Author Archives: Claire

Benefice News Sheet 24th May/Seventh Sunday after Easter

Message from the Rector

For Ascension Day (last Thursday), when we would normally have both an early morning service in Aldeburgh and an evening service for the whole Deanery, we came up with an online service of Holy Communion that joined together several of the deanery’s churches in a rather unusual way. The Revd Nic Stuchfield (Assistant Priest at St John’s Saxmundham) masterminded proceedings, several of our clergy contributed and three of our church buildings featured. I made it to the top of Aldeburgh church tower to record a sermon (on a glorious morning) and, if you haven’t seen the whole service you can still find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irvpgbrs0O4&t=1585s

From Ascension Day until Pentecost (next Sunday) the Church of England celebrates ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. It began as something solely English in 2016 and has now grown into a worldwide and ecumenical call to prayer. This explains a little bit more:

https://www.thykingdomcome.global/about-us

The ‘Lightwave’ community has been asked to co-ordinate activities in our diocese and there are lots of ideas here:

https://www.light-wave.org/lightupsuffolk

Here in our benefice you might like to light a candle in a window each evening and say a prayer for your family, town or village. And each evening at 5pm our Pilgrims Together group is holding a short Zoom gathering to pray five particular prayers and pray for five particular people. If you’d like to know more about ‘555’ drop the Pilgrims an email at 4stephenandgail@gmail.com

And next Sunday the 10.30 act of worship will be a special service of Holy Communion for Pentecost. It’s the church’s birthday so it’s good to celebrate. Come Holy Spirit!

Collect
O God the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ 
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: we beseech you,
leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


First Reading

Acts 1.6-14 
The Ascension of Jesus.

So, when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’  When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.


Second Reading
1 Peter 4.12-14 – 5.6-11
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn

The head that once was crowned with thorns
is crowned with glory now;
a royal diadem adorns
the mighty Victor’s brow.

The highest place that heaven affords
is his, is his by right,
the King of kings, and Lord of lords,
and heaven’s eternal Light;

The joy all of all who dwell above,
the joy of all below,
to whom he manifests his love
and grants his name to know.

To them the cross with all its shame,
with all its grace, is given;
their name, an everlasting name;
their joy, the joy of heaven.

They suffer with their Lord below,
they reign with him above,
their profit and their joy to know
the mystery of his love.

The cross he bore is life and health,
though shame and death to him:
his people’s hope, his people’s wealth,
their everlasting theme.

Thomas Kelly (1769-1855)

 

Gospel Reading
John 17.1-11
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

 

Reflection by The Revd Sheila Hart

It’s been 6 weeks now since that morning when we went to the tomb in the garden and discovered that Jesus’ body was missing.

6 weeks since Mary told us that He was risen and that she had seen Him and spoken to Him.

6 weeks since He suddenly appeared to us in the upper room where we were shut in because we were afraid of what might happen to us if we were to venture out and were recognised by the Jewish authorities for having been His followers.

6 weeks since he breathed the Holy Spirit into us and sent us out into the world as His Father had sent Him.

6 weeks since He had joined our friends for their walk on the road to Emmaus and revealed Himself to them when they shared a meal together.

We have all seen Him somewhere in the past 6 weeks, – in this room, by the seashore for breakfast after we had tried to bring about some sort of normality to our lives by going fishing.

And each time, as He has come and gone, He seems to have been hinting that there will be a time soon when we will no longer see Him in the flesh, so to speak, but this Holy Spirit will be with us and we will be responsible for sharing with our friends and neighbours what we have learned from Him over the three years He was with us.

Meanwhile, He has been quite clear on our brief encounters with Him that we are to stay locked up and that we are to prepare ourselves for something new.

And then only a few days ago He came to us again and told us that we would receive Power when this Holy Spirit came upon us and we were to be Jesus’ witnesses here, in Jerusalem, but not only that, we were to take His teaching to Judaea and Samaria – that place where we were not supposed to have any interaction with its inhabitants – and then to the ends of the earth, to the Gentiles, even. Talk about doing a new thing!

And then, to crown it all, like Elijah did to Elisha in days of old, a cloud took Him up into the heavens, out of our sight and we were left gazing into the sky wondering where He had gone and what we were to do now.

Those men in white suddenly appeared out of nowhere, just like they had done on the morning when He had disappeared from the tomb and asked us what we were doing gazing into heaven and what’s more they told us that eventually he would come back to us in the same way as we had seen Him go from us – in a cloud? I don’t know. It’s a mystery to me. We’ve been locked up again praying and seeking God as to what we should do next. Watching and waiting for this so-called power from on high that Jesus promised us.

Sounds familiar? Possibly. Isn’t this where we have been for the past weeks? Locked up through fear of being infected with Covid 19 or anything else that is likely to put us in harm’s way?

Not able to worship in the ways with which we are familiar?

Having to make do with unfamiliar acts of worship in unfamiliar places without those with whom we are familiar around us?

And all we can do is turn to God and pray for deliverance from the feelings of isolation and loneliness, puzzlement and bewilderment and hope that we will remain healthy and come out of the current situation alive.

And just as the disciples were wondering when things would get back to normal for them after Jesus’ death and resurrection so we are wondering when life will get back to some sort of semblance of normality for us too.

How much of what we have doing over the past weeks will become the new norm?

When will we be able to really see friends and family again?

How much longer will this last?

And when will we be able to go to church when we want to?

And the big question is ‘where is God in all of this?’ Has he really deserted us and left us to cope as best we can on our own until we, like the disciples of the first century, have received the power from on high?

The one sure thing is that God has NOT deserted us. He is with us all the time and is suffering with us. God has not caused our current situation, but He is in it with us and He will keep us in perfect peace if our mind is stayed on Him. The important thing at times like this is that we maintain our relationship with Him, that we take Him into our confidence and tell Him what is on our hearts, how we feel and even how we feel about His allowing us to be in such uncertain times too. Read the Psalms. If you aren’t aware already you will be by the time you have finished that the full range of human emotions are expressed in the Psalms. It’s ok to be frustrated, sad, puzzled, questioning and angry as well as full of joy, peace expectancy and love.

Jesus’ parting words to His disciples in Matthew’s Gospel were ‘Lo I am with you always to the close of the age.’ So let’s believe it and trust Him to bring us through this and out the other side even if it means not going back to things exactly as they were before all this happened. Amen.

 

Post Communion

Eternal God, giver of love and power, your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world to preach the gospel of his kingdom: confirm us in this mission and help us to live the good news we proclaim; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

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

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

 

The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
31st May – Pentecost

NOTICES

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 

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

 
 

 How about you?? 
Would you like to share your stories that you think others might like to hear about? Or like Mary share a recipe or a pastime idea to keep us occupied. Please do let Claire know and we will do our best to add to the weekly pew sheet.

 

✞ Wednesday Online Services ✞
Around our Benefice there are, as well as our Sunday morning 10.30am online gatherings, three acts of worship that take place on Wednesdays.  At 10.00am there is a service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer streamed from The Vicarage at (Alde Sandlings YouTube Channel). 
At 6pm there’s the opportunity to join members of the congregation in Friston for a short quiet service of Compline.  It’s done via Zoom and if you’d like to know more please contact Martin Steadman on martin@steadman.me.uk
Also, via Zoom, Pilgrims Together gathers online at 6.30pm for worship in the Iona tradition, including some hymns and songs.  The contact to find out more about that is pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
All are welcome at any of these services.

