Message from The Rector
Well! Rather to everyone’s surprise (including Bishop Martin, who’d had no notice of it) late last Saturday the government announced that churches would be able to open for private prayer from Monday June 15th. Then (again with no notice) the date was brought forward to Saturday 13th and the guidelines promised for Tuesday 9th about how this might happen appeared at lunchtime on Friday 12th. This isn’t a time for grumbling, it’s a time for celebration but we must be careful too. Churches are not opening for services (although we are now allowed to have funerals in church as long as we stick strictly to guidelines about ‘social distancing’ and cleaning), churches are not opening for visiting, they are opening for individuals in order that they might spend a little quiet time with God and to pray.
Given the very short notice of the announcement this is still very much ‘work in progress’ in our four parishes but, as I write (on Friday) the following decisions have been made.
Aldringham church – will be open from Monday, strictly following the guidelines for safety and hygiene.
Friston church – will not be open, though if people wish to visit the church it will be opened for them.
Knodishall church – would like to open but is still working on the details.
Aldeburgh church – has yet to make a final decision.
It should be stressed that just because a church can open it doesn’t have to and the reasons for which it might open are very limited.
It must also be stressed that Covid-19 has not gone away. The worst of the pandemic might be over in the UK but we still need to be very vigilant. In our deanery we are lucky that one of the clergy, The Revd Brian Jolley, is a pharmacist and in a clergy chapter meeting earlier this week he told us about how the current situation is regarded by medical professionals. They are still taking a huge amount of care, fearing the possibility of a second wave of the virus. We need to make sure that, in the end, we are part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Finally, a message on behalf of our PCC treasurers. Thank-you to all who give to the church by standing order, direct debit or thorough the Parish Giving Scheme. The fact that you do has been a huge help in recent weeks. If, however, you normally give by putting your offering in the collection-plate then it would be wonderful to know that you might have carried on putting money aside even though you haven’t been able to visit the church building. We very much look forward to our first opportunity to worship together again – and to the sound of piggy-banks being emptied!
Our curate James was due to be ordained priest at the end of June – but then the lockdown happened.
Today, he discusses the next step.
It’s been a strange few years. It has been a time of changes, of house moves, of challenge and of following a new path. I’ve moved to theological college in Cambridge, studied for the first time in twenty years, gathered experience at various churches, even took a study trip to Africa and this time last year was made a deacon and moved to east Suffolk. Ever since I have been getting used to being called Reverend, learning new skills, finding my place in a new community and experiencing a world in which people see me through a new lens – that of a clergyman.
It has been, overall, the time of my life. One of those periods of which I shall look back with deep affection largely because I feel I am doing what I am meant to be doing – following my vocation to the priesthood.
I was due to be ordained priest at the end of June by the Bishop in the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, but recent events have affected each and every one of us and what was planned has had to be delayed – hopefully not for too long.
But what is a priest? What does it include and what does it mean?
Apart from the obvious – leading Sunday services, taking funerals, marrying people in church, baptising babies – the concept of priesthood is one that isn’t always easy to define.
In the service of ordination, the Bishop addresses the congregation and sums up the role of priest: “Priests are called to be servants and shepherds among the people to whom they are sent. With their Bishop and fellow ministers, they are to proclaim the word of the Lord and to watch for the signs of God’s new creation.
They are to be messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord; they are to teach and to admonish, to feed and provide for his family, to search for his children in the wilderness of this world’s temptations, and to guide them through its confusions, that they may be saved through Christ for ever. Formed by the word, they are to call their hearers to repentance and to declare in Christ’s name the absolution and forgiveness of their sins.”
“With all God’s people, they are to tell the story of God’s love. They are to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and to walk with them in the way of Christ, nurturing them in the faith. They are to unfold the Scriptures, to preach the word in season and out of season, and to declare the mighty acts of God.
“They are to preside at the Lord’s table and lead his people in worship, offering with them a spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. They are to bless the people in God’s name. They are to resist evil, support the weak, defend the poor, and intercede for all in need.
“They are to minister to the sick and prepare the dying for their death. Guided by the Spirit, they are to discern and foster the gifts of all God’s people, that the whole Church may be built up in unity and faith.”
