Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 24th January – The Third Sunday of Epiphany

Message from The Rector

This online pew-sheet seems to grow a little each week – which is excellent. When people are unable to meet and chat in the normal ways it is good to have different ways of disseminating information – and a bit of fun too. All contributions are welcome. Claire is doing a magnificent job in co-ordinating it all and we are very much in her debt. She will thank us all, however, if we let her have contributions by Thursday evening. This gives us Friday to compile and check before publishing on Saturday morning.

Our first Zoom Coffee Morning, which took place last Tuesday, was well received and will now become a regular occurrence. Each Tuesday morning, between 10.30 and 11.30, there will be an online gathering to which you are warmly welcome. Stay for five minutes, stay for the whole time, drop at any point during the hour. The link will be the same every week. Please contact for the link.

… and all you should need to do is to click on it and then, when asked ‘enable computer audio’. Should you need the ID or Passcode they are:

Meeting ID: 822 5695 6551

Passcode: 112626

It is also possible to join in on the telephone. Obviously, you won’t see everyone, and they won’t be able to see you, but you should be able to hear everyone clearly and they you. You will need to ring any one of these numbers:

020 3481 5240

020 3481 5237

020 3051 2874

… and then, when prompted, enter the Meeting ID and Passcode into your phone.

Unlike the computer video there is, I’m afraid, a cost (the phone-call) but it’s good to know that those without computers will be able to join in if they wish. Please do pass the message on to anyone you think might appreciate it.

This week has been another busy week for all of those involved in opposing the potential SPR and National Grid substation development in Friston. The Planning Inspectorate has held more Zoom hearings and has been presented with a great deal of powerful evidence, from organisations and individuals, as to why the proposals are wholly unsuitable. The inspectors will be visiting Friston this week and though Covid-19 restricts the number of local people that can be directly involved, the inspectors will, I’m sure, be presented with yet more useful evidence. And they will be visiting Friston church. Please do hold all involved in your prayers.

With love, as ever


Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles
the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power;
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.

First Reading
Genesis 14.17-20
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.

Second Reading
John 2.1-11
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.


Reflection for 24th January – The Third Sunday of Epiphany by The Revd Johanna Mabey

Despite the trying times and wet weather, I await some happy news…

Tom and Lynsey, who were my first wedding couple back in 2019, are expecting their first baby very soon. Tom is my Godson and so their wedding was a very special family event.

On that beautiful day two summers ago, covid-19 and social distancing rules had never been heard of. In a magical marquee lit with thousands of fairy lights, we danced, held hands and toasted the happy couple long into the evening. My husband’s headache the next morning was strong confirmation that unlike the wedding at Cana, the wine supplies remained very steady!

As I write this reflection, memories of that happy wedding day remind me more than ever of the potential for joy we have in our relationships and commitments to one another, and how we draw deeply on that joy and have a desire to celebrate it with others.

Perhaps one positive that emerges from our current restrictions is a renewed sense of thankfulness for others and a cherished anticipation of times when we can gather again freely.

Our gospel reading today offers us a glorious way into an account of Jesus being revealed as God’s Son, by starting with a generous and celebratory miracle. It doesn’t help the poor, it’s unnecessary, it undermines the local wine-producing economy, and it slashes the outsider caterer’s profits… but, boy, does God know how to throw a party! According to my maths, 900 bottles of wine from nowhere, and really good stuff too!

It’s a story full of details – the size of the jars, the seemingly harsh rebuke of Jesus to his mother, the humour of the steward’s comment, and the inside track shared by Jesus and the servants. But at the start comes a phrase which signals the importance of the story.

‘On the third day’, says John, there was a wedding at Cana. ‘On the third day’… a thrilling and disturbing phrase for Christian hearers of this gospel, because it speaks of resurrection, the power of God’s life over death, of Jesus the risen Lord. And then at the end comes the punchline, the little verse which changes our whole take on the story: ‘Jesus did this, the first of his signs, and revealed his glory – and his disciples believed in him.’

This isn’t just a story. It’s a sign. It shows Jesus to be who he truly is.

I wonder why this story is at the beginning of John’s gospel, but in none of the other gospels? It seems so trivial compared to healing lepers, curing the demon-possessed, or raising the dead. Perhaps John is telling us that there’s amazing truth in this story for those who have eyes to see it.

