Message from The Rector
I am hesitating as I type this because by the time you read it there may be some more news. But as I’m sure you will have heard we are, once again, allowed to hold services in church from next weekend onwards – which is great news. The problem at the moment is that, yet again, we await government guidelines as to any restrictions that we may have to work within. (It would have helped us a great deal if these things had been worked out before the announcement had been made!) Various things have been hinted at but there is, as yet, nothing concrete. I have been in touch with the wardens of all of our churches asking them for their opinions on how we might best move forward and the clergy team will be meeting on Tuesday to make some decisions, in the hope that guidelines will be available by then. I very much hope that we will be able to hold a service in at least one of our churches next Sunday but I’m afraid that I can’t tell you more at the moment.
This weekend would, in normal circumstances, have seen James’s ordination to the priesthood and also Aldeburgh’s Patronal Festival. Both of those will be reflected in some way in this week’s service. James, and all of those whose ordinations have been postponed, are very much in our prayers.
We are also beginning to think about the things that we can’t wait to restart, and wondering about things that we might perhaps like to be a bit different once we are able to be properly up and running again. I would very much appreciate your thoughts too.
Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin
and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts
whereby we call you Father: give us grace to dedicate
our freedom to your service, that we and all creation may
be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
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.
Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; and the prophet Jeremiah said, ‘Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfil the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.’
Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’
Reflection for the Third Sunday after Trinity
by The Revd Johanna Mabey
Matthew 10: 40-42
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
On this day two years ago, you, the wonderful people of Alde Sandlings Benefice, welcomed me home as a newly minted priest and we celebrated together at my maiden Eucharist. Happy and special times!
Today we should have been celebrating an equally happy and special time with our lovely curate James. I’m certain you join with me in thinking of James and his fellow deacons as their preparations and expectations for priesthood have been temporarily scuppered by current restrictions.
Ironically, today’s Gospel lesson couldn’t be more appropriate for the welcoming of a new priest. This is the conclusion of Matthew’s chapter ten and Jesus is preparing the twelve to be itinerant missionaries. He sends them out as his messengers to represent him, and his Father, the one who sent him.
In antiquity, sending messengers was a standard way of communication in business and religious life. Certain rules of etiquette built up around it, and that is the principle we hear behind the words “whoever receives you, receives me, and the one who sent me.” For the ancient Mediterranean world – whether Jew, Christian, Greek, Roman or other, there were divine implications in hospitality. A stranger might be the God of Israel, or the Messiah, or one of many gods and goddesses of those times. Answering a knock at the door was a dangerous and potentially wonderful moment.
In this context, Jesus sends his disciples, as his messengers, to do exactly what he does. He gives them authority to heal, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons. If people don’t welcome them, they are to shake the dust off and move on. They will face hostility, persecution, and betrayal – just as he does, but they have a security that protects them against a need to be secure.
Jesus and God stand in solidarity with them and in the reception they receive. “Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
Since these strange Covid times began we’ve seen and heard many examples of people putting their own security aside to help and heal others. Just think of all the “cups of cold water” that have been given to those in need. Just think of all the “cups of cold water” you may have given or received recently. We are a missional people. I know many of you are caring for others in all sorts of ways.
The theologian Frederick Buechner writes: “we have it in us to be Christs to each other to work miracles of love and healing as well as to have them worked on us.” Jesus sends us, the church, into the world to meet real needs, work miracles of love and healing through acts of kindness… cups of cold water, and to go as a people willing to have those same miracles worked on us.
We represent Christ to the stranger, and we encounter Christ in the stranger. It’s part of the mystery of abiding in Christ and Christ abiding in us. It’s part of life as a believing community that joyfully we share with one another. For me it’s part of the mystery of Holy Communion – which makes our current situation of not being able to gather at the table together even more painful.
Two years ago, as I lifted the chalice for the first time, I was momentarily struck as I saw my own reflection in the smooth silver. I marvelled at the mystery of being there, of being together with you on the outside of the chalice and on the inside with the wine.
At that service we sang the hymn “Brother, Sister, let me serve you”. It’s words brought a tear to my eye then, as they still do now…
Brother, sister let me serve you.
Let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let you be my servant too.
Let’s look forward to a time soon, when James can lift that same chalice and patten, and marvel at that same joy and mystery…and to a time when we can serve and be served, together once more.
Brother, sister, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too.
We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.
Brother, sister, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that l may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.
Richard Gillard (b 1953)
O God, whose beauty is beyond our imagining
and whose power we cannot comprehend:
show us your glory as far as we can grasp it,
and shield us from knowing more than we can bear
until we may look upon you without fear;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
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:
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The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
5th July – Fourth Sunday after Trinity
✞ 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).
📖 Readers ✞
How about you??
✞ 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
🧺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.