It is quite a tall order. But in the vows we take it is further distilled.
We are called first and foremost to be people of prayer, to maintain our own relationship with God and to pray often for those in our communities – everyone regardless of whether they come to church or not.
We are also called to proclaim the Gospel – not just in sermons or newspaper articles but in the way we live and behave – as my mother says to me, no more swearing, be kind and remember people expect certain standards – quite right.
Also, in the vows is a charge to teach the beliefs of the faith and to administer the sacraments – the Holy things of the church such as the communion bread and wine – a priest presides at the church’s most Holy of services.
It is quite a daunting prospect and one which I feel alternatively terrified and excited – terrified because of the responsibility, excited because I cannot wait to part of the ancient lineage of people that have served their communities in this way. It is both, it seems to me, a privilege and a burden.
The theology of it all aside, I have divided in my mind the role into two parts- doing and being. By doing I mean taking part in the community, communicating and teaching the faith, and offering myself in service to others. By being I mean simply living in the community, being part of the world but slightly separate from it, being that person of prayer who lives in the rectory and goes to church.
I don’t know when I will be priested – the timings are unclear – when the time comes I will do my best – I think that’s all God expects of all of us.
Glossary of terms
Ordination – church service at which the bishop presides, and deacons and priests are formally conferred with Holy Orders, priests are ordained to lead God’s people in the offering of praise and the proclamation of the Gospel.
Sacrament – a ritual or ceremony in which Christians believe divine grace is conferred.
The Eucharist – (Holy Communion, the Mass, or the Lord’s Supper), can take different forms across the Church of England, and it may be understood by Christians in different ways, but at the heart of the celebration there is always a special prayer of thanksgiving. This prayer is offered by the priest who presides at the service.
O God, the strength of all those who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers and, because through the weakness of
our mortal nature we can do no good thing without you, grant us the
help of your grace, that in the keeping of your commandments
we may please you both in will and deed; 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.
They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.’
So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: ‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
He who would valiant be
‘gainst all disaster,
let him in constancy
follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement
shall make him once relent
his first avowed intent
to be a pilgrim.
Who so beset him round
with dismal stories,
do but themselves confound–
his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might,
though he with giants fight:
he will make good his right
to be a pilgrim.
Since, Lord, thou dost defend
us with thy Spirit,
we know we at the end
shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away!
I’ll fear not what men say,
I’ll labour night and day
to be a pilgrim.
Words: Percy Dearmer (1867-1936) after John Bunyan (1628-1688)
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
Sermon for Trinity Sunday by our Rector,
The Revd Mark Lowther
Matthew 9: 35 – 10: 8
I wonder what went through your head when you heard those words in the Gospel reading about Jesus having compassion on the crowds ‘because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’. There have certainly been times in recent weeks when I’ve felt like that, not helped by knowing that our very own shepherds, our Bishops Martin and Mike, have been feeling very much the same. It has not been an easy time to be a leader – and that applies to our politicians as well as our church leaders. However much I might criticise the way decisions have or have not been taken I wouldn’t be in their shoes for anything. The responsibilities of leadership have been hugely burdensome, that’s for sure.
Now I don’t know if you’ve read the piece that our curate, James, has written in this week’s pew-sheet. If not, may I commend it to you? He ponders how he is feeling at the time when he should have been being ordained to the priesthood and reminds himself, and us, of what it is that priests are for. It’s a hugely varied range of tasks and listed as the Bishop would read out at the ordination service, pretty awesome. Fortunately, a few moments later in the service, the Bishop, addressing those about to be priested, says:
‘You cannot bear the weight of this calling in your own strength, but only by the grace and power of God. Pray therefore that your heart may daily be enlarged, and your understanding of the Scriptures enlightened.’ And I’m sure I speak for all of my fellow priests when I say that we do – daily. We’d collapse otherwise.
