Benefice Newsletter for 23rd August – Eleventh Sunday after Trinity


  • 9.30am

Thorpeness Service 4

The Meare, Thorpeness

  • 9.30am

Holy Communion

Knodishall Church

  • 9.45am

Morning Prayer

Friston Church

  • 11.00am

Informal Service

Aldringham Churchyard

  • 3.00pm

Online Service available

  • 6.00pm

Evening Prayer

Aldeburgh Church


Message from the Rector

Early September is traditionally the time for a bit of very special holy exercise. All over the country folk climb on their bikes or put on their walking shoes to visit as many churches as they can in their local area – and are sponsored for doing so. The money that they raise is split between their own church and their county’s Historic Churches Trust – which make grants to churches and chapels of all denominations towards repair and restoration costs. The whole idea began in Suffolk and is widely supported, including by people from our churches. This year, of course, things have to be a little different but ‘Ride and Stride’ will still happen, on Saturday September 12th, when participants will include several doughty members of our congregations and our Curate, James.  
If you would also like to take part please do get in touch with Aldeburgh’s
Fran Smith, via Claire at

And, of course, if you don’t ride or stride then you can still sponsor someone who is going to. More details further down this pew-sheet.

A reminder that there will be some live music in Friston churchyard at 4pm on Sunday (23rd). Details, again, further down the pew-sheet but if last week’s short concert is anything to go by it will be thoroughly enjoyable. This time the group of ‘Kingfisher’ players will be slightly larger and will be conducted by Geoff Lavery – an old friend of our churches and one of the team of organists at Aldeburgh. Bring a chair and some money for the St Elizabeth Hospice and we will say a special prayer for the weather. Last week’s concert survived by a whisker – it began raining during the encore!

With love, as ever


O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing
mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace,
that we, running the way of your commandments, may receive your gracious promises, and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure;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 51.1-6

Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many.  For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. 

Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples. I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope. 
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment,
and those who live on it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be for ever, and my deliverance will never be ended. 

Second Reading
Romans 12.1-8
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 16.13-20
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’  Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.


Reflection by Revd Sheila Hart
Matthew 16:13-20 and Romans 12:1-8

The gospel story opens as Jesus and his disciples arrive in the district of Caesarea Philippi, an area away from the major centres of population. Jesus has been preaching, teaching and healing in the region around Galilee and his disciples have experienced many miracles both healings and others and they have marvelled at what they have witnessed. Seeing is no proof of believing, however, and like all good teachers, Jesus wants to know how what they have seen and heard, has really affected his disciples. So, again like most good teachers, he starts with a general, non-threatening question: ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ The answer is easy because it has no real implications for the disciples, personally. John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets, in other words ‘the usual suspects.’

Having got the general out of the way, Jesus reverts to the much more specific – the question to which he really wants an answer in order to be able to assess whether what his disciples have been witnessing as they have accompanied him in his ministry, has in any way indicated to them who he might really be – But who do YOU say that I am?

Peter, in his usual knee-jerk reaction way provides the answer that Jesus is hoping for. ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ We don’t know whether Peter just beat the others to it or whether he was the only one who had seen Jesus for who he really was – this was never discussed or revealed for Jesus replies with a statement which I guess none of them was expecting, not even bold, brash Peter. ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’

Throughout history the statement that Jesus made to Peter has been misunderstood by many in the church because they have taken it in its literal sense of the name ‘Peter’ meaning ‘rock’ and it is upon Peter – the rock that the church is to be founded, but that is not Jesus’ intention here, for the ‘rock’ that he refers to is not Peter, but the statement that Peter has made about Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of the living God, and it is upon THAT rock – the Messiah, the Son of the living God the immovable, solid rock who is the same, yesterday, today and forever, that the Church is to be built.

