The week ahead online services
Message from The Rector
There isn’t a huge amount to say that is new this week. We continue with our online services recorded in church – this week’s Sunday morning service of Holy Communion will be recorded in Friston church. We continue to hope and pray that we will be able to return to worshipping in our churches from December 6th, but we wait and see what restrictions there may still be.
In the meantime, there will also be some special services online too. This Monday evening at 6.30pm our Pilgrims Together group has been asked to lead half-an-hour of online prayers as part of a week-long county-wide ecumenical celebration of prayer in its many forms. It’s called ‘The Power of Prayer’ and if you would like to take part you can get the Zoom link by emailing the organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are unsure of the details of how to access any of these online services, please let me know and I’ll be happy to pass them on to you.
Finally, may I please say an enormous thank-you to all who helped to organise and lead our Remembrance Sunday commemorations last week. I have had lots of very positive feedback. In the middle of all of the current strangeness it was good to stop, pray and remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. We will always remember them.
With love, as ever
Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son was revealed to destroy
the works of the devil and to make us the children of God and
heirs of eternal life: grant that we, having this hope, may purify
ourselves even as he is pure; that when he shall appear in power
and great glory we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Zephaniah 1.7, 12-end
Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests.
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.’ Their wealth shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them. The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter, the warrior
cries aloud there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.
1 Thessalonians 5.1-11
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Second Sunday before Advent. Notes on this Sunday’s readings, and thoughts arising by Canon John Giles
Advent Sunday is only a fortnight away. Our lessons today confront us with one of the more sombre themes of Scripture, to which we shall be returning in Advent, that of the Day of the Lord (the prophet Zephaniah); the Second Coming of Christ (Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians); and a rather worrying judgement of ourselves as to whether we have used what gifts we have effectively enough for the Lord (the Parable of the Talents). All in all, we have a general theme of Judgement.
Let’s first get rid of the notion that Covid is a divine judgement. Covid is a natural phenomenon, a pandemic, like Spanish flu, or the Plague. Jesus specifically denied that natural disasters were sent by God to punish particularly wicked people. When the Tower of Siloam collapsed, killing eighteen people, they were, he said, no more wicked than anyone else. (Luke 13.4). That still didn’t stop the need for everyone to heed a deeper moral judgement on their actions. Similarly, with Covid, we must now look to science to help us find out how and where it started, and hopefully how to defeat it.
Our lessons are all concerned with a deeper moral judgement, teaching that doing wrong things, or not doing right things, can lead to big trouble. The prophet Zephaniah foresees a truly 3D day of disaster, darkness and distress. Neither silver nor gold will be able to save the people from the Lord’s wrath. Zephaniah wrote in a time of national apostasy; of falling away from the true faith; and a time of idolatry, in which the worship of pagan religious gods with associated practices, some of which were highly immoral, was widespread. The international scene was full of predatory rival states. A nation, corrupt in its heart, would fall prey to one of them sooner or later. Zephaniah was right. Within fifty years, the Jews would be carried off as captives to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. Zephaniah’s prophecy of judgement was fulfilled.
Six centuries later Jesus had brought a new message of hope to the world. He had been cruelly put to death. Spiritually he had reappeared to his followers. Physically he was no longer with them, but the belief grew in the church that he would come again and put both the world and the church to rights (see today’s Epistle). This was predicted in the gospels, especially in Mark 13 and Matthew 23 & 24. Hence the expectation of the Second Coming of Christ. The years passed and no Second Coming took place. The church’s understanding of these passages changed. Christians came to see that through the gift of the Holy Spirit the Risen Jesus had always been with the church. We celebrate that in our Communion hymns, and it remains true today: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18.20).
So, our gospel for today, the Parable of the Talents, is a passage to challenge the church to be brave and use its gifts both on the level of personal discipleship and in the life of the church. There is indeed also a warning against doing nothing, burying talents in the ground. Maybe we all need to take that on board. The wider challenge remains as we look at the work and the witness to which we are called in the world today. Christ is always around the corner when we need Him. We can be sure of that. He will come again – indeed He has never left us. Hurrah! Amen.
Gracious Lord, in this holy sacrament you give substance to
our hope: bring us at the last to that fullness of life for which
we long; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
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Remembrance Day in lockdown 2020 by Mary Sidwell
Having learnt soon after I moved to Aldeburgh, about the Dutch Kayakers memorial (near Sizewell beach) that is where I hold the two-minute silence and I place a poppy on Remembrance Day. Today (11th) there were several crosses and poppies placed on it, and the Lest We Forget flag nearby flew well, in the stiff SE wind.
I then drove to Aldringham churchyard to see the Remembrance display. It is a very moving tribute, so well researched and presented, and I’m glad a donation was possible. Thank you to all who had installed this tribute, the young men, and their families would be very proud and humbled by it. I highly recommend a visit.
The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
22nd November – Christ the King