Now, bearing all of that in mind and turning back to today’s gospel reading, do you notice something interesting? Jesus summoned his twelve and sent them out to – well actually to do some of those things that have found their way into the ordination service. But he didn’t ordain them. He didn’t give them a special blessing. He gave them some pretty stiff instructions – and told them not to expect any reward. Later in the 10th chapter of Matthew’s gospel he tells them that they are to be like sheep in the midst of wolves, that they are likely to be persecuted. But he hadn’t ever set them apart in any other way. They were a collection of very ordinary people to who he gave very extraordinary tasks. And they did them – well, eleven of them did, the twelfth did something rather different.
And you know what’s coming, don’t you? It’s a task for all of us, here and now. In last week’s service we heard the very final words of Matthew’s gospel, the so-called ‘great commission’. Jesus was, again, speaking just to his, by then, post resurrection, 11 disciples. ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’. They still weren’t ordained, they were set apart only because of their closeness to the person of Jesus. The task – the task of building up the people of God – is one for us all. We who wear our unusual collars have a special part to play in the proceedings, but we cannot do it alone – we need the power of the Holy Spirit and, just as Jesus did, the help of some special but ordinary people.
To end with, some wonderful words which I may have quoted before and which come from the Methodist church in Singapore as a reminder of what ordination is, and isn’t.
‘We are not ordaining you to be a caring person; you are already called to that. We are not ordaining you to serve the Church in committees, activities, organisation; that is already implied in your membership. We are not ordaining you to become involved in social issues, ecology, race, politics, revolution, for that is laid upon every Christian. We are ordaining you to something smaller and less spectacular: to read and interpret those sacred stories of our community, so that they speak a word to people today; to remember and practice those rituals and rites of meaning that in their poetry address human beings at the level where change operates; to foster in community through word and sacrament that encounter with truth which will set men and women free to minister as the body of Christ.’
I reckon that’s as good a definition of what priests are called to do and to be – and what you’re called to do and to be as well.
Eternal Father, we thank you for nourishing us with these heavenly gifts:
may our communion strengthen us in faith, build us up in hope,
and make us grow in love; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:
You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:
The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
21st June – Second Sunday after Trinity
How about some baking?
At Aldeburgh Parish Church we are incredibly lucky to have such talented bakers amongst our congregation. We can always rely on delicious cakes for our Friday Markets, Summer Fetes, and Coffee Mornings.
Something that we are all missing dearly at the moment.
This week we are in for a real treat with a recipe from Valerie Wallace. Thank you so much Valerie for sharing this with us. Ready, steady BAKE!!!
SOMERSET CIDER FRUIT CAKE – as sold at August Friday Markets
Oven 180C/350F/GAS MARK 4
Baking time between 60-70 minutes for lined 20cm tin
OR 2 lined 1lb tins around 35/40 minutes
265g Mixed dried fruit –
175g Unsalted butter
175g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 Large Eggs
265g Self-raising flour
1 tsp Mixed Spice
*Soak mixed fruit in cider overnight unless taken from freezer – see Tip.
Cream the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time with a little flour. Sift in the rest of the flour with the mixed spice and fold in mixed fruit with juice.
Bake in preheated oven until a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the tin. Freezes well.
Tip: If you are going to make more cakes over the weeks buy a 500ml bottle of cider; measure 265g of mixed fruit – 100g each of sultana/raisins and 65g of currants into 8/9 self seal reusable bags. Add 4 tbsp of cider into each bag, seal and put in freezer. They come out plump and juicy as the alcohol does not freeze.
Food Banks – Message from the Community
We support 22 independent and Trussell Trust Foodbanks through our Food Stores; the Foodbanks all collect from the stores who support them. To find the list of who we support and how to find out what their specific needs are please go on to our website
Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.
✞ 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).
☏ Citizens Advice 📧
📖 Readers ✞
How about you??
🎶 Christina Johnston 🎶
Many of you know soprano Christina Johnston who has performed at Aldeburgh Parish Church many times. Christina is holding Friday night concerts at 7pm, from her studio at home.
🧺Anyone for a Picnic & Informal Outdoor Service? ✞
What if one of us invited 5 people to meet at the cross at a specified time armed with a folding chair and a ‘self-picnic’ (that is, not for sharing) and a glass? The ‘host’ would bring a simple service sheet, perhaps a couple of well known hymns and prayers – and a bottle of wine.