Author Archives: Claire

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 17th January – The Second Sunday of Epiphany

Message from The Rector

Since last week there have been a lot of discussions taking place about what we can do to continue to be a functioning church during the time that we’re not physically together in our church buildings. One idea that has emerged is a weekly Zoom Coffee Morning and we plan to launch that this week. On Tuesday Jan 19th, from 10.30 to 11.30, anyone is welcome to spend a few minutes, or even the whole hour, as part of a Zoom gathering. Make yourselves a cup of your favourite beverage and join us at any time between 10.30 and 11.30 (clicking on ‘Enable Computer Audio’ when it pops up) and you will find friends to chat to. Please do get in touch via the Aldeburgh Parish Church Website if you would like to join and we will send you the Zoom link.

There’s no agenda, just a chance to get together – it’s the closest we can get to ‘after service coffee’ at the moment.

It is also possible to join in on the telephone. Obviously, you won’t see everyone, and they won’t be able to see you, but you should be able to hear everyone clearly and they you. You will need to ring any one of these numbers:

020 3481 5240

020 3481 5237

020 3051 2874

… and then, when prompted, enter these numbers:

Unlike the computer video there is, I’m afraid, a cost (the phone-call) but it’s good to know that those without computers will be able to join in if they wish. Please do pass the message on to anyone you think might appreciate it.

While we’re not meeting in church, these pew-sheets will also contain some extra things to read. This week Canon John Giles begins a series of articles about some saints who still speak to us over the years and he begins today with Botolph – probably a pretty unfamiliar name but someone with a very strong local connection. John’s piece is further down this pew-sheet and it’s well worth reading – thanks John.

Most of you will have received information about how and where the Covid vaccines are to be administered and for those registered with the Aldeburgh Surgery it will necessitate travelling to Woodbridge. For some, that journey may be difficult. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would appreciate a lift and we will see what we can do.

And finally, some personal news. This coming April, I will be 65 and plan to retire as Rector of the Alde Sandlings Benefice later in the year. My original plan (hatched a while ago) was to stay until the end of August and, having missed it so much last year, have a ‘proper’ Sandlings Summer with the Festival, Carnival, Lifeboat Service etc etc. We simply don’t know at present how normal this summer will be and how many of the regular summer events will be possible, but I would still like to stick to my original time-scale and retire at the end of August, with August 29th being my last Sunday.

Another important part of my decision to stick to this timescale is that our curate, James, will be attached to the benefice until at least June 2022. His presence should help to make the transition as smooth as it can be and I know that, with his dedication as well as that of Nicky, Sheila and Jo – and my wonderful retired colleagues – I will be leaving the benefice in good clergy hands.

I know that I’ll miss this beautiful and inspiring part of the world a great deal, not to mention the many people that I’m now very happy to call friends. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve here. Ro and I plan to do ‘something completely different’ to mark the fact that we will both be retired. We will be renting a house in France (the Minervois to be precise) for a year from the beginning of October – and who knows what may follow.

But August is a long way off and there’s lots to do before then. Onward!

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory;
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
1 Samuel 3.1-10
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore, Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’

Second Reading
Revelation 5.1-10
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.’

Gospel Reading
John 1.43-end
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’

 

Sermon for 17th January – The Second Sunday of Epiphany by The Revd Sheila Hart

It is not insignificant that the central themes of the readings for this Sunday are about the calling of God.

In their effort to cover the main events of Jesus’ life in some sort of chronological order, the Church has chosen to follow the Baptism of Christ with the theme of vocation and the call of God.

As James wrote in his sermon last week, those of us who were baptised as babies will remember nothing about the actual event, apart from that which has been recalled for us through the adults who were present and, perhaps photographs of the event in the family album. Among the promises that were made on our behalf at our baptism is the sense that, not only is baptism the rite of entry into the Church, the Christian family, but that it is also our entry into a life of service and witness in the world, to ultimately be confirmed by us, after a time of nurturing, growth and maturing in our faith, at our confirmation when we affirm the promises made on our behalf at our baptism and pledge ourselves to a life of Christian service through the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is the ideal, but, as we know, it is not always the reality. But it is our hope and prayer for all those whose baptism we have witnessed over the years in our churches.

After Jesus’ baptism, he went through a time of testing in the wilderness and then began his earthly ministry. But what follows our baptism?

For many who are baptised in our churches, there appears to be little that follows baptism as we hardly see most of them in church again and so we can feel that our prayers for them are in vain and perhaps we question the sense in our baptising children at all. But, as Christians we live by faith, not necessarily by sight and, as the saying goes, ‘hope springs eternal,’ so we continue to baptise, and we continue to pray for those who have been baptised and their growth in faith and we are sometimes surprised by what God does with them in later life as a result.

In our readings today, we have examples of God’s call on our lives. Samuel was a much longed for child and one who, as soon as he was weaned was dedicated to God, brought back to the temple at Shiloh and given to Eli the priest to be brought up in the service of God. He was a child when he heard God speak to him for the first time, in the dead of night and before he was old enough to really understand the faith and know God for himself. When he hears the voice of God, he thinks it is Eli who has called, and he runs to him to discover what he wants. Eli, on the third time Samuel comes to him discerns that it is God whose voice the boy has heard and instructs him to go back to bed, and if he hears it again to say, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’ We know the end of the story that eventually Samuel is called to be one of the greatest prophets of the Jewish faith.

In our gospel reading we read of the call of Philip and, his bringing Nathaniel to Christ. And in our reading from Revelation, we read of the call of the faithful to life with Christ in glory.

But what about us? How does God call us?

I, like Samuel, had a strong call, or vocation to teach when I was only three years old. I barely remember it, but apparently, I stood in front of my mother and announced that when I grew up, I was going to ‘become a teacher like my daddy.’ Now one could dismiss this as just a little girl who idolised her father having a desperation to ‘follow in his footsteps’ so to speak and wishing to copy him in every aspect of her life. Yet, for me, it was something which became a part of my aim and ambition throughout my early years and my education. I played schools with my dolls and teddy; I taught them to read; from the age of 11 I went to school with my father when I broke up for holidays before he did, to help in the reception class, hearing the children read, under the careful eye of their teacher and I loved it. Ultimately, I went to Teacher Training College and became a teacher.

At the age of 15. I had a call to preach and, having battled for several years with the idea of my being too young to preach, just as Jeremiah did when God called him to go and prophesy to the people of his time, I eventually responded and became a Local Preacher in the Methodist Church.

During that time several people who knew me well challenged me to think about ordained ministry, but it was not until we moved to Suffolk in 2003, that I could ignore the call to ministry, and I was ordained Deacon in 2008 and the rest is history, so they say.

God does not force us to do anything we don’t want to, but he does keep chipping away at us until we can ignore Him no longer.

The Gospel reading is about Philip who, having met Jesus himself, goes off to tell his friend Nathaniel and encourages him to come and meet Jesus for himself. One could interpret this as ‘a call to evangelism’ for Philip. I feel, however, that we are all called to share our faith with our friends and, indeed, this experience of the past year has been a wonderful opportunity to share with those whom we know are finding it tough, how our faith in God is helping us get through this pandemic with hope for the future.

The reading from Revelation gives us glimpse of the ultimate future for those who believe and the hope that is set before us. Isn’t that more than enough to motivate us to share our faith with others?

So, to sum up: We may not all have a specific call to ministry as Samuel did, but we do all have a responsibility to grow in faith and share that faith with our friends and neighbours – not through Bible bashing, but through sharing faith and hope and love with those who really need it. Amen

Post Communion

God of glory, you nourish us with your Word who is the bread of life:

fill us with your Holy Spirit that through us the light of your glory

may shine in all the world.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Another interesting series from Canon John Giles

Saints for Suffolk – This week – Saint Botolph

We all need a break from Covid, and to think what happens post-Covid. Can we learn from the past and so build for the future?  Maybe some Christian heroes from the past (and some not all that long ago) can show us today where we come from, and where we should be going.

