Category Archives: News

Holy Week – Tuesday


Mark 11:15-19: Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.
And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

Reflection by Revd James Marston

We heard yesterday of a moment of tranquillity – the anointing of Jesus at Bethany – before the gritty grim drama that was about to unfurl. Well in today’s reading the turmoil really begins to get going. Jesus is all guns blazing – at his most angry and at his most frustrated.

His anger is well directed – aimed at those who have subverted of the holiness of the temple by turning it into a “den of robbers”, a place of commerce, a place where God is a mere side-line.
He points out, with actions and words, that the religious authorities have got the balance all wrong. The temple – the house of God – should first and foremost be a place of prayer, not a place of money making and trade. Human instincts have overridden the divine purpose of the Temple and Jesus sees it and calls it out.

And as a result, His death is openly plotted amongst the religious authorities who are threatened and exposed by Jesus. The crowd are spellbound, Jesus still has their ear, but the scribes and chief priests don’t like what they hear, nor the power Jesus has over the crowd, and they respond with conspiracy to get him out of the way. One thing leads to another.

Imagine, for a moment the scene – turmoil, and people running, tables being thrown around, shouting, noise, and disturbance – with one man in the middle of it all quoting scriptures to the very men who were meant to be the authoritative and all-knowing guardians and interpreters of it. Jesus is threatening, at all sorts of levels, the political and religious and social power of the powerful and the curtain is raised for the final act, the showdown that is coming. Jesus’ actions upset the status quo.

Crucially, this incident is one of prophetic symbolism and the scripture Jesus quotes is the key. Jesus uses the prophesy of Jeremiah and the phrase “den of robbers” comes from Jeremiah 7:11. In this passage, Jeremiah is predicting the destruction of the first temple because of the sin of the people. The scribes and chief priests would have known exactly what Jesus was saying and doing – Jesus is likening the people of his day to the unfaithful generation of Jeremiah’s day. He is heralding, by His own authority, the end of the power of the temple.

Jesus was threatening, at all sorts of levels, the political and religious and social power of the powerful and the curtain is raised for the final act, the showdown that is coming. Jesus’ actions are upsetting the status quo.

And Jesus knows the consequences of his actions, he knows what he was doing. The gritty drama has begun in earnest.

Holy Week – Monday


John 12: 1-8:
The anointing at Bethany
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 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. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (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.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Reflection by Revd Nichola Winter

There is something heart-stoppingly beautiful about this passage coming at this point in Holy Week. The gritty grim drama of what follows will unfold in all its shame and horror, highlighting the fragile nature of humankind. But here we have a tender, loving action, performed by a simple trusting woman who sat earlier at the feet of Jesus listening closely to his words (see Luke 10:30: ‘Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying…)

Jesus is amongst friends – who knows what thoughts were going through his mind? Impending doom, betrayal, the inevitability of it all and yet the firm sense of purpose at fulfilling his father’s will. We can only imagine…

And who can imagine what was going through the minds of his friends? Mary, Martha and Lazarus – those with whom he had shared those intimate moments of sorrow, confidence, death and hope? For this evening at least, for this moment, he rests in the companionship of his loving friends – an interlude of peace, calm and tranquillity before the turmoil of the days to come.

It is at this point that Mary performs her outrageous act of courage, faith and love which has gone down in history as one of the most moving parts of the story of Holy Week. ‘Horrors,’ think some of the others – ‘what a waste!’ How much good might have been done with the money the ointment might have fetched? But that simply misses the point. There are times when we have to turn aside from our busy-ness, our frantic activity and our continual ‘doing’ and just kneel at the feet of Jesus and offer him the costliest part of ourselves in adoration, worship and love.

Malcolm Guite writes this beautiful sonnet in homage to Mary’s action:

Come close with Mary, Martha, Lazarus,
So close the candles flare with their soft breath,
And kindle heart and soul to flame within us,
Lit by these mysteries of life and death.
For beauty now begins the final movement,
In quietness and intimate encounter,
The alabaster jar of precious ointment
Is broken open for the world’s true lover.
The whole room richly fills to feast the senses
With all the yearning such a fragrance brings,
The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,
Here at the very centre of all things,
Here at the meeting place of love and loss
We all foresee and see beyond the cross.

