Message from The Rector
Our plans for Holy Week and Easter services aren’t quite 100% complete (PCC meetings in Friston and Knodishall this coming week will fix that) but I thought I ought to let you know about the plans that are in place.
On Palm Sunday (March 28th) there will be a service at Aldringham church at 11.00. If the weather is kind to us, we will hold at least some of it outdoors and it will be graced by the presence of two beautiful miniature donkeys.
There will be some special services online during Holy Week.
On Good Friday (April 2nd) Aldeburgh Church will be open from Midday until 3.00pm and there will be a simple quiet liturgy with bible readings, words of meditation, some recorded music – and lots of silence.
On Easter Day (April 4th) there will be a service at 6.30am in Aldeburgh churchyard. It replaces the service that we have traditionally held on the beach (this year we are not allowed to congregate anywhere other than in church or a churchyard) – but we will still be able to see the sea! Then all four churches (subject to confirmation at Friston and Knodishall’s PCC meetings) will hold services at their usual times and these will mark the ‘reopening’ of the church buildings for regular Sunday worship.
All are welcome at any of these services, at which we will be taking all of the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. As things currently stand, we will still not be allowed to sing (even outdoors) but there is a chance that this ruling might change any day now. Hope and pray!
With love, as ever
God of compassion, whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary,
shared the life of a home in Nazareth, and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself: strengthen us in our daily living that in joy and in sorrow we may know the power of your presence to bind together and to heal; 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.
Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
Sermon for 14th March – The Fourth Sunday of Lent/Mothering Sunday
by our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther
It’s good, isn’t it, to have a ‘day off’ every now and then. A day when, whatever your normal routine, you do something different, or do less –
or even do nothing. In this penitential season of Lent one Sunday was traditionally marked as a ‘day off’ from the solemnity, a day of celebration – and it was this one. It has lots of names. It’s the 4th Sunday in Lent. Some churches also mark it as ‘Laetare’ Sunday. ‘Laetare’ means ‘rejoice’ and it’s the first word of the traditional introit for today – ‘Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together, all that love her’ – an interesting feminine image – hold that thought. Laetare Sunday, also sometimes known as ‘Refreshment Sunday’, is a day when some of the more solemn aspects of Lent are relaxed, just for the one day. Easter is within sight now, though there is a lot of solemnity to come before we get there …. It’s the original day for Simnel cake – and in churches that wear vestments the normal Lenten purple can become a gentle rose pink – just for today. (There’s one Sunday in Advent when the same thing happens, by the way.)
And, of course, today is Mothering Sunday.
Mothering Sunday is a church festival that goes back hundreds of years and originally it had nothing to do with us all giving presents to our mothers. It was a day when, as I mentioned at the beginning of the service, people went back to the church where they were baptised – their ‘mother church’. Then, in the United States in the early years of the 20th century, the Mother’s Day tradition began – a special day for people to remember their mothers – and eventually the two – Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day became, more or less the same thing. And today was chosen as the day at least in part because the Prayer-Book Epistle for today (from Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians) has the image of Jerusalem being ‘the mother of us all’. Another feminine image.
But the combination of Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day is a good excuse for us to give thanks for our mothers here in church. Once, when I asked the children of Aldeburgh Primary School about what their mothers do for them, I heard back about food, bandaging up wounds, just being there – and loving. And for doing all of those things for which we give thanks for our mothers. But let me just stretch that a little. We often talk about God as our father – heavenly father, loving father – which is fine and good but not the whole story. There’s a danger that, even though we know that God isn’t a he or a she it’s a male image that comes into our minds. Bishop Richard Harries (the former Bishop of Oxford and a regular ‘Thought for the Day’-er on Radio 4) expressed the rather beautiful idea that all that we mean by ‘he’ or ‘she’ is contained within God. And given that God is beyond anything we can imagine – certainly beyond male and female – it’s perfectly OK to talk of God as our mother too. We do sometimes, but probably not enough. ‘As a mother tenderly gathers her children you embraced a people as your own’ we say in one of our Eucharistic Prayers. And Jesus, in both Matthew and Like’s gospels, says, of Jerusalem, ‘How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings’ …. A beautiful image that only works because of its feminine nature. I’ve mentioned a couple of other feminine images from the bible, and they go right back to the Old Testament – the book of Proverbs has wisdom described as feminine: ‘Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out: ‘To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.’
