Photos: David Briggs.
Photos: David Briggs.
We celebrated Harvest at our 1030am service on 2nd October, followed by a “bring and share” lunch in the church hall. (Photos Adrian Brown and David Briggs.)
This is the text of the sermon that Bishop Martin preached at the Festival Service on June 19th. It is reproduced here with his permission.
The readings were I Kings 19: 1-4. 8-15a; Galatians 3: 23-29; Luke 8: 26-39
Over this past week of this great Festival we have witnessed the sublime and surreal – from circus to birdsong, through extraordinary music and glittering performance. Last weekend my wife and I had the privilege of witnessing the Illuminations, where the sublime illuminated the subliminal, with dreamed visions and images sensationally enacted calling out Rimbaud’s words woven in music through Britten’s masterpiece. And through the week, Messiaen and Mozart, Elgar and Debussy, and Norwegian folk music have tumbled together, and we have been drawn deep under the surface of our daily world to be caught up in the heavens. Today piano and birdsong intertwine as a day is spent suffused by Messiaen’s lifelong inspiration by the birdsong he was so attuned to, a complete gift of a day for those who were able to rise for 4.30 and can stay then till 11 tonight; a gift compounded by this choir, calling out beauty in this Eucharist and again this afternoon.
I speak of the sublime and the beautiful, and yet this is the same week that has borne the horrible deaths of 49 people gunned down, and more than 50 injured, in a gay bar Orlando, and then unbelievably Jo Cox gunned down and knifed serving the people of Birstall. The sublime and the beautiful have flowed only to be crashed into by the hatred and violence of the world. Just when we thought we had come close to God, the divine, the eternal, and God had come close to us, in the beauty of this beautiful corner of Suffolk, and in the beauty of the music this place gives birth to, just when we thought we were safe, transported, transfixed, the world’s brokenness crashes in.
And by next Sunday, after Britten, Brahms and Tippett and many others have been woven into this Festival’s tapestry, we will know the fate of this country, and of Europe, for ourselves and more importantly our children and grandchildren, and we do not know what then will be unleashed. The music in this place, which could happen in no other place, is challenged, assaulted by the fear and pain of the world.
But that is not right. This is not about escape. It is not about quietly pulling away from reality. None of us immerse ourselves in this place, in the Maltings, in the reed beds, in this town, in the beach, immerse ourselves in the music and the performance, in order to escape the realities of our world. It is rather the opposite. We come to learn, to experience, to taste, to understand, to embrace the height and depth of reality, and that is both beauty and brokenness. We participate here to participate more fully in the world. And we immerse ourselves ultimately to glimpse the truth we believe, that it is the beauty that overcomes the horror, the beauty that heals the brokenness.
And we have seen that truth in other ways this week – so, in Orlando in the upsurge of care and compassion from countless people for those who have suffered, their friends and families; the reaffirmation of care for the gay community not just in Orlando, feeling once again targeted and vulnerable. And in just the few days since Jo Cox’s death, we all have the clear sense we of her as an extraordinary self-giving, loving, energising person working for a better world, with passion and humanity – reaching out within her community and far beyond to those in need and desperate plight ; we have seen the love in which she is held by her closest family and her many friends, and those whose lives she has touched – that is beauty overcoming the horror.
So this is not about withdrawal, or hiding, yet that is a temptation, always, to retreat into a cave, somewhere to pull back into to feel safe. And we have just heard about two caves. In one – called the tombs, but these are caves – a man lives, tormenting himself and his neighbours, possessed by a legion of demons, he declares. The legion of demons, the animators of the horror of this man’s life, bind him like the chains and shackles around his arms and legs. And he, the legion, recognises Jesus, because brokenness knows the beauty that has come to set it free. And in this strange and quite savage event in Jesus’ life we see the power that God brings into the horror of the world, to release the demons and to leave us in our right minds. Beauty overcomes horror and brokenness.
Then there is a second cave, a familiar cave to escape to. We heard it in our first reading. Elijah has fled; he is frightened by the wrath of the queen Jezebel whom he has provoked to anger because he has confronted the people’s faithlessness. He flees to a cave and spends the night, in fear. But then he is told to step out, just a little, to stand outside the cave – because God is passing by. And he looks and listens for God. But God is not in the wind, or the earthquake that followed, or the fire that followed the earthquake. It is in the complete silence that Elijah meets God, and is released from his terror, back into his right mind, and he knows now what he has to do. The beauty of the silence overcomes the fear and brokenness.
So we participate in this feast of music to embolden us to participate in the life of the world. This festival reminds us that under the surface is another dimension of reality, bubbling up, speaking a deeper truth than the one we see on the surface, that engages us with reality. The music and this place bears that deeper truth for us, encouraging, enlivening us to live in the pain and brokenness knowing that beauty has overcome it. And as this corner of Suffolk itself draws us into that deeper truth, and the music it bears takes us further into that truth, so we go further still in this hour in this particular place, where what we see on the surface holds beneath it the whole truth that beauty has overcome horror, overcome brokenness, and pain and hatred, evil and indeed, death. Under cover of bread and wine in this particular place is the one who has held the world’s horror and pain, transfixed on the wooden bars of the cross, and by his beauty transformed it so that we can live to make the world a better place, and our song blends with birdsong and with angel-song to the glory of God who loves us beyond measure.
Ride-2-Remember in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, 19th June 2016.
The church was delighted to welcome many visitors today who took part in a sponsored motor bike ride from Stonham barns to Aldeburgh Church.
Over 300 people took part, all raising money for the East Anglian Air Ambulance and each riding in memory of a loved one.
In church we offered a space for reflection and a butterfly prayer tree on to which people could add messages and names in memory of loved ones.
Photos: Jo Mabey
Dick Jeffery has just “retired” after 8 years as churchwarden and we marked the occasion with a bring-and-share Sunday lunch in the Church Hall.
As a token of our deep gratitude for the immense contribution that Dick and his wife Val have made to the life of our church, Dick is now our “Churchwarden Emeritus”. We trust that the workload of his new office will not be too onerous!
Photos: Adrian Brown
About 40 people (and four or five dogs) from all four parishes in our new benefice took part in our Prayer Walk. We walked for about 7.5 miles through the Suffolk countryside in glorious sunshine and temperatures up to 24 C.
The route included all four churches in the benefice, with a short service at each, and also much-appreciated refreshments.
We are very grateful to all those who made this walk possible by planning the walk, arranging refreshments and making sure we all got back safely.
It was a very happy occasion and a great opportunity for us all to get to know each other better.
Weary walkers arrive at Aldeburgh church, welcomed by the church bells (click for video).
Photos: Adrian Brown, Nick Winter
Thorpeness beach: almost 100 people from our new benefice braved the cold winds to celebrate Easter at dawn.
Later, about 320 people attended the service of Holy Communion in Aldeburgh church at 10.30am.
Photos: Gail and Stephen Southgate (Thorpeness beach); Adrian Brown and Jo Mabey (Aldeburgh church).