Benefice News Sheet

Sunday 5th April

Palm Sunday

Message from The Rector

And so we arrive at the most important week of the church year, Holy Week, and we trace Jesus’s journey to the cross, and beyond. I am sure that you share with me the sadness of not being able to worship together in church. There are alternatives but, of course, they are not the same – we all know that. I do hope, though, that if you have access to the internet you have been able to share some of the resources that I mentioned last week. There is daily worship online from either Bishop Martin’s house or our cathedral. This week we are going to try something a little more local too. I have managed to stitch together some gadgetry and, all being well, should be able to stream some services from The Vicarage.

The first will be on Sunday morning (Palm Sunday) at 10.30am. It will be a service based on the traditional Palm Sunday service though without Holy Communion. If you would like to dig out a palm cross from a previous year it will come in useful.  Then from Monday to Thursday next week there will be a service at 6pm. Each day we will send out an email with an Order of Service and the relevant readings which you will be able to use (please do contact Claire if you wish to opt out of daily emails during Holy Week).
On Monday-Wednesday the service will follow the pattern of Night Prayer (Compline) followed by a short meditation. On Thursday, reflecting what we would usually be doing in church, I will celebrate Holy Communion for Maundy Thursday and then, in some token way, ‘strip the altar’. On Good Friday there will be a short service at 12 noon and, again, we will send out some suitable material to help with solemn meditation. Then, on Easter morning, … well, watch this space! Something celebratory will happen and it may be somewhat weather-dependent! Let’s see.

So, where do you find these services? I have set up a channel on YouTube in the name of the Alde Sandlings Benefice and you can go straight to it with this link.

Each day from Sunday onwards, at the appropriate time, a live link will appear which, if you click on it, will join you to The Vicarage. It is all somewhat experimental and I would very much appreciate your feedback.

The rest of this document contains the readings for Palm Sunday (which I will use on Sunday morning) and a typically thoughtful reflection from Nicky. I do hope that you find time to be able to be with us in prayer in some way or other. Wherever we are, whatever our individual circumstances there is one thing that we can be sure of – that God is with us, always and forever.


Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; 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.

Post Communion
Lord Jesus Christ, you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant, and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation: give us the mind to follow you and to proclaim you as Lord and King, to the glory of God the Father.

First Reading
Isaiah 50:4-9a
The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

The Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

Second Reading
Philippians 2.5-11
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Matthew 21:1-11
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.”  This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Reflection by Revd Nichola Winter

Like so many this year I shall miss singing the wonderful Palm Sunday hymns we are so used to. ‘Ride on, ride on in majesty…’; ‘All glory laud and honour to thee, Redeemer King…’ and others. I’m going to miss being part of the crowd that walks along Aldeburgh High Street with the stark wooden cross on Good Friday. And I’m going to miss the excited crowd gathering on the beach at dawn in Thorpeness to celebrate Easter Day and our risen Saviour.

Crowds are often such a feature of our everyday life. Crowded streets, shopping centres, beaches. Football matches, crowds at concerts, theatres and cinemas. We’re used to being surrounded by people. But that has all changed for the time being. Even smaller groups and gatherings are no longer allowed.

Imagine how it might have been in the time of Jesus without the crowds. No cheering, no waving of palms. No joyful sounds of song and acclamation. How significant was that clamorous gathering as Jesus arrived in Jerusalem?

Jesus had engaged in a popular ministry marked by personal encounters with disciples and onlookers, trying to teach them what he was all about. Finally, the road to Jerusalem, into the glare of national, political, public debate and conflict. And danger.