 
 

☏ Citizens Advice 📧
The Leiston, Saxmundham and district Citizens Advice would
like to advise that they are there and ready to help.
They can provide advice for a wide range of issues from benefits and housing, employment,
and Coronavirus related issues.
Phone – 01728 832193 or Suffolk Adviceline – 0300 330 1151
(Leiston office – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10-2)
Email – supervisor@leistoncab.cabnet.org.uk
Post – 14 Colonial House, Station Road, Leiston, IP16 4JD

 

📖 Readers ✞
Would you like to be a part of the weekly online services and read one of the lessons? This can be done reasonably simply by using a phone or a tablet. Here are the instructions for iphones and ipads and I’m sure something similar is possible with other makes. Try opening the voice recorder programme on your PC/Laptop or using a voice recording app on your smartphone or tablet.
https://osxdaily.com/2016/05/04/record-audio-iphone-voice-memos/
If you’d like to have a go, then please let either Mark or Claire know.

 

✟ Thank you all 💌
Janet May, who as many of you will know has had to spend some time in hospital recently, is now at home in Knodishall.  She is recovering slowly but well and would like to thank everyone who has phoned, sent cards and messages with offers of help and, of course, all who have been holding her in their prayers.  She really appreciates your care for both her and for Bill.

 

News Sheet for 17th May – Sixth Sunday of Easter

 

So, where are we? How soon might we be able to be back in church? The current situation is like this. Bishop Martin has issued advice that, subject to a number of cautions, clergy can once again pray in their churches and stream or record services there. None of our churches currently has broadband available so live streaming from any of the churches is impossible. We could record a service and then stream it, but it wouldn’t be ‘live’. I am very willing to give this a try, but I sense that ‘live’ services, even if they are held in the vicarage dining-room, have a value of bringing people together in a way that a recorded service would not. Please do let me know your thoughts. The clergy-team will be visiting churches regularly from now on and praying while they are there.

The government is aware that some thinking about places of worship needs to be done. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick is leading a ministerial task force looking at “when and how places of worship can open safely for some of the practices where social distancing can take place”. It seems pretty clear that very little will change before July at the earliest. This is, of course, frustrating but any change needs to be done in a way that protects vulnerable people and is practical for churches that do not have staff permanently on-site to keep things hygienic. We await the task-force’s thoughts with great interest.

In the meantime we pray, we worship – joining together online on Sundays and Wednesdays (see the notices for details of how and when) and we continue to try to be Christ’s hands and feet at work in our communities in any way we can.

Psalm 66: Verses 7-end

O praise our God, ye people: and make the voice of his praise to be heard;

Who holdeth our soul in life: and suffereth not our feet to slip.

For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou also hast tried us, like as silver is tried.

Thou broughtest us into the snare: and laidest trouble upon our loins.

Thou sufferedst men to ride over our heads: we went through fire and water, and thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

I will go into thine house with burnt offerings: and will pay thee my vows, which I promised with my lips, and spake with my mouth, when I was in trouble.

I will offer unto thee fat burnt sacrifices, with the incense of rams: I will offer bullocks and goats.

O come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear God: and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul.

I called unto him with my mouth: and gave him praises with my tongue.

If I incline unto wickedness with mine heart: The Lord will not hear me.

But God hath heard me: and considered the voice of my prayer.

Praised be God, who hath not cast out my prayer: nor turned his mercy from me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.

 

First Reading
Acts 17.22-31 
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we too are his offspring.” 
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’


Second Reading

John 14.15-21
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’

Collect
God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy; 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.

 

Sermon by our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther

John 14: 15-21

So here we are again – online – live from the Vicarage Dining Room – recorded music – recorded and emailed readings – my wife sitting in the study ready to pounce on the phone if it dares to ring and making sure that Coco the spaniel doesn’t wander into the middle of the service. We’ve been doing this for so long now that it is beginning to feel just a bit normal. But, of course, it isn’t and, like you I’m sure, I can’t wait to get back into church again. It may yet be a while, but we will get there. So, inevitably, thoughts turn to what we are learning about church and about ourselves during this time of enforced separation from our buildings. This coming week our Bishops have encouraged their clergy to join them (online, of course) for a meeting to begin to share what we have discovered about online worship, pastoral care, priorities, meetings,
well-being and so on. And, coincidentally I think but interestingly nonetheless, the days on which these meetings happen are marked in the church calendar as Rogation Days.

Rogationtide, the days immediately leading up to Ascension Day on Thursday, is an ancient and nowadays often ignored time when we are encouraged to think about planting. The name ‘Rogation’ comes from the Latin ‘Rogare’ – to ask – and this is the time when traditionally God’s blessing was asked on newly-planted seeds. It is, if you like, the opposite of Harvest Festival. Then we give thanks for what has grown – at Rogationtide we pray that something will. Which is why it’s a good time to think about where we currently are and what we’re learning – what might grow from having had to be church in a very different way. The experience has been disturbing, certainly, but out of disturbance can come good things. You turn the soil over before you plant, don’t you?

Today’s New Testament reading is one of those beautiful poetic passages from John’s gospel in which the gospel-writer puts into Jesus’s own mouth a summing-up of who he is, his relationship to God and, in the case of today’s passage, what is going to happen. Jesus foretells Pentecost, when ‘another Advocate, to be with you forever’ will arrive – the Holy Spirit. And, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘if you love me, keep my commandments’. And they are ….. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind, and with all your strength.’ And ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.

There is no other commandment greater than these’ says Jesus, ‘On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ In other words, all of that stuff in the Hebrew Bible, what we call the Old Testament, all of the legalistic commands in books like Leviticus and Numbers, and all that the prophets wrote was, in the end, about just those two commandments. Love God and love your neighbour as much as you love yourself. That’s what matters. And, it has to be said that there has been a lot of neighbour-loving going on in the last few weeks. It doesn’t need a church building, does it? In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles Paul, typically bluntly, spells it out. ‘The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands …’ Where does God live? Listen to Jesus in our reading from John – as I said before, anticipating Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. ‘On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you.’ God lives – ‘abides’ – that beautiful gentle word – in us. We are the church, the body of Christ.

We rightly love our church buildings and as places where people have gathered over the centuries to worship and to pray, they are, and will always remain, special places. As I said right at the beginning, I can’t wait to be back worshipping there again. But we have been forced to learn, to re-read familiar bible-passages in a new context. And when we do that sometimes there are revelations waiting for us if we do but listen to what the Holy Spirit is telling us. In Rogationtide we plant, we ask for God’s blessing on what we plant, praying that it may yield a good harvest. This year gives Rogationtide a whole new meaning for us and our prayers are needed in a whole new way. But of one thing we can be sure. The verses in John’s gospel immediately before today’s reading, which we read last week, tell us all we need to know. Jesus says ‘I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.’
Amen

 

Hymn

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill;
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev’ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

William Cowper (1731-1800)

 

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

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

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

 

The Week Ahead

Next Sunday – 24th May

Seventh Sunday of Easter

NOTICES

 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 

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

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 https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

 

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.

 

How about you?? 
Would you like to share your stories that you think others might like to hear about? Or like Mary share a recipe or a pastime idea to keep us occupied. Please do let Claire know and we will do our best to add to the weekly pew sheet.