First stop: B for BOTOLPH. Go to Snape Maltings. Don’t go shopping; miss out the Plough & Sail; don’t gaze down longingly at the grand old-timers moored by the quay. Instead go through and look out over the marshes to Iken Church.  For there, almost certainly, was the monastery of Saint Botolph, dated round about 654 AD, as mentioned by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 

We have two solid pieces of evidence: First the stone shaft of the Anglo-Saxon Cross, now to be seen in Iken Church. Such crosses didn’t happen by accident. They marked centres of Christian worship and outreach. Some pretty serious Christian life was going on, on that little knoll from which the present church looks out over the River Alde.

Second piece of evidence: the 7th Century graves uncovered by the Barber’s Point Dig of 2010, all of which pointed to Christian burial. Just across the river from Iken, those concerned were no doubt part of the Christian community living there.

Behind all that is the figure about whom sadly we know so little, Saint Botolph. He was one of that band of early missionaries who brought the Christian faith to Suffolk and East Anglia, one with Felix, Cedd, and Etheldreda at Ely.  We live in a countryside won to the Faith by these great missionary figures of the past.

Ten years ago, the bones at Barber’s Point were blessed, using an old Anglo-Saxon prayer:

May the blessing of God be with us and those buried here:
May the blessing of the saints be upon us and them,
And the peace of the life eternal;
Unto the peace of the life eternal:
As it was;
As it is;
As it shall be, evermore: O Thou Trinity of grace! With the ebb and with the flow.
O Thou Trinity of grace! With the ebb and with the flow.
Amen.

 

And lastly the poem ‘Iken Church’ by Aldeburgh’s “beloved physician”,
Ian Tait:


‘From the river’s edge
The sunlit tower invites you
To a pilgrimage.

Larks rise to meet you.

Round the tower in flint and stone
Saints wait to greet you.’

We live on hallowed ground. Even in the midst of Covid here is something to remember and celebrate.

John Giles

 

Useful information to help during these times 
If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available
(thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

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Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

 

NOTICES

Food Banks at the East of England Co-op 

Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities and have an even more vital role to play as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times. The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months due to Coronavirus, so any donations are much appreciated.

You can find out which items your local food bank is most in need of by entering your postcode here – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing supportercare@trusselltrust.org

***There is also a local foodbank run from the United Church in Leiston.  We are investigating if and how we might be able to help them and should have some more news soon. ***

 

Weekly Benefice Newsletter 

If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.

 

Friston Christian Website 

Emma Steadman (Lay Elder at Friston Church) has created a blog website – www.fristonchristian.com. This includes regular updates and news from St Mary’s, Friston, and daily readings and prayers, where you can contribute with posts and request prayers. Do take a look!

Butterfly Garden – Priors Oak

You have probably visited Trudie Willis’ wonderful ‘butterfly garden’ at Priors Oak on the Aldeburgh/Aldringham Road.  Trudie opens it for charity about six times annually and this has included openings for Aldringham church. 
Trudie has now published a book about the garden called The Wildlife Garden at Aldeburgh, available from the Aldeburgh bookshop at £7.50.
A good read in these ‘covid times’.

A book with a flower on it

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 Readers 

For our online services each week we need two readers who can record themselves on their phone, tablet or computer and email the result to Claire or Mark.  If you haven’t done this before and would like to join the list, you would be very welcome. 
Please let Claire or Mark know of your interest.

 

✞ Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays ✞

The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
You are all more than welcome to join them via Zoom.  
The worship starts at 6.30pm (Zoom call opens from 6.10pm) and the call is then left open after the worship time for people to catch up.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

 
 

Fun Quiz Night on Zoom 

Sue and Richard Bodek have kindly organised a Quiz Night this
Saturday 16th from 6.45pm – starting at 7pm.
There will be 8 rounds of questions kindly compiled by a number of our Pilgrims members. Halfway through we will have a break to relax and enjoy together, if you wish to, a glass of whatever you fancy (or maybe a mug?) and a nibble on something. Not to be taken too seriously – we will be marking our own answers – and the question compiler’s ruling is final! Prizes – fun, fellowship and a 2-week world cruise [NOT!]’

Please do get in touch with the Pilgrims if you would like to join and they will send you the Zoom link.

 A date for your diary 

Saturday Morning 23rd January (time to be confirmed)

We are delighted that the lovely Chris Theobold, from The Parrot will be joining us to lead us in a Zoom biscuit making venture, followed by a time to share our efforts with each other over a mug of tea / coffee… once they have come out of the oven!  Ingredients list, Zoom link and further details to follow…Or if you would prefer just to come along and enjoy the conversation and watch the Zoom kitchen experience, rather than bake, then you are more than welcome to do that too!

As with all Pilgrim events, ALL ARE WELCOME

Please do forward this information to those locally in our community who you think would like to join with us.

 

✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞

Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning

Please do get in touch via the Aldeburgh Parish Church Website if you would like to join and we will send you the Zoom link.

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 24th January
The Third Sunday of Epiphany

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 10th January – The First Sunday of Epiphany/The Baptism of Christ

Message from The Rector

Last week, writing my piece for the pew sheet on Thursday 31st December, I hinted that the ‘foreseeable future’ was not very long these days – and this has turned out to be true. After having consulted the churchwardens of our parishes last weekend I decided that it would be best for all of our churches to close for communal worship. It wasn’t an easy decision, or one taken lightly but the current Covid situation is very serious indeed, and seems to be becoming more serious day by day. And, in the end, do we want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

Having taken that decision the next thing is to make sure that as many people as possible have access to ways of worshipping and ways of keeping in touch. You will find another attachment with this email listing available online and broadcast services of different kinds. In the benefice we will continue to make online services available from 10.00 on Sundays and Wednesdays. Pilgrims Together continue with their weekly Zoom gatherings at 6.30pm on Wednesdays (details of how to join in are further down the sheet) and, also using Zoom and on Wednesdays, Compline is said in Friston at 6pm. Friston are also going to try a Zoom Morning Prayer at 9.45am each Sunday. It (like the Compline) is open to all – just drop Friston Elder Martin Steadman a line and he’ll send you the necessary details – see notices.

We are also very aware how much people miss the chance for a chat after a service. We propose a new experiment – a weekly Zoom Coffee Morning. Make yourself a cuppa, log on and join in for however long you wish. We’ll begin on Tuesday January 19th at 10.30am and publish the login details on next week’s pew sheet. All are welcome and we’ll keep the virtual café open for an hour, so if you can’t make 10.30 you can drop in when you are able to.

We are also very aware that there are loyal members of our community who aren’t able to ‘do technology’ and join in online events. Claire had the excellent idea of asking whether some of those people might appreciate receiving a CD of the Sunday service, to play at their leisure. By definition these people won’t be reading this online pew-sheet and we will try and make contact to make the offer. But if you know of anyone who might appreciate a weekly CD please could you let Claire, or I know? And if you, or anyone you know, is in need of any help that you think anyone at church might be able to supply please don’t hesitate to ask. We will always try to do what we can.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; 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
Genesis 1.1-5
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Second Reading
Mark 1.4-11
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

 

Sermon for 10th January – The First Sunday of Epiphany/Baptism of Christ by The Revd James Marston

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

On a snowy January day in 1976 a very beautiful baby boy – me – was baptised in a small village church in west Suffolk. I wore the family’s ageing christening gown. The vicar, too scared to go out in the snow, had to be collected by my father and driven to church – mother laid on refreshments for various friends and family. I was, as it happens, very well behaved and compliant to the proceedings.

It was an event of which I have no memory, not until I started on the path of vocational discernment did I even give it a second thought. Indeed, it wasn’t until I had to prove I was baptised that I asked when, where and why I had been baptised as a child in the first place. I never really got a sensible answer, apparently it was as much more to do with being “the done thing” and “family tradition” than an expression of religious belief, perhaps wrapped up with a nebulous concept of being formally named.

We don’t often think about our baptism – for many of us it was done as a child and is not often a memory we actually hold. Those who get baptised later in life, I imagine, think about it and learn about it in a different way and but for lots of us it is a rite of passage that we are often unaware of.

Baptism remains for many a way of introducing a new child to the community, it is an event which is usually followed by a celebration. It is also a church service in which a child or adult is anointed, and it is special. It marks the beginning of a new life in Christ.