Jerusalem was not a peaceful, prosperous city. It was a city with a history of repeated invasion and attack, in a country occupied by a mighty imperial power. A city full of rumours, threat, discontent. Like the poor of so many cities throughout history, the people of Jerusalem expected deliverance to come through military force – their own prophets had told the story of conquest often enough. But there was always the promise to keep hope alive in testing times – the promise of a Messiah, a deliverer. Many of them looked for a great leader, a warrior hero to save them. Some of them, as the rumours spread like wildfire through Jerusalem, thought that Jesus might be that leader. Clearly Jesus was aware of that – this was no attempt to slip quietly into the city without anyone noticing. The way he came, the time and manner of his coming, all of this referred back to the scriptural prophecy. Jesus came to Jerusalem – but he entered it in the humblest of fashions, riding on a donkey. There is little doubt that the crowds would see Jesus’ entry in the light of this prophecy. A donkey was not the customary mount for a warrior or a king. It was the mount of a civilian, a merchant, perhaps, or even a priest. Many of the prophets saw ‘the Messiah’ as the prince of peace – but now, see how he arrives…

This posed a real challenge. Jesus appears, making the most audacious and apparently blasphemous claim, trailing a vagabond army of followers from the north, into a holy city in an occupied territory of the greatest power on earth. It posed a challenge to the Pharisees, who did not want anything to upset the Romans, in case it might threaten their freedom to practise their religion. It posed a challenge to Herod, who was already very confused about what was going on. It posed a challenge to the military, who didn’t want their job of controlling a city – and a country – made any more difficult by yet another popular insurrection. And it posed a challenge – or at least, a question – to the ordinary people of Jerusalem. Jesus had asked, ‘This is who I say I am. Who do you say I am?’ The entry into Jerusalem was probably the most political act of Jesus’ life.

Yet, all of them, in their different ways, missed the point of this very public challenge. The Pharisees – scholars and theorists as they were – did not know how to respond to this man who refused to debate or argue with them. Jesus hardly spoke to them at all, in fact, but countered their intellect nit-picking and entanglement by doing things which, infuriatingly, were hard to argue with but left them feeling foolish and exposed. The military authorities knew how to put down armed uprisings, but they had no strategy to deal with someone who offered no violence to anyone – who discouraged his followers from using violence – and yet still posed a threat to public order.

And what about the people? They had crowded the streets of the city to welcome him; they wanted peace. They wanted an end to occupation; they wanted bread to feed their families; they wanted a better life – things that people always want. Of course, they were going to welcome him. But crowds are fickle… Crowds love a spectacle. A crowd will come out for celebrations and carnivals – it joins in with enthusiasm, is good- natured. It comes out equally for death, for funerals and wakes, when it will stand silently, or weep and pray. It will come out in solidarity, to make a point, to demonstrate a feeling. But a crowd can also turn angry, become threatening, turn nasty and do terrible things. What changed the mood of the crowd that had welcomed Jesus with such excitement and anticipation?

Was it when they realised that peace was not going to be an instant quick-fix? For Jesus, peace was not an outcome but a way – and a challenging way at that. Did the mood change when he challenged the crowd to make hard choices that went against conventional wisdom, that might even lead them into danger?

The crowd’s suspicions were well-founded. Jesus’ friends had already found themselves on the losing side. They’d given up their quiet lives. They’d let go their livelihoods, their family attachments – all the things that had made them who they were. They had to give up their prejudices and their preferences. Some of them had to give up their lives.

Jesus was the catalyst for change in that crowd in Jerusalem. We can perhaps think of crowds we have witnessed through news reports and TV coverage. The moods that rippled through Jerusalem have all been visible to us in some way or other – in city mobs, in the challenges they present. Palm Sunday is always happening somewhere in the world and we are always being confronted by the challenge of that different ‘way of being’; the way of peace that does not shrink from conflict but refuses violence; the way that does not theorise, but engages with the real needs of suffering people; the way that sees the people who are overlooked and not counted; the way of self-offering.