 

✞ Wednesday Online Services ✞

Around our Benefice there are, as well as our Sunday morning 10.30am online gatherings, three acts of worship that take place on Wednesdays.  At 10.00am there is a service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer streamed from The Vicarage at (Alde Sandlings YouTube Channel). 
At 6pm there’s the opportunity to join members of the congregation in Friston for a short quiet service of Compline.  It’s done via Zoom and if you’d like to know more please contact Martin Steadman on martin@steadman.me.uk
Also, via Zoom, Pilgrims Together gathers online at 6.30pm for worship in the Iona tradition, including some hymns and songs.  The contact to find out more about that is pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
All are welcome at any of these services.

 

☏ Citizens Advice 📧
The Leiston, Saxmundham and district Citizens Advice would
like to advise that they are there and ready to help. They can provide advice for a wide range of issues from benefits and housing, employment,
and Coronavirus related issues.
Phone – 01728 832193 or Suffolk Adviceline – 0300 330 1151
(Leiston office – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10-2)
Email – supervisor@leistoncab.cabnet.org.uk
Post – 14 Colonial House, Station Road, Leiston, IP16 4JD

 

✞ Ascension Day ✞

Thursday 21st May is Ascension Day, one of the most important days in the church year.  Traditionally we have held a joint service for our whole deanery in the evening.  This year we aim to compile a service with contributions from several of the deanery’s churches and it should be available online at any time during the day.  We will email the link round and put it on our church websites.  And, all being well, it will incorporate at least one element recorded at the top of the
Aldeburgh church tower!

 

News Sheet for 10th May – Fifth Sunday of Easter

Message from The Rector

I suspect that for many of us this will feel like a special weekend. On Friday we marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day – a day which, I’m sure, any who lived through it will never forget. Even those of us who didn’t will remember our parents telling us stories about the dark days of the war, the feeling at one time that all was not looking good and the eventual sense of joy and relief when the guns and the bombs stopped. Thanks be to God.

Our current situation is very different, and comparisons are dangerous. But there is beginning to be a sense that the worst may be over, though we still have a long way to go and we must take care not to try to do too much too soon. We are anticipating some progress in an announcement from our Prime Minister on Sunday. Churches need to be somewhat cautious as they find their way forward – many of our regular congregations fall into one vulnerable category or another and we have a duty of care to them. Please be assured that we will do as much as we can as soon as we can. Remember that one of our senior bishops, The Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, was formerly England’s Chief Nursing Officer – there is real expertise at the top table. And (I know I have said this before, but it remains at the heart of everything) Easter teaches us that there is hope – there is always hope. Thanks be to God!

Collect
Almighty God, who through your only begotten Son Jesus Christ
have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.



First Reading

Acts 7.55-end 
But filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.


Second Reading
1 Peter 2.2-10
Like new-born infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:
‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner’, and ‘A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

Hymn: Now the Green Blade Riseth

Now the green blade riseth, from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid Him, Love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never He would wake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen: 
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

Forth He came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Quick from the dead the risen God is seen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been: 
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

Gospel
John 14.1-14
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Reflection by Revd Nichola Winter

Can it really be the fifth Sunday of Easter? Many of us probably feel rather disoriented as well as disconnected. We’re blessed with a wonderful variety of streamed services, online worship we can join, and telephone chats – however I still find myself missing hugely the spiritual connection that comes with sharing worship with congregations in our lovely church buildings. One day soon…

Inevitably, time flows on. The forty great days of Easter continue with their exhilarating stories of the risen Christ and all that means to, and for, us. Today we hear the beautiful passage, so often read at funeral services, that brings the promise of new life for us all. At a time of sorrow, we are given a hope-filled vision of the life that Jesus offers each one of us. When Jesus first utters those words, it is on the eve of his crucifixion. He has already given his followers the new, and great, commandment that they must love one another. He has washed their feet, told them that they, too, are there to serve – to wash each other’s feet. And then come those words of gentle reassurance, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled… believe in God, believe also in me… I go to prepare a place for you.’ Indeed, I often think these words belong with the other great Comfortable Words that come in the traditional communion service…

But, as usual, the disciples cannot accept the words of Jesus at face value. There’s Thomas – doubting, querying. ‘We don’t know where you’re going… how can we?’ and Philip, wanting the ‘i’s dotted and the ‘t’s crossed. ‘Show us the Father,’ he says, ‘then we’ll be satisfied…’ Perhaps it is for our sake, two thousand years later, that these fearful, questioning, doubting followers still come to us, epitomising all our doubts and fears for the future. They had been with Jesus throughout his ministry, seen the wonders he performed and yet still they find it hard to take all that he says on trust. What does that say to us in these days when we are fearful and apprehensive about the future; when we, too, perhaps find it difficult to keep faith? We need to imagine Jesus speaking directly to us. ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.’ Do not be afraid. Hold on to me and the promises that I give you… I am the way, the truth and the life… If, in my name, you ask me for anything, I will do it.

It is, perhaps, at times of great trial that these words come ringing through to us. At times of bereavement they form one of the most comforting of passages – we are not alone. Jesus has walked this way before us. He has been through bereavement, pain and death; he has suffered deprivation of liberty; been deserted by friends and family. He has descended to the depths – and yet he returns, comes back to life and takes us with him. He presents us with the greatest hope that we could ever possibly wish for. Look for a moment at the reading from Acts, which describes the death of Stephen, the first martyr. Confronting the reality of death Stephen has this glorious vision of the heavens opening and the Son of Man at the right hand of God. Jesus’ promise becomes reality for him. He sees the place to which he is going. Then, Peter, in his first letter, knowing that we are faced with the most astounding teaching about Jesus – recognises that we need to take it in gentle stages. Beginning with ‘pure, spiritual milk’ we progress in our faith to the harder obstacles – but even these become the building blocks of faith. The stone rejected by the master-builder – the one who ought to know what he’s talking about – becomes something completely different. The useless, the rejected becomes the very thing that is needed to create a new foundation.

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’ Jesus calls each one of us to him. We can find comfort in his words, in his promise and in the new life he offers each one of us. As we pass through this time of trial let us hold fast to that hope, to that promise. Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life. Amen.

Post Communion
Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life:
grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth, and to share his risen life; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

 

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

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

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

The Week Ahead

Next Sunday – 17th May

Sixth Sunday of Easter

NOTICES

 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 

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

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 https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

 

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.

 

 How about you?? 
Would you like to share your stories that you think others might like to hear about? Or like Mary share a recipe or a pastime idea to keep us occupied. Please do let Claire know and we will do our best to add to the weekly pew sheet.

 

✞ Wednesday Online Services ✞
Around our Benefice there are, as well as our Sunday morning 10.30am online gatherings, three acts of worship that take place on Wednesdays.  At 10.00am there is a service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer streamed from The Vicarage at (Alde Sandlings YouTube Channel).  

At 6pm there’s the opportunity to join members of the congregation in Friston for a short quiet service of Compline.  It’s done via Zoom and if you’d like to know more please contact Martin Steadman on martin@steadman.me.uk
Also, via Zoom, Pilgrims Together gathers online at 6.30pm for worship in the Iona tradition, including some hymns and songs.  The contact to find out more about that is pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
All are welcome at any of these services.

 

Don’t forget Christian Aid week
Starting on 10th May Christian Aid have gone online and are hosting a fun daily quiz to join and raise funds. Do visit their website www.christianaid.org.uk to find the resources, links along with e-fundraising envelopes.

 

News Sheet for 3rd May – Fourth Sunday of Easter

 

Message from The Rector

Greetings from The Vicarage and welcome to another Sunday with online worship from The Vicarage. We haven’t tried an informal ‘Service of the Word’ yet so here goes. As ever, all feedback gratefully received. This one isn’t really a ‘Family Service’ but our plans are that the next one will be – watch this space!

