Message from our Curate in Charge,
The Revd James Marston
I begin with some unsettling news. Our benefice’s assistant priest, The Revd Sheila Hart, advised me this week that she will be withdrawing from active ministry for the foreseeable future due to personal and family health issues.
Our prayers are with her and her family at this difficult time as we support Sheila through the coming weeks and months as medical investigations continue.
Meanwhile this news naturally means there will be some practical issues with regard to staffing and timing of regular and other services in our benefice, which I, and the ministry team, will be working on in the coming days. I ask for your support, understanding and patience as we do this.
Be assured of our ongoing support for all of our parishes, as we work through the coming weeks and months.
In the meantime, we heard the sad news that Val Jeffery, a much-loved and long-standing worshipper at Aldeburgh church died peacefully earlier this week. Our prayers and thoughts are with Dick and the rest of their family. May Val rest in peace and rise in glory.
With this sad and unsettling news from our church community this week and the difficulties of the last 18 months for us all, it may well be time for some spiritual nourishment as we face the challenges of the coming weeks and months.
I would urge you to think about joining me once in a while at the service of Morning Prayer – held at 9am from Monday to Saturday in Aldeburgh church. I go most days and it is by daily giving ourselves to God that Christians nourish their souls in order to do render service to God and the community. And during this service we pray for those in need as well as for the church and other communities of the benefice and diocese.
Regular prayer is important work which underpins our work for others and our own faith and by prayer we are reminded of our joint enterprise of sharing God’s love and supporting one another in the journey of faith.
Peace be with you.
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit
upon your Church in the burning fire of your love:
grant that your people may be fervent
in the fellowship of the gospel that,
always abiding in you,
they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service;
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.
The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backwards.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be
put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out like a garment;
the moth will eat them up.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’
Sermon for 12th September, Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity,
by The Revd Johanna Mabey
James 2.1-10 [11-13] 14-17
‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our rock and our redeemer. Amen.
As we’ve just heard in our readings, healing is a sign of God’s kingdom – the fulfilment of God’s purposes.
So it’s a bit disappointing isn’t it? and a bit rubbish to say the least, for those of us who often pray for healing – for ourselves and for others – when, often the longed-for healing doesn’t materialise.
We know we’re supposed to have a more nuanced understanding of healing as something emotional and spiritual if not always physical – but, if we’re honest, that can still feel a bit like a consolation prize.
So, what are we supposed to do when our diseases of mind and body persist?
What’s the point of all this unalleviated suffering?
What’s God up to?
There are some simple answers to that question that are sometimes offered – and please note these come with a hefty health-warning:
First: if we only prayed enough, or if we prayed in the ‘right’ way, then God would do what we asked.
Or Second: suffering is an entirely just punishment for our sins so we just have to bear it, because, deep down, we deserve it.
Or, third: there is no God, so there is no point, no meaning to any of it!
One could offer countless objections to all three of those answers, but, perhaps the most important objection is that not one of them is of any help!
All of them, ultimately, increase and compound suffering – and nowhere do we see Jesus either doing this, or recommending that we should.
As I’m sure you know, a cornerstone of medical ethics is
or ‘First do no harm’, and as people of faith, we have a similar responsibility.
We are not here to make things worse for one another.
I’ve been privileged to work in places where sadly people seem to have more than their fair share of suffering… as part of my ministry training, I undertook a placement at Ipswich hospital as a chaplain.
Visiting the neo-natal intensive care unit, the suffering of children felt especially devastating and unjust – the questions there seem somehow sharper, more urgent – we can hear it in the persistent and courageous voice of the Syro-phoenecian woman in the gospel, as she pleads for her daughter.
In a hospital, you know that you aren’t going to make it all better- but you can make sure that it isn’t made worse!
You can make sure it isn’t made worse by the environment in which the patient and family are held…
That said, spend time with anyone who has a chronic disability and it’s soon clear, that there’s so much in the world that makes things worse for them – as if their troubles weren’t enough.