We cannot be part of the crowd right now. There is a sadness in this abrupt departure from the gathered worshipping community. Almost a sense of abandonment; certainly a loss of that sense of security and companionship that comes with our weekly worship. A signal of just how fragile society can be. Is now the time when we can find opportunities to draw closer to God – closer to the one ‘in whom we live and move and have our being’? A strange time to have it inflicted on us but as we walk with Jesus through Holy Week, let us pray for the courage to face these challenges.

O Christ, you entered the city as a poor man, not in style, but simply,
yet still you caused uproar, and questions everywhere;
you drew the expectations of a hungry crowd,
and brought buried conflicts to the light.
May we, who are sometimes swayed by the crowd’s approval,
and who often avoid conflict for fear of its cost to us,
hold fast to the gospel of peace and justice,
and follow faithfully in your way of compassion and solidarity
with those who are poor and excluded,
wherever it may lead us.
Amen. (Based on ‘Palm Sunday is always happening’, by Kathy Galloway

The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:

You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:

The Week Ahead

Holy Week – Including Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

Next Sunday – 12th April -Easter Day

A message from Canon John Giles –
Palm Sunday, a time when we are normally all together.

It is unthinkable that we cannot be together in church for Palm Sunday. But there it is.  We all know why things are as they are. These hymns may help.

All Glory, Laud and Honour (60 in the red books): We had uncanny echoes of that first Palm Sunday on Thursday last at 8pm when people gathered at their windows to applaud and cheer on the NHS doctors and nurses and other staff who are exposed to such danger in these dark days at home  “. .to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring”. Here again were children’s voices mixed with older voices cheering.  There was a note of celebration, for here were human beings at their best.   And all those years ago there was the teacher from Galilee entering Jerusalem, bringing a message of hope to the people of the city.

We find the same hope in Christ’s message today.

Our second hymn to recall is “Ride on, ride on in majesty” (61) – a grand and noble hymn which brings to the cheering celebration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem a deeper note of impending tragedy tinged with the foretaste of an unlikely victory: “the winged squadrons of the sky look down with sad and wondering eyes to see the approaching sacrifice”,  followed by “bow thy meek head to mortal pain –  then take, O God thy power, and reign.” Yes. There is, and there was, a sacrifice.

The solemnity of the words and the music fits the sheer determination of Christ’s unwavering commitment to his faithful following of God’s will, and the cost of it. We know also there will be a victory of love the other side of the injustice, the cruelty, and the humiliation of Christ’s crucifixion

Our third hymn is truly astonishing: “My song is love unknown” (63) – astonishing as it sounds so contemporary – and yet it was written in the dark days of England’s civil war, looking back to similar times when . . “men made strange, and none the longed-for Christ would know.  But O my Friend, my Friend indeed, who at my need his life did spend. .  . Here might I stay and sing: no story so divine; never was love, dear King, never was grief like thine! This is my Friend, in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend.”

In the dark days through which we are passing we must support one another in a fellowship of the spirit, aided by three great hymns for Palm Sunday and Holy Week.


Food Banks – Message from the Community
Engagement Officer at the East of England Co-op

We support 22 independent and Trussell Trust Foodbanks through our Food Stores; the Foodbanks all collect from the stores who support them. To find the list of who we support and how to find out what their specific needs are please go on to our website

I can confirm that we are working hard on how best we, as a Society, can best support our local communities. There have also been articles in the paper about how food banks are struggling to receive donations as many supermarket shelves are empty.

Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to

Message from Suffolk Trading Standards
Please pass this on to friends and neighbours
There have been reports in Suffolk of people pretending to be from the British Red Cross, knocking on the doors of elderly and vulnerable individuals, taking their money to do shopping – and then not returning.
There have also been reports that cards are being put through doors with the British Red Cross branding, offering help.

British Red Cross are NOT utilising a postcard system currently in connection to Covid-19 and any distribution of these cards locally needs to be reported to us via 0808 223 1133.
Please share and make sure your neighbours and any elderly/vulnerable relatives are aware.

