Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 27th September/Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity



Morning Prayer

Friston Church


Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Parish Church


Celebration of Michaelmas

Aldringham Churchyard


Message from Revd James Marston

Earlier this week Rev Nicky Winter and I met on Friston Village Green to say the office of Morning Prayer – we have been doing this since March, and it has helped us nourish the faith we share over the last few months. We also use the opportunity to pray for all the communities of the benefice as well as have a little, and sometimes long, chat about all the things that are going on.

We often end up with the observation that all our lives are in God’s hands and that trusting in Him, and not on our own understanding is sometimes the hardest calling of all, yet to trust in God is the calling that unites us all as Christians.

I think if I hear a politician say these are “unprecedented times” one more time I might walk into the rectory garden and scream. We do not need to be told any more that life is tricky at the moment, and things keep changing.

Yet while the sunlit uplands might seem some way off, nonetheless, I think here in the Alde Sandlings we have risen to the challenges of the last few months.

We may have been denied our usual way of doing things but through it all we have kept the faith and our fellowship with an extraordinary – unprecedented even – mixture of determination, enthusiasm and innovation. And I hope we can all take comfort and encouragement from this, and continue to trust in the Lord, whatever the next few weeks and months might bring.

In the meantime, we are able to encourage one another with news from each of our churches. Please keep this flow of information coming – it means so much to so many to hear that Christian witness and our church communities are not only alive and well, but indeed flourishing, here in the Alde Sandlings.


O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers of
your people who call upon you; and grant that they may both
perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may
have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them; 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
Ezekiel 18.1-4, 25-end
The word of the Lord came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.

Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.

Second Reading
Philippians 2.1-13
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. 

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 21.23-32
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?”  But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’  So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.




Sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity by
The Revd James Marston

May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you’.

What have estate agents, journalists and priests got in common? This is not the lead up to some awful joke but more an observation I have often made while watching Sunday afternoon episodes of Inspector Morse or Midsomer Murders.

In these programmes estate agents are usually doing some dodgy deal, journalists are intent on tripping up, or at least interfering on the investigations of the virtuous coppers and the priest is quite often the murderer in the first place.

Bizarrely, at differing times of my life, I have been all three, the estate agent, which was more of a Saturday job showing people round houses in Putney, the journalist, which you know about, and the priest which is among you now.

I can also tell you the stereotype is far removed from the reality. As an estate agent I never even came close to a dodgy deal, as a journalist I’ve never tripped up or shoved a microphone in the face of a copper in a red Jaguar, and, as a man of the cloth I’ve not murdered anyone, though I suppose Reverend Green with the candlestick in the library does, at the very least, suggests these things do happen.

Today’s gospel reading – which I can’t help thinking sounds rather like an awkward spat – is one that highlights the role of the question when it comes to faith. Who do you think you are? On what authority do you act? To which Jesus responds with yet another question reversing the trap they set for him.

With my journalist’s hat on I can’t help thinking that Jesus would not be the easiest of subjects to interview. It is one thing to try to put people on the spot and to ask the questions but quite another to have the tables turned.

But the journalist who constantly asks questions, one after the other, is just another stereotype that isn’t really accurate. The aim, when interviewing, is instead to engage the subject in conversation, to draw out something of the interviewee in a more relaxed and informal manner. And listening patiently, not asking questions, allows that to happen.

In the end, and despite the intellectual jousting, no one gets anywhere, and Jesus dodges the question and tells a story about salvation instead.

The obvious parallel with all of this is, of course, faith itself. While discovering God involves questions to be asked and answers to be given, much of our relationship with God is one in which we are trying to listen to Him.

Faith, it seems to me, is a conversation in which we form a relationship with God and by doing so discern his will for our lives. We nourish this relationship through prayer and making time for God in our lives.

Yet all too often we simply petition God for a wish list of things of we might like. In fact, this petitioning of God is again, in some ways, the stereotype we must avoid. Prayer, we would do well to remember, particularly private prayer, is really about stilling our minds and listening to God just as much, if not more than, it is about Him listening to us.

And if we listen carefully to what is going on in our gospel reading it is the message from the parable that, I think, stands out. We may not be the chief priests and elders of Jesus’ day, asking the Messiah accusing questions. But this parable may still speak strongly to us.

Through his story telling Jesus sets up the obvious question that pops into our minds: who are you? The son who listens and changes his mind and believes, or the son who listens but ignores? Are you among the tax collectors and prostitutes who understand or the chief priests and men in authority who don’t like to be challenged let alone change their minds?

Jesus’ parable is, in the end, a question. He asks us how we will respond to the truth of the gospel – will we change our mind and believe, or not? It also asks us to reflect and decide how we will live out our faith.

Are we inclined to think more about what God can do for us or do we concern ourselves with what we can do for God? Are we Christians of word only or are we Christians of word as well as deed? Do we always do the will of God or do we prefer the will of ourselves?

The answer to these questions, if we are searingly honest, might not be entirely comfortable. But we have a choice, a decision to make day after day on our journeys of faith. As Jesus prompts us to think about our faith here today the message is clear – actions speak louder than words.

And to help us let’s not forget the message of hope and encouragement of St Paul in the letter to the Philippians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

God, in other words, is on our side.



Post Communion
Almighty God, you have taught us through your Son
that love is the fulfilling of the law: grant that we may 
love you with our whole heart and our neighbours as 
ourselves; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Anything to tell us?

This week Mary Sidwell has kindly written a summary of her ride and stride contribution. Thank you, Mary, and well done!

My youngest son, Nicolas, and I have cycled in former years, but having sold my ebike last year and given my other bike to my daughter to use around Teddington, this year had to be drive-walk.

Nicolas drove and I navigated, we both walked. It took five hours in total. We visited 23 churches of all denominations, seeing Suffolk countryside in all its glory, and met interesting folk along the way, having had my photo taken at each church!

I would like to thank all who sponsored me to take part. A marvellous day out. For anyone planning to do it next year, however near or far, I recommend it.


The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
4th October – Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity


HC for Harvest Festival

Knodishall Church


Harvest Festival Service

Friston Church


Harvest Festival Family Service

Aldeburgh Parish Church


Harvest Festival Service

Aldringham Church




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.


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.


Online services
A reminder that there won’t be any local online services this week and that views and opinions are being sought as the benefice’s online provision evolves.

If you would like to engage online, please consider our cathedral and visit – and all the information that you need is there. If you feel like visiting churches further afield, please visit to find out more.


Ride and Stride Sponsors
The ride and stride took place on the 12th September. It’s now time to pay that sponsor money. If you could please hand it to your parish representative (Fran Smith at Aldeburgh) or a member of clergy.

Thank you so much for your support.
Any Cheque donations be made payable to SHCT.