Access for wheelchair users remains a significant issue. It doesn’t take much imagination to know what it’s like not to be able to get into places where other people can go. Being excluded, even if there is no malice or harm intended, is never good.
In the letter of James that we heard earlier, there’s a clear instruction to the Church to show no favouritism; to make no distinctions between rich and poor members.
It’s important that we remain alert not just to those we may be favouring but also those we may be excluding, albeit un-intentionally.
When it comes to human suffering, there’s much we can do that falls into the category of ‘first do no harm’.
Simply paying attention to the attitudes of mind that, without any malice, marginalise…
and the aspects of the physical environment that restrict and exclude, all of which simply makes the suffering worse than it need be.
This may not literally give sight to the blind or unstop ears – although it might make life less hard for those who have those difficulties.
When Jesus said ‘the poor will always be with you’, I think we can be pretty sure that there will always be suffering in this life…for all of us – in one way or another.
So what is God up to in this? I suspect God is up to the same thing he has been up to from the beginning, which is the creation and redemption of the world, and I suspect that no life is too short or limited to be of significance in that creative-redemptive process.
Yes, the suffering is hard – hard to endure, harder still to understand – but we have more power than we realise.
James, in his epistle, quotes the same scripture as Jesus; ‘you shall love your neighbour as yourself’.
It is love, the greatest of all spiritual gifts, that enables us to recognise and respond to the suffering in others.
It is love that fires that deep sense of the sheer offensiveness of suffering – an energy that drives so many – especially in the medical and caring professions.
God is at work in all of this. The same God who in Christ worked miracles to show us that our desire for healing is ultimately his, and that all those prayers we offer for healing are not in vain, even if the result in this life is not the fullness of what we seek.
Christ is risen from the dead to assure us that suffering and death won’t have the final word, and Christ gives himself to us in bread and wine as a pledge that we too will share in that victory.
In the meantime, there’s much we can do for our neighbour through love; through simple, practical compassion so that suffering isn’t compounded, isn’t made worse by marginalising, or excluding those who suffer.
I’ve been speaking mostly about disability this morning, but much is also applicable to the suffering of refugees – so much in our news right now.
The Syro-phoenician woman was only looking for the crumbs under the table. She knew it wouldn’t take much to change her world, and with God, as we know in the Eucharist, even crumbs; tiny fragments, can become charged with the hope of a new world, and become signs of the fulfilment of God’s healing work.
Keep, O Lord, your Church, with your perpetual mercy;
and, because without you our human frailty cannot but fall,
keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful,
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Afghanistan Appeals – Can you help?
Texts For Today from Coventry Cathedral by
Canon John Giles
Tablets of the Word is the name given to the eight stone slabs on the side walls of the modern Cathedral in Coventry rebuilt in the 1950s. They bear key New Testament verses, beautifully carved by Ralph Beyer. Roughly seven feet long, they face diagonally into the nave so that you can see them and read them as you go up to the Altar.
The carved words of the verses are basic to Christianity. They were chosen by Provost Howard Williams, following his other inspired decision to inscribe “Father Forgive” above the altar in the ruins of the old cathedral, destroyed by German bombs on the night of 14th November, 1940.
The Tablets of the Word give us a series of powerful texts to strengthen our understanding of the message of the New Testament. I will be commenting on them in the coming weeks. Coventry incidentally is the UK City of Culture 2021.
The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19.11
The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep John 10.11
“Are we lost?” asked one of the young. “We’re not lost” said the leader (your correspondent of course) “We just don’t know quite where we are”. The church youth group from St. Mark’s Sheffield was on a Sunday afternoon “Ramble”, in the Peak District. We had ended up on Kinder Scout, one of the bleakest places in the British Isles. Some Ramble! We all got safely back to base in the end, but for a moment there was real uncertainty. Does that ring a bell for us today?