Benefice news sheet for 29th March

Sunday 29th March Fifth Sunday of Lent/Passiontide Begins


Message from The Rector

This is the week when we move into Passiontide, the darkest part of our church year. Sunday’s Gospel reading tells the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead – reminding us that the darkness reflected in the readings over the next couple of weeks will be followed by the blazing light of Jesus’s own resurrection. There is hope, and that is a message for our times if ever there was one.

I am currently exploring ways of us being able to share ‘virtual’ services over Holy Week and Easter and will have more news by next week. In the meantime, I do hope that you are aware of the daily services offered online by Bishop Martin. He says Morning Prayer at 8.30am each weekday and you can be with him at –
The staff of our cathedral also offer services at –
There are two services, including one of Holy Communion, every day. All of these services can be viewed retrospectively too.

I am very grateful to our curate, James, for his beautiful reflection after a walk earlier in the week. Our own walk with Christ, remembering his trials, crucifixion and resurrection, is going to feel very different this year. May it be for all of us an opportunity to spend quiet time with God, safe in the knowledge that God is with us everywhere and always.

Thought for the Day

For the first time in nearly eight months I didn’t go to Aldeburgh church this Monday morning. Instead, over my bacon sandwich, I decided to go for a walk. As I left Friston rectory and headed over the fields I began to think of how we might respond as clergy to the odd situation in which we find ourselves.

Church services, which have been cancelled at the moment, are only a small percentage of what the clergy do – we spend our time visiting people, going to meetings, teaching, writing, reading, engaging with the wider community, and turning up to things, moving furniture, and all the rest of it, as part of our offering to the service of God. As a result, my diary has suddenly cleared over the last week or so. Instead of a training day in Ipswich on bereavement ministry I was at home in the rectory. I sometimes write a sermon on a Saturday afternoon, but the Mothering Sunday service was cancelled so instead I cleaned the bathroom and sorted the garage, I polished the car too, just to keep it shiny.

An historic and definitive part of the Church of England’s missional calling is to be a Christian presence in every community – the parish system. That is why each parish has a church and why Mark lives in Aldeburgh, I live in Friston, and clergy up and down the land live near the churches and communities they serve. The parish is the basic unit the church serves.

This parish system has stood the church in good stead for centuries, it is ancient way of doing things – a thousand years old or more – and, in these times, perhaps more relevant than ever as communities such as ours turn to each other for help and assistance in these troubled days – something which until not so long ago communities had done since time immemorial – worked together. Indeed, the parish churches we see in our own benefice weren’t merely planted by the church or built up by some outside agency – they themselves are, more often than not, the result of communal work, communal fundraising and a communal sense of purpose.

So, as I walked over the field at the back of the rectory these things were spinning in my mind – what can we do? How should we respond? When I was at college there was no training for pandemic ministry.

The first thing is, perhaps, to fall back on Christian tradition; to follow Jesus is to act and serve others so we can respond with loving service – helping out where we can across the benefice. As ordained clergy we are called to be available to our parishioners – so let’s be available, at the end of the phone, or via email, or whatever.

Yet I can’t help thinking, as the pace of life quietens, that clergy are called first and foremost to be people of prayer in their communities. We are the people who stand apart already from daily life and have what is known as the cure of souls. I am an assistant curate, which is why I am here, to help with the cure of souls. In addition my job, as deacon is to serve, indeed at services I wear the diagonal sash of a servant to highlight this diaconal aspect of my role. And it is in this role of servant that I pray for you all every day.

Prayer, of course, has many benefits, not least, at this time, in calming us all down as we still ourselves before God. It is through prayer, through Jesus Christ, that we communicate and intercede with God’s love. So, it was somewhere between Friston and Knodishall I decided to make my walk a prayer walk and looked at the Daily Prayer- the daily office of morning prayer – on my mobile phone. I said out loud the opening sentences and first few prayers before realising that walking and talking at the same time isn’t as easy as you might think. I crossed, with the help of my map, into Knodishall and said the psalm 77 “I cry aloud to God – I cry aloud to God and he will hear me” along Fitches Lane.