We have heard in our gospel reading today the story of Jesus’ baptism. And event which, when it happened, was extraordinary and perhaps a bit strange, John’s ministry of calling for repentance and baptism by water has little, if any, precedent in religious teaching of the time. And why would the divine need to be symbolically washed of His sins? Why baptise Jesus who has come to fulfil John’s prophecy? Indeed, there is “no hint in Mark’s narrative that John recognised Jesus as the one whose coming he had proclaimed.” 1*nor is there any hint of why Jesus is baptised at all.

Instead, the story provides the setting for the revelation of the identity of Jesus – emphasised by the descending of the spirit and the voice from Heaven. “You are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.” And the account also provides an important signpost to the doctrine of the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all present.

But there’s yet more. The baptism of Jesus is the moment Jesus of Nazareth comes out of the shadows of obscurity and begins his ministry. In Mark’s Gospel this is where Jesus is introduced for the first time and Mark is describing a divine epiphany through which Jesus’ life and ministry are to be viewed. And immediately after this episode Jesus prepares for what is ahead of him by retreating into the wilderness and the story of his ministry of healing, exorcism, and teaching continues.

So, what of our own baptism? Today Christian baptism remains a sacramental marker on the journey of faith. “The forgiveness of sins; the gift of the Spirit, the bestowing of a dignity as a beloved Son of God” 2*– all of these blessings and joys come to us through Christian baptism – even if we don’t remember it or think about it very often.

And it is through baptism that we often begin our own journey of faith and align ourselves with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus himself and, by doing so, the eternal joy of salvation. It is in baptism that we turn to Christ and give our lives over to God to be guided by His hand.

Indeed, it is not by accident that the baptism of Christ is celebrated at the beginning of the year, as baptism marks not only a beginning but it points to the future as well – and that future is, with faith, always one of hope.

Indeed, thinking about our own baptism may present us, as it did Jesus, with not only a renewed sense of vocation but also a renewed hope in the light of the resurrection.

And in these dark days of January 2020 where fear and foreboding reign, the season of epiphany is brought into ever deeper focus as we look for and find signs of joy and signs of hope.

Putting our lives into the hands of God, rekindling our faith and hope, remembering own baptism into the joy and blessings of the incarnation, is something we must hold onto with all our might.

Through prayer, through worship, through community – howsoever curtailed, God is there for us in these troubled times, and our baptism reminds us of that as well.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.3*

Amen.

References

1* Hooker, Morna D, The Gospel Acccording to St Mark. p45
2* – www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/worship-music/regular-services/sermon-archive/jesus-baptism-and-our-baptism
3* – God Knows, Minnie Louise Harkins

 

850th Anniversary of the murder of Thomas Becket,
by David Gordon.

Last week marked the 850th anniversary of the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in Canterbury Cathedral on 29th December 1170.

Had it not been for Covid restrictions we would probably have held a service in Aldringham church to mark this anniversary, given that it is a most significant event in the history of Aldringham church.

The catholic church, headed by the Pope in Rome, had authority separate from that of the state and King Henry II wanted to change this. He wanted the power!  When he appointed Thomas in 1162, he thought that he had the man to change things and to bring the church under the king’s control.  But Thomas had other ideas. As Archbishop he saw his duty as being to protect the church from any earthly authority. Matters came to a head in 1170 when Henry, in France at the time, lost his temper and said, ‘who will rid me of this pestilential priest.’  Four of his knights took him at his word, travelled back to England and did the deed.

But this was not good news for Henry. People regarded Thomas as a martyr for the rights of the church. Pilgrims started to visit his tomb and the Pope put further pressure on Henry when he declared Becket a saint in 1173. 

And Henry’s enemies took advantage of the situation. Even his wife plotted against him and encouraged their two sons to rebel against him in an alliance with his enemies, the kings of France and of Scotland who launched invasions of his lands. 

Henry decided that he had to make penance for the murder of Becket and in July 1174 he walked barefoot into the city of Canterbury, prostrated himself before Becket’s shrine and spent the night in prayer.

Henry was thus preoccupied and had to send his trusted knights to deal with the Scottish invaders.  The English force of 400 knights was led by Ranulf de Glanvill and the Scots were defeated at the battle of Alnwick (in Northumberland) on 13 July 1174. The very day that Henry was in Canterbury praying.

Now Ranulf was a local lad. Born at Stratford St Andrew, he married a local lass, Bertha, daughter of the lord of the manor of Parham. And with the marriage came a marriage dowry of land at Butley.  Another consequence of the murder of Thomas was the practice of founding monasteries.  And Ranulf founded Butley Priory on his land at Butley in 1171.

The defeat of the Scots started the end of the rebellion and Henry had a great deal to thank Ranulf for!  So, he gave him a present.  A vast tract of land in Suffolk – the manor of Leiston – stretching up the coast from Thorp to Minsmere and inland to Theberton and Leiston.  And it included Aldringham church. So, the advowson of our little church passed to Ranulf. At that time, it was probably more a chapel than a church, likely a modest wooden building. Ranulf immediately passed the advowson to his newly founded priory at Butley and so, very briefly, Aldringham was in the care of Butley priory.

Ranulf decided that he would use Henry’s present to found another monastery and so in 1183 he established Leiston Abbey, not on its present site but in the marshes at Minsmere.  And he gave the whole of the manor of Leiston to the Abbey including the advowson of Aldringham church which was transferred from Butley priory in 1185.

Thus, started a period of 350 years during which Aldringham church was in the care of Leiston Abbey and during which time the present church building was built. This only came to an end with the dissolution of the monasteries by king Henry VIII.

Murdering an archbishop has unexpected consequences!

 

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 17th January
The Second Sunday of Epiphany

 

Useful information to help during these times 

If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available (thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

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Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

 

NOTICES

 

Food Banks at the East of England Co-op 
Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities and have an even more vital role to play as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times. The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months due to Coronavirus, so any donations are much appreciated.

You can find out which items your local food bank is most in need of by entering your postcode here – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing supportercare@trusselltrust.org

***There is also a local foodbank run from the United Church in Leiston.  We are investigating if and how we might be able to help them and should have some more news next week. ***

 

Weekly Benefice Newsletter
If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.

Readers
For our online services each week we need two readers who can record themselves on their phone, tablet or computer and email the result to Claire or Mark.  If you haven’t done this before and would like to join the list, you would be very welcome. 
Please let Claire or Mark know of your interest.

✞ Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays ✞

The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
You are all more than welcome to join them via Zoom.  
The worship starts at 6.30pm (Zoom call opens from 6.10pm) and the call is then left open after the worship time for people to catch up.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞
Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am.  It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer with Emma and Martin leading.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning  (starting 10th January).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 3rd January – The Epiphany

 

9.30am

Holy Communion

Knodishall Church

9.45am

No Service

Friston Church

10.30am

Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Holy Communion

Aldringham Church

 

Message from The Rector

As the New Year begins, I would love to be able to write to you without feeling that I have to mention Covid-19. But, such is the state of the world, I fear that is not possible. With the encouragement of Aldringham churchwarden Chris Burrell-Saward I have now signed up to the Covid-19 reporting app run by King’s College, London – and, if you have a smartphone, I would encourage you to do the same. By answering three quick questions each day you help to increase the understanding of Covid, how it is spreading in the local area and, as time goes on, to monitor the effectiveness of the vaccines as they are rolled out. (Search your phone’s app store for ‘COVID symptom study’ and look for something with a blue and purple capital ‘C’ that says, ‘Help urgent medical research’.) And you receive information too – and that’s the bit that is currently, locally, rather worrying. A graph of the cases of Covid in the Suffolk Coastal area shows (as I type on Thursday) that there are 828 local cases, up 405 from last week – the cases have doubled in a week. We must be very, very careful. Please remember that this doesn’t just affect ourselves. We can pass the virus on to others before we even know that we have it, if we ever do – almost half of the people who have Covid don’t know that they have.

