Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 31st January – The Fourth Sunday of Epiphany/Candlemas

Message from The Rector

Firstly, an apology. It seems that the link to join us for the Tuesday Zoom coffee morning didn’t work for everyone – I’m so sorry. Please do email and we will give you the link.

Then it depends on what kind of a gadget you are using to connect. For some people the link will do all of the work. For others, you may need to enter the Meeting ID and Passcode. They are:

Meeting ID: 822 5695 6551

Passcode: 112626

Or you can go to the Zoom website:

and enter the ID and Passcode there.

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 – everyone is welcome to join us for a few minutes or the full hour from 10.30am.

It has been good to hear of how many members of our congregations have managed, one way or another, to receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. But this has also been the week when the number of people who have died with COVID-19 mentioned as a cause on the death certificate has topped 100, 000 – a sobering statistic if ever there was one. Archbishop Justin and Archbishop Stephen have written a ‘letter to the nation’, which is here:

In it they say this:

One thing we can all do is pray. We hope it is some consolation to know that the church prays for the life of our nation every day. Whether you’re someone of faith, or not, we invite you to call on God in prayer. Starting on 1 February we invite you to set aside time every evening to pray, particularly at 6pm each day. More than ever, this is a time when we need to love each other. Prayer is an expression of love.

There are some excellent resources for prayer on the C of E website, among which is this beautiful prayer attributed to St Augustine.

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give your angels and saints charge over those who sleep.
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Rest your weary ones.
Bless your dying ones.
Soothe your suffering ones.
Pity your afflicted ones.
Shield your joyous ones, and all for your love’s sake.

We are already beginning to think about how, once it is safe to do so, we can come together in prayer for those who are suffering in any way as a result of the virus. Not just those who have caught it but those who, in shielding themselves and their loved ones, have been isolated, frightened or lonely.

This week marks the end of the Christmas season as we celebrate Candlemas and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. This festival reminds us of the light of Christ, shining in the darkness for the whole world. A light that, however dark things may sometimes seem to us, is a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness to us all. Perhaps, when you pray, you might like to light a candle, just to remind you that God is with you, always.

With love, as ever


Almighty and ever-living God, clothed in majesty,
whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple,
in substance of our flesh: grant that we may be presented to you
with pure and clean hearts, by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


First Reading
Malachi 3.1-5
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Second Reading
Hebrews 2.14-end
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. 

Gospel Reading
Luke 2.22-40
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’ Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,  ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.


Sermon for 31st January – Candlemas
by Our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther

God be in our mouths and in our speaking, God be in our ears and in our hearing, God be in our heads and in our understanding. Amen.

I don’t know about you but I’m really missing a good sing at the moment. Whether you sing as a member of a choir or as a member of the congregation – and however good a singer you are – singing hymns is such a vital part of worship for so many people and, even when we have been able to be together, not being able to sing together just doesn’t seem right. How does the old hymn go – ‘Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?’.

We take our hymns and liturgical music rather for granted, don’t we? Of course, we sing hymns – why wouldn’t we? All being well, and as long as the choir helps us a bit, we sing other things too, psalms and stuff. But take a step back for a moment. Where else, these days, do people who aren’t musicians, sing? Gone are the days of gathering around the piano at home for a sing-song. Mostly gone are the days of people finding an excuse to sing their party-piece. Unless you are a member of a choir the chances are that you might only ever sing in church …. or at a football match.

The bible is full of references to singing and songs. After the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land Moses and the Israelites burst into song. ‘I will sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously.’ After David has killed the giant Goliath ‘the women came out of all the towns, dancing and singing’. The book of Psalms is actually a song-book – in many cases complete with instructions as to how they should be sung. And in the New Testament there are three songs in particular that have become very familiar to us through our liturgy. One is Zechariah’s thanksgiving song at the circumcision of his son John the Baptist – ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who has come to his people and set them free’. Another is Mary’s song when she discovers that she is to be the mother of Jesus the Christ – ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’, and the third is Simeon’s song on seeing Jesus in the temple, the one we’ve just heard in our Gospel reading, ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word.’ All three songs are in the first couple of chapters of Luke’s gospel and, of course, we know them best as canticles at Morning and Evening Prayer, the Benedictus, the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis. Canticles – from the Latin canticulum, a diminutive of canticum, “song”. Each is so very familiar to so many of us – we’ve sung (or just said) them so many times.

But the fact that Cranmer and his colleagues included them all in the services that they put together for the original 1549 Book of Common Prayer tells us that they have an importance over and above their basic function in the bible. In their different ways they demand to be sung rather than just spoken. ‘Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?’

One of the reasons that we sing in church at all is because singing helps, or should help, to project words. In the days before sound-systems if you wanted to allow everyone to hear a text it helped to sing it. Because, as we all know, if a voice drops at the end of a sentence its often hard to hear what the word is. (And, by the way, that accounts for the old-fashioned clergy-speak that doesn’t inflect a sentence in the same way as normal speech – it’s a sort-of halfway house to singing.)

