Message from our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther
So where are we with our plans to relax restrictions in our churches? The answer, almost inevitably at this stage, involves some more waiting. I received an email from Bishop Martin yesterday (Thursday) that included the following.
I know many of you are anxious to understand how moving to Stage 4 in the Government’s unlocking of restrictions will impact churches and public worship. …
The relevant Government departments are meeting with representatives of faith groups, including the Church of England, to look at the changes and understand how to implement them. Information and updates from the National Church will be sent out as soon as we have them. We anticipate this will be next week. Some people will be keen to implement these changes as quickly as possible; others will have legitimate concerns about the risks to them and some of the people in their congregations. For this reason, please let’s stick to the current guidance from the National Church until it is updated.
This is what we will be doing this week but hopefully by next weekend, the first Sunday under the new rules, we will be able to make some positive changes. They will probably be cautious to begin with because we still need to be very careful. Though, thanks to the amazingly successful vaccination programme, the link between cases of Covid-19 and deaths has been well and truly broken the numbers of people with the virus is rising rapidly and the numbers admitted to hospital (though a much lower percentage of cases than previously) is rising too. So far Suffolk seems to be one of the safer parts of the country to be but with holidays approaching and many more folk travelling things could change very quickly. Suffolk’s public health chief has said that we need to be ‘cautious, courteous and caring’ and that sounds like a good motto to me.
A word about the 2021 version of Aldeburgh’s much-loved Friday Markets. This year we plan to hold just two markets. They will be on August 6th and 27th, be held in the church car park and run a little longer than usual, from 10.00am until 2.00pm. Each of the villages has been invited to take a table to raise money for their own church, which we thought to be a good idea when so little fundraising has been possible for so long.
I wrote last week about the concert in Aldeburgh featuring Bach’s ‘48’ and there are details further down this document. There are also details of the first of three concerts to be held this summer in Friston. Next Sunday at 3pm flautist Duke Dobing (who some of you may remember from concerts he has given in Aldeburgh) with composer and pianist (and Friston resident) Alan Bullard will play a wonderful selection of music and will include something by Alan himself – and his music is always worth hearing. Definitely one for the diary.
With my love and prayers, as ever
Lord of all power and might,
the author and giver of all good things:
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness,
and of your great mercy keep us in the same;
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.
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord. The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by those who are called ‘the circumcision’—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.
Mark 6.30-34, 53-end
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Sermon for 18th July – Seventh Sunday after Trinity,
by our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther
Good shepherds versus bad shepherds – and some disobedient sheep. That’s a linking theme between our Old Testament and Gospel readings. We know, don’t we, that sheep aren’t the brightest of animals and, as Dr Cally Hammond reminds us in her piece about today’s readings in the Church Times, they can eat themselves to death, they can walk in front of cars when roaming free, they startle at the slightest thing – and they follow a leader unthinkingly, which is a behaviour no human being wants to be charged with. A good shepherd knows about all of these faults and cares for his or her sheep anyway. But a bad shepherd …. Well, look what the prophet Ezekiel thinks of them.
‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. …. It is you who have scattered my flock and driven them away ….’ A bad shepherd can, out of either ignorance or malice, cause chaos.
Question. So how do we know who the good shepherds are? We all know of stories about charismatic shepherds of one kind or another who lead their faithful flocks astray. Or who simply don’t know how to do their job properly and the sheep just wander off.
In our gospel reading Jesus is followed – pursued even – by a great crowd who want him to do stuff for them – to take care of them and their sick loved-ones. And Jesus, the writer of Mark’s gospel tells us, had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
And, Good Shepherd that he was, Jesus was there for them. And he fed them – literally. The verses that today’s reading skips over are Mark’s version of the feeding of the five thousand with five loves and two fish. And then he healed them too.
That question again. How do we know who the good shepherds are?
Well, elsewhere in the gospels Jesus warns ‘beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.’ That’s the point, isn’t it? It’s what the shepherds actually do rather than what they promise that counts – and I’d like to site a recent, and I think relevant, example.
Last Sunday night, when England came so close to winning the European Cup, did you see what manager Gareth Southgate did at the end of the game? He must have been so disappointed that the team lost that penalty shoot-out but his first reaction was to console the young players who’d failed to net their penalties – the picture of him hugging a distraught Bukayo Saka was deeply moving. Southgate knew what it felt like. 25 years ago he’d missed a rather important one himself. And then, when he was interviewed and was given the opportunity to blame Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka for failing to score, he took the blame on himself. He’d chosen them to take the penalties, he said, so it was his fault, not theirs. And that’s a good shepherd. Oh and, by the way, during the Covid-10 epidemic, Southgate agreed to take a 30% pay cut.
A good shepherd delivers. Jesus, tired and suggesting that he and his disciples rest a while, still heals the sick. And that crowd, once ‘like sheep without a shepherd’, had found theirs.
So, in this world of clamour and conflicting demands and leaders and would-be leaders that would have us believe that they have the answers, we need to look very carefully at what is actually happening in the world and try our best to follow those who are making a positive difference. Not always easy to recognise, sometimes requiring us to change some old habits too, but vitally necessary, nonetheless. And, of course, there is one shepherd who will never let us down as long as we continue to listen to what he is saying to us. I don’t think I need to say any more, do I?
Lord God, whose Son is the true vine and the source of life,
ever giving himself that the world may live:
may we so receive within ourselves the power of his death and passion
that, in his saving cup, we may share his glory and be made perfect in his love; f
or he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.
Sunday 25th July
Eighth Sunday after Trinity
Alde Sandlings Benefice Fun Days in August
As many of you know August is the month for Aldeburgh Church to host their Friday Markets. Unfortunately, last year was cancelled due to Covid. This year things are hugely better, but we still need to approach with caution. So, this August we will have two Friday markets on the 6th and 27th 10am – 2pm. The proposed stalls are as follows:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if any church members of the Alde Sandlings Benefice would like to have a stall.
✟ Aldringham Outdoor Services ✟
The services start at 11am in the beautiful Aldringham churchyard. Weather permitting, these services will continue throughout July, August and September. August 8th will be the date for the annual Animal Service, 3pm in the churchyard. We can’t guarantee that there will be no interruptions as the animals may have difficulty following the order of service but all animals, insects, etc. (and their owners)
ALL VERY WELCOME
Also from Aldringham
July 29th and 30th (Thursday and Friday) are the days when we will be cutting the long grass in the churchyard and we need as many people as possible to cut, rake and generally tidy up the churchyard now that most of the wildflowers we have seen have seeded. This is always a joyous occasion and there will be a splendid picnic lunch for everybody on the Friday. If you can come on both days, so much the better. Gloves, rakes, strimmers, barrows will all be useful if you can bring them.
Project 48 Concerts at Aldeburgh Church
We are delighted to announce that we will be joined by pianist Libby Burgess, who will be playing Bach’s Well Tempered Klavier. Tickets £10 on the door in aid of Help Musicians, Youth Music Future Talent and Live Music Now.
Weekly Benefice Newsletter
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.
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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.
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
✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞
Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
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✞ Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays ✞
The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
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