So, what about coming to church? The decision is, of course, yours and, for the foreseeable future (which isn’t very long!) at least some of the churches in our benefice will remain open. But, being in possession of some local knowledge, the PCC in Friston has, wisely, decided to keep the church closed for the time being. There will be services in Aldeburgh, Aldringham and Knodishall on Sunday 3rd. I would, however, reiterate what I wrote last week. The first thing that everyone must do is to look after themselves and those close to them. If that means that you don’t feel able to come to church at the moment, everyone understands. There will continue to be services online. We will monitor the situation and make adjustments to our plans should they become necessary but please don’t risk your own health or that of others.

Having said all of that, the future does look better. Two vaccines are being rolled out as fast as is humanly possible. There will come a point when we can relax. 2021 will, I hope and pray, end much better than it begins. The story of the Magi reminds us that the good news of Christ’s birth is for the whole world and for all time. ‘The star shines out with a steadfast ray’. And, confident that light will always overcome darkness, may I wish you the very happiest possible 2021.

With love, as ever

Mark

 

Collect
O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at last behold your glory face to face; 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
Isaiah 60.1-6
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 
A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.


Second Reading
Ephesians 3.1-12
This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 2.1-12
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’ Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

 

Reflection for 3rd January – The Epiphany
by The Revd Nichola Winter

Over the door of the retreat house at Belsey Bridge is inscribed the legend, ‘Look to him and be radiant.’ It is a version of the words from the passage from Isaiah: Lift up your eyes and look around… then you shall see and be radiant. Your heart shall thrill and rejoice…

After what may have been one of the strangest Christmases we have experienced we will be hoping and praying that 2021 will be a better year for all. This is, perhaps, where the season of Epiphany comes into its own. Our hearts thrill and rejoice as we celebrate the gift of the Christ-child. We mark the gift of a new year. We count our blessings. The days are still short and dark; politically and economically, as a nation and as individuals we may have a difficult journey ahead. We feel ongoing stresses from the implications of Covid-19; local threats from SPR to our community and environment remain – and many are working incredibly hard in an attempt to encourage a more sensible solution. But we are a Christmas people. We follow the star and we have a hope that no-one can take away. Our hearts thrill and rejoice…

Stars play an important role at this time of the year. When I first moved to Friston I was struck by the beauty and clarity of the night sky. Just before Christmas the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was clearly visible in the evening sky – such a close encounter occurs rarely and there is speculation that when it happened at the time of Christ’s birth it created the biblical light that led the Magi to the stable. In the bible stars are images of mystery. At a literal level they demonstrate God’s awe-inspiring creativity. Symbolically they appear in apocalyptic visions of impending cosmic events that we can barely imagine. Hardly surprising, then, that it is a star that leads the wise to kneel and worship at the crib of the new born king.

We are Christmas people; we need to focus on the positive. Rowan Williams summarised it neatly some years ago when he wrote in the Christmas edition of the Radio Times. He summarised the Christmas story like this:

‘A long journey through a land under military occupation; a difficult birth in improvised accommodation; and alongside these harsh realities, the skies torn open and blazing angelic voices summoning a random assortment of farm labourers to go and worship in the outhouse; or a mysterious constellation in the heavens, triggering a pilgrimage by exotic oriental gurus to come and kneel where the farm labourers have knelt.’

It is a story of culture and cross-culture. But it is a story where boundaries are crossed; the unthinkable becomes reality before it even becomes the thinkable. God’s wonder knows no bounds; it is only our human minds that impose limitations.

Let us rejoice in this Epiphany; this manifestation; this starlit moment. We can raise our eyes from the darkness and see; we can focus on the positive in our lives, bring it as an offering to God and allow him to take what we offer, accept it and make it great for his sake. In the words of that beautiful Epiphany carol, ‘Low at his feet lay thy burden of carefulness; high on his heart he will bear it for thee; comfort thy sorrows and answer thy prayerfulness, guiding thy steps as may best for thee be.’

Then we shall see, and be radiant; our hearts will thrill and rejoice…

 

Post Communion
Lord God, the bright splendour whom the nations seek:
may we who with the wise men have been drawn by your light
discern the glory of your presence in your Son,
the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 10th January
The First Sunday of Epiphany/Baptism of Christ

9.45am

No Service

Friston Church

10.30am

Service of the Word

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Holy Communion

Aldringham Church

 

NOTICES

 

Food Banks at the East of England Co-op 
Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities and have an even more vital role to play as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times. The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

 
 

Weekly Benefice Newsletter 
If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.

 
 

 

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 27th December – First Sunday of Christmas

 

Benefice Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Parish Church

10.30am

 

Message from The Rector

This feels a bit odd. I’m writing this a few days before Christmas and you will probably read it just before Christmas. But we are really looking to the first Sunday of Christmas which, this year, brings us the gospel story that ends with Jesus’s naming and circumcision. Anticipation is the name of the game.

Our services will be rather limited over the forthcoming week. There is just one in our Benefice on Sunday 27th – a service of Holy Communion at 10.30 in Aldeburgh church. And there won’t be a service there on Wednesday 30th at 10.00. But we hope and pray that there will be services in all of our churches on Sunday January 3rd as we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. Here’s hoping that the Magi have a better view of the bright shining star than we have had of the ‘great conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn in recent days. Some believe that it was just such a conjunction that was seen in the sky back in New Testament times so perhaps this is another special kind of anniversary year. And maybe the fact that we couldn’t see the two planets as well as we had hoped is just another example of the disappointments that this year has brought us. Hey ho.

2021 promises to end better than it begins, and we give thanks for, and hold in our prayers, all of those working on developing and distributing the vaccines that will eventually release us from our very 21st-century captivity. So, in the name of him whose life, death and resurrection set us all free, I with you a very happy, healthy and peaceful new year.

UPDATE – STOP PRESS.

It has just been announced that Suffolk will enter Tier 4 restrictions from December 26th. I don’t propose that we change any of our immediate plans and there will still be services in all of our churches on Christmas Day and the one planned service in Aldeburgh on Sunday December 27th. But I would ask everyone to take care. Please do read this article from the East Anglian Daily Times:

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/health/ipswich-hospital-coronavirus-crisis-revealed-6864228

The situation is now more serious here than it has ever been and the first thing that everyone must do is to look after themselves and those close to them. If that means that you don’t feel able to come to church at the moment, everyone understands. There will continue to be services online. We will monitor the situation and make adjustments to our plans should they become necessary but please don’t risk your own health or that of others.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Merciful Lord, cast your bright beams of light upon the Church:
that, being enlightened by the teaching of your blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John, we may so walk in the light of your truth
that we may at last attain to the light of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ your incarnate 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
Exodus 33.7-11a
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tents. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.

Second Reading
1 John 1
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Gospel Reading
John 21.19b-end

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’  So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

 

Sermon for 27th December – The First Sunday of Christmas by our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther

I met Jesus once. Or to be slightly more specific, I met a Jesus once. He was a musician who’d come into the BBC studios to be interviewed. He was Spanish. In Spanish-speaking countries Jesus is a not-uncommon name for a boy – it is, after all, just another form of the name Joshua – which comes in at No. 25 of the top 100 most popular boys names in 2020 (down nine places from 2019!). We say Joshua, they say Jesus. And it means ‘God saves.’ Remember Matthew’s account of when the angel visited Mary and told her that her baby would be called Jesus ‘because he will save his people from their sins’. That’s what the name means – and, of course, that’s what Jesus did – he lived up to his name.

Today is the Sunday when, this year, we read about the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus – anticipating the actual Festival on New Year’s Day. And so it’s a day that we approach with an extraordinary mixture of emotions. We anticipate the arrival of a New Year. We mark the passing of an old year – and that is inevitably a mixture of emotions in itself. We celebrate with the Holy Family as they initiate their new-born baby into the faith – as Jewish people had done and continue to do, following the command of God to Abraham (Genesis Chapter 17). We celebrate the naming of the one who saves.

And, I suspect, this new year of all new years, we wonder a bit about what the future holds. New Years seem to be times of uncertainty these days, don’t they? Looking back, I see that three years ago I commented on the fact that, the previous year, we didn’t see either Donald Trump or Brexit coming. And as things are I’m certainly not going to attempt any predictions about the year to come.

