Message from our Curate in Charge,
The Revd James Marston
As we come together tomorrow as a benefice and celebrate the lives of the saints, I cannot help but think that even in this time of vacancy and pause the Holy Spirit isn’t idle.
Indeed, at an elders meeting this week – which included elders from across the benefice – I was struck not only by the laughter and fun and energy, but also the wealth of pastoral sensitivity, experience and knowledge we hold in our ministry team and, indeed, in our congregations.
We may be in a time of reflection and “holding the fort” but I am confident, as the time draws near to welcome a new incumbent and new chapter in the life of our churches, we will hand over a benefice keen, willing, and able to minister to the needs of those souls under our care.
These may not have been the easiest couple of years. Covid, uncertainty, change, have all taken their toll, as well as for some, grief at the loss of loved ones. The church marks the remembering of the loved at this time of year with All Souls and I would commend to you this years’ service held on Tuesday night at 6pm at Aldeburgh church.
This is prayerful and reflective service, a moment to remember to be thankful and, I hope, find some peace and comfort along the journey of grief. We not only mark the passing of time but also, as a worshipping community, support those in our parishes who have lost loved ones and those closest to them during difficult times.
All are invited to take part and take the opportunity to still ourselves, light and candle, and remember.
God of holiness,
your glory is proclaimed in every age:
as we rejoice in the faith of your saints,
inspire us to follow their example
with boldness and joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death for ever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
Sermon by The Revd James Marston
Preached at Friston 24th October 2021
May I speak in the name of the Living God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This is my third Bible Sunday sermon in the benefice. – I have to admit I thought about repeating the 2019 version partly because not only was it a corker but also because I thought that by now no one will remember hearing my well-crafted words.
Sometimes writing a sermon is a bit like pouring treacle and I can’t help but admit my views on the bible haven’t changed much in the last two and a bit years – it is still a book of books, the bible still contains history, theology, stories and even poetry, and still gives us an insight into the character of God and the life of Jesus Christ.
The bible is still a series of ancient documents that speak to us today and point us towards the God we worship and whom shapes our faith and our lives.
So, as I was trying to pour this treacle my mind wandered – I found myself looking for inspiration and found myself thumbing through a book given to me this week by a parishioner.
“Records of the Borough of Aldeburgh – The Church” by Arthur T Winn not only lists the vicars of the parish but deals with the church records from roughly the first Elizabeth to the mid-1920s.
I found inside a plethora of intriguing stories-
-The remarriage of John and Agnes Arnold – deemed necessary after John, a fisherman, was captured and imprisoned by “Dunkirkers” –a type of pirate I assume – and found on his release his wife had consoled herself with another partner.
-The proposed marriage of Thomas Jinning and Susan Mitchell which after the banns had been read the “said Thomas forsook Susan and did not marry her”
And the story of a previous curate a Mr Maxtid Violette who in March 1644 found himself in hot water after being found “scandously overseen in drink in Orford, Saxmundham and elsewhere” and despite some musical gifts was taken to performing in various bar parlours songs which were “not always of a sacred character, and nor was his conversation of an improving nature.”
Added to which a lady staying at one of the town’s inns reported a reverend gentleman, whose eyes and ears were polluted by ribald songs and deportment, who visited her at midnight with a jug of beer which he vainly induced her to share.
Making me think it’s worth pointing out to the Alde Sandlings Benefice that although I may like the odd cheese straw and have been known to indulge in the occasional partaking of tobacco, you ought to grateful for what you’ve got.
As well as these intriguing stories there is some mention of bibles not least the expensive cost of binding of a Tudor one, which Mr Winn suggests, would have been sumptuously bound in leather, tooled with gold work, decorated with metal clasps, portcullis and rose and matches one discovered in Friston church just a few years before.
These mentions of the bible and the costs and care taken to ensure they look their best remind us the bible is a constant of the Christian faith.
Two years ago, I preached on what the bible is and last year on how Holy Scripture the bible is the living word of the living God. And that when we read it and think about it we are, in a sense praying, not with our head bowed and eyes shut but with our eyes open and with the intent to learn in order to satisfy the curiosity about God our faith demands.
To read the bible is to think about God and to think about God is prayer.
We use in the Anglican communion, of which this church is part, scripture, tradition, and reason, and probably experience, to reveal the Christian faith. And scripture is thought to play the most important part in this.
So this year I would remind you that how we interpret scripture is often quite fluid. It depends on who we are at any time. How we interpret scripture today will reflect who we are today.
Yet our faith requires of us, as Jesus himself did, to engage with the bible, at a deeper level than just the small snippets and few minutes of explanation we get on a Sunday morning. We are asked to hear, read, inwardly digest, and apply patience and time in order to learn, understand and react and thus the bible as a constant and a source of comfort is also a book of challenge.
Paying attention to the bible and wisdom within, allowing it to inspire our natural curiosity, being patient, asking questions, putting in some effort ourselves, draws is into deeper understanding of the character and mystery of God, and that, as Christians, is how we find out about and deepen our faith and then retell the story of faith to others.
And by deepening our faith and retelling the story outside of the church walls, we are taking part in a process that changes us and transforms our lives, as well as those of others, and brings us, in the end, into closer relationship with each other and the God we worship here today.
God, the source of all holiness and giver of all good things:
may we who have shared at this table
as strangers and pilgrims here on earth
be welcomed with all your saints
to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Texts from Coventry Cathedral’s Tablets of the Word
Church of England and Diocese Online Worship
There are many online services you can view from the Church of England and our cathedral. Here are some links below.
Church of England website
Church of England Facebook page
Church of England YouTube channel
St Edmundsbury Cathedral Facebook Page
Weekly Benefice Newsletter
Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays
Pilgrims Quiz on Zoom – Saturday 27th October (not 20th)
Please email Sue and Richard if you can provide a round:
Our next Pilgrim Breakfast and Ramble is on
The Trussel Trust Organisation
Message from Ken Smith – Aldeburgh