Message from The Rector
There is a great deal of talk these days about ‘the new normal’. What, in all walks of life, might ‘going back to normal’ mean post Covid-19? There is, of course, no straightforward answer. We already know that we cannot just pick up where we left off back in the early spring. The Covid-19 Alert Level is still set at 3, meaning that (to quote official guidance) ‘the virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur. You must continue to wash your hands and keep 2m distance.’ We still need to be very careful and take particular regard for the elderly and those who have what we have come to generalise as ‘underlying conditions’ – a catch-all that includes those with a heart condition, those being treated for cancer, those on high doses of steroids and a good deal else besides. We should also be acutely aware of the possibility of carrying Covid-19 without being aware of it – being asymptomatic. There is still a good deal that we don’t understand about this disease, but we do know that just because people are not aware of the fact that they have it does not prevent them from transmitting it to others.
All of this is a prelude to saying a little about my (and the clergy team’s) thinking about opening up our churches. We still need to be very careful – of ourselves and of others. We need to move steadily and not feel that we have to do as much as possible as soon as possible. And (I hope it goes without saying) no-one should feel under any pressure to attend one of our church buildings if they would feel more comfortable remaining at home. We will try our best to cater for all. The current plans for the next couple of Sundays are as follows:
Sunday 12th July
10.30am Online service of Holy Communion
11.00am Service in Aldringham Churchyard
6.00pm ‘A Reflective Act of Worship for Uncertain Times’ in Aldeburgh church
Sunday 19th July
9.45am Service of Holy Communion in Friston Church
10.30am Online service of Morning Prayer (Mattins)
11.00am Service in Aldringham churchyard
As we learn by experience and are guided by government and church we hope, gently, to expand what we offer, and I will issue weekly updates.
With love, as ever
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the
whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in
holiness and truth to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in
Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set
you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what
the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own
Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned
sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be
fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according
to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their
minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to
the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the
mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is
life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh
is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it
cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the
Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the
Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you,
though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because
of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead
dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to
your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Matthew 13.1-9, 18-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’
‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’
Reflection for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity
by The Revd James Marston
Parable of the sower
One of the most interesting theories about the early church is that the oft-quoted St Paul’s letter to the Romans was written to a church that was already well established. Indeed, his other letters are largely letters of encouragement to other churches that he had helped get going. But not so with Rome.
In fact when Paul wrote the letter to the Romans he sets out his theology, his plans, and highlights his credentials as an apostle because although, he was hoping to visit Rome, they probably knew little about him. He was, it seems to me, hoping for a decent welcome, the Roman equivalent of a bring and share lunch, and a place to stay when he got there.
This begs the question of how the church in Rome was founded. If it wasn’t Paul, how did it emerge? It seems it was up and running by AD50, less than twenty years after the resurrection. The Acts of the Apostles holds the clue and it is the sermon by St Peter to the crowd at Pentecost that might hold the answer. For in that crowd, of which thought the disciples were drunk, there was a contingent of visitors from Rome, and it may well have been them that took back the emerging faith to the empire’s capital city.
Today’s bible story, the parable of the sower, is a well-known one. Over the years it has been interpreted in a variety of ways. Usually the differing soils were interpreted as an allegory for the disciples themselves that Jesus, the sower, was talking to. Not so long ago it was, perhaps more fancifully, suggested that the different kinds of soils were relevant to different vocations in the church – laity, clergy, virgins, martyrs and monks.
And while there may be laity and clergy in the Alde Sandlings I suspect martyrs and monks are rather thinner on the ground.
More recently the parable has been a stock in trade of Sunday school and Sunday morning Christian teaching – often interpreted as a challenge to the churchgoer: What type of soil are you? Is it you “Who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields?”.
But I think we should be careful in equating ourselves or our community with the good soil. I think we can probably find evidence of several kinds of soil in our lives and in our church communities on any given day. Added which in this parable Jesus does not exhort us to be the good soil – though I suppose we could work towards that – instead he takes the disciples aside and gives his own interpretation of the parable, the different reasons why the word of the Kingdom is rejected. These include the power of the evil one, the lure of wealth, and trouble and persecution. And, I suspect, all of us, at varying times in our lives, are subject to temptation, materialism, and know what it is to have our faith tested.
Nonetheless, it seems to me that this parable has yet another meaning to think about and it is this; that despite the hurdles of rejection God, always wins through in the end. For when the word, the Gospel of hope and love is heard and understood then the crop is abundant. And Jesus is not so much the sower as the reaper of the harvest.
Today, we are those entrusted with Jesus’ mission, and we might consider the implications of this parable for how we engage in mission. Often we play it safe, sowing the word only where we are confident it will be well received, and only where those who receive it are likely to become contributing members of our congregations.
Often, in the name of good governance, we hold on tight to our resources, wanting to make sure that nothing is wasted. Indeed we can even resist new ideas for fear they might not work – as though mistakes or failure were to be avoided at all costs.
This parable, I suggest, is a call to confidence, a call to trust in the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, a call to scatter the word in places we might not have thought of before.
Today, as we gradually come back to reform the body of Christ in this benefice, we have an opportunity to reconsider our Christian mission to the wider communities in which we live.
It is clear to me, as we have supported and upheld one another in recent weeks that the church community has much to offer and that the energising Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that founded the church in Rome, is among us and working in our lives. We are keen to get back to church, to reignite our faith, and to worship together once again.
We also have time to think about and discuss the things we have learnt and discovered over recent weeks. My challenge to you this week is to pray about and come up with just one idea of how our benefice, herein the Alde Sandling’s, might reach out to those we don’t know and to those we don’t usually encounter in our churches.
It is time to scatter the seed and to trust once more that God always wins through in the end. Amen.
Eternal Father, strong to save,
whose arm doth bind the restless wave,
who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
for those in peril on the sea!
O Saviour, whose almighty word
the winds and waves submissive heard,
who walkedst on the foaming deep,
and calm amid its rage didst sleep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
for those in peril on the sea!
O sacred Spirit, who didst brood
upon the chaos dark and rude,
who bad’st its angry tumult cease,
and gavest light and life and peace;
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
for those in peril on the sea!
O trinity of love and power!
Our brethren’s shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
protect them wheresoe’er they go;
and ever let there rise to thee
glad hymns of praise from land and sea.
William Whiting (1825-1878)
Grant, O Lord, we beseech you,
that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by your governance, that your Church may joyfully serve you in all godly
quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Week Ahead –
19th July – Sixth Sunday after Trinity
The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:
You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:
✞ Wednesday Online Services ✞
Around our Benefice there are, as well as our Sunday morning 10.30am online gatherings, three acts of worship that take place on Wednesdays. At 10.00am there is a service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer streamed from The Vicarage at (Alde Sandlings YouTube Channel).
✞ Meet up with Revd James ✞
Our curate Rev James has been meeting some of you outside in your gardens and in his rectory garden. If you would like a trip out to Friston, or would like James to visit you do let him know on 01728 688451 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
✟ Songs of Praise on The Green 🎶
The Parish of St Mary the Virgin would like to invite you to a Benefice ‘Songs of Praise on the green at Friston! This would be a socially distanced opportunity to come together to sing to the Praise of God
and have a picnic afterwards. Do you have a favourite hymn?
Also please let Carole know your suggestion of a hymn to be
Please bring your own chairs and tables for your picnic.
The Peninsula Practice Notice
As newsletters cannot be distributed currently, please do check the Peninsula Practice website for regular updates as they develop.