So, we approach 2021 with our own mixture of emotions, our own uncertainties about ourselves and those we love and the future of the world. You certainly wouldn’t be alone in being glad to see the back of 2020. But let me make a prediction or two about 2021. Politics will continue to surprise us, people will continue to die and at least one world event will happen that we didn’t see coming. This isn’t, of course, an amazing feat of fortune-telling on my part – it happens every year.
But, but …..

Another rash prediction. There will be times, in 2021, when we will have to pray a lot. We will have to ask God a lot of questions. We will join the generations and generations going back to the time of the Psalmists and even earlier, who find themselves saying ‘Why Lord. Why this? What in God’s name is going on?’ But let me quote a book I may well have quoted before, ‘Unapologetic’ by Francis Spufford. Whatever happens, he reminds us, ‘the churches are (we hope and pray) open, doing their ancient and necessary business, and they will still be open tomorrow, and the day after that …. They will still be offering the hush in which we can bear to find out what we’re like. Christ will still be looking across at us from the middle of the angry crowd. God will still be there, shining.’

As the angel said to both Mary and the shepherds, ‘don’t be afraid’. Love came down at Christmas. Jesus – Joshua – lives. God saves – still and always.

Post Communion
Grant, O Lord, we pray, that the Word made flesh
proclaimed by your apostle John may, by the celebration
of these holy mysteries, ever abide and live within us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 3rd January/Epiphany

9.30am

Holy Communion

Knodishall Church

9.45am

Holy Communion

Friston Church

10.30am

Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Holy Communion

Aldringham Church

 

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We Wish You All a
Very Happy Safe Christmas and a
Happy New Year

Christmas Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 20th December – Fourth Sunday of Advent

9.45am

Morning Prayer

Friston Church

9.30am

Holy Communion

Knodishall Church

10.30am

Morning Prayer

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Christmas Service

Aldringham Church

 

Message from The Rector

I am becoming just a little bit fed up with talk, in the press and elsewhere, of the possibility of Christmas being ‘cancelled’ this year. We know (don’t we?) that it is impossible to cancel Christmas. Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ. Covid-19 can stop a lot of things but it cannot stop us remembering and celebrating, even if the celebrations might have to take on a new shape this year. Of course, there is a huge amount that we will miss. It will be a Christmas that will be, I suspect, unlike any other that we have known, and I hope and pray that we will never know again. But however, wherever and with whoever we celebrate it, it will still be Christmas. And if we listen carefully, we will still be able to hear the angels sing.

All of our churches have services over Christmas, but a reminder that if you would like to attend the pre-Christmas services in Aldringham and Friston or the Christmas Day services in Aldringham or Aldeburgh you will need to make contact with the relevant churchwardens to book yourself in. We would hate to have to turn anyone away at the door because the church is full, and numbers are very limited this year.
A summary of the Christmas services that we have planned is as follows.

Aldeburgh

   

Sunday 20th

10.30am

Morning Prayer for the 4th Sunday in Advent

Weds 23rd

10.00am

Holy Communion according to the BCP

Friday 25th

10.30am

Holy Communion for Christmas Day

Sunday 27th

10.30am

Holy Communion for the 1st Sunday of Christmas

Weds 30th

 

No Service

Aldringham

   

Sunday 20th

11.00am

Christmas Service

Monday 21st

6.00pm

Christmas Service

Friday 25th

11.00am

Holy Communion for Christmas Day

Sunday 27th

 

No Service

Friston

   

Sunday 20th

9.45am

Morning Prayer for the 4th Sunday in Advent

Tuesday 22nd

6.00pm

A Friston Christmas

Friday 25th

9.45am

Holy Communion for Christmas Day

Sunday 27th

 

No Service

Knodishall

   

Sunday 20th

9.30am

Holy Communion for the 4th Sunday in Advent

Friday 25th

9.30am

Holy Communion for Christmas Day

Sunday 27th

 

No Service

‘Pilgrims Together’ will meet online on Wednesday 23rd at 6.30pm for a seasonal celebration of carols and storytelling. If you have a Christmas themed story, poem, script that you would like to contribute to the event please email Sue and Eric, and be prepared to have a glass of something and a bite of something at the ready for the occasion.

The Pilgrims also report that on Christmas Day they will be opening a Zoom call from 6pm for anyone who would like to join us for a Christmas Day celebratory catch up. Details, as ever, from Sue and Eric or Gail and Stephen – All are welcome.  

For anyone who is unable, for whatever reason, to come to one of our services over Christmas there will be an online carol service (sound only) on our benefice YouTube channel from Monday. Thanks to all of those from around the benefice who read lessons for it – I’ve added some recorded music from several different sources, and I hope you enjoy the result.

And on behalf of the churchwardens and my clergy colleagues may I wish you a safe, healthy and happy Christmas!

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for
his coming as our saviour, so we may be ready to greet him
when he comes again as our judge; who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
2 Samuel 7.1-11,16
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.

Second Reading
Romans 16.25-end
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever! Amen.

Gospel Reading
Luke 1.26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

 
CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM THE REVD SHEILA HART

 

This year has been a strange year for us all and yet we have seen amazing things happen. Even Christmas will not be the same for most of us.
However, Jesus is always the same and so may Stephen and I wish you a very blessed Christmas and a hopeful New Year.

Reflection for 20th December – Fourth Sunday of Advent
by The Revd Nichola Winter

My nephew has told me that he and his wife are expecting a baby, due next April. Inevitably they are thinking about names. Some prospective parents have very decided views about the name. Others find the right name doesn’t actually make itself apparent until the birth is over and they are holding the child for the first time. A name will often say something about the person they hope the child will grow up to be – it may give some hint about character or personality. But the name by which we are known becomes very personal; it becomes a part of our identity.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent we think about names as our thoughts turn to the Virgin Mary, the young girl who says ‘yes’ to God and becomes mother of our Saviour. She is to call him ‘Jesus’, meaning ‘saviour. ‘He will fulfil the promise we read about in the book of Samuel – instead of human beings building a house to take the ark of the covenant – to provide protection for the word of God – it is God himself who is going to provide a kind of house for all humankind – an everlasting means of protection for all people.

Fast forward to the astonishing announcement by Gabriel to Mary: “you will name him Jesus. He will be great…”

Here is the amazing promise – a Saviour, whose Kingdom will outlast the petty human squabbles that continue to this day. A child who will be called ‘the Son of the Most High.’

If you keep an eagle eye on the liturgical calendar, you’ll notice that each of the days from 16th December to Christmas are given a name that begins with the exclamation ‘O’ followed by a different Latin word. These are the days of the great ‘O Antiphons’ and each of the words is followed by a brief verse and different name by which Jesus is known. The names come from the old testament prophecies about the nature and name of the eagerly awaited Messiah. The antiphons have been described as a ‘unique work of art…a special ornament of the pre-Christmas liturgy filled with the Spirit of the Word of God.’ The sequence progresses historically, from before the beginning of creation to that humble birth in a stable. O Sapientia – wisdom – coming forth from the mouth of God (think of the opening of John’s gospel where he describes the very beginning of all creation – God speaks and the word he utters brings forth life) – here we have the wisdom that God speaks. O Adonai – leader of the house of Israel. O Root of Jesse, before whom all kings will be silent and to whom all nations will pray. O Key of David – who opens and shuts, to whom we pray for prisoners and all who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. On the shortest day of the year, 21st December, when the hours of light are at their briefest, we sing O Morning Star – splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness – another plea for the relief of those who walk without light. O King of the nations, O Emmanuel, king, lawgiver and hope – the antiphons continue with an appeal to the Saviour – come and save us, O Lord our God.

The final O antiphon addresses the Virgin and brings us back to today: O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after.

Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.

The antiphons provide a rich source for meditation. For those who enjoy word puzzles, they also make up an acrostic – after the last antiphon has been sung, the singer can look back over the titles that have been invoked and see that the illuminated first letters of each name spell out the words VERO CRAS, ‘Truly, tomorrow I will be there’ – the promise that Christ will fulfil on Christmas Day.