Walking makes us see things from a different angle and before too long I came upon Aldringham church from the lower part of the graveyard – it looked lovely in the morning sun and as I criss-crossed the graveyard I thought back to July 2018 when I first visited the benefice and thought how much has happened in the last 18 months.

Walking from the top of the churchyard I headed past the alms-houses and through a farmyard before coming to a large reed bed – the fen – circumventing it on a boardwalk. I saw no one and felt so far from the world I wasn’t totally sure if I’d ever see anyone ever again. I found I was thinking about how, as a nation, we have all but forgotten to think about God, and how our frenetic lives have overtaken our spiritual well-being in an unending and ultimately fruitless search for fulfilment through secular, materialism – even now, as we are not able to buy what we don’t need, the void is more obvious than ever.

Then, at what was called on my map Peggy’s Perch, I walked along the side of North Warren, one of the earliest RSPB reserves. I found a bench and read the first reading – Exodus – in which Moses killed an Egyptian, a story I had forgotten. I read the next reading Hebrews, which talked about how the people of Israel worshipped and how Christ offered himself to “purify our conscience” as we worship the living God.

At some point I was hoping to walk into Aldeburgh along the old railway line, but I must have taken a wrong turning as I found myself on the main road alongside some very smart houses. Curiosity got the better of me and I had a peer over the hedge quite a few times.

I said the Benedictus – the Song of Zechariah – as I walked across the fairway of Aldeburgh Golf club and it was here I had my first contact with people – two metres apart – as I sort of lost my way. I was directed up towards what I suspect might be the Hazelwood area of the parish. It was here I prayed for all of you, for my family, for the world, the church, the scientists, the hospitals, my sister, the key workers, the government and the Queen. I said all this out loud and finally finished morning prayer at about 1pm – my feet were getting tired and I still had some way to go.

An hour or so later I walked into the rectory gate, up the drive and unlocked the door to the kitchen, took off my shoes, and almost seized up. It took all my energy to make a cheese and pickle roll.

I had crossed farmland, woodland, graveyard, river, reed bed, warren, golf course, I’d seen the sea, the Alde estuary, enjoyed the huge East Anglian sky, walked in the fresh air and worn myself out. I had been a presence in all of our parishes just in a different way, from a different perspective and with the purpose of prayer – I could not help but think how lucky we are, how lucky I am, how much we have to look forward to, how fortunate we are to have one another, and how, ultimately, God shows us the way.


A train traveling down a dirt road

Description automatically generated

A large tree in a forest

Description automatically generated

A close up of a dry grass field

Description automatically generated

The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:

You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:

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.

Post Communion
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.

First Reading

Ezekiel 37.1-14
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’ 

Second Reading
Romans 8.6-11
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason, the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

John 11.1-45
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.


Prayer for our times from Norwich Cathedral

Covid 19 Prayer

God of compassion, have mercy upon this nation and our world in this time of fear and confusion: we bring before you those who are suffering and who tend to their needs; may those in isolation know your comfort and company and may neighbours show your love in works of care, kindness and prayer;

we pray for the National Health Service and all engaged in scientific research and we pray too for those upon whose shoulders the yoke of leadership rests, that in their conversation and communication your still small voice may be heard;

we ask this in the power of the Holy Spirit, through the One who stretched out his hands to bless and to heal even Jesus Christ our Lord.


Written by Canon Andy at Norwich Cathedral

Next Sunday – 5th April
Palm Sunday



Food Banks – Message from the Community Engagement Officer
at the East of England Co-op

We support 22 independent and Trussell Trust Foodbanks through our Food Stores; the Foodbanks all collect from the stores who support them. To find the list of who we support and how to find out what their specific needs are please go on to our website

I can confirm that we are working hard on how best we, as a Society, can best support our local communities. There have also been articles in the paper about how food banks are struggling to receive donations as many supermarket shelves are empty.

Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to


 Message from Suffolk Trading Standards 

Please pass this on to friends and neighbours

There have been reports in Suffolk of people pretending to be from the British Red Cross, knocking on the doors of elderly and vulnerable individuals, taking their money to do shopping – and then not returning.
There have also been reports that cards are being put through doors with the British Red Cross branding, offering help.

