Message from our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther
I received a very thoughtful email the other day from Aldeburgh’s churchwarden, Ken Smith. I’d like to share it with you and ask for your thoughts and comments. Ken says:
Having worked in clinical pathology for over 20 years and during that time having considerable training in infection control, I think that I need to express my concerns regarding the potential risk of health presented by the communion cup and COVID-19. There appears to be a growing belief that being double vaccinated leads to complete immunity. Double vaccination is greater than 90% effective at preventing a serious illness but is less effective at preventing infection or transmission. Breakthrough infections (people infected after immunization) will lead to fully vaccinated people being infected and able to infect others. Latest figures show that there is a greater chance of breakthrough infections in those aged 65 or older. These breakthrough infections are more frequent than initially expected and is suggested to be due to the dominance of the Delta variant. We know that with more covid virus transmissions, more variants will develop.
It is known that COVID-19 virus is found in saliva, this being a reason that taste is affected during infection. Knowing the virus is found in saliva, I find it difficult to understand why one would take all other precautions to prevent spread of COVID-19 and then drink from a common cup. The latest guidance from the Church of England specifically states: ‘Careful consideration needs to be given to the question of whether the sacrament should be administered in one kind or in both kinds, given the continued potential for risks to health posed by the common cup.’ The church therefore acknowledges that there is a potential risk of contracting or transmitting the virus from the communion cup.
Without the ability to sterilise the cup or contents between communicants, it is both possible and probable that anyone carrying COVID-19 can spread the virus to anyone drinking from the cup afterwards. Although the cup is wiped with a purificator and rotated between communicants neither of these are effective in destroying any virus on or in the cup.
With this knowledge, I ask if offering the cup is appropriate. At minimum, I believe that we should inform communicants of the real possibility of transmitting or contracting the virus in sharing the cup, even if they have been vaccinated. The only alternative to sharing the cup I can offer is the receiving of Communion by Simultaneous Administration. This offers a method which reduces but does not eliminate the health risks.
Knowing the workload and stress our doctors and health care workers are under, we need to continually examine what we can do to protect ourselves and others so as not to place any additional pressure on the NHS. The massive backlog of patients awaiting treatment continues to grow.
So, we need to make a decision. Should we continue to offer the chalice, albeit with the warning that Ken suggests, or should we, for the time being, revert to offering Holy Communion in one kind only – ie just bread? There is no easy answer here. We, of course, want to offer both bread and wine as soon as we can. But we also have a responsibility to play our part in keeping folk safe. But should we leave it to individuals to make the decision for themselves? The ‘Simultaneous Administration’ that Ken mentions is when the priest swiftly dips a communion wafer in the wine and then places it on the recipient’s hand. Possible but tricky. And ‘intinction’ – when the recipient dips their own wafer into the chalice is actively discouraged. Please do let me know your thoughts – and, for this weekend, at Holy Communion services in Aldringham and Friston, we will revert to administration in one kind only.
A quick reminder that we have the second of our Friston Sunday afternoon concerts by members of the Kingfisher Ensemble at 4pm – hopefully outdoors. And may I draw your attention to the notice further down this document about our Benefice service in Aldeburgh church on August 29th. We really do need to know if you intend coming so that we can make suitable seating arrangements in the church. Claire or Ken look forward to hearing from you!
With my love and prayers, as ever
Almighty God, who looked upon the lowliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and chose her to be the mother of your only Son:
grant that we who are redeemed by his blood
may share with her in the glory of your eternal kingdom;
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.
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.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
Sermon for 15th August – Eleventh Sunday after Trinity,
by our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther
1 Kings 19: 4-8
Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2
John 6: 35, 41-51
Something you probably thought you’d never hear at the start of a sermon – a quote from a book called ‘Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation’.
The value of any item of evidence to a criminal investigation – such as an apparently unimportant object of fact – may turn out to be extremely important later in the investigation. No item, however small, should be overlooked.
And those of us who read crime fiction or watch dramatizations of it on television know that the plots of good stories often hinge on something that when it was first mentioned seemed irrelevant. We, like the crime scene investigators and the detectives, need to learn how to look for the clues.
Reading John’s gospel is a long way from reading a crime novel but it’s such a rich text, so full of poetry and metaphor, that it’s sometimes difficult to grasp what are the most important events and what they truly mean. Three weeks ago our Gospel reading was John’s version of the story of the feeding of the 5 000 – a story that is so familiar that the heart of its meaning can be missed all too easily – just as it was missed by so many of those present at the event itself. In the verses that follow the story Jesus has to explain to his friends and followers that what happened on that momentous occasion was a great deal more than met the eye. And that’s the context of today’s gospel reading – in which, once again, Jesus identifies himself as the bread of life – the food that will sustain us if we believe and trust. And will sustain us in a way far beyond ordinary food. This is the living bread that comes from heaven. Richer, even , than the bread that sustained Elijah in the story we heard from the Old Testament.