And their nature as ‘antiphons’ is a reminder of something that’s relevant to each one of us. The word antiphon comes from the two Greek words ‘anti’, meaning ‘in return’ and ‘phon’, meaning ‘voice’. Voices, returning words to each other. As the antiphons are sung we have two parties, each responding to the other. As we journey through Advent, with its focus on end times and the return of the one who comes to judge, we find ourselves crying out to God, to the one who comes to bring healing and salvation. We lift our voices in supplication; God responds. But it’s a two-way relationship as well. God calls each one of us – and we respond. As Christians we spend each hour, each day – indeed, our entire lives – responding to the call that comes from God. He knows each one of us; he calls us by name. In the book of Isaiah the Lord says ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’ God understands the importance of a name; he will call us by ours, and his desire is that we will respond. Mary responded – and as a result of that response, we move towards Bethlehem and the birth of a Saviour.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

God responds, ‘Truly, tomorrow I will be there.’

Post Communion
Heavenly Father, who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the
mother of the promised saviour: fill us your servants with your grace,
that in all things we may embrace your holy will and with her rejoice in your salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Deciphering words in the New Testament
(It’s all Greek to me)

Amen. ‘erkou, Kurie ‘Iesou: Amen. Come Lord Jesus.
(Revelation 22.20)  

The closing words of the New Testament pray fervently for the Return of Jesus Christ.  As the Book of Revelation sees it, Christ’s return would mean a full vindication of those who had remained faithful to Him in the recent persecutions under the Roman Emperors Nero and Diocletian, and a corresponding judgement upon the people and forces responsible.

Though the prayer, ‘Come Lord Jesus’, was never answered by Christ returning physically, it still remains for us today as a real longing and prayer of the Christian heart. We won’t be alone, for the same prayer has been in constant use in Middle Eastern Christian faith ever since the time of Christ.

When you can, do please, as a final Advent exercise before Christmas Day, read the whole of the last chapter of Revelation (ch 22) to get the full resonance of the repeated prayer ‘Come Lord Jesus’. Don’t let the negative bits upset you!   AND DO NOTE the change of meaning in verses 16 – 17 where rather than the “thirsty” (that is us) calling on Jesus to come quickly, it is Jesus, his Angel, the Spirit and the Bride (i.e., the church itself) who call us to Him.  A welcome invitation.

The prayer ‘erkou Kurie Jesou’ is the rendering in Greek of an even more primitive version of the same prayer in Aramaic “marana tha” which comes at the end of Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians (1Cor.16.22).

It comes again at the end of the Communion prayer in an ancient Instruction manual for Christians in Alexandria known as The Didache. (From probably the first century AD).

So, whether as “Come Lord Jesus” or “marana tha” (for both are equivalent), the church sees Jesus as its Lord, and the only One who by his return can put right the wrongs of the world.

That still holds good today. In the meantime, our calling is to try and build a few more bricks into the walls of the Kingdom. Our inspiration and strength will come from Him whose Birth we are about to celebrate. So let us now go even unto Bethlehem . . . . .   
Happy Christmas all.

John Giles

NOTICES

Aldringham Church Calendar 2021

Calendar

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The Aldringham church calendar for
2021 is now on sale.
You can either collect a copy at any of the services at Aldringham church or contact David Gordon
to reserve your copy.

The calendars are £10 each.
Free copies have been distributed to the sick and the lonely in the congregation and the rest will be sold to raise money for church funds.

 

 Food Banks at the East of England Co-op 

Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities and have an even more vital role to play as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times. With Christmas fast approaching, your donations will make all the difference.

The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

 
 

Weekly Benefice Newsletter 

If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.
What Christmas stories do you have to share?

Bells with solid fill

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM THE REVD JOHANNA MABEY

Dear Friends,

With reports of COVID-19 infections rising, the prospect of more restrictions and a far from normal Christmas, it seems rather incongruous for me to be wishing you all a happy and jolly festive season.

This year has felt like a relentless and exhausting barrage of difficulties, challenges, and heartbreak not only for my family but for countless others. I know many of you will empathise through your own experiences. I have needed some time away from active ministry to cope with everything and I am extremely grateful to you, Revd. Mark and the clergy team for the unfailing support and care received. I aim to be back on the rota in the new year!

During the darkest of times, this prayer by Thomas Merton gave me great comfort…

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think
I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave
me to face my perils alone.

I hope that 2021 brings happier and better times for us all.

God’s blessings for a safe and peaceful Christmas.

With love, Please note my new email address:

Jo rev.johannamabey@gmail.com

FRISTON CHRISTMAS SERVICE
St Mary, Friston, 6pm, 22nd December 2020

Dear Friends – there are just 4 pews seating up to 4 people (in your bubble/household) left available for the Christmas Service at Friston this year.  There will be music, readings, poetry and the Church will – as always – be lit with hundreds of candles and lights.  Unfortunately, due to the restrictions we cannot fill the church as we would normally, and it is NECESSARY to book a pew.  Each pew can take up to 4 people from your household or bubble. All are welcome.  Please contact
Carole Edwards, Church Warden.
We look forward to welcoming you to a beautiful, atmospheric service to celebrate the coming birth of Jesus.

We Wish You All A Very
Happy Safe Christmas

WE MISS YOU!!!!

This year has been so different, hasn’t it. Again, this pandemic has highlighted that we dearly miss seeing all the families that usually come along and attend the various Church services to celebrate this special time of the year with us.

So we thought, what can we do for the children that unfortunately won’t be able to come to the Christingle Service, Christmas Messy Church, and of course our very popular Crib Service (last year we had a record number attend of 440). Ahh, we will deliver them a Christmas bag of goodies. So Revd Johanna Mabey organised and put together 99 bags that were delivered to Aldeburgh Primary School. The teachers were absolutely delighted and thanked the Church.

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 13th December – Third Sunday of Advent

9.45am Holy Communion Friston Church
10.30am Family Service Aldeburgh Church
11.00am Holy Communion Aldringham Church

Message from The Rector

Unusual circumstances call for unusual solutions and this coming week there is a rather special event, prompted by the fact that many people will not be able to sing carols in the way that they are used to this Christmas. ‘Doorstep Carols’ happens between 6 and 7pm on Wednesday December 16th. The idea is that, if you wish, you can sing along with Radio Suffolk on your doorstep and invite neighbours to join in from theirs.
All of the details are here:

https://www.doorstepcarols.co.uk/is-your-area-involved-/suffolk

.. including details of how to raise some money for charity too. Sounds like fun!

If, however, you’d like something a little more traditional then the day before (Tuesday 15th) at 6.30pm there will be a gathering on Mill Hill in Aldringham for some socially-distanced carol singing. Wrap up warm (it won’t last too long) and come and sing some old favourites.

Our church services for Christmas include something Christmassy in Aldringham on Sunday 20th at 11.00am and Monday 21st at 6pm – contact David Copp with your preferred service and the number of people who can sit together in a pew – we don’t want to have to turn people away. Similarly, there is a special Christmas service in Friston on Tuesday 22nd at 6pm (contact Carole Edwards for details of booking).

There are services in all of our churches on Christmas Day at the usual times, but it would be good to let me or one of the churchwardens know that you are coming so that we can keep an eye on numbers. Again, it would be dreadful to have to turn you away because the church was full and numbers are, inevitably, restricted.

Finally, some details of the national church’s Christmas campaign this hear. It’s called ‘Comfort and Joy’ and has all sorts of ways of being involved – streamed services, reflections, downloadable resources of one kind and another, even a special phone app. Do have a look here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards
of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Isaiah 61.1-4, 8-end

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

Second Reading
1 Thessalonians 5.16-24
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.  May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Gospel Reading
John 1.6-8, 19-28
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” ’, as the prophet Isaiah said.  Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

 

Sermon for 13th December – Third Sunday of Advent
by The Revd Sheila Hart

Today we have three amazing readings from the Bible to ponder and meditate upon.

The passage from Isaiah 61 sets out the message of hope for the future of those who are still in exile. It is almost saying ‘Don’t worry about your current circumstances, they are only temporary for I am giving you a message of hope that all will be well.’

