Message from The Rector
Unusual circumstances call for unusual solutions and this coming week there is a rather special event, prompted by the fact that many people will not be able to sing carols in the way that they are used to this Christmas. ‘Doorstep Carols’ happens between 6 and 7pm on Wednesday December 16th. The idea is that, if you wish, you can sing along with Radio Suffolk on your doorstep and invite neighbours to join in from theirs.
All of the details are here:
.. including details of how to raise some money for charity too. Sounds like fun!
If, however, you’d like something a little more traditional then the day before (Tuesday 15th) at 6.30pm there will be a gathering on Mill Hill in Aldringham for some socially-distanced carol singing. Wrap up warm (it won’t last too long) and come and sing some old favourites.
Our church services for Christmas include something Christmassy in Aldringham on Sunday 20th at 11.00am and Monday 21st at 6pm – contact David Copp with your preferred service and the number of people who can sit together in a pew – we don’t want to have to turn people away. Similarly, there is a special Christmas service in Friston on Tuesday 22nd at 6pm (contact Carole Edwards for details of booking).
There are services in all of our churches on Christmas Day at the usual times, but it would be good to let me or one of the churchwardens know that you are coming so that we can keep an eye on numbers. Again, it would be dreadful to have to turn you away because the church was full and numbers are, inevitably, restricted.
Finally, some details of the national church’s Christmas campaign this hear. It’s called ‘Comfort and Joy’ and has all sorts of ways of being involved – streamed services, reflections, downloadable resources of one kind and another, even a special phone app. Do have a look here:
With love, as ever
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards
of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Isaiah 61.1-4, 8-end
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
1 Thessalonians 5.16-24
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
John 1.6-8, 19-28
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” ’, as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
Sermon for 13th December – Third Sunday of Advent
by The Revd Sheila Hart
Today we have three amazing readings from the Bible to ponder and meditate upon.
The passage from Isaiah 61 sets out the message of hope for the future of those who are still in exile. It is almost saying ‘Don’t worry about your current circumstances, they are only temporary for I am giving you a message of hope that all will be well.’
The statement made by the prophet in the first verses of the chapter is, of course the words which Jesus applied to himself after he had read this passage in the synagogue in Luke chapter 4, ‘today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’
Our reading from Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians is written to the young church to encourage them in their faith and their growth in their relationship with God.
And, since traditionally on the third Sunday of Advent we remember the ministry of John the Baptist, the reading from John’s Gospel highlights just that, firstly by the mention of the Baptist in the Prologue to the Gospel and then taking us on to John’s ministry and how the people received both him and it.
All of this is fine, but what is the message from these passages and how are they relevant to us today?
In the reading from Isaiah chapter 40 which we heard last Sunday the message from the prophet was that God wanted to comfort His people in their exile in Babylon and it was relatively easy to apply that to how God might want to comfort us in our ‘exile’ or ‘captivity’ as a result of Covid 19 and, indeed, there is much hope for the future control of the pandemic through the roll-out of the vaccines as they become available.
In our reading from Isaiah chapter 61, however, the prophet goes much further and spells out that God has sent him to
‘Bring good news to the oppressed,
To bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives, And release to the prisoners;
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort those who mourn.’
This is a real message of hope, not only for the exiled Israelites, but also for those of us who are beginning to become a bit wearied by our current situation.
It poses the question, though, ‘is this hope for us alone, or do we have some sort of responsibility in, not only rejoicing in its application to our situation, but also in trying to share it with those who are not yet able to trust in the message of God for themselves?
If we look at the prologue of St John’s Gospel, where he mentions John the Baptist, we read about his coming into the world, not as the ‘Light of the world’, but as ‘the witness to that light.’ And later, John the Baptist, himself declares that he is not the Messiah, but the ‘voice crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.’
If we take these two readings as a whole, is that not our mission and ministry, to witness to Jesus, the Light of the world so that others may come to know Him as we do?
The question is: How can we do this if we, too are overtaken by despair and hopelessness in our current situation?
The answer to this question is to be found, I believe in our reading from Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians when he encourages the young Christians there by writing:
Pray without ceasing,
Give thanks in all circumstances,
Do not quench the Spirit,
Do not despise the words of the prophets
But test everything, hold fast to what is good.’