And just think of those things that the school-children told me that their mothers do. Binding up our wounds, being there for us, loving us – and feeding us. Doesn’t God do those things? God binds up our wounds – when we fall short of what God wants us to be, God forgives us, ‘binds up our wounds and revives us’ (to quote the prophet Hosea). God is always there for us – always, even when things seem at their most bleak and desolate. God loves us – always. Something so vital to hang on to at times like these.
God loves us so much that he sent his son to show us what love really is. And God feeds us – with the most special food of all – the word of life and the bread of heaven. That’s why, week by week, even when we can’t meet in our buildings, we come together to worship, isn’t it?
What have we learned from the COVID19 Pandemic and
how will it change our lives?
by Ian Henderson
Writing this on 11th March 2021 we are told that by 21st June all Covid Government restrictions on the nation will be lifted. The negative effects of the pandemic are all too obvious leaving globally millions dead, many more left weakened by the after effects of the infection, the havoc wreaked on world trade, the long lasting impact of the cost to future generations, the unknown impact on the world’s fragile financial situation brought about by the experimental money printing activities of the world’s Central Banks and finally the disruption to the education of a whole generation.
Perhaps this is a good moment to ponder on what we have learned from the COVID 19 pandemic and assess how it may change the way we lead our lives?
First and foremost, for those with faith we know that God has been with us every step of the way. We know that mankind has faced similar pandemics in the past and that there is much to be learned from studying the bible and reading accounts of how God is with us through hard times and guides our way to a better life. Indeed, have you noticed how much more considerate people have become by helping those in need, an example being the flood of volunteers offering their services to AGNES here in Aldeburgh; furthermore, have you noticed the polite way in which total strangers step back from the path and give a cheerful greeting to passers-by? I believe that we are all now much more aware of the needs of others and are prepared to offer a helping hand.
Another positive of the “lockdown” has been time. Being unable to pursue our work and many leisure activities that would otherwise have occupied our time, we have been able to get those things done that we had intended to do for so long and we have been able to have time to think and contemplate what is happening to the world around us. Many of us have enjoyed long and frequent walks where we have been able to commune with nature. Many city dwellers have moved to the countryside often where they have still managed to carry out their work. I gain the impression from some that they will now make a permanent move from city dwelling. Home working has become a feature of life that will remain with us. Another impact will be on multi-national living. So many families now are scattered around the globe and now are cut off from each other. Could it be that the time of relatively inexpensive international travel is gone, never to return? Certainly, the carbon footprint of those families trying to re-establish contact will be something that the individual and climate change activists will be closely monitoring. I suspect that there will be a massive increase in taxation on travel to help pay for the costs of the pandemic.
The conclusion to these thoughts is my hope that much good will come out of the Covid disaster and that we will continue to act more thoughtfully and kindly towards our neighbours and take better care of this earth and the time that is given to us on it.
Many thanks to Ian Henderson for his reflection on this last year.
The Week Ahead
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 – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ 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 email@example.com
✞ Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays ✞
The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
firstname.lastname@example.org for the link.
**Saturday 20th March 7pm – ‘Did you know Ceilidh’**
Following the great success of our first ‘Did you know Ceilidh’, another has been planned! Tell a story of local interest, provide an interesting fact or 2 about our community, introduce us to our local area past and present…surprise us with nuggets of information, the possibilities are endless…you might want to share a short presentation…
Come along and share, come along and just listen. Enjoy the evening with a glass / mug of something special of your choice.
✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞
Tuesday Coffee Morning with Mark & Friends
Please contact email@example.com for the link.
Weekly Benefice Newsletter
Book/TV/Film Review Club
Please do share your reviews/recommendations with us.
Art in a Bag
There are a number of bags ready to be distributed and more in the pipeline subject to demand. If you are interested, please contact
firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass on your details.