British Red Cross are NOT utilising a postcard system currently in connection to Covid-19 and any distribution of these cards locally needs to be reported to us via 0808 223 1133.
Please share and make sure your neighbours and any elderly/vulnerable relatives are aware.


Church Temporarily Closed

It is with a heavy heart that we have to tell you that we need to keep our church buildings closed from now onwards.  This is unbelievably sad but is, in the end, for the general good. 

More information to follow as soon as it evolves.

Helping the vulnerable in our community

We have had many wonderful people offering help to the high risk/vulnerable people in our community. Thank you so much for your kindness. It shows how wonderful the people of Aldeburgh and surrounding villages are.

If you can help, please fill in the contact form on this website including your details and availability, and we will get someone to contact you.

Benefice news sheet for 22nd March

Sunday 22nd March Fourth Sunday of Lent/Mothering Sunday


Message from The Rector

Welcome to our new-look Benefice news-sheet. During these difficult times we thought it would be useful if we were able to send, to anyone who wished to receive it in email form that included the readings for Sunday, a short ‘Thought for the Day’ and some notices. Please do spread the word, and if anyone would like to be added to the mailing list, please let Claire or me know. It will be sent out ‘blind’ so addresses will remain private.

The situation is changing rapidly at present and each day brings new challenges. Please be assured that not only is everyone in our benefice prayed for daily but we will be exploring new ways of being church – serving each other practically as best we can. If you, or anyone you know, needs a bit of help, an errand running, a chat on the phone, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me or one of my clergy colleagues.

Thought for the Day

Mothering Sunday. What a Sunday to have to begin our enforced separation. Each of our churches had special plans for services that would have include the presentation of posies and an opportunity to give thanks for our mothers – whether they are with us on earth or now in heaven. But, as many of you will know, the origins of Mothering Sunday are slightly different. Centuries ago this was the day when people returned to their ‘mother church’ – the church where they were baptised or possibly the cathedral in their diocese. Domestic servants would be given the day off to join their families in such places. ‘Mother church’ was in peoples’ minds at least as much as their own mothers.

We spend a lot of time using masculine imagery for God – God the father, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven’ etc. God is, of course, way beyond human gender. ‘God is a spirit’, as Jesus reminded us in last Sunday’s reading from John’s gospel. We have become a little better at acknowledging the feminine in God in recent times. ‘As a mother tenderly gathers her children, you embraced a people as your own’ says one of our Eucharistic Prayers. At times such as these the image of God as a tender loving mother is a good one for us, I think. However dark the world may seem God’s love is inexhaustible and more generous than we can possibly imagine. ‘As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you’ says God (Isaiah 66:13). I don’t know about you, but I take a great deal of comfort from that.


The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:

You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:

God of compassion, whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary, shared the life of a home in Nazareth, and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself: strengthen us in our daily living that in joy and in sorrow we may know the power of your presence to bind together and to heal; 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.

Post Communion
Loving God, as a mother feeds her children at the breast you feed us in this sacrament with the food and drink of eternal life: help us who have tasted your goodness to grow in grace within the household of faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

First Reading

I Samuel 1.20-end
In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked him of the Lord.’ The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, ‘As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there for ever; I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.’ Her husband Elkanah said to her, ‘Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only may the Lord establish his word.’ So, the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him. When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, ‘Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore, I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.’ She left him there for the Lord.

Second Reading

Colossians 3.12-17
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also

must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

John 19.25b-27
And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Priest’s Sermon

What a strange time this is. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and I guess you probably haven’t either. We seem to be in the centre of some kind of maelstrom – and, unsurprisingly, we’re worried. We don’t know what is going to happen and when. I actually wrote this sermon yesterday evening because I was worried that if I did my usual thing and wrote it on Friday, events would have moved on in a way that would mean that it was already out-of-date. Strange times.