The statement made by the prophet in the first verses of the chapter is, of course the words which Jesus applied to himself after he had read this passage in the synagogue in Luke chapter 4, ‘today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Our reading from Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians is written to the young church to encourage them in their faith and their growth in their relationship with God.

And, since traditionally on the third Sunday of Advent we remember the ministry of John the Baptist, the reading from John’s Gospel highlights just that, firstly by the mention of the Baptist in the Prologue to the Gospel and then taking us on to John’s ministry and how the people received both him and it.

All of this is fine, but what is the message from these passages and how are they relevant to us today?

In the reading from Isaiah chapter 40 which we heard last Sunday the message from the prophet was that God wanted to comfort His people in their exile in Babylon and it was relatively easy to apply that to how God might want to comfort us in our ‘exile’ or ‘captivity’ as a result of Covid 19 and, indeed, there is much hope for the future control of the pandemic through the roll-out of the vaccines as they become available.

In our reading from Isaiah chapter 61, however, the prophet goes much further and spells out that God has sent him to

‘Bring good news to the oppressed,
To bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives, And release to the prisoners;
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort those who mourn.’

This is a real message of hope, not only for the exiled Israelites, but also for those of us who are beginning to become a bit wearied by our current situation.

It poses the question, though, ‘is this hope for us alone, or do we have some sort of responsibility in, not only rejoicing in its application to our situation, but also in trying to share it with those who are not yet able to trust in the message of God for themselves?

If we look at the prologue of St John’s Gospel, where he mentions John the Baptist, we read about his coming into the world, not as the ‘Light of the world’, but as ‘the witness to that light.’ And later, John the Baptist, himself declares that he is not the Messiah, but the ‘voice crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.’

If we take these two readings as a whole, is that not our mission and ministry, to witness to Jesus, the Light of the world so that others may come to know Him as we do?

The question is: How can we do this if we, too are overtaken by despair and hopelessness in our current situation?

The answer to this question is to be found, I believe in our reading from Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians when he encourages the young Christians there by writing:

‘Rejoice always
Pray without ceasing,
Give thanks in all circumstances,
Do not quench the Spirit,
Do not despise the words of the prophets
But test everything, hold fast to what is good.’

As we take Paul’s very sound advice, I believe we will grow in our knowledge and faith in God who alone can take us through our current circumstances and into the future He has for us whatever that may hold, and we can do no better than commend ourselves to God using the words with which Paul sums up his advice:

‘May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely, and may your body and soul be kept sound and blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.’ Amen

Post Communion
We give you thanks, O Lord, for these heavenly gifts; kindle in us the fire of your Spirit that when your Christ comes again we may shine as lights before his face; who is alive and reigns now and for ever.

The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
20th December – Fourth Sunday of Advent

9.45am Morning Prayer Friston Church
9.30am Holy Communion Knodishall Church
10.30am Morning Prayer with Baptism Aldeburgh Church
11.00am Christmas Service Aldringham Church

Deciphering words in the New Testament
(It’s all Greek to me)

‘En Christo – In Christ

Over the last few weeks, we have looked at snap shots of key words of Jesus. Hopefully they have brought into sharper focus for us words in Greek as heard by most of the first Christians. “Be of good heart – tharsei”, “Don’t be afraid – me phobou”, “Steadfast Endurance – hupomone”, “Sin, or Missing the Mark – hamartia”, “Repentance, or Change of Heart – metanoia”, “Love and Friendship – agape & philia”.

What emerged from those who first heard these powerful words was a band of disciples, learners on “The Way” (Acts 9.2), the first name given to the Christian movement. They would come to be called the Church, ‘ekklesia’ in Greek, those “called out” of the world to make up a new family.

In the Epistles of Paul, Peter, John and James we find a portrait of this new family life. In them we read of the shared experiences and beliefs of the early church, as its new members explored the richness of new life and faith under the Lordship of Christ, under his Cross indeed, but in the joy, confidence, and faith of the first Easter. At the same time church leaders had to start coping with the first divisions and arguments which, predictably, with human nature being what it is, soon arose, and we have to admit, have continued ever since.

Yet behind this was a unity of church members, symbolised in Baptism, (which was by total immersion in those days), in which the candidates, wearing the robe of baptism, entered the fellowship of those en Christo, in Christ. Paul wrote to the Galatians (ch. 3.28) “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (en Christo Jesou)”. The same phrase occurs again and again in Paul’s Letters.

The words are engraved in my memory from being sent off on National Service in Germany in 1954 as a representative British soldier in blitzed Dortmund, where British soldiers were not exactly popular, to share Christmas Day with a German coal-mining family on a distant housing estate. I went to a Lutheran service with the family where an old man, at one point, seized me by the hand and said emotionally “Wir sind alle einer in Jesu Christi”: we are all one in Jesus Christ.

En Christo: At the altar rails (soon may they be restored to us) all are one in Christ.

A young curate, before going to his first Deanery Chapter was warned that it might be a bit of a shock. “But perhaps you should remember”, said his vicar, “when meeting some of these older clergymen, that however good or bad or lazy or crazy or saintly or arrogant or cynical or pompous or despairing or defeated, at some time in their lives they were inspired by Jesus Christ.”

And that will surely be true for the great majority of our fellow worshippers in the pews and at the altar rails. In Christ, en Christo, we find our unity, however different, however diverse we may be. In that is the secret energy of the Church which can pick it up by God’s grace again and again and put it back on the rails. To be personal it was that sense of us all being one in Christ, en Christo, which has upheld my own feeling of loyalty to and family membership of our Benefice in recent months and prompted me to make this tiny contribution to our life together.

Next Sunday, the last before Christmas, we shall pray the prayer of the last verse but one of the New Testament: “Even so, come Lord Jesus”.
As He most certainly will!

John Giles

DAY ALDERTON ORFORD ALDEBURGH
Monday 8.00 to 14.30 8.00 to 18.30 8.00 to 18.30
Tuesday 8.00 to 18.30 CLOSED 8.00 to 18.30
Wednesday 8.00 to 18.30 8.00 to 13.00 8.00 to 18.30
Thursday 8.00 to 18.30 8.00 to 13.00 8.00 to 18.30
Friday 8.00 to 18.30 8.00 to 13.00 8.00 to 18.30

STAFF MEETING CLOSURE DATE

The surgery will be closed between 14.00 – 16.00 on Thursday 21st January for a staff meeting.

We appreciate that not all of our patients have internet access, but in the current rapidly changing climate our website & Facebook page are the most direct route for you to find up to date patient information.

If you are unable to access the internet please call the surgery if you have any queries on 01394 411641.

www.thepeninsulapractice.co.uk

NOTICES

Food Banks at the East of England Co-op

Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities and have an even more vital role to play as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times. With Christmas fast approaching, your donations will make all the difference.

The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

Weekly Benefice Newsletter

If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.
What Christmas traditions do you have? Your home decorations or that special recipe that is always a Christmas favourite.

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 6th December – Second Sunday of Advent

 9.30am

Morning Prayer

Knodishall Church

 9.45am

Morning Praise

Friston Church

10.30am

Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Morning Prayer

Aldringham Church

 

Message from The Rector

December has arrived and we are able to resume worship in our churches. (Aldeburgh’s 9.00am Mon-Fri Morning Prayer will resume next Monday). The restrictions remain pretty well as they were before the recent lockdown so we still have to be very careful about numbers, about not being too close to people outside our immediate family or ‘bubble’ (outside the churches as well as inside), congregations still can’t sing and must wear masks unless they are medically exempt from doing so. And Christmas approaches! What can we possibly do? Well – we do what we can. I’m afraid that the ‘big’ services such as Aldeburgh’s Crib Service and Midnight Eucharist will be impossible – we simply can’t handle those kinds of numbers. I couldn’t, however, think of Aldeburgh church being closed on Christmas Day so there will be a service of Holy Communion at 10.30. There can’t be any congregational singing and we will have to restrict the numbers so please keep an eye on the website for details of how to reserve a place. We will try and contact everyone who isn’t on email by phone so that no-one misses out. But I’m afraid you won’t just be able to just turn up on the day, you will need a reservation.