Many thanks to those who have been in touch volunteering to read. Claire and I have compiled a list and we’ll begin to be in touch this coming week – so next Sunday’s service will be a little less of a monologue.

Before next Sunday we do, of course, mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th. Most of the national and local plans have been put on hold but at the time of writing I do know that both Aldringham and Friston churches will be doing special things in their churchyards that are not time-specific but will certainly be worth a visit. So if your daily exercise should take you past either church do look out for what I know will be beautiful tributes – and huge thanks to those who will make them happen.

Mark

Collect
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Acts 2.42-end 
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.


Second Reading
John 10.1-10
Jesus said ‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Sermon by Revd James Marston

May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We will meet again. We have hope.
Emotions run high at a time like this, we have good days and bad days, highs and lows as we live through these challenging times.
Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter – a time of hope and celebration in the church.
Some of the ways in which we usually mark Eastertide are unavailable to us but that doesn’t mean we do not have hope, or indeed the love that Easter celebrates.And I can’t help thinking as we hear Her Majesty and others talk openly about prayer in the public sphere and how at this time we might turn to something more spiritual and deeper to help us get through these weeks.
At the moment we are drawn, perhaps more than ever, to consider the role and part faith plays in our own lives when we are threatened by, not only an indiscriminate virus but also by enforced divorce from much that defines ourselves and our way of life.
There is no point in pretending that many of us do not find the conditions that we are living in painful, frustrating, and contrary to our very nature.
For those of us who now find ourselves with a surfeit of time – something we often say we crave more of but then perhaps struggle to deal with when it comes – we can turn to all sorts of activities to keep the melancholy wolf from the door.
In my own attempts to keep busy I’ve even baked a cake which, though it ended up being fed to the birds, did keep me busy during an unforgiving hour.
Time, of course, gives us greater clarity. And when we look back, we see clearly and in a different light that which has gone before. This is often the case with God, we see but glimpses of Him and His work though with the critical distance of time, those of faith often see God’s action in their lives more clearly, months, years, perhaps even decades after the event.

Today’s gospel reading with its images of sheep, shepherds, gates and flocks is little more than an exhortation to follow Jesus and be led by him and his rightful authority. We are the sheep that recognise his voice, know who he is and follow him. As a shepherd of His flock Jesus leads us rather than drives and calls repeatedly to keep us together and it is through him, the gate, we come closer to God.

Last week Reverend Jo talked powerfully to us about retuning our vision in order to recognise where God is in our lives and consider where He is asking us to share hope and forgiveness.
In our reading from Acts we hear how Jesus’ disciples, after that first Easter kept the faith by spending time in prayer and praise of God as they grew the church community.
As well as the passage of time, prayer, can also give us a wider perspective, and, in turn, peace of mind, which can help us manage our fear and anxiety. It is also how we maintain and develop and retune our relationship with God. From prayer our faith stems and it is from prayer our faith deepens.
This might be partly because prayer eventually shows to us ourselves. And once we know ourselves, we can see more clearly the reasons for our behaviour, the things we can be grateful for, and perhaps glimpse of something more than ourselves, something of the divine in the world around us and in our own lives.
At the moment we cannot go to church to pray, maybe we don’t need to, we have the countryside, exercise, the open air, our own homes and the technology that enables us to pray alongside and with the Rector the Eucharistic prayer in which we witness the breaking of bread, even if we don’t actually eat it.
Church, as we are coming to discover, is much more than the building – it is really about people and community – and prayer is nothing more than talking to God, an outpouring of words and thoughts that can be done anywhere and at any time – not just at 10.30am on a Sunday morning.  There is much written about how to pray and what to do but simply being grateful to God is something we can all easily forget, preferring perhaps to pay more heed to what we want rather than what we already have. So my task for you this week, as we all retune and renew our relationship with God is simply to saying thank you to God, as often as you can, and aloud if you can, and where you can, throughout the days ahead, for all that we have, for our loved ones, for our homes, for our countryside, for our health and our lives.
Simply acknowledging God through the positivity and optimism of gratitude is often where the relationship with the love and hope of Easter, with God, starts, strengthens and deepens.

And once that gratitude is expressed the world quickly starts to look different and we can say with renewed confidence and without fear that we will meet again and that we have hope.

Amen.

 

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

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

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

The Week Ahead

Next Sunday – 10th May

Fifth Sunday of Easter

 

NOTICES

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 

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

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 https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

 

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.

 

✞Wednesday Morning Holy Week✞
During Eastertide (any beyond, if it proves to be useful) each Wednesday morning at 10.00am we will stream in the usual place
(Alde Sandlings YouTube Channel) a service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer.

 
 

🎶 Christina Johnston Concerts – Live Streaming 🎶
Many of you will know Suffolk soprano Christina Johnston, who has performed many times at Aldeburgh Parish Church. During these exceptional times Christina has decided to perform weekly concerts on a Friday evening for us all to enjoy.
Click on the link below to view the first one and view live every
Friday at 7pm.
https://www.facebook.com/classicalsuffolk/live_videos/

 

 How about you?? 
Would you like to share your stories that you think others might like to hear about? Or like Mary share a recipe or a pastime idea to keep us occupied. Please do let Claire know and we will do our best to add to the weekly pew sheet.

 

News sheet for the 26th April – Third Sunday of Easter

 

Message from The Rector

And so we meet again by sharing in a service. The experience of presiding when no-one else is physically present has proved to be a very interesting one for me. The other day I was sharing experiences with Fr Tony, our local Roman Catholic priest, and we agreed that, as the apparently isolated services happened, we very much felt the presence of those worshipping with us. We somehow do not feel alone. Of course, it is not the same as actually being together in the same space at the same time and I cannot wait for us to be able to do that again. But for as long as the current restrictions apply, I hope that you too feel that, as we share words, music and prayer and the breaking of bread, there is a sense in which we are part of something greater than what we can see. And we take comfort from the fact that, wherever we are, the risen Christ is with us. Of that we have his promise – a promise that never fails.

One way in which we might be able to share in the presentation of our acts of worship is if people might like to volunteer to read one of the lessons. This can be done reasonably simply by using a phone or a tablet. Here are the instructions for iphones and ipads and I’m sure something similar is possible with other makes.

https://osxdaily.com/2016/05/04/record-audio-iphone-voice-memos/

If you’d like to have a go, then please let either me or Claire know.

 

Collect
Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; 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.

 

First Reading
Acts 2.14a, 36-41 
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Second Reading
1 Peter 1.17-23
If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.

Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

 

Hymn – Thine be the Glory

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.
Refrain:
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.
Refrain:
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.
Refrain:
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 24.13-35
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.  Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

 

Reflection by Revd Johanna Mabey

Luke 24:13-35

Disappointment. We have all been there one way or another.

A relationship breakdown… a failed exam… a dream job turned sour… trust turned to betrayal… a medical test revealing bad news… the death of a loved one… Hope was lost, and life looked dismal at best.

If you have experienced devastation, you can probably understand how the two men on the road felt that afternoon, walking from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. Theirs was a road of deep disappointment – of hope in the past tense. “We had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel,” they explained (unknowingly) to the Risen Jesus as He walked with them.

They had lost hope. Yes, there had been rumours of resurrection, but the only thing these two men knew was the reality of death. They had seen the crucifixion. There had been a body. They knew death when they saw it. Hope was gone.

The Emmaus Road can represent the road of disappointment when there seems to be no hope. Perhaps our own struggles right now seem like a hopeless uphill road?

