The parish has a Reading Group which discusses all sorts of literature (not just theology, nor only Christian writing). All members of the parish are welcome to join, including undergraduates and postgraduates. The group is currently meeting on Zoom.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 25 January at 8pm, when we will be discussing Margaret Forster’s biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Contact Margaret Harvey: email margaretharvey@uwclub.net or phone 0191 3840080, if you would like to join the group.

Covid Restrictions

Bishop Robert and his advisers have reviewed the safety measures in our churches and other buildings, in the light of the spread of the Omicron variant. Whilst we are still able to safely gather in our churches, if all guidelines are followed, the same is not true for our church halls and meeting spaces. The Bishop has therefore asked that all such premises be closed, and all parish social activities suspended, until further notice.

Read the Bishop’s full statement at https://diocesehn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Statement-from-Bishop-Robert-Byrne-17Dec21-v2.pdf ]

Diocesan Job Vacancy

The Diocese is looking to appoint a Health and Safety Officer to co-ordinate and manage all aspects of health and safety across the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. This will include, but is not limited to, ensuring that all Diocesan personnel are kept safe and that Diocesan properties and projects, and the associated activities are safe and without risk as far as is reasonably practicable. Full-time, permanent

Closing date for applications – 27 January. For further information and details of how to apply please visit www.diocesehn.org.uk or call on 0191 243 3301

Centre for Catholic Studies

Centre for Catholic Studies Online Book Launch: Towards a Politics of Communion: Catholic Social Teaching in Dark Times by Prof Anna Rowlands. Tuesday 25th January at 5.30pm, online. Details and registration at https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/catholic-studies/about-us/events/book-launch—anna-rowlands/

Centre for Catholic Studies Book Launch: A Brief Systematic Theology of the Symbol by Joshua Mobley. Wednesday 2nd February, 6.00-7.15pm, online. Details and registration at https://centreforcatholicstudies.eventbrite.com

Women Who Changed the Church

Women Who Changed the Church: a lecture series offered by the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology. Throughout history, women have consistently changed church practice, communities, and ideas. This eight lecture series explores inspirational women whose lives and actions have been transformational within the Church. This series is designed to open discussion spaces to celebrate, uncover, and critique the contributions of women to and throughout Church history. On Thursdays at 2.00pm, online, until 10th March. Cost £10. Details and registration at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/the-margaret-beaufort-institute-of-theology-33109216441

Do whatever he tells you

The guests at the wedding feast at Cana would include not only the families of the bride and groom, but all of their friends and neighbours, too; the whole village. The party might go on for several days. To run out of wine would be a disaster for the hosts, an embarrassment that would be talked about for years to come.

Jesus’ mother is the first to notice what is happening. She points out to her son that the wine is about to run dry. Jesus, at first, seems reluctant to get involved, even dismissive of his mother’s concern. ‘My hour has not come yet,’ he says. Jesus’ whole ministry was lived out in obedience to his Father’s will, and he didn’t yet sense that it was time to reveal himself to the world. But his mother’s request was enough to prompt him. This Gospel story shows us that we should never be afraid to ask God for what we need. It shows us, too, that God is generous with his gifts. Jesus provides more than 120 gallons of top-class wine for the feast – what a party it must have been.

John describes Jesus’ miracle as a sign. His mother had faith in him, telling the servants at the feast, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ After seeing what he had done, Jesus’ disciples believed in him too. The story of Cana tells us never to be shy about asking the Lord for what we need. He will be more generous than we can imagine.

Week of Guided Prayer

Our annual Week of Guided Prayer will be held from Sunday 16th-Friday 21st January. A Week of Guided Prayer (also called a Retreat in Daily Life) brings the experience of an individually guided retreat to you, fitting around your work or study commitments. You have the opportunity to meet daily with a prayer guide and explore the Ignatian approach to prayer. The retreat is open to everyone – students, university staff and parishioners. Those who have taken part in past years have found it a worthwhile and enriching experience. For this year’s retreat, we hope to offer the option of either face-to-face or online meetings with your guide, while all the workshops will be presented online via Zoom. If you wish to take part in the Week of Guided Prayer, please contact Fr Andrew on andrew.j.downie@durham.ac.uk 

Interfaith Prayer Vigil

Interfaith Prayer Vigil at Derwentside Immigration Centre (Hassockfield). The Prayer Vigils take place on the first Sunday of the month meeting at 3.00pm with dates currently scheduled for Sundays 6 February, 6 March and 3 April. 

Churches and faith communities are standing together against Derwentside Immigration Centre (Hassockfield) and the detention of women seeking asylum. Details at https://diocesehn.org.uk/news/new-dates-for-interfaith-prayer-vigil-at-derwentside-immigration-centre-hassockfield/ 

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