Each of our village churches will also have a Christmas Day service at the usual time – 9.30 in Knodishall, 9.45 in Friston and 11.00 in Aldringham. There will also be a Christmas service in Friston on Tuesday 22nd at 6pm (contact Carole Edwards through Aldeburgh Church website to enquire about a place for this service). And there will still be chance to sing carols outdoors too. The usual gathering of carol singers on Mill Hill in Aldringham will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday December 15th. We may not be able to retire to the Parrot & Punchbowl afterwards, but we can certainly have a good (socially distanced) sing! All are welcome.

The restrictions give the current season of Advent a whole new twist too. Traditionally we talk of Advent as a time of watching and waiting – and many of us this year have been waiting for some kind of normality to return for what seems like ages. So much has been disrupted. So many have had their lives turned upside down. But Christmas remains and, though it may be going to feel rather different for us this year, its message never changes. So we continue to watch and wait – but we can be sure that Christmas will still be Christmas. As it says on the board outside Aldeburgh church ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.’

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us,
and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our
sins and wickedness we are grievously hindered in running the
race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may
speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ your Son
our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and
glory, now and for ever.

 

First Reading
Isaiah 40.1-11
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her that she has served her term, that her
penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double
for all her sins.  A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the
way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made
low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ A voice says, ‘Cry out!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’  See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.  He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. 

Second Reading
2 Peter 3.8-15a
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.  The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?  But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1.1-8
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’, John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

 

Reflection for 6th December – Second Sunday of Advent
by The Revd James Marston
St Nicholas

As a friend and wannabe comedian said to me “‘tis the season to be jolly careful” and “you better watch out sanitiser’s on his way.”

As I open my Aldeburgh advent calendar each morning – to be greeted by the image of a gingerbread man or a sprig of Holly – or switch on the television, or visit the supermarket, it is easy to get bombarded with Christmas and the ever longer run up to it. Often, somewhere in the mêlée there is an image one of the greatest saints known to the Christian faith, a man venerated and recognised as Holy across the western and eastern Christian traditions, a man whose generosity and kindness have shone through the centuries and who has never really been forgotten.

This man wears today a white beard, red trousers, black belt and red jacket. He has a sleigh and reindeer. And is particularly loved by children. We know him now as a festive figure of folklore, but he existed nonetheless. We may think we have turned him into a fictitious character and given him the name Santa Claus or Father Christmas but as every child will tell you, he is actually real.

Today, alongside the second Sunday of Advent, is St Nicholas day. Here in our benefice, it seems we quite like the saints, we observe the patronal festivals of St Peter and St Paul, St Andrew, St Lawrence as well as the blessed virgin herself. We like to hear about saints, who they were and what they did. They can inspire, and make us think, as well as call us to holiness as we march along the path of faith.

St Nicholas of Myra is not a figure of legend whose origin is lost in the mists of time but was a real person. A churchman in fact who attended the council of Nicea in AD325 at which point Christian belief began to become codified in the form of a creed.

Born at the end of the third century, in about 280, Nicholas was a very devout young man who, still quite young, became a Bishop and then the Archbishop of the then great city of Myra, which is in the province of Lycia in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.

There he was renowned for his charitable deeds. There he set up orphanages, hospitals, hostels for the mentally ill, fed the starving in famine, and set up a drainage system so that his people would not die from the diseases incurred by poor hygiene.

He freed captives unjustly imprisoned, saved sailors in stormy seas, redeemed young girls who were bound for child prostitution. The stories about Nicholas highlight his ability to give, to care and to love.

It is Nicholas’ generosity, his loving kindness, his dedication to the faith and life of Christian witness that we can see Christ himself, and how Nicholas calls us once again to us to holiness as we march along the path of faith.

St Nicholas – Patronages

Sailors,

Merchants, 

Archers,

Repentant thieves,

Prostitutes,

Children,

Brewers, 

Pawnbrokers,

Unmarried people,

Students

As well as various cities and countries around Europe including Greece, Liverpool.

 

Post Communion
Father in heaven, who sent your Son to redeem the world and will send him again to be our judge: give us grace so to imitate him in the humility and purity of his first coming that, when he comes again, we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Aldringham Church Calendar 2021

The Aldringham church calendar for 2021 is now on sale.
 You can either collect a copy at any of the services at Aldringham church
or contact David Gordon.

The calendars are £10 each.
Free copies have been distributed to the sick and the lonely in the congregation and the rest will be sold to raise money for church funds.

   
 

Deciphering words in the New Testament
(It’s all Greek to me)

AGAPE and PHILIA – Love and Friendship

In Christina Rosetti’s words “Love came down at Christmas”. So, Advent is a good time to think about it. The Love we are talking about in Greek is “AGAPE” (three syllables). Agape is the shining sun which gives warmth and life to our faith. “Love was Our Lord’s meaning” said Julian of Norwich.

First then, AGAPE is the word for the Love that God has for all his children on earth, given to us in human terms by Jesus. (John 3.16) “God so loved the world that he gave . 

Secondly, it is the word for the love by which we in our hearts respond to that same love (John 14.15) (If ye love me, keep my commandments); or in St. Paul writing to the Romans (ch. 5.5) “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Thirdly, it is the word for love between people, when care and respect for them is touched with real good intent. Love is more than merely liking. When Jesus took from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19.34) the words “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 5.43) he uses the word ‘agapao’ (as a verb) which is practical in meaning, i.e., wanting the best for them. To love the hungry, for example, practically, is to give them food. He then continues “love (agapate – imperative tense) your enemies”. Well, that should make us think.

We put so much romance and sentimentality (not to mention the physical side) into our use of “love” today. Both in the Old Testament, and in the teaching of Jesus, love is present and shown by good intent more than emotions of the heart.

Secondly there is “PHILIA” or friendship. In the famous chapter,
(John 15,) where Jesus speaks of himself as The Vine, with his followers as the Branches, he goes on in verse 14 “You are my friends (philoi-plural) if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants (or slaves – the Greek ‘doulos’ has both meanings), for a servant does not know what his master is about. I have called you friends . . .”
This is so deep. We must try to understand all that follows from this, the privileged relationship with Christ that can be at the heart of discipleship. It is wonderfully recalled in the hymns “My song is love unknown” and “What a friend we have in Jesus”.

Agape and Philia overlap to some extent. In John 21, Peter does not presume to use Agape in reply to Jesus’ first and second questions “Do you love me?” (using Agape); while third time round both Jesus and Peter settle for Philia, i.e. “Do you love me as a friend?” “Yes, Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you as a friend”. “Feed my sheep”. That is the church’s episcopate.

So much to ponder and give thanks for. Christmas approaches. Here is Love in action, and this time no lockdown.

John Giles

The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
13th December – Third Sunday of Advent

9.45am

Holy Communion

Friston Church

10.30am

Family Service??

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Holy Communion

Aldringham Church

NOTICES

 

Food Banks at the East of England Co-op 

Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities and have an even more vital role to play as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times. With Christmas fast approaching, your donations will make all the difference.

The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

 
 

📆 Weekly Benefice Newsletter 📰

If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.
What Christmas traditions do you have? Your home decorations or that special recipe that is always a Christmas favourite.

 

Christmas 2020 – A Message from our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther

None of us has known a Christmas like this one.  Many of the things that we normally associate with Christmas will be different and that, I’m afraid, includes our church services.   Aldeburgh Parish Church is normally at the centre of our community as families come and join together to celebrate the birth of Christ.  It breaks our hearts to not be able to hold our usual services (Christingle, Crib Service, Midnight Eucharist) but the pandemic continues to prevent us doing many of the usual things.   
With guidance from the Government and the Diocese regarding tier two level services we have created a plan.  Safety has to be our priority.  We will be holding a Christmas Day Holy Communion Service at 10.30am.  This will unfortunately have to have a restricted number in the congregation and I fear that congregational singing will still not be possible.  You will need to book in advance and we must stress that if you haven’t been allocated a confirmed place you will not be able to attend.  If you would like to enquire about booking a place for this service, please use the contact form and we will try our best to reserve a place.