The two men on the Road to Emmaus did not recognise Jesus when he joined them on their journey. Someone once heard two children talking about blindness. One of them asked, “How do you know when you are blind?” The other one answered, “You don’t. You only know afterwards when you can see.” Until we have recognised Jesus in our midst, we do not know what we have missed seeing before.

So here we are. Two weeks have passed since Easter. The world presses in on us. We are stressed, afraid, tired, maybe feeling our age, perhaps ill, probably unsure of what lies ahead. We read and hear bad news in papers and on television. When we bury our loved ones, we do not find empty tombs. We pray for people who are ill and often watch them continue to physically decline.

The road of our lives may seem as full of discouragement as that dusty Emmaus road did for those two men.

But wait! We have been given this story. The Emmaus story is the story of a God who will not leave us alone, even when we cannot believe, even when we are hurt and disappointed, even when we cannot recognise Jesus in anything around us, when it seems that the brightest and best in life is over.

One more thing we should notice about this story of those who finally recognised that Jesus was with them: they immediately went to share the news with others. This meant doing a turnaround in the middle of the night with no streetlights to walk a seven-mile journey back to Jerusalem to tell others that they had seen Jesus alive.

For us, the journey may have a different shape, but the message should end up being the same.

We are walking along the roads of the lives we have been given. It is quite likely that God would like us to “retune” our vision, so that we can notice and understand where God would like us to share hope, forgiveness and help in the places around us. We do not have to be afraid to see new needs or hurts, because no matter what challenges, disappointments, or opportunities we encounter, the Risen Christ is with us.

By the grace and power of the Living God, may we come to see that Jesus is risen and alive, right in our midst! By the grace and power of God, may each of us recognise in Jesus hope and challenge beyond every disappointment.  Amen.

 

Post Communion
Living God, your Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in all his redeeming work; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

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

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

 

Anzac Day 25th April 2020

by Mary Sidwell

Prior to coming to live in Aldeburgh 5 years ago, I lived in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. Our Parish church of St Mary, had several New Zealand soldiers buried in the old churchyard, having been patients at the Mount Felix hospital in the town.  A brass plaque at the back of church records the names of the deceased. ANZAC means Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.

On the Sunday nearest to April 25th each year, we had an ANZAC service of Commemoration at Evensong. The NZ High Commissioner, service personnel and other staff came to the service, where the standards were presented, we sang hymns, an anthem, an address by the vicar, the names of the dead were read out. We then filed out of church behind the British Legion standards and walked to the old churchyard, where there are engraved tombs. Wreaths were laid and prayers said. Afterwards, we gathered in the church hall for refreshments and to meet our NZ guests.

In March 2016, I was staying with family in Australia (Sydney) and in Rotorua (N. Island, New Zealand) and during my stay there were big events marking 100 years of Gallipoli. At Rotorua, my sister and her husband booked a 5-day mini tour down to Wellington, on the South Coast of North Island. The Te Papa Tongarewa Exhibition Centre near the waterfront had a display called ‘GALLIPOLI’ and had set up on the peninsula in Turkey Nga Tapuwae which means ‘the footsteps’ where you can follow trails of the ANZAC soldiers. I recommend that you follow in these footsteps and then light a candle.

Recipe for ANZAC Biscuits (sent to the soldiers on the frontline)

4 oz flour,
4 oz rolled oats,
4 oz desiccated coconut,
4 oz sugar,
1/2 teaspoon baking powder,
1 tablespoon golden syrup,
4 oz melted butter.

Mix dry ingredients together, add melted butter and syrup, and roll into small balls, flatten gently. Bake in a cool oven for 15 mins.

The Week Ahead

Next Sunday – 3rd May

Fourth Sunday of Easter

 

NOTICES

 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 

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

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 https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

 

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.

 

✞Wednesday Morning Holy Week✞
During Eastertide (any beyond, if it proves to be useful) each
Wednesday morning at 10.00am
we will stream in the usual place
(Alde Sandlings YouTube Channel) a service of Holy Communion
according to the Book of Common Prayer.

News sheet for 19th April – Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday 19th April

Second Sunday of Easter

 

Message from The Rector

When we are living through extraordinary times, and when news bulletins are full of so much information that it becomes hard to absorb anything, it takes a particularly bold headline to attract our attention. One such headline that did it for me recently was ‘Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre closed for the first time since 1349’. The coronavirus outbreak has caused even that holy place to be shut. It hurts to know that our places of worship have to be closed but closed they must be. The government has asked that we keep churches closed to protect individuals and also to help the NHS not to be overwhelmed. The Covid-19 virus can remain active on surfaces anything between a couple of hours and a couple of days. Door handles, pews where people have rested their hands when they pray, books that they may have picked up, all of these could potentially allow the transmission of the virus unless they were disinfected after every contact. And I don’t need to remind you, I’m sure, of the horrifying daily statistics of the number of people who are dying every day. As church we need to be part of the solution not part of the problem.

I have become aware in recent days of many heart-warming stories about local people being helped by agencies and individuals. Food parcels are being delivered, shopping is being done, appointments met, errands run and much more besides. As we hold in our prayers those who are ill and those who have died so we also give thanks and pray for all who are going the extra mile (sometimes quite a lot of miles) to help those in need.

We plan to continue online services every Sunday at 10.30am and Wednesday at 10.00am. Sunday morning’s acts of worship will include Holy Communion, Morning Prayer (Mattins) and less formal ‘Morning Praise’ services. Each Wednesday morning will be a simple service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer. Each Wednesday evening at 6.00pm a service of Compline is being said by parishioners in Friston and at 6.30pm the Pilgrims Together group gathers – both of these initiatives using ‘Zoom’. I should also remind you of Morning Prayer each morning at 8.30am said by Bishop Martin in his little garden oratory in Ipswich. Around 90 now join him online and it’s a good way to start the day. https://www.facebook.com/BishopsCofEsuffolk/

Our services from The Vicarage, and those led by our bishops, remain on the relevant sites afterwards so if you don’t manage to be with us ‘live’ you can rerun the service at a time that suits you.

Please be assured of my continuing prayers and if there is ever anything that you think I might be able to help with don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Collect
Almighty Father, you have given your only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Acts 2.14a, 22-32 
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. ‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and fore knowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him,
“I saw the Lord always before me,
 for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover, my flesh will live in hope. 
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption. 
You have made known to me the ways of life;
 you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”

‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
“He was not abandoned to Hades,
 nor did his flesh experience corruption.” 
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.

Second Reading
John 20.19-end
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. 

Psalm 16

1  Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge; 

I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord,

all my good depends on you.’

2  All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, 

upon those who are noble in heart.

3  Though the idols are legion that many run after, 

their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,

neither make mention of their names upon my lips.

4  The Lord himself is my portion and my cup; 

in your hands alone is my fortune.

5  My share has fallen in a fair land; 

indeed, I have a goodly heritage. 

6  I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel, 

and in the night watches he instructs my heart.

7   I have set the Lord always before me; 

he is at my right hand; I shall not fall.

8  Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; 

my flesh also shall rest secure.

9  For you will not abandon my soul to Death, 

nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit.

10 You will show me the path of life;

in your presence is the fullness of joy 

and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Reflection by Revd Sheila Hart

John 20:19 to the end

There is so much contained in these 13 verses from the Gospel of John that it is hard to know what to emphasise and where to begin.

We have moved on from the early morning to the evening of the first Easter Day and the disciples are pictured gathered together, supporting each other because they are afraid of what might happen to them subsequent to Jesus’ crucifixion and the revelation from Mary, Peter and John that He had risen from the dead and Mary’s exuberant announcement that she had actually seen Him!

