Message from The Rector
‘Ascension Day to Pentecost’ is a sort-of ‘mini-season’ in the church year, lasting barely more than a week. But it has its own liturgy (for example, Common Worship’s Morning and Evening Prayer services have special material) and nowadays it is also the ‘Thy Kingdom Come season’. I wrote about it last week but would point you once again to its special website:
… that contains a wealth of good stuff. And there should be relevant printed material available in all of our churches including a thoughtful Prayer Journal – more excellent food for thought. Incidentally, if you would like to pick up a copy and you find yourself in Aldeburgh the church will, once again, be open every day from Monday onwards. The Prayer Journals and some special material for children are on the chest at the back of church.
Some advance information. I have already mentioned the concerts by the Fitzwilliam String Quartet in Aldeburgh church on Monday and Tuesday evenings, June 7th and 8th – highly recommended. We can now add news that the day beforehand, Sunday June 6th, at 6pm, will see another concert of chamber music, this time in Aldringham church. Some of you may remember the visit that we enjoyed from the young players of ‘Chamber Music Box’ last year. This time they bring a programme of music for flute and string trio including works by Schubert, Mozart and two leading 20th-century composers, Aaron Copland and Bohuslav Martinu. Tickets must be booked in advance – head for www.chambermusicbox.com/concerts for more information and the opportunity to book.
At the end of June, we mark Petertide – St Peter’s Day falls on June 29th – and on Sunday June 27th there will be a special service for the whole of our benefice in Aldeburgh church at 10.30. Not only is it Aldeburgh’s Patronal Festival but last year’s lockdown meant that we missed the chance to celebrate with two members of our clergy team. At Petertide 2020 James Marston was ordained Priest (a great day in anyone’s ordained ministry). At the same time Jo Mabey marked three years of ordained ministry and came to the formal end of her time ‘in training’, moving from being an Assistant Curate to an Assistant Priest. That may not sound like a massive change but is a very significant stage in her ordained life – she’s ditched the ‘L’ plates! On June 27th we will welcome Archdeacon Jeanette to preside and preach at Holy Communion, we will present Jo with her new license and belatedly celebrate James’s priesting. And James is very quick to point out that no church celebration is worthy of the name without a bring and share lunch!
With my love and prayers, as ever
O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Acts 1.15-17, 21-end
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty people) and said, ‘Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.’
So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’ So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Eternal God, giver of love and power,
your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world
to preach the gospel of his kingdom:
confirm us in this mission,
and help us to live the good news we proclaim;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sermon for 16th May – Seventh Sunday of Easter,
by our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther
Here’s a challenging thought. When you relax, when you don’t have anything particular on your mind – what do you think about? Where does your freewheeling consciousness take you? Do you think about, say, your family? Your holiday plans? Stuff to do with work? What needs doing to the house? Well, argues the American Franciscan theologian Richard Rohr, wherever you go at such moments, that is what he calls your ‘momentary God’. And, he argues, as Christians what we should be working towards is replacing those thoughts with the true God. God should always come first – ahead of husband, wife, children, job …. And then, reassuringly, he says ‘Fortunately, God is prepared to wait ……’
It is a challenging thought – and one that it would be all too easy to dismiss as being all right for a theologian to say (all right for a priest to preach ….) but, come on, life isn’t like that, is it?
We all have concerns about family, career, our health, our own futures – that’s only natural, isn’t it? Of course it is – it’s part of our humanity – of our being human.
In Ascension-tide we mark the time when God in human form is called back to the Father who sent him into the world – sent him to show us what God is – sent him to show us what love truly is. To show us what ‘eternal life’ really means. John’s gospel has Jesus praying the words we’ve just heard in the Gospel immediately before Judas turns up with the ‘police’ from the chief priests and Pharisees and he is arrested. The passage is part of the final section of what is often called the ‘Farewell Discourse’ and the words we’ve just heard are sometimes called the ‘Farewell Prayer’ or the ‘High Priestly Prayer’. There’s some interesting scholarly debate as to whether or not this whole passage, this whole ‘discourse’ – chapters 15, 16 and 17 – may have been inserted into John’s gospel at a later date than the surrounding material. Chapter 14 ends with Jesus saying to the disciples ‘Rise, let us be on our way’ and that would certainly segue very neatly into the opening of Chapter 18 – ‘After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden ….’.
But the Farewell Discourse includes passages that we think of as central to our understanding of Jesus … ‘I am the true vine’, ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’, ‘You did not choose me but I chose you’ ‘I still have many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now.’
‘A little while and you will no longer see me’ ….. All of these passages come from the Farewell Discourse. It’s, if you like, a summary of Jesus’s ministry and what it was for.
And we read part of its conclusion today. As Jesus’s time on earth comes to an end we’re reminded of why God lived among us in human form – what the whole purpose of it was. Jesus says that he has made God’s name known – and, given eternal life to all who have heard his words and believed.
Eternal life! Something that, uniquely, John’s Gospel teaches us isn’t just something that lies in the beyond but is for the here and now. ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’ says Jesus in Chapter 10. Abundant life in the here and now. ‘Inaugurated eschatology’ to use the theological jargon. Or, to be a bit more simplistic, ‘this is it’! We’re not about pie in the sky for some indeterminate future we’re about May 16th 2021.
‘Show us a sign’, the disciples kept saying. ‘Show us a sign and we’ll believe.’ Do something. And Jesus did, of course, do lots of things. And many believed. But we all too often seem to be in the same place as the psalmist:
“God, are you avoiding me? Where are you when I need you? …. Time to get up, God — get moving.” Words from Psalm 10 in the racy translation called ‘The Message”. Show us something, now!
But … ‘Si monumentum requires, circumspice’. The epitaph of Christopher Wren in St. Paul’s Cathedral. ‘If you seek his memorial, look around you.’ Gently to return to that challenge thrown down by Richard Rohr about God coming ahead of loved ones and job and home and everything, try this one for size. All is gift. Everything around you – including loved ones and job and home and everything. All is gift. All. The only way to make sense of it, of life, the universe and everything, of love and death, of the highs and the lows, is to put God first and to realise that all of the rest is contained within the love of God – Eternal Father, risen and ascended Son and (more of this anon) Pentecostal Holy Spirit.
Another thought. If we really do put God first then it’s going to change our perspective on ourselves. We are, at one and the same time, uniquely special to God (the God who knows us better than we know ourselves) but we also shouldn’t worry about ourselves too much. We are called by God to be servants, not to put others at our service. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he told us not to worry about food or clothing. ‘Seek the Kingdom of God first’ he said, ‘and everything else will follow.’
Ultimately, it’s not about what we want for ourselves but about what God wants for us and for the world. And, of course, if we can learn how to put things in that order then we have God’s promise of nothing short of eternal life. Are we prepared to do that?
A little poem by Ann Lewin called
Ascension means a
God-like view of things,
Rising above our usual
Rise, then, and know
The glory of a life
Set free from fear.
Sunday 23rd May
The Fitzwilliam Quartet Concerts
7th & 8th June 7pm at Aldeburgh Parish Church
We are delighted to welcome the return of music into Aldeburgh Parish Church. The Fitzwilliam Quartet will be performing two nights of music.
Monday – Haydn and Beethoven
Tuesday – Hugo Wolf, Haydn, and Schumann
Tickets at the door £10 (cash only). First come first seated, as we are limited with seating for everyone’s safety.
✟ Alpha Course ✟
For more information, please contact The Revd Sheila Hart
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.
Deadline – Thursday 4pm Please
✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞
Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org