In a homily on this same gospel reading written over 1500 years ago St Augustine of Hippo wrote this, beginning with a quotation from today’s gospel:
‘I am the living bread which comes down from heaven’. It is ‘living’ because it was Jesus who came down from heaven. The manna also came down from heaven but the manna was only a shadow, this is a reality. Those who heard were terrified at this. It was too much for them, they thought it was impossible. But believers know they are the body of Christ, provided they do not neglect to be the body of Christ.
One must be the body of Christ, if one is to live by the spirit of Christ. So whoever wants to live must live as part of the body.’
Jesus is trying to explain this to his puzzled disciples – that the fact that they were able to leave that mountainside fed and satisfied by something that initially looked insufficient and insubstantial is a sign – a metaphor for something that is truly the heart of the matter. In fact it’s what we’d call a sacrament – defined by that same St Augustine as ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.’ And in a few minutes time we will once again share in the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood – the outward and visible sign of God’s overwhelming love for us. The bread that we break and share is, in some amazing and mysterious way, Christ’s body, broken for us. It has, as the Eucharistic Prayer puts it, it has become, for us, the body of Christ. And that bread, that body, feeds us and sustains us just as Jesus said it would.
Next week we read the verses that follow today’s gospel reading, verses in which Jesus takes the explanation of his body and blood being food and drink for us a step further. The 10.30 service at which we’ll read those words will, in fact, be a service of Morning Prayer, not Holy Communion, so it’s worth just touching on what they tell us as we prepare to receive the sacrament of Hoy Communion this morning. Once again the people don’t understand – ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat’? they say. And Jesus, teaching in the synagogue, replies ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. …. My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink ….. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them.’ Beautiful but difficult words – because the wrong picture can all too easily come into our minds. But in his brilliant book ‘Unapologetic’, Francis Spufford reminds us of the centrality of Holy Communion – it’s what the church is for, he says. (And I apologise if you have been online and heard the sermon that I preached last week in Friston because I used the same quotation.)
‘Forget about saints, popes, bishops, monks, nuns, processions, statues, music, art, architecture, vicarage tea parties, speaking in tongues, special hats. All of that stuff can be functional in its time and its place, can do things sometimes to inch forward the work of love, but it’s all secondary, it’s all flummery, it’s all essentially decorative compared to this. We eat the bread, we drink the wine. We feel ourselves forgiven. And, feeling that, we turn from the table to try to love the world, and ourselves, and each other.’
In other words, we try to be what Paul calls us to be in his letter to the Ephesians. ‘Be imitators of God’, Paul wrote, ‘as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.’
Some ancient Latin words about Holy Communion that have often been set to music – ‘O sacrum convivium’.
O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received,
The offering of his Passion is renewed,
The mind is filled with grace,
And a promise of future glory is given to us
May it be so for us all today.
God most high, whose handmaid bore the Word made flesh:
we thank you that in this sacrament of our redemption
you visit us with your Holy Spirit
and overshadow us by your power;
strengthen us to walk with Mary the joyful path of obedience
and so to bring forth the fruits of holiness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sunday 22nd August
Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
Mark’s Retirement – UPDATED
As we all know, we will be saying a very sad farewell to our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther at the end of August, as he starts his retirement. All the churches in the Benefice are arranging last services etc for Mark, which I am sure the church you worship at has informed you.
We are offering designated seating, both socially distanced and non-socially distanced for the concert and the Benefice Holy Communion Service.
Alde Sandlings Benefice Fun Day in August
The next Friday Market is August 27th 10am – 2pm.
BBQ, Vegetables, Plants, Fruit and Flowers, Cakes and Savouries, Jams etc, Craft Stalls, General Bric a Brac. Tombola and Games. All the churches in the Alde Sandlings are invited to have their chosen stalls to raise much depleted funds for the churches. Please contact email@example.com if any church members of the Alde Sandlings Benefice would like to have a stall.
WANTED for Friday Markets
CAKES, SAVOURIES, JAMS, PRESERVES, PRODUCE,
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
ALL VERY WELCOME
U Food Banks at the East of England Co-op U
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/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
✞ Pilgrims Together ✞
The Pilgrim’s will be taking an August break from the Wednesday evening Zoom gatherings. They will be returning on Wednesday 1st September. They continue to worship by The Meare at Thorpeness every Sunday in August.
Tuesday Coffee Morning with Mark & Friends
Our final two Zoom coffee mornings with Mark 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.
Please contact email@example.com
Friston Ride and Stride Information
Ian & Mary Cycle to Raise Awareness of the
Ian & Mary will be cycling 30 miles to visit churches across 16 towns and villages – a challenge but demonstrates the enormity of the energy projects. These are:-
If approved, the construction of these projects will extend over 12 years causing major disruption to residents and visitors, threatening the tourist economy, closing footpaths, and causing environmental damage. Our churches will also bear the brunt of this, with Friston Church being less than 250M from the substation site and threatening the peace and tranquillity of the Churchyard and Church itself.
The route will be a physical challenge for Mary on her “sit-up and beg” bike while Ian, despite his age, still enjoying the adrenaline of a racing bike! If you would like to support Ian & Mary, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2021 Suffolk Historic Churches Ride and Stride
Saturday 11th September 9am-5pm
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.
Email email@example.com and Claire will pass on your details to the team organiser at each church.