Jesus goes on to tell Peter that he will give him the keys of the kingdom of heaven. What does this mean. I believe that Peter, the other disciples and all who follow in their footsteps can make the kingdom of heaven accessible to others by their teaching and preaching of the gospel – the good news – by the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit and by their faithfulness to the teaching of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

But he also tells them not to tell anyone. Why? Because the story is not complete. The way of salvation has not been made open. Jesus still has a bit longer to live and if we read on a little way in Matthew’s gospel when Jesus starts talking about his needing to suffer and die, Peter is the one who wants to save him from the inevitable: God forbid it Lord, that must not happen to you! And Jesus then rebukes him with the words ‘get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to me for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

The question that Jesus asked Peter all those years ago in the district of Caesarea Philippi is as relevant to us today as it was to the first disciples then. Who do YOU say that I am? If we truly believe like Peter of old, that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one of God and the Son of the living God and respond to his invitation to follow him then our lives will be changed forever. For as Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, we will no longer be conformed to this world, but we will be transformed by the renewal of our minds so the we might discern the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Many people today are happy to accept that Jesus was a good man; a person who lived a long time ago and who was probably the greatest of the biblical prophets; a healer, a teacher. They even know the story of his birth in a stable in Bethlehem and admit that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the crib service; the nativity play and a good carol service. But they are less prepared to follow him to the cross and beyond, yet without the crucifixion and resurrection there would be no salvation as the cross was the means chosen by God to bring that about.

The prophets showed people the way to Christ; the saints showed people how they could live in a Christ-like way and develop Christ-like qualities but it is ‘In Christ alone that our hope is found’ and it is on ‘Christ the solid rock we stand for all other ground is sinking sand’ as two great hymns, one ancient, one modern express it.

Commitment to Christ results in a change of heart, a change of mind, a change of lifestyle and the opportunity to set out on the most exciting journey ever. Wherever you are on that journey, be it right at the very beginning somewhere in the middle or feel as though you are nearing the end in this life at least one thing that can be guaranteed is that no day will ever be the same as the one before and you will always be moving forwards if you keep looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith and trust in the rock which is the same yesterday, today and for ever.


Post Communion

Lord of all mercy, we your faithful people have celebrated that one true sacrifice which takes away our sins and brings pardon and peace: by our communion keep us firm on the foundation of the gospel and preserve us from all sin; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
30th August – Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

  • 9.30am

Thorpeness Service 5

The Dolphin Thorpeness

  • 9.45am

Reflective Service

Friston Church

  • 10.30am

Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Parish Church

  • 3.00pm

Online Service available


Suffolk Historic Churches Ride and Stride

Saturday 12th September 9am-4pm

The 2020 Ride and Stride is going ahead but will be adapted to the current Covid 19 guidelines. The Annual Sponsored Ride and Stride is a national event, and every second Saturday in September cyclists and walkers all round the country are out making money for their local county Churches Trust.
The churches have never needed our help more than this year, so please support this free annual event.  Half your sponsor money will go to the Trust to be given in grants for church repairs, and half will go to the church of your choosing.

Our usual wonderful volunteers at Aldeburgh Parish Church will be taking part and a new addition too in the form of a certain member of the clergy.
If you would like to take part or indeed sponsor one of our team,
please either:

Contact us using the Aldeburgh Parish Church contact form

Or email and Claire will pass on your details to Fran Smith, who is leading this event.

Or see Fran after the services at Aldeburgh where she will be pleased to take your details (socially distanced).

Or fill in the attached donation form and hand into Fran Smith at the services or post to –
The Vicarage, 1 Church Walk, Aldeburgh, IP15 5DU.

Our participants currently are Revd James Marston, Adrian and Jill Brown, Richard & Emily Rapior, Mary Sidwell and Ed Wilhelm. Fran Smith (who will be sponsored for the registering of participants).

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.


Pilgrims Together
(part of The Alde Sandlings Benefice)
invite you to
Thorpeness Summer Services 2020
Celtic Style Worship
9.30am at The Meare, Thorpeness

Sunday 23rd August
Sunday 30th August – Dolphin, Thorpeness

Please bring your own chair!


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