Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 29th November – Advent Sunday

This week’s service will be streamed live from
Friston at 9.45am on Zoom.
You may need to install Zoom on your device.

Or you can view it using the usual method on the
Alde Sandlings YouTube Chanel from 3pm on Sunday.


Message from The Rector

Last week I wrote that ‘we still await government guidance about what we can and can’t do after December 2nd. I’m writing this at 3.30 on Friday afternoon (I really can’t keep Claire waiting any longer) and the Church of England website still says, ‘Following the publication of the Government’s Covid-19 Winter Plan, including permission for the resumption of public worship, we are awaiting the publication of detailed guidance after which we will update our advice.’ So, we know that we will be able to resume Sunday services from December 6th, but we don’t know anything about additional restrictions that might be put in place as a result of Suffolk being in ‘Tier 2’ of local restrictions. I think we can assume that congregational singing will still be off limits and that there will be some restrictions about the numbers that we can allow in church – but we cannot yet be certain. It is very frustrating.

Having said that, we do have news of two special online services this week. On Sunday morning at the earlier-than-usual time of 9.45 our Friston Elders, Emma and Martin Steadman, will be leading a special Advent Sunday service on Zoom and this will be our benefice offering for this week. Everyone is welcome to join – all you need is a computer, phone or tablet that has an internet connection, a camera and a microphone. Then, a few minutes before 9.45, if you click on the link that Claire has provided, you will be able to join in. Everyone is very welcome. If you are not able to be there at 9.45, I hope to have a recording of the service available in the usual YouTube place very soon afterwards.

The following day, Monday November 30th, is St Andrew’s Day and Aldringham church would normally hold a Patronal Festival service followed by fish and chips. Given that the lockdown will still be in place on Monday we have an alternative plan. Together with our Pilgrims Together group we have come up with an unusual and, I hope, inspiring online service. In their regular worship the Pilgrims use a good deal of material from the Iona community. Andrew is, of course, the Patron Saint of Scotland and after enquiries were made at the community the suggestion emerged that we might adapt their ‘Ceilidh’ service for our own use. We tend to think of a Ceilidh as a dance but it can be rather more than that – a gathering in people’s homes at which hospitality is shared, stories told and new people welcomed. Our service will hopefully be just that. The stories that we share will be both about St Andrew and St Andrew’s church – some of the group have long memories of the important part that the church has played in their lives. There will be music and prayer and it promises to be a memorable event. All are welcome to join.  The service will begin at 6.30 and last about 45 minutes, after which you are welcome to leave the link open and share some chat and food. If you’re not used to Zoom it would be a good idea to check in in good time so that we can make sure that all is well. The Pilgrims have also asked that you don’t share the link on a public platform (social media like Facebook, for example). Their lack of security can cause problems. You are, however, very welcome to share it in emails to friends who you think might enjoy the service – all are welcome!

Elsewhere on this pew sheet there are details of the services that we hope to hold in our churches on December 6th and by next week I very much hope to be able to give you detailed information about our Christmas services. In the meantime, please stay warm and safe.

With love, as ever


Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal
life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious
majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life
immortal; through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Isaiah 64.1-9
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that
the mountains would quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!  When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.  From ages
past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.  You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.  We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.  There is no one who calls on your name or attempts to take hold
of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us
into the hand of our iniquity. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are
the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity
for ever.  Now consider, we are all your people.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 1.3-9
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gospel Reading
Mark 13.24-end
‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ 

Sermon for 29th November – Advent Sunday
by The Revd Sheila Hart

Advent is a season in which we are asked to watch, wait, be patient and stay awake and alert and, as I reflected on this, I cannot help thinking that the whole of this year has been a time of watching, waiting, being patient and staying alert. And as I continued to reflect, I am very conscious of how difficult it is for people, us, me to watch, wait, be patient and stay alert. It’s fine when we are not told that this is what’s expected of us, but when the expectation is to do all of these things, I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely hard.