Apart from the fear, it is difficult to imagine what the gathered disciples might have been thinking about and feeling as perhaps they reflected together on the happenings of the week between Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the promised Messiah, his betrayal, arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion, death, burial and disappearance from the tomb where he had been laid to rest and His subsequent appearance to Mary in the garden. I would imagine their heads would have not only been reeling with the speed with which these things had happened but also, they’re with disbelief and amazement that His body was not where they had left it in the sealed tomb. The fact was it wasn’t there. Oh Yes Mary said she had seen Him, but she was only a woman and women were subject to flights of fancy. You should never trust a woman for they have very fertile imaginations.

And into the middle of their reflections, like a bolt out of the blue, Jesus came and stood among them, just like He always did, and offered them Peace – just like in the midst of the storm on the lake of Galilee when they had been afraid before and He had commanded the wind and the waves to be still using that same offering of Peace – just like when He had spoken about leaving them and they didn’t understand what He was alluding to, He had told them ‘Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give you, not as the world gives. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’.

Having offered them His peace – the traditional Jewish greeting – shalom – Jesus goes on to initiate their future ministry ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ He breathes into them the Holy Spirit, the One whom He had promised would come to them after He had left them – the advocate; the Comforter; the Counsellor. Did this pre-empt Pentecost? No this was the anointing of the Holy Spirit who would eventually bring them the power for ministry, but at this time was the agent of peace and comfort. The one who would prepare them for their future ministry.

This is followed by the account of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas a week later. Thomas had always seemed the one who took a longer time that the others to understand Jesus’ message. He was the one who didn’t quite understand ‘the way to the place where Jesus was going’ in the farewell discourse of John chapter 14 which we alluded to earlier and Jesus had to speak about His being ‘the way, the truth and the life.’ And he was the one who in this account couldn’t quite bring himself to believe in the resurrected Christ until he had seen for himself.

When he had seen, however, there was no stopping his enthusiasm and his worship ‘My Lord and my God.’

So, what about us? Where does this leave us today?

Well we certainly need the Peace of Christ in these troubled times. The peace of knowing that the resurrected Christ is with us, our loved ones and those who are suffering and who have sadly died as a result of this pandemic and the testing times in which we are living. We have not seen the risen Christ but we do believe and trust in Him and the power of God through the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk through these days of isolation and for many, hardship and loss in His peace knowing that despite everything we are still loved and cared for. Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ I pray that we will continue to believe as we walk through this crisis with our Lord and share His sufferings and His isolation as He prepares us for the shape of our future ministry as His people and may the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us all and may we be agents of God’s peace to those with whom we are in contact who may need to know His peace too.

 

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

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

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

The Week Ahead

Next Sunday – 26th April

Third Sunday of Easter

 

NOTICES

UU Food Banks – Message from the Community UU 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 

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

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 https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

 

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.

 

✞Wednesday Morning Holy Week✞
During Eastertide (any beyond, if it proves to be useful) each Wednesday morning at 10.00am we will stream in the usual place (Alde Sandlings YouTube Channel) a service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer.

 

Easter Day

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY EASTER

Sunday 12th April Easter Day

Message from The Rector

To say that Easter Day will be a bit different this year is, to say the least, an understatement. Not to be able to be together, not to be able to celebrate the greatest Christian festival with friends and lots of guests, as we usually do, is heart-breaking. We need to remember, though, that whatever the world throws at us we can be absolutely confident of Easter’s message.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

If you are able to join us online at 10.30 you will be very welcome – and you might like to have a bell of some sort (or at least something with which to make a noise) handy.

Plans are beginning to be formulated as to how we might continue to worship together online during the rest of Eastertide and beyond. Before we look forward, I’d like to look back over the last week and give hearty thanks to, firstly, my clergy colleagues for their contributions to our Holy Week services. Their bible-reflections have been thoughtful, inspiring and a joy to read out. Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank our administrator, Claire Turner, who has worked way over and above the call of duty to circulate pew-sheets and orders of service to you all and, together with her husband Jamie, rescue me when I have had technical problems with the online services. I’m sure you will agree that ‘every church should have one’ – thank you Claire!

Collect

Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity.

Post Communion

God of Life, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection have delivered us from the power of our enemy: grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

First Reading
Jeremiah 31.1-6
At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’

Second Reading
Acts 10.34-43
Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’

Gospel
John 20.1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Sermon by The Rector, Revd Mark Lowther

Acts 10: 34-43

John 20: 1-18

God be in our mouths and in our speaking. God be in our ears and in our hearing. God be in our heads and in our understanding. Amen.

Most of us, most of the time, are most comfortable when we feel that we’re in control of our lives. It’s good, isn’t it, to have some sense of what the day ahead might hold – and then we can cope better with the occasional surprise. Well I don’t know about you but at the moment I feel totally out of control. I don’t know what each day will bring and I wake up to the Today Programme news with a real sense of trepidation – what might have happened overnight? What will happen today? What will we learn today? What decisions will be taken on our behalf, for better or worse, that will change the way we live our lives? It’s frightening, unsettling, outside any idea we might have of ‘normal’.

Now, put yourself in the position of one of Jesus’s closest friends, 2000 years ago. This extraordinary man had totally transformed your life – in the best possible way. He’d taught you more about life, about God and about yourself than you could ever possibly have imagined. And you loved him in a way that you’d never loved another human being before. And then – he was killed. Tried on a trumped-up charge, tortured and killed, before your very eyes. You’d stood right next to that cross, that simple but horrifying instrument of torture, and heard him breath his last. What was that he said? ‘It is finished.’ Well, that’s that then, isn’t it? All your hopes, all your dreams dashed. Sure, he’d sometimes said something about ‘rising again’ but you had no idea what he meant. I mean, if you’re dead, you’re dead, aren’t you? What did he mean when he said “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again”? Beyond me!

Those words are from Mark’s gospel, but something like them appear in Matthew and Luke too. And you can well imagine just how strange they must have sounded. Peter even took Jesus aside and tried to tell him off – ‘God forbid it, Lord. This must never happen to you!’ For the most part we can only live in the present reality – we, like those first disciples, find it impossible to take the mental leap to a new reality, to, if you like, a new ‘normal’.

The resurrection story in John’s Gospel, that we’ve just read, contains beautiful accounts of individuals’ reactions to encountering a very particular and very special reality – the truth of the ultimate miracle. Peter, bless him, bounds into the empty tomb, sees the linen and the headcloth – and, we assume, doesn’t get it. Because John’s account says specifically that the other disciple, the disciple Jesus loved (generally thought to be John) ‘saw – and believed’. Just seeing the evidence was enough for John to put two and two together – it’s really happened! Mary Magdalene’s story is different – and for a reason. She sees Jesus – but doesn’t recognise him. The story tells us that he’s actually standing there – but Mary can’t believe it truly is Jesus until ….. until he speaks her name – calls her – and then she really knows who it is. I love this story because it so beautifully goes beyond an account of the events to become an account of their consequences. The risen Christ calls us by name and when he does, we recognise him for who he truly is – and our response has to be to call him our ‘rabbouni’, our teacher. In his beautiful book called God’s Pattern David Stancliffe (former Bishop of Salisbury) describes Mary Magdalene’s story like this.

