who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help
we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Acts 11 1-18
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’ Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But I replied, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” But a second time the voice answered from heaven, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.” And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’ When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’
Revelation 21 1-6
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
Sermon preached by The Revd James Marston at
Aldeburgh 8th May 2022
May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen
Have you been to see Downton Abbey? As you might imagine last night was the highlight of my week – a spaghetti carbonara, with a side order of garlic bread, followed by an hour and a half in what Quentin Crisp called the “forgetting chamber”.
The costumes, the story, the lavish settings – Downton Abbey has widespread appeal and certainly lifts the spirits. I’ve been a fan for a long time, and I’ve even got the cookbook.
If I fancy rusting up one of Mrs Patmore’s feasts in my rectory in the hinterland of the heritage coast, all I have to do is thumb through until something catches my eye.
So last night I was delighted and thankful to be able to indulge my passion for Downton Abbey.
And as we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Easter, with spring all around us, and hope restored, I cannot ignore the feeling of gratitude our faith so often inspires.
From a personal perspective I can express gratitude for being here among you, gratitude, as my time here begins to come to an end, for the opportunities I have had to cut my teeth on parish ministry, gratitude for a welcoming and loving and well run Christian community in which to be formed as a priest. That has been your ministry to me and others before me, for many a year.
And as you know it is the celebration of the Eucharist that is the exclusive honour and privilege of priesthood.
And this week I thought I might do a little teaching, if you’ll indulge me, about the cornerstone of gratitude in our worshipping life, expressed, as you know, through the Eucharist which we are about to pray together.
Here at St Peter and St Paul, the Eucharist is a regular feature of our worship, and we take it seriously and reverently and conduct this service with due respect.
‘Eucharist’ means thanksgiving. The Eucharist can be discussed in countless ways, but there are, it seems to me, three core understandings I thought I’d share with you today.
and Responding to Christ.
We’ll start by thinking about Remembering Christ.
Perhaps the most obvious thing about the Eucharist is that we do it to remember Jesus. We fulfil his command to remember him when we come together in his name and share bread and wine together.
The narrative of the Last Supper is recited as a centre part of the Eucharistic Prayer and most people imagine that it was always there from the very beginning. In fact it was most probably a later insertion into the prayer, and took several centuries to be generally used.
The real core of the prayer is the thanksgiving over the bread and wine, continuing the practice which Jesus and his disciples had followed whenever they had eaten together. From then on, they ‘did this’ to remember him.
At the last supper, the gospels portray Jesus as foreseeing his own coming death and presenting it as being ‘for the forgiveness of sins’. It is more than just instituting a memorial practice: Jesus was offering his life to God in obedience to his love and praying for his disciples in spite of their lack of understanding and their coming abandonment of him. And remembrance is never just a neutral mental act: it carries emotions and response.
St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians gives the earliest narrative of the Last Supper and concludes: ‘As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’.
‘Proclaiming’ is a much stronger and more positive word than mere remembrance: there is no separating the death of Jesus from his resurrection, or his earthly life from his life with us now.
That is why Christians moved their worship from Jewish Sabbath to Sunday, the day on which Jesus was raised from the dead and on which we celebrate his victory over death and sin.
It is important also that Paul looks forward to Christ’s second coming: our worship does not simply look back but also forward to the time when the world is reconciled and brought to wholeness in God’s loving plan. So there’s a lot to simply remembering.
There is a wide range of opinion across the Christian traditions about how Christ is present with us in the Eucharist, but every Christian tradition affirms that he is present with us in this worship.
The resurrection appearances often included Jesus eating with his disciples; and most famous is the story of him walking with two men on the road to Emmaus.
At the end of the day they share food together, and when Jesus says the meal grace and breaks the bread they recognise him. Luke’s gospel summarises the story by saying how ‘they recognised him in the breaking of the bread’. So we are not just thinking about how Christ died all those years ago but meeting him alive with us now.
Jesus said ‘This is my body … this is my blood’. Some traditions put an emphasis more on his presence in the bread and wine; others on him being present in our hearts as we eat and drink together. Our personal approach may depend on our own church upbringing. But whichever our emphasis we should keep both these ideas within the frame of our understanding of this service.
In communion we are joined to Christ and to one another. The broken bread and common cup are important symbols of our belonging to one another.
This is so fundamental that it is often forgotten, but the symbolism can come alive again if, for example, teachers and pupils in a school, or warders and prisoners in a jail, stand or kneel side by side as equals to receive communion.
We are all God’s children whatever our earthly rank or whatever we have done or suffered in life.
And finally, Responding to Christ.
Any act of remembrance carries with it an emotional and often an active response. In the first instance the Christian response to Christ’s self-giving is of celebration and thanksgiving.
The thanksgiving prayer that Jesus had said over the bread and cup is now the ‘Eucharistic Prayer’ for all that God has done for us, but focussed on Jesus Christ, his life, his ministry and death, and his risen life among us now.
And in turn, we align ourselves with him in response to his giving of himself to us.
Traditionally the Eucharist is talked about as a place of ‘offering’.
We offer bread and wine, we offer worship in thanksgiving, we offer our souls and bodies, ourselves to be made new by Him. And we hold before God the church and the world that it too may be transformed by his Holy Spirit and reconciled to him in his kingdom.
Remembering, meeting and responding to Christ; the Eucharist contains many rich ideas.
Frequent attendance at the same service might seem unimaginative, but part of the aim is to deepen our understanding and appreciation and to make it a cornerstone of our lives.
And hopefully we should grow, as individuals and as a community, into living as the Body of Christ on earth and look forward joyfully to the time when we shall join in the heavenly banquet.
and Responding to Christ.
whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life:
grant us to walk in his way,
to rejoice in his truth,
and to share his risen life;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.
Sunday 22nd May
Sixth Sunday of Easter
My darling son Lee Spencer Jones died from bowel cancer in January
I’m ‘Walking Together’ for Bowel Cancer UK, with my lovely daughter
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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.
All requests by 4pm on Thursday please
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.
A Call for Helpers and Keys (Aldeburgh)
Aldeburgh Parish Church Collections
The collection at this Sunday’s Civic service (15th) will be donated to the Mayor’s choice of charity, which is St Elizabeth Hospice.
Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays
The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
Saturday 21st May Good News Faith Cafe @ The Outside Inn,
A time for conversation, a hot drink and a croissant. A time to share and offer our thoughts and stories. Acts of kindness within the Outside Inn and out into the outside world.