Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 14th February – The Sunday next before Lent

Message from The Rector

Lent approaches. Ash Wednesday is this coming week and there will be special online services that day to mark it. From 10.00 a service of Holy Communion for Ash Wednesday will be available on our YouTube channel (we’ll rest the Book of Common Prayer just for this week) and at 6pm the regular service of Compline from Friston will include some special material for this first day of Lent. And a reminder that during Lent there will be opportunities for study and reflection online, including:

Living Faith in Suffolk Basics Course

Staring 23 February 2021 7.00pm to 9.00pm

Through Lent Bishop Mike and Barbara Hill (Deputy Warden of Readers) will lead this online course for people who are involved in, or considering, any kind of ministry, whether local (e.g. Lay Elder ministry) or national (e.g. Reader ministry or ordination), as well as those interested in looking more deeply at expressing their faith (this isn’t just for potential public ministers). The course consists of five sessions: Being Disciples : Being Called : Working Together : Sustaining Ministry : What now?

The courses will run on Zoom: Tuesdays (from 23 February) 7pm – 9pm.

Visit: for more information and to sign up to attend the whole course.

Radical Faith: Inspirational Christians Lives for Challenging Times

St Edmundsbury Cathedral will be hosting a series of speakers during Lent looking at five inspirational Christian lives for today’s challenging times and circumstances. Speakers include The Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie author of ‘A Field Guide to English Clergy’ and Liz Dodd, journalist, and home news editor of The Tablet. Full details of the topics and speakers can be found on the cathedral website.

If Lent begins on Wednesday, then Tuesday must be Pancake Day! See elsewhere on the pew-sheet for full details of the opportunity to join in the pancake-making fun with Chris Theobald from The Parrot and Punchbowl in Aldringham at 4.30pm.

A week on Monday (February 22nd) the Prime Minister will be making an announcement about his ‘roadmap out of lockdown’. In the light of that announcement we will take decisions about when we re-open our churches for worship. History tells us that the announcement may be short on essential details that only emerge in the following days but please be assured that we will do what we can when we can. It is heartening to know that so many people have now received their first vaccination, although I read yesterday (Thursday) in the East Anglian Daily Times that in our immediate local areas (Leiston and Aldeburgh, Saxmundham and Coldfair Green) cases of Covid-19, though small in number, increased week-on-week. We must continue to be careful, for our own sake and for the sake of others.

With love, as ever


Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty
before he suffered death upon the cross: 
give us grace to perceive his glory, 
that we may be strengthened to suffer with him
and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
2 Kings 2.1-12
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent.’
Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he answered, ‘Yes, I know; be silent.’ Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ He responded, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.’ As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Second Reading
2 Corinthians 4.3-6
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9.2-9
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.


Sermon for 14th February –Sunday next before Lent
by The Revd James Marston

May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit

“And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.”

Snowbound in the rectory I’ve learnt two lessons this week. Firstly, that, despite its striking colour and head turning looks, a two seater with a fabric roof might not be the most sensible motor for rural ministry and secondly that when it comes to exercise I’m very much a fair weather walker.

Indeed, on top of lockdown, the recent blast of snow has perhaps curtailed our activities even further – a double whammy of restrictions – that have left us looking at the four walls with plenty, perhaps, too much time to think.

Indeed, our Gospel reading today tells a story so bizarre, so strange, that it can’t be understood easily – and I think the transfiguration not only challenges us, but forces us to think, to analyse and to contemplate.

This theophany – a theological word which means a visible manifestation to humankind of God – has quite a bit for us to consider.

And this event is not just in the gospel according to Mark’s either. It appears in Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts and the second letter of Peter, so try as we might, we can’t ignore its presence in Holy Scripture. The belief that something supernatural happened on that mountain is part of our faith.

Not only have we got a dazzling white Jesus, but we’ve got an account of an event taking place high up on a mountain, involving Moses and Elijah – both characters from ancient history, and then, to cap it all, a cloud envelops them, and mysterious voice tells them to listen. No wonder the disciples were a bit spooked.

Nonetheless this theophany – a theological word which means a visible manifestation to humankind of God – has quite a bit for us to think about.

Obviously, the transfiguration is a supernatural event that Mark is recording. It’s something that defies explanation. It is a mystery, a concept that we, as Christians, are not unused to as part and parcel of faith. It is ok not to have all the answers.

But what we can say is that the transfiguration is a turning point. A moment in which Jesus’ ministry of teaching, healing, and preaching, looks forward to Jerusalem, the shame of the cross and the glory of the resurrection – indeed as a foretaste of Jesus’ shining light as the son of God, the transfiguration is a cautionary tale – that the message and glory of Jesus can only be understood in relation to the death and resurrection of Christ.