As we take Paul’s very sound advice, I believe we will grow in our knowledge and faith in God who alone can take us through our current circumstances and into the future He has for us whatever that may hold, and we can do no better than commend ourselves to God using the words with which Paul sums up his advice:
‘May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely, and may your body and soul be kept sound and blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.’ Amen
We give you thanks, O Lord, for these heavenly gifts; kindle in us the fire of your Spirit that when your Christ comes again we may shine as lights before his face; who is alive and reigns now and for ever.
The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
20th December – Fourth Sunday of Advent
|9.45am||Morning Prayer||Friston Church|
|9.30am||Holy Communion||Knodishall Church|
|10.30am||Morning Prayer with Baptism||Aldeburgh Church|
|11.00am||Christmas Service||Aldringham Church|
Deciphering words in the New Testament
(It’s all Greek to me)
‘En Christo – In Christ
Over the last few weeks, we have looked at snap shots of key words of Jesus. Hopefully they have brought into sharper focus for us words in Greek as heard by most of the first Christians. “Be of good heart – tharsei”, “Don’t be afraid – me phobou”, “Steadfast Endurance – hupomone”, “Sin, or Missing the Mark – hamartia”, “Repentance, or Change of Heart – metanoia”, “Love and Friendship – agape & philia”.
What emerged from those who first heard these powerful words was a band of disciples, learners on “The Way” (Acts 9.2), the first name given to the Christian movement. They would come to be called the Church, ‘ekklesia’ in Greek, those “called out” of the world to make up a new family.
In the Epistles of Paul, Peter, John and James we find a portrait of this new family life. In them we read of the shared experiences and beliefs of the early church, as its new members explored the richness of new life and faith under the Lordship of Christ, under his Cross indeed, but in the joy, confidence, and faith of the first Easter. At the same time church leaders had to start coping with the first divisions and arguments which, predictably, with human nature being what it is, soon arose, and we have to admit, have continued ever since.
Yet behind this was a unity of church members, symbolised in Baptism, (which was by total immersion in those days), in which the candidates, wearing the robe of baptism, entered the fellowship of those en Christo, in Christ. Paul wrote to the Galatians (ch. 3.28) “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (en Christo Jesou)”. The same phrase occurs again and again in Paul’s Letters.
The words are engraved in my memory from being sent off on National Service in Germany in 1954 as a representative British soldier in blitzed Dortmund, where British soldiers were not exactly popular, to share Christmas Day with a German coal-mining family on a distant housing estate. I went to a Lutheran service with the family where an old man, at one point, seized me by the hand and said emotionally “Wir sind alle einer in Jesu Christi”: we are all one in Jesus Christ.
En Christo: At the altar rails (soon may they be restored to us) all are one in Christ.
A young curate, before going to his first Deanery Chapter was warned that it might be a bit of a shock. “But perhaps you should remember”, said his vicar, “when meeting some of these older clergymen, that however good or bad or lazy or crazy or saintly or arrogant or cynical or pompous or despairing or defeated, at some time in their lives they were inspired by Jesus Christ.”
And that will surely be true for the great majority of our fellow worshippers in the pews and at the altar rails. In Christ, en Christo, we find our unity, however different, however diverse we may be. In that is the secret energy of the Church which can pick it up by God’s grace again and again and put it back on the rails. To be personal it was that sense of us all being one in Christ, en Christo, which has upheld my own feeling of loyalty to and family membership of our Benefice in recent months and prompted me to make this tiny contribution to our life together.
Next Sunday, the last before Christmas, we shall pray the prayer of the last verse but one of the New Testament: “Even so, come Lord Jesus”.
As He most certainly will!
|Monday||8.00 to 14.30||8.00 to 18.30||8.00 to 18.30|
|Tuesday||8.00 to 18.30||CLOSED||8.00 to 18.30|
|Wednesday||8.00 to 18.30||8.00 to 13.00||8.00 to 18.30|
|Thursday||8.00 to 18.30||8.00 to 13.00||8.00 to 18.30|
|Friday||8.00 to 18.30||8.00 to 13.00||8.00 to 18.30|
STAFF MEETING CLOSURE DATE
The surgery will be closed between 14.00 – 16.00 on Thursday 21st January for a staff meeting.
We appreciate that not all of our patients have internet access, but in the current rapidly changing climate our website & Facebook page are the most direct route for you to find up to date patient information.
If you are unable to access the internet please call the surgery if you have any queries on 01394 411641.
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. With Christmas fast approaching, your donations will make all the difference.
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.
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. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.