The canticles are worthy of singing because they contain some essential truths about the Christian faith. The one we heard today, the one that we call the ‘Nunc Dimittis’, is another important stage in the realisation of who Jesus was. An angel told Mary who he would be. Angels told the shepherds who he was, the stars told the Magi who he was, and one star led them to find him. He heard God’s voice at his baptism telling him who he was. And now here’s old Simeon, who had been told that he would not die until he had seen the Christ, realising that he can now die in peace because this child who had come to the temple for his ritual presentation was indeed the Messiah and, (and we miss this bit sometimes because the words are so familiar) he would be a light to lighten the Gentiles as well as being the glory of Israel. In other words, Simeon knew what we also learn from the Magi – that Jesus wasn’t just the Messiah for the Jewish people but was God incarnate for the gentiles too – for the whole world. And so we’re reminded of that – or we should be reminded – every time we say Evening Prayer or sing Evensong.

‘Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?’.

Every day we’re reminded of Simeon’s words – of the nature of the incarnation – of the miracle of God in human form. ‘A light to lighten the gentiles’ indeed – and it’s those words that have given this Candlemas festival its link with light and candles. In many places it’s today that candles are blessed to be used in church throughout the rest of the year. Lights that remind us of that one true light – the light that shines in the darkness and that darkness can never overcome. For her collection called ‘Watching for the Kingfisher’ Ann Lewin wrote a poem called Candlemas Prayer and it goes like this;

*I left my candle burning. Lit from light
Borrowed from another, it stood there
Witness to Christ, Light of the world;
Prayer that light would overcome darkness.
As I left, another lit a candle from my light,
Dispelling gloom with added strength.
Who knows how many joined their light to those,
Or drew fresh courage from their company;
Who knows how many took a step, drawn by the
Light of Christ from darkness to new life.
Lord Christ, set me on fire.
Burn from me all that dims your light,
Kindle an answering flame in lives around;
That darkness may be driven back,
And glory stream into this world,
Transforming it with love.



*Watching for the Kingfisher – Ann Lewin

Canterbury Press 2009


Post Communion
Lord, you fulfilled the hope of Simeon and Anna, who lived to welcome the Messiah: may we, who have received these gifts beyond words,prepare to meet Christ Jesus when he comes to bring us to eternal life; for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

Book/TV/Film Review Club 

Have you found a great escape during this lockdown in books, a tv series, or a good film? Are you re-visiting the classics, or reading them for the first time? What box sets are you binge watching? Are you watching The Serpent, The Bay, A Perfect Planet, The Crown?
Do share your reviews/recommendations with us.
Just send your review to
We would love to hear your suggestions.

This week Claire starts with her recommendation of a book quartet ‘My Brilliant Friend’ by Elena Ferrante.

My Book Recommendation –
My Brilliant Friend -The Neapolitan Quartet
by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend (Tie-in Edition) - Elena Ferrante

If you are anything like me, a series of books can be a bit off putting.
In normal times, I don’t mind committing to two tops, but anything else disappoints the feeling of the achievement of finishing a ‘good story’.
So, I have surprised myself in that I have been thoroughly engrossed in a quartet book series. Ok, I did watch the first instalment, that has been made into a Sky Atlantic series on TV. Then I was completely hooked
and so intrigued that I carried on with these two girls on their journeys in growing up in an Italian neighbourhood. We are first introduced to Elena and Lila in the 1950s near Naples. The story is about their friendship and how two very different characters with opposite end of the scale hopes, ambitions and education can still revert to their friendship, created as children. We follow their lives right through until around 2004 in the fourth and final book. If you normally like action packed page turners, these books may not be for you. However, I loved Elena Ferrante’s style of writing, and felt like I had walked the streets with her characters in Southern Italy during the 50’s. Also, if you do have Sky, do search for it on Sky box sets for the first two book adaptations, which I highly recommend too.

Claire Turner


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 weeks of Epiphany at your home 
Having put my Christmas tree and candle lights up for December 6th
(St Nicholas) when it then came to the twelfth night, I decided to keep the three sets of candle lights on until Candlemas. The candles were left shining from the front of my home and in the garden room at the back. It really makes a brighter evening and have had lovely favourable comments from passers-by. I can recommend to others as it gives a purpose to the weeks of Epiphany.             Mary Sidwell


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.


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 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 do email for the link.

Update from The Pilgrims

A lovely time was had by all those who gathered on Saturday afternoon to Zoom bake Jammie Dodgers together, under the awesome guidance of Chris from ‘The Parrot’!

Watch this space for more Zoom baking events!

Saturday 6th February from 7pm

A ‘Did You Know Ceilidh … stories and nuggets of golden information, past and present, about our local area’

Tell a story of local interest, provide an interesting fact or 2 about our community, introduce us to our local area past and present…surprise us with nuggets of information, the possibilities are endless…you might want to share a short presentation…

Come along and share, come along and just listen.  Enjoy the evening with a glass / mug of something special of your choice.  All are welcome!

Zoom link to follow nearer the time.

Please email Sue Atkinson if you have something to contribute to the evening.


✞ 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 do email for the link.


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 do email for the link.

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 7th February
Second Sunday before Lent