The traditional interpretation of the appearance of Moses and Elijah points towards the claim that Christ is the fulfilment of the law – Moses – and the fulfilment of the prophets – Elijah. That Jesus is a fulfilment of all that God has promised and that Jesus life on earth accomplishes this promise.

Yet the transfiguration also not only looks forward to the final act of Jesus’ life but also to his past – expressly his baptism, for at Jesus’ baptism the same voice says a similar thing “This is my son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased: listen to Him.”

This event is also a moment of revelation. A reminder to us in this troublous world, that Jesus is here, Jesus is divine and that we have no need to fear. Our church communities today, though pulling together in many respects, are also facing stresses and strains – we cannot meet, or worship as we might like, our lives are restricted like never before.

It is hard indeed to entrust our lives into the hands of God when we are up against what might appear to be an insurmountable outside threat.

But I think the transfiguration, for all its meanings and mystery, is also, at its root a timeless and repeated invitation to follow Christ, to keep the faith and to never lose sight of the hope and wider perspective Jesus offers.

In this event we see Jesus in his glory, in his dazzling white, revealed as the living God, in a moment of illumination. The story of redemption, of Calvary, of troubles ahead, has yet to be worked out. Yet the transfiguration assures us that the ultimate victory of the cross and resurrection, the ultimate victory of light, the ultimate victory of God, is secured.

I have no spiritual challenge, no little task, no thought to think about for you this week, but I thought it might be a good idea to remind you that I, and other clergy, are here because we are called by God to live among you to live alongside you as a presence in your community. And, indeed, our prayers are with you.

A final thought: As Christians in this place and in these days, we can, at least hold on to the fact that whatever happened on that high mountain on that strange day we are left with hope, a hope that can make all the difference, a hope that can keep us going in our own times of distress, a hope in God, that we can rely on and a hope that ultimately transforms and transfigures our own lives.

Post Communion
Holy God, we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ:
may we who are partakers at his table reflect his life in word and deed,
that all the world may know his power to change and save.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Saints Series (Heroes of Faith) by Canon John Giles

This week – Dame Cicely Saunders (22 June 1918 – 14 July 2005) and the Hospice Movement.

We are all by now familiar with Hospices, for adults and for children. But we may not know the story of how a new understanding of care for the dying in hospices was largely brought about by a remarkable dedicated Christian woman, Dr Cicely Saunders, in the 1960s.

Forgive me if I start with a personal connection.  In 1967, I was a chaplain at UEA. It was the era of John Robinson’s “Honest to God”, from the Christian side, and “The History Man” by Malcolm Bradbury and the serried ranks of the agnostic counter-culture on the opposing side.

Students, caught in the middle of religious and anti-religious arguments, discussed and questioned vigorously, and asked “What does Christianity add up to in practice? What difference does it make?” To try and answer that question we held a London Weekend looking at work being done by the Churches.  By a stroke of great good fortune, we were able to get Cicely Saunders to come and speak to us and show slides of her newly opened St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, South London. How she fitted in the time to do this is impossible to imagine, but she did, and the students later agreed she was the star turn of the weekend.

Cicely Saunders had a troubled family life with separated parents.  She won a place at Oxford to study PPE, but when war broke out, wanted to do something to help with the human casualties of the war and turned to nursing.  She trained at St Thomas’ Hospital, but a bad back meant she had to change course and became an almoner, the equivalent today of a hospital social worker. Seeing the need for further expertise if she were to develop care for the terminally ill, she went on to qualify as a doctor. 

Meanwhile she gained experience for the work that lay ahead in a small private home for the dying at St Luke’s Bayswater, and, as a doctor, gave three days a week to working at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Hospice, in Hackney. There as well as confirming her vocation, she worked on quite new programmes of drug treatment and pain relief for the dying. She saw the need to be professionally expert as well as good at heart and well-intentioned.

Faith-wise she was by now a convinced Evangelical Christian, influenced by John Stott at All Soul’s Langham Place. Very soon, however, she realised that this was too narrow a background for the work she felt called to do. Rather she had to work for all people, regardless of religious or non-religious persuasion. 

Our own Celia Cook, having worked at the East Anglian Children’s Hospice in Ipswich, has spoken well of this need to work for the good of all. Christian ministry needs to work with allies.

The full story of the vision behind St Christopher’s Hospice, the long hard slog of gaining approval for its building, and the raising of the money for it is too long to tell today can be read in “Cicely Saunders – The Founder of the Modern Hospice Movement” by Shirley du Boulay.