‘Standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification’, says John. Jesus takes water meant to make people holy and turns it into wine. Jesus transforms religion into life, life which comes from Jesus, who John refers to later as the water gushing up within us to eternal life, the true vine.

This is a sign as well as a story. It’s not about a wonderworker who makes instant converts or does a trick as a favour for his mother. This Jesus is God’s life for us, the Jesus whose hour to be revealed openly has come on the third day. It’s not just a story. It’s not just a party – not even just a miracle. It reveals to us the nature of God, the God for whom generosity overtakes holiness, the Son of God whose glory is revealed in ordinary things.

Perhaps the simple message of the wedding at Cana, is that we shouldn’t expect to find Jesus just in religious and miraculous experiences. Cana, after all is about wine at a party. There are signs of God and God’s glory all around us if we have eyes to see. Like John, we can find signs of God in unexpected places!

And what about us as simple servants of God?… when we are called ‘to do whatever he tells us’, we need to look out for the glimpses of wine that may flow from the carrying of water that we’ve been involved in.

Those glimpses will encourage and amaze us, and the joy will be cause for thankfulness and rejoicing.

God willing, Tom and Lynsey’s new little life will be here soon… another cause for thanks and joy, and even a glass of some good stuff.

So to finish, may I offer a toast…

Cheers! Good Health! and in Hebrew, L’Chaim! which translated means ‘to life’ or more literally ‘to lives’ because we live in relationship with one another, and most importantly with God.



Another interesting series from Canon John Giles

Saints of East Anglia – This week – Saint Julian

JULIAN OF NORWICH – 1342 – died sometime after 1416

Julian lived in Norwich as an anchoress, i.e., alone, confined to her single room cell, attached to the older church of St. Julian from which she took her name. The cell had one window into the church, through which she could join in worship, and receive holy communion. A second window opened on to the road outside through which she was able to speak to friends and visitors who came for godly counsel – she had quite a reputation in her day, though she was never canonised. The church is still there, close to the centre of Norwich, not far from the football fans of Norwich City at Carrow Road. Following bombing in World War II her cell has been rebuilt.

She lived through times more calamitous, surely, than anything we know. The Black Death of 1348, which went on for at least five years, with later recurrences in 1360 and 1369, carried away up to half of the population. Norwich was also at the heart of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, culminating in the Battle of North Walsham, when local peasants and farmers were defeated by forces raised by the Bishop of Norwich, and much slaughter ensued. Imagine local reactions and divisions following such events. Julian, in the midst of them, was presumably trying to concentrate on reconciliation rather than revenge and/or vindication to bring hope and calm into the lives of those around her.

Julian was the first woman known to have written in English, and a contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer, who was born a year or two later than her. She was to write of a “glad and merry” pilgrimage rather different from that of the poet’s pilgrims. What would the two authors have said to one another? I wish we could know.  Sometimes she is called “Mother” Julian, from her insights into the Motherhood of Christ and God (especially Christ). As such she has received much attention from feminist theologians, but her real importance is not so much in what she says about diversity as in her grasp of a Divine Love which allows fallen people to get hurt, while still loving them with tender care and keeping them united with him.

Aged thirty she had fallen seriously ill. Dying she received a series of visions of Christ on the cross, in which she saw Christ carrying in himself the guilt and sin of mankind, (his “noughting”) and neutralising it through forgiveness and love, which for the faithful follower, in full trust, can result not only in comfort and consolation, but in much joy, merriment and mirth, to use three of her own favourite words. She recovered and wrote down what she had experienced in her “Revelations of Divine Love”. Twenty years later she rewrote her account. So, her words, as we read them today, have twenty years of reflection and meditation behind them, giving them greater weight.

Her most famous words are those of cosmic optimism: “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”. Against the suffering of Christ on the cross and his identification with fallen human nature as it is, such confidence is welcome, though quoted perhaps just a bit too often, without taking on board the cost of such confidence. More helpful is the way she tackles guilt. Guilt is still for many, and church-goers in particular, the greatest barrier to inner quietness of soul and peace. “I saw not sin” she says, “for I believe it hath no manner of substance, nor no part of being”. Or again “The Lord looks on his servant with pity, and not with blame.  In God’s sight we do not fall; in our sight we do not stand.. Both of these are true. But the deeper insight belongs to God.”  A grounding in the wisdom of Julian can strengthen the roots of faith, and hence commitment and purpose in life’s wider challenges in leading the Christian life.