(Mary.) The name – her name – sounds magical. It’s that way of saying her name that restores in an instant the fragile relationship that she thought was severed forever. It’s that quality of personal relationship – knowing and being known by name – that matters. ….. In the middle of the griefs and miseries of a selfish world, where people are out to grab what they can for themselves and throw their weight around to achieve it, it’s knowing God, and knowing that you are known by God, that counts. …. The proof of the resurrection is not to be found by gazing into the abyss of an empty tomb, but in the risen Christ meeting you on the way and, like Mary in the garden, calling you by name. The proof of the resurrection is not a statement or an assertion: it is knowing yourself, like Mary, to be called by name and loved by God with a love that will never let you go.

D Stancliffe God’s Pattern SPCK 2003

I return to where I began and borrow part of one of Bishop David’s sentences. In the middle of all of the chaos and difficulty and uncertainty of life at present it’s knowing God, and knowing that you are known by God that counts. Whatever may happen we are all called by name and loved by God with a love that will never let us go. Alleluia. Christ is risen!

Amen

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

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

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

Eastertide Greetings

This comes from Nick & Nicky Winter to wish you every blessing at this unique Eastertide. We may be prevented from sharing in Holy

Communion at this Queen of Festivals, but it is good to know that we are linked and sharing in prayer and worship – remotely, digitally and/or spiritually. There will be much to celebrate when we are eventually able to join in fellowship again. But in the meantime, although we have to fast from the Sacrament we can still feast on the Word – and I know that many are doing just that.

As we celebrate the risen Christ the words of the 14th century

Anima Christi, used daily throughout Passiontide, continue to resonate:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me;
Within Thy wounds hide me;
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me;
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee;
That with Thy Saints I may praise
Thee Forever and ever.
Amen.

Next Sunday – 19th April

Second Sunday of Easter

NOTICES

 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 https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/foodbanks-(1)?viewmode=0

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 https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-thecoronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

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.

Wednesday Morning Holy Communion

During Eastertide (and beyond, if it proves to be useful) each

Wednesday morning at 10.00am we will stream in the usual place (Alde Sandlings Benefice YouTube Channel) a service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer.

Good Friday

Friday 10th April

Good Friday

 

 

 

First Reading
Isaiah 52.13-end of 53
See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.  Just as there were many who were astonished at him—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals— so he shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.  Surely, he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.  By a perversion of justice, he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.  Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. 

Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, 
and are so far from my salvation,
from the words of my distress?
O my God, I cry in the daytime,
but you do not answer; 
and by night also, but I find no rest.
Yet you are the Holy One, 
enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
Our forebears trusted in you;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
They cried out to you and were delivered; 
they put their trust in you and were not confounded.
But as for me, I am a worm and no man, 
scorned by all and despised by the people.
All who see me laugh me to scorn; 
they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,
‘He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him; 
let him deliver him, if he delights in him.’
But it is you that took me out of the womb 
and laid me safe upon my mother’s breast.
On you was I cast ever since I was born; 
you are my God even from my mother’s womb.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near at hand 
and there is none to help.
Mighty oxen come around me; 
fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side.
They gape upon me with their mouths, 
as it were a ramping and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water;
all my bones are out of joint; 
my heart has become like wax
melting in the depths of my body.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd;
my tongue cleaves to my gums; 
you have laid me in the dust of death.
For the hounds are all about me,
the pack of evildoers close in on me; 
they pierce my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones; 
they stand staring and looking upon me.

They divide my garments among them; 
they cast lots for my clothing.
Be not far from me, O Lord; 
you are my strength; hasten to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword, 
my poor life from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth,
from the horns of wild oxen. 
You have answered me!
I will tell of your name to my people; 
in the midst of the congregation will I praise you.
Praise the Lord, you that fear him; 
O seed of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, O seed of Israel.
For he has not despised nor abhorred the suffering of the poor;
neither has he hidden his face from them; 
but when they cried to him he heard them.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation; 
I will perform my vows
in the presence of those that fear you.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; 
those who seek the Lord shall praise him;

their hearts shall live for ever.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the Lord, 
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s 
and he rules over the nations.
How can those who sleep in the earth
bow down in worship, 
or those who go down to the dust kneel before him?
He has saved my life for himself;
my descendants shall serve him; 
this shall be told of the Lord for generations to come.
They shall come and make known his salvation,
to a people yet unborn, 
declaring that he, the Lord, has done it.

Second Reading
Hebrews 10.16-25
‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds’, he also adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Gospel
John 18.1-end of 19
After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’  Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he.  So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First, they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing round it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.’ When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?’ Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, ‘You are not also one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’ Again, Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters.  It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ (This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ They shouted in reply, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. 4Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ 6When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ 7The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’  Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says,
‘They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.’  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.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ And again, another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’

Reflection by Revd Nichola Winter

In the east window of Aldeburgh Church is a vivid depiction of the crucifixion.

Christ hangs on the cross. One of the soldiers pierces his side – making certain of his death. His family and closest friends weep at the foot of the cross. Assorted individuals pass by – curious? Indifferent? Morbid? At one side we see the soldiers, playing at dice. Casting lots for the clothes of the dying man. Look closely and you see the dice suspended in mid-air – the lot has yet to be decided. Those dice have been caught in their suspended animation for as long as the window has been in place. How symbolic of life itself – particularly at this time when life feels so fragile and tentative in the light of present afflictions. So many issues, so many questions, so many uncertainties. How will the dice fall? What will be the outcome?

The journey through the last weeks has been an emotional rollercoaster for so many. Each person reading this will have their own story to tell, their own experience. Holy Week takes on its own dynamic in the context of what is going on in the world. Acts of kindness, anger – and possible questioning of faith.

A small child said to me recently, ‘but we know it all turns out happily in the end.’ We may be so familiar with the events that tumble upon each other at this time that we lose sight of their gravity and significance. But not one of us can bypass the cross. It is something we all have to confront; to acknowledge our own weakness and sinfulness and then wonder that our Lord takes it upon himself to carry our shame and put an end to it for ever. In his own agony he takes the worst in each of us; his death erases it and enables us to find new life.

Consider those final words: ‘It is finished.’ One theologian has written that this is a cry of victory… the triumphant cry that what Jesus came to do has been done. All is accomplished, fulfilled work.

It is strange and puzzling. If the work of Christ is complete when we see him hanging, tortured and dying, on the cross, then what kind of a completion is that? What kind of victory? It may be tempting for us to dismiss it all. It happened a long time ago. We live in the post-modern age; we know a lot, we communicate fast. We think we’ve worked out how the universe works, and we don’t want to be confronted with images of an exhausted common-place itinerant teacher bleeding to death on a cross – it’s an image that is so not the 21st century.

But the reality is this. Christ will be resurrected – ‘but the resurrected One remains the One crucified.’ It was Pascal who said that ‘Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.’ We live in the ‘in-between times.’ The world of today, the 10th April 2020 – the world in the grip of an unknown virus – is simply too imperfect to be the world that God really wants as his perfected creation. So where did Jesus on the cross get the idea that he could claim ‘It is finished’?

John’s gospel makes clear to us that the cross is not a symbol of defeat but of victory. Think back to the passage where Jesus asks that the Father’s name be glorified by his obedience and a voice comes from heaven saying, ‘I have glorified it and I will glorify it again.’ Jesus tells us that this voice comes for our sake – so that we might understand that ‘now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ Jesus has carried out his part; he has been lifted up on the cross. In full view of passers-by; in full view of those who love him and those who hate him. In full view of the authorities of the time, in full view of those passing in and out of the city, on their way with news, gossip and day to day busy-ness. Whose eye could not be drawn to such a horrific spectacle? Who could be indifferent to this vulnerable creature, helpless on the cross? The invitation has been issued; Jesus has been lifted up and we are drawn to him. It is our choice whether we respond or whether we turn away.