The new Hospice was opened in July1967 and led to many others. One was St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield, doing wonderful work when I was in that city. In Ipswich we have the St Elizabeth Hospice and the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, open to all sick children, not just terminally ill, but a true development of insights gained from St Christopher’s.

The hallmarks of Cicely Saunders’ vision were that life should still go on in the Hospice. While the medical care and use of drugs had to be the very best available, patients should still be surrounded with life, laughter and loving care. Families were welcomed as visitors with their children; birthdays were celebrated; rules kept to an absolute minimum; a ministry of prayer should be always available to patients, but never enforced. Worship in the chapel was important. Space and light were features of the small four and six bedded wards, while beds were positioned sideways to the windows to give views of gardens and grounds.  From my London parish a number of patients were admitted, whom I visited, and all I can say is that it all worked.

On a practical note, today Covid is causing a big financial problem for our Ipswich Hospices through loss of income from the Charity shops. We are all asked to help if we possibly can.

Cicely Saunders was made a Dame in 1980, but she certainly put into practice Jesus words: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move.” Well, it did move, and the students who heard the story so early on duly took note.

John Giles


 Book/TV/Film Review Club 
Have you found a great escape during this lockdown in books, a tv series, or a good film? Are you re-visiting the classics, or reading them for the first time? What box sets are you binge watching? Are you watching The Serpent, The Bay, A Perfect Planet, The Crown?
Please do share your reviews/recommendations with us.
Just send your review to
We would love to hear your suggestions.

This week – A Long Petal of the sea, by Isabel Allende
This is a story of members of a Spanish family on the Republican (losing) side in the Spanish Civil War who consequently leave their country and, via the Pyrenees, the French concentration camps and a long sea journey, end up in Chile.  The time covered is from 1938 to 1994 and the setting is historically correct, including the involvement of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. It is the most recent of Allende’s books and doesn’t contain the magical/mythical elements of some of her work, but it is a great story well told. The characters are varied and interesting; the writing is in parts grimly realistic and in others beautifully descriptive. I found it a thoroughly absorbing read.

by Rosemary Lowther

A Snowy St Andrew’s Church, Aldringham

I took these photos on Wednesday when doing a check to make sure the church was secure. It struck me that St Andrew’s looks beautiful at the best of times but takes on another dimension in the snow. I thought that as many of our parishioners might not be wishing to venture out in the snow, they might appreciate seeing how pretty the church and its surroundings looked.

Chris Burrell Saward – Church Warden

A church in the snow

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A church in the snow

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Thank you, Chris, for sharing these with us.



Useful information to help during these times 
If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available 

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.


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Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843



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. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months 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 – By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing


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.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.


Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays 
The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
You are all more than welcome to join them via Zoom.  
The worship starts at 6.30pm (Zoom call opens from 6.10pm) and the call is then left open after the worship time for people to catch up.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

Please contact for the link.

Pilgrims Zoom Pancake Making with Chris from
The Parrot – 4.30pm on Shrove Tuesday

We are very much looking forward to sharing, with as many of you who are able, in pancake making, tossing and eating next Tuesday 16th.

If you just wish to watch from the comfort of your armchair, then that’s good too.

Following the tremendous success of the Jammie Dodger bake, Chris from the Parrot will be leading us in endeavouring to make that perfect pancake to celebrate Shrove Tuesday.

Ingredients needed for the basic pancake:

Plain flour


Your choice of Toppings

Quantities will be explained as we make them!

So go for something savoury, something sweet, something a bit unusual, something you’ve not tried before, something that might work / might not…a different topping for each pancake you make?…think pancake, think creative …

Have your camera at the ready and email over photos of your pancakes being prepared, tossed, topped, eaten…and we will compile them onto the Facebook page!

Please contact for the link.

Save the date: Saturday 6th March 7pm- Pilgrim’s Fun Quiz

Following the success of our January Quiz Night, another is planned for Saturday 6th March.  Please contact for more info.
More details to follow… All are welcome!


Friston Sunday Services on Zoom 
Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning
Please contact for the link.

How about a walk with James? 
As the weather gradually gets better, our assistant curate James is offering to walk and chat for those that might like to. If you feel like getting out and meeting up with James give him a call on 01728 688451 to arrange.


Tuesday Coffee Morning with Mark & Friends 
Our regular Zoom coffee morning will be from 10.30am – 11.30am every Tuesday. All are very welcome. Grab your favourite morning beverage and let’s have a good ole chat – just like we used to.
Please contact for the link.

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 21st February
First Sunday of Lent