To take this further you can contact the Julian Centre in Norwich:, Tel: 01603 767380.
For reading, try “Julian of Norwich: Enfolded in Love – Daily Readings” @£4.99
from the Centre, now in its fifth edition. Something for Lent perhaps.                                                     
                                                                                                                              John Giles


Useful information to help during these times 

If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available
(thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.


Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.


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Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843



Vaccination Transport Information

Possible suggestions for transport to Woodbridge for your Covid vaccinations.

  • Coastal Accessible Transport (CATs) – 01728 830 516
  • Aldeburgh Community Cars – 01728 831 215
  • For residents of IP15 postal district Aldeburgh Good Neighbours Scheme (AGNES) – 0777 303 1064

Taxi services willing to help with an agreed charge of between £25 and £30 for the return trip:

  • Amber Community Cars – 01728 833 621
  • Laurie Henderson Taxis Leiston – 01728 830 101
  • Bill Hamilton Limousine Service – 07985 707 023


The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 31st January
The Fourth Sunday of Epiphany/Candlemas




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.

Update from 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 – 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

***There is also a local foodbank run from the United Church in Leiston.  We are investigating if and how we might be able to help them and should have some more news soon. ***


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.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.


Friston Christian Website 

Emma Steadman (Lay Elder at Friston Church) has created a blog website – This includes regular updates and news from St Mary’s, Friston, and daily readings and prayers, where you can contribute with posts and request prayers. Do take a look!

Butterfly Garden – Priors Oak

You have probably visited Trudie Willis’ wonderful ‘butterfly garden’ at Priors Oak on the Aldeburgh/Aldringham Road.  Trudie opens it for charity about six times annually and this has included openings for Aldringham church. 
Trudie has now published a book about the garden called The Wildlife Garden at Aldeburgh, available from the Aldeburgh bookshop at £7.50.
A good read in these ‘covid times’.

A book with a flower on it

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For our online services each week we need two readers who can record themselves on their phone, tablet or computer and email the result to Claire or Mark.  If you haven’t done this before and would like to join the list, you would be very welcome. 
Please let Claire or Mark know of your interest.


✞ Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays ✞

The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
You are all more than welcome to join them via Zoom.  
The worship starts at 6.30pm (Zoom call opens from 6.10pm) and the call is then left open after the worship time for people to catch up.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

The weekly Wednesday Zoom link is:
(this remains the same link every week)

Please contact for the link.


How about a walk with James?

As the weather gradually gets better, our assistant curate James is offering to walk and chat for those that might like to. If you feel like getting out and meeting up with James give him a call on 01728 688451 to arrange.


Pilgrims Biscuit Making

Saturday 23rd January at 2pm

Chris from the Parrot will be guiding us in the ways of baking Jammie Dodgers!  Slight change to timing: this will now be an afternoon event so we can enjoy the biscuits as an afternoon treat.

The baking will start at 2.00pm (probably around an hour) and then have a break for an hour.  We will then come together with our biscuits and a cuppa and share and enjoy our biscuits!

These are the ingredients you will need to have ready:

100g butter

175g caster sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

200g plain flour


Please contact for the link.

As with all Pilgrim events, ALL ARE WELCOME

Please do forward this information to those locally in our community who you think would like to join with us.


✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞

Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning

Please contact for the link.


Quidenham Carmel – Carmelite Monastery

Many of you are probably aware of the lovely cards that the Sisters of the Carmelite Monastery (Norfolk) sell. They now have a wonderful selection of Monastery garden soaps and balms available to buy.

If you prefer to email the order and pay by cheque, you can email with your order


Covid Vaccine Update

It has come to the attention of The Peninsula Practice that some people are receiving invitations from NHS England to attend vaccination centres that are, in some cases, a long way from Aldeburgh.  You are, of course, welcome to take up the offer but be assured that you should expect, in due course, to receive an invitation to the local vaccination centre in Woodbridge.  You will recognise this because it will include the reference ‘My Health Book’.


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 – just like we used to.

Please contact for the link.