And in these strange times we find ourselves reading about a strange encounter – Jesus meeting a Samarian woman at a well. Strange? Well don’t forget that Jews and Samaritans had been sworn enemies for about 500 years – they certainly didn’t just begin conversations with each other. And what an amazing conversation it was. Jesus begins by asking the woman to serve him – to draw some water for him (she’s got a bucket and he hasn’t, and you needed to bring your own to a well in those days). But he treats her just as he would a Jewish woman – and that in itself is extraordinary – she’s certainly taken aback by it. ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ she says. But Jesus, as ever, isn’t hidebound by convention. He then goes on to demonstrate to her (a sworn enemy of his people, remember) just who he is and how the ‘living water’ that he brings is for everyone – even her. And he knows all about her – how she’s been married five times and is now living with someone to whom she’s not married. He knows her better than she knows herself – because he knows not just who she is but what she is capable of. And, lo and behold, off she goes to her people – in the Samaritan city of Sychar – not, you’d have taught, particularly fertile territory for Christian mission – and tells them all about having met the Messiah. ‘Come and see!’ she says. And what happened? They (the sworn enemy) came to him, asked him to stay with them (which he did, for a couple of days) – and, we’re told, many more believed because of his word. ‘We know’ they said, ‘that this truly is the saviour of the world’. ‘We know.’

Now – back to March 2020. We’re worried. We’re uncertain about the future. Advice from those who know about these things seems to be changing and conflicting. Events are being cancelled, international travel has become very restricted etc etc. Ultimately, we fear the worst – we fear that people, maybe people we know, will die, vulnerable people’s lives will be at risk. We don’t really know but we’re led to believe that this might happen. Well – this 2000-year-old story has, I think something very profound to say to us right now, here, today. We believe something much more lasting, much more positive too. We believe in the source of that living water – living water – that Jesus spoke of to the woman at the well. We believe that it – God’s everlasting love – is there for us whatever happens, whatever the world throws at us. You’ve come here this morning because you believe that. ‘Come, let us worship and fall down and kneel before the Lord our maker’ says the Venite – Psalm 95 – the set Psalm for today. Why? ‘For he is the Lord our God and we are his people and the sheep of his hand’. We take our food (as Jesus reminded the disciples) as well as our drink – in sum our ultimate nourishment from him. He gave real water to the Israelites in the desert – as we heard in the OT lesson. Christ offered ‘the spring of water, gushing up to eternal life’ to the woman at the well – and it’s ours for the asking too.

The weekly vlog from our Bishops is particularly helpful this week and after Bishop Martin has offered a similar take on the story Bishop Mike reminds him, and us, that, in the time of the early Christians, there was a plague and all of the pagans ran for the hills and it was the Christians who, to the astonishment of everyone else, stayed in the city and tended to those in need – Christian and non-Christian alike – and as a result the church grew – just as it had done in the Samaritan city of Sychar. So, concludes Bishop Martin and so conclude I, perhaps there are things that as Christians we can offer to a worried and frightened community. Because of our faith we feel secure and empowered to do stuff. We will care for our neighbour. We will take sensible precautions not to make things worse. And we will remember that, whatever happens, we know of a source of living water and everlasting food that is available to us and to everyone, believer or unbeliever, sworn enemy or old friend.

Whatever happens in the days and weeks to come please know that everyone will be in my prayers and if there is anything I or my colleagues can do you only have to ask.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

Next Sunday – 29th March
Fifth Sunday of Lent/Passiontide Begins


✟ Easter Cards ✟

There is a beautiful selection of Easter cards at Aldeburgh’s visitor corner. The cards display has been beautifully revamped, so do take a look when you pop into the church. Cards may be more suitable this year to send to friends and family we cannot visit.


🕯 Light A Candle of Hope 🕯
A national call to prayer in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic

This Mothering Sunday, 22 March, we are calling all churches to a National Day of Prayer and Action. At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds.

At 7pm this Sunday, light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.





We will be updating the website as more information evolves regarding future services and events.