There is a sense of desperation, almost anger or frustration with God, in our reading from Isaiah. ‘O that you would open the heavens and come down…..When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.’ There is a sense of the prophet, the writer saying, ‘Come on God, get a move on, we want to experience your real presence among us again.’ And bursting into a chorus of ‘Why are we waiting?’

This is followed by a sense of understanding as to why the people are waiting – they have sinned; they have turned away from God ‘We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth……There is no one who calls on your name or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.’

Having acknowledged the perceived reason why God seems to have deserted His people, the writer changes his tone somewhat and pleads with God – ‘Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity for ever.’

It reminds me of the naughty child who knows he has not met the expectations of his parents and goes to them with his sense of failure and guilt and pleads with them to forgive him and reassure him that they still love him really, despite all he has done to anger and upset them and there is a sense of reconciliation.

But the people of Isaiah’s day had to wait a long time for the experience of being enabled to be fully reconciled to God, for Jesus, the Messiah had not yet been born, let alone lived and then been crucified and been raised from the dead so that God’s people could experience new life in Him.

In that respect we are fortunate in that we no longer have to wait for salvation for it is there for us to grasp if we will, through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

So, what are we waiting for? And why is it so difficult?

Once Jesus had begun to speak openly to his disciples about his impending death and making veiled references to his resurrection, he began to hint that he would, someday, come back and reign on the earth as King. Paul writes about the return of Christ in many of his letters to the young churches in order to give them hope for the future. But they will have to watch and wait and be patient.

In our gospel reading from Mark, we read about the difficult times that are coming for those who believe in Jesus. Prior to the verses we have heard this morning, Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple, persecution of those who believe even from members of their own family and the days of desolating sacrilege. After this comes the promise of Jesus’ return to the faithful BUT we do not know when this will happen – only God knows the day and the hour – so we are told to stay awake – alert.

Waiting, watching and staying alert are all difficult because they require patience. I don’t know about you, but I can wait for a certain length of time and then my patience begins to run out. I also find it much easier to wait when the end is in sight. One of the hardest things about the times we are living in at the moment is that we really are not sure when the end will come – we have no target to work towards. We have little chinks of light on the horizon, but we really don’t know when the vaccines will be available, when we will be able to have them, how safe they are long-term, how effective they are and how many doses, and how regularly we will have to have them to enable life to go back to normal – whenever that is. It is hard to live with uncertainty because most of us like routine and certainty.

And awaiting the return of Christ falls into this category too. There is some certainty in that, if we believe the Bible, He will come again to reign in glory. But there are also a lot of uncertainties about exactly when and even how this will happen. And so we wait and hold the tension between expectancy of an imminent return and our need to wait and watch and stay alert in our unknowing of the fine details.

Are we living in the last times? Many have thought so throughout the generations from the time of Jesus onwards and we are still here, and he hasn’t yet returned as far as we are aware. Meanwhile we trust in Christ’s promises and we continue to watch and wait and stay alert and in that watching and waiting we pray that we will grow in our love and knowledge of him who loves us and gave His life so that we might have life in his name. Amen

As we can’t hold a Christingle service in Church this year, we thought, perhaps we could still celebrate Jesus Christ as the “Light of the World”. 

Here are some ideas to create your Christingles.

What is the meaning behind each part of the Christingle?

Here are some notes to make you own Christingles and also to teach children/grandchildren about the symbolism behind each part of it.

  • The candle represents Jesus being the light of the world, bringing hope to people when they are in need.
  • The sweets/dried fruit represent God’s creations in the four seasons.
  • The orange represents the world.
  • The red ribbon represents God’s love for the world and the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross.

How to make a Christingle

  • Tie a red ribbon around the middle of an orange.
  • Push four cocktail sticks into the orange.
  • Carefully, put sweets or dried fruit on the ends of the cocktail sticks.
  • Push a candle into the top of the orange. Light the candle.

The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
6th December – 2nd Sunday of Advent

Hopefully will be:


Morning Prayer

Knodishall Church


Morning Praise

Friston Church


Family Service

Aldeburgh Church


Holy Communion

Aldringham Church

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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 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.