According to Luke, Jesus speaks of himself as Son of Man. He comes amongst us as one of us, as a man, in full humanity, however gifted, where humanity crosses over into divinity. He is not lost himself. His whole concern is for those who are lost. There are so many types of lostness, uncertainty. We might spend a moment thinking quite where lostness hits us, and where Christ’s teaching and example can refix our spiritual and practical compass bearings. And then go on to Part 2 of this Tablet of the Word:
The Good Shepherd. John chapter 10 is directed straight at the disciples, and of course Christ’s followers today. The title of the Good Shepherd was especially dear to the first Christians in Rome. In the catacombs are several wall paintings of a young shepherd dressed in a Roman toga, carrying fire in a bucket, and carrying a sheep on his shoulders. Those first Christians knew full well Christ had given his very life for them. It is that sort of faithfulness and dedication to others at whatever expense that can bring back direction and value to our society today.
We shouldn’t say too much about verses like these. They are far too important to be wrecked by over- elaborate commentary. They need rather just to be repeated again and again to ourselves till the truth behind them really sinks in. And then let thankfulness break out – as it can and surely will.
Next week –
Sunday 19th September
Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity
|An Update from The Pilgrims
As a group we are also planning to arrange Zoom Quiz and Storytelling Ceilidh evenings again for the winter months. These proved very popular, and many people said that they appreciated being able to enjoy such evenings from the comfort of their own armchair! We would also like to gather people’s thoughts on more Zoom Bible study sessions, as again these too proved very popular. Pilgrim Breakfast and Pilgrim Rambles will be starting again very soon too, more information to follow. We did begin to discuss the venue for our Wednesday gatherings at last week’s online meeting. Everyone present was in agreement that with the current situation regarding Covid, the Thorpeness Pavilion is too small to meet safely and enjoy face to face Pilgrims with singing, shared food etc (which, as we know, is all very important to our face-to-face gatherings). Continuing on Zoom was considered best for the foreseeable future; we are very open to any suggestions…one being that Wednesday becomes regular on Zoom, especially now we have a gathered community taking in several members, who live a good distance from the area, and wouldn’t be able to attend face to face. But to look to plan face to face ‘Pilgrim Specials’ (for example Harvest) and find a local hall location which is big enough to safely meet and gather in the way we would like to…
We would love to hear your thoughts on the above and we are open to hearing any other ideas that Pilgrims might engage in within our local community. Please do contact us, email email@example.com
✞ Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays ✞
The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
People are more than welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact email@example.com for more information
|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.
| Aldringham Outdoor Services
The services start at 11am, in the beautiful Aldringham churchyard. Weather permitting, these services will continue throughout September.
ALL VERY WELCOME
| Food Banks at the East of England Co-op
Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities. 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.
|The Trussel Trust Organisation
Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last year 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/
01722 580 178 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
|The Return of Our Messy Church Services
We are delighted to be re-starting our much loved Messy Church Services with Harvest Messy Church on
Children of any age, parents, and grandparents are all welcome.
A fun morning of crafts, bread making, singing, games and prayer…
If you would like to book a place, please contact
HELPERS NEEDED FOR THIS VERY VALUABLE MINISTRY.
Another date for your diary:
Christmas Messy Church on Saturday 11th December at
10am to 12 noon
AGAIN, HELPERS ARE NEEDED…
|Compline on Zoom
Compline online services are every Wednesday at 6pm.
All are very welcome.
To join on Zoom, please contact
|✟ Church of England and Diocese Online Worship ✟
There are many online services you can view from the Church
Church of England website
Church of England Facebook page
Church of England YouTube channel
St Edmundsbury Cathedral Facebook Page
|🎶 Alan Bullard Weekly Online Hymns 🎹
Since the lockdown started Alan has recorded over 200 hymns which are available each week to view online. These have been very popular amongst other churches. If you would like to receive these each week, please contact email@example.com and we will pass this onto Alan. Here is the link to this week’s hymn – For the fruits of all creation – as the season of harvest begins
(you don’t need to sign into anything, just press play)