30 Northumberland Square | North Shields | NE30 1PW Weekly Update #161 18th June 2023
From the Minister Entertaining Strangers
Take a look at the picture of the three people dining at the table. It’s by the medieval Russian painter, Andrei Rublev (c.1360-c.1430). It portrays the event described in Genesis 18 where three strangers visit Abraham and Sarah, while their tent is pitched at ‘the oaks of Mamre’ (18:1) In some unexplained way, according to Genesis, these three are a visitation from God. Reading the Old Testament story through Christian eyes, some see a reference to the Trinity here; hence the icon is often given the title, ‘Trinity.’ For me, that’s a bit of a stretch, which is maybe why instead I note the food and drink in the story. Abraham rushes to display hospitality to strangers; water to wash their feet, and a feast of bread and meat to assuage any hunger. That suggests to me that in offering hospitality, in sitting people down to eat and drink, we may well have an encounter with God. Perhaps it’s with Abraham and Sarah in mind that the author of the New Testament letter, Hebrews, offers good advice: ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.’ (13:1) Trevor
Image: ‘Rublev’s Icon’, showing three dining together, with the oaks at Mamre in the background. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angelsatmamre-trinity-rublev-1410.jpg
Hospitable God, you invite us all into your company and presence. Help me to notice you in the everyday, including in the sharing of hospitality with others.
WorshipSunday 18th June
10 .30 a.m. service at church led by Mr John Drew
(Trevor Jamison is leading worship at Waddington Street URC, in Durham)
Livestreamed Worship from Saint Columba’s
To watch the morning service live, catch up with it later in the week, or view previous services, click here
Sunday 25th June
10.30 a.m. service at church – led by Trevor Jamison
6.30 p.m. service at church – led by Trevor Jamison
Bible readings for this week (from the Revised Common Lectionary)
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7) God meets Abraham and Sarah through three strangers
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 Giving praise to God who has met our needs
Romans 5:1-8 God’s love as the basis of our hope
Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23) Proclaiming good news (and bearing the consequences)
‘Justified,’ ‘faith,’ ‘peace,’ ‘grace,’ ‘glory,’ ‘hope,’ ‘ungodly,’ ‘righteous,’ and ‘sinners. ’Romans 5:1-8 abounds in words that have special meaning in a church context, but are either unknown or carry a different meaning in a more general public setting. Truth to tell, some, many, or most church members might be a bit hazy about what all of these terms mean. Some of us might even be wary of them, carrying with us memories of them being interpreted for us in ways that were unhelpful. One rule of thumb is that if the interpretation you are offered (or offer) for any of these words lacks love or encourages injustice then that’s not what God means it to imply. So, to take just one word – ‘justified’ – that’s about being able to stand in God’s presence, knowing that you are accepted by God. The good news is that God’s acceptance does not depend on our worthiness (after all we always fall short of that, ‘sinners’ that we are). Instead, God’s loving acceptance come to us is a free gift – as an act of ‘grace.’
A hymn that responds to the readings
And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Saviour’s blood?’ Charles Wesley’s well known hymn, sung by the Melharmonic Virtual Choir from Nigeria
News and Notices Farewell Service for Synod Moderator – request for responses
On Sunday July 31st at 3.00 p.m. there will be a farewell service for our Northern Synod Moderator, the Revd Dave Herbert. This will take place at St James’s URC, Newcastle, followed by a social gathering. There is a general invitation to come to this service. If you intend to do so please contact Alison Drew, our Church Secretary, to let her know, so that she can inform Synod about numbers for catering purposes.
June 20th – Church Meeting at 7.15 p.m.
Our next Church takes place on Tuesday 20th June at 7.15 p.m. in the Lishman Hall. Papers for the meeting have been circulated.
24th June – The Sound of Music? – get your tickets now!
A musical evening with Paul Elliott and other invited performers, at Saint Columba’s on Saturday 24th June at 7.00 p.m.
Tickets are £8.00 and are available from Norma McAvoy
June 30th – July 3rd – URC General Assembly Meets
The Annual General Assembly of the United Reformed Church takes place from June 30th to July 3rd at the Hayes Conference centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire. Representatives from the URC’s thirteen Synods will meet to discuss and make decisions about the life of our denomination. The Assembly sessions will be live-streamed from the URC website www.urc.org.uk
To see what’s due to be discussed, see the Book of Reports and other documents relating to this year’s Assembly, Please Click Here
Next Update – Sunday 25th June
Trevor Jamison will edit the next Update. To get your information in the 25th June edition please have it with him by Tuesday 20th June
Keeping in Touch
You can contact your Elder, the Minister, or Church Secretary.