 

It is finished, but it is not over. Rowan Williams calls us not to become nostalgic for a supposedly less compromised past or take refuge in some imagined purified future, but to dwell in the tension-filled time between times, to remain awake to our inability “to stay in the almost unbearable moment where Jesus is.”

Jesus has played his part. It is finished. The victory is won. Our work really begins as we share the message in these difficult times. How do we now keep alive and dynamic the teaching of the One who became human so that we might become divine?

Maundy Thursday

Thursday 9th April

Maundy Thursday

 

Collect
God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to his Church to proclaim his death until he comes: may he nourish us by his presence, and unite us in his love; 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, we thank you that in this wonderful sacrament you have given us the memorial of your passion: grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries of your body and blood that we may know within ourselves and show forth in our lives the fruit of your redemption, for you are alive and reign, now and for ever.

First Reading
Exodus 12.1-4 – 11-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household.  If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 11.23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Gospel
John 13.1-17, 31b-35
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Reflection by The Rector, Revd Mark Lowther

God be in our mouths and in our speaking, God be in our ears and in our hearing, God be in our heads and in our understanding. Amen.

.. he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

John 13:5

The ‘roads’ of biblical times were dusty and dirty – both in the cities and outside in the country. Animals passed along them and, well, let’s not go into too much detail but we can easily guess what might have been on the road – and in quite large quantities too. And however hard you tried, the dust and the dirt ended up on your feet. It must have been a great relief to kick off your thin leather sandals and have a good wash. When you arrived at someone else’s house you’d usually do that yourself, so as not to tread dirt into the house. If you visited someone wealthy enough to have servants it would have been one of them, often, of course, a slave, who would have performed the task – and it can’t have been very pleasant. So it’s not surprising that Simon Peter was so shocked by what Jesus did. The host washing the feet of the guests. And, after all, Peter had been the first to identify Jesus as Messiah – he above all people knew what a big gesture this was. The Messiah acting like a slave and, literally, doing the dirty work.

As priest theologian Timothy Radcliffe points out, there’s an extra layer of meaning that often goes unnoticed here. There was one person apart from a servant or slave who might wash a man’s feet – his wife. I quote from an unpublished sermon Radcliffe wrote for Maundy Thursday: ‘A rabbi would not let his disciples wash his feet, but he could ask his wife; not because she was a servant but because they were one body. There is a charming little story called ‘Joseph and Asenath’, written about this time, in which Asenath, Joseph’s bride, will not let anyone else touch Joseph’s feet. “Your hands are my hands and your feet are my feet and I will wash them, and no-one else will touch them.” Throughout the Middle and Far East you will find that the washing of feet is part of the betrothal and marriage ceremonies.’ And what does Jesus say to Peter in today’s Gospel – ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me’. This is Christ uniting himself with his followers in a very special way.

So what about us here, now? My wife did offer to have her feet washed on a live streamed service but I politely declined – camera angles could be a bit tricky! But just imagine that in a moment or two one of the clergy washed your feet. A symbolic gesture – but symbolic of what? Well at one level, of course, it’s ‘service’ – an example of what Christ’s life was all about – a ministry of service – the servant king. A priest is still a deacon (whose function is to serve), just as a bishop is still both priest and deacon – the threefold order of priesthood is incremental like that and foot-washing is a symbol that we’re all still servants. At another level there’s that symbol of, as the Book of Common Prayer Marriage Service puts it ‘the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his church’. Your feet are my feet. We belong one to another.

But as people come up to take part in this most intimate of ceremonies, there’s a traditional chant that’s usually sung – ‘Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est’ – ‘Where there is charity and love, God is there’. ‘God is there’ – not ‘God might be there if we’re lucky’ or ‘God will be there if we get it right’. All that’s necessary is charity and love. Then God will be there. It’s not a biblical phrase but it might as well be – it’s one of the most powerful statements of the nature of God as there is. And, in those final words of today’s Gospel, Jesus commands us to love as he loved us. He washed the disciple’s feet – symbolically our feet – so we must do the same for others. And, I imagine, in these troubled times in which we’re living there must be a lot of foot-washing of one kind or another going on – serving others, trying our best to meet their needs. Perhaps next year at this time we should wash each other’s feet as well as having our own washed. And then maybe we should all head off to The Parrot or the Cross Keys with a bowl of water and a towel over our arm and give some people a real shock. Amen.

No foot-washing today, as I said, but here’s Maurice Duruflé’s beautiful reworking of the traditional chant for ‘Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.’ The melody is centuries old, the 20th-century harmonies are Duruflé’s own.

MUSIC Ubi caritas – Duruflé

Holy Week – Wednesday

Reading
Matthew 21:18-22: Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry.

And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to this fig tree; but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.

Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

Reflection by Revd Sheila Hart

On the surface, this account of Jesus cursing the fig tree seems a simple but quite an odd lesson about faith and the prayer of faith but if we look at it in the context of the whole of Matthew chapter 21 we begin to see that it could be seen as one of four parts of a chapter which is primarily centred around the judgement of Israel in the light of the life and ministry of Jesus when compared with the traditions of the Jewish faith.

The first is the upsetting of the tables of the money changers and dove sellers when Jesus enters the Temple following his triumphal entry into the city. He makes a statement which constitutes a judgement on the traditional rites of Jewish worship ‘My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’ This links remarkably well with Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman in the 4th chapter of John’s Gospel when he says, ‘God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.’ This 1st judgement is that despite all its rites and rituals the worship which took place in the Temple at Jerusalem was not true worship.

The second was judgement on the priests because they could neither understand nor embrace the ministry of Jesus among those who were considered outside the norm. They were so bound up with the rituals and rules of worship that they were unable to countenance the fact that there might be another way to worship with joy and praise – a kind of fresh expression which bent the rules, but which brought new life into the worship. This links with Jesus’ statement in the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel ‘I have come that you might have life – life in all its fulness.’

The third is our passage on the cursing of the fig tree. In the Bible Israel is often portrayed as the fig tree or the vine and the problem with this fig tree was that it was not bearing fruit, only leaves. Again, in the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel Jesus speaks about the vine whose branches don’t bear fruit. Those branches are cut off, thrown into the fire and burned while our fig tree is cursed because of its lack of fruit. If the fig tree and the vine are illustrations of Israel, the judgement here is based around a lack of fruit, not actual as per a fruit tree, but spiritual fruit. Later in chapter 15 of John’s Gospel Jesus tells his disciples this: ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.’

The fourth and final judgement was on the Jewish leadership and their lack of integrity. The chief priests and the elders question Jesus’ authority to teach in the way he was. Jesus decides not to give them a direct answer but to ask them a question regarding whether the baptism of John the Baptist was from heaven or from human origin. This creates a dilemma for them about which they spend some time arguing. In the end they decide not to commit themselves one way or the other and Jesus replies that in that case he will not tell them where his authority lies.

The application of this whole chapter for us to examine and reflect upon during this Holy Week is by implication fourfold.

  • How can we worship God in spirit and in truth?
  • How open are we to embrace new expressions of worship or are we hidebound by our traditional rites and rituals?
  • Where is the fruit both in our own life and in the mission and ministry of the Church, of our relationship with God through Jesus by the Holy Spirit?
  • Does our faith have an integrity about it which permeates who we are and what we do?