Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 5th December – Second Sunday of Advent

Message from our Curate in Charge,
The Revd James Marston

With Christmas fast approaching there is much happening in our benefice. Many services and events involve our lively and buoyant children’s ministry under the talented direction of Rev’d Jo. Even I am indulging in craft at the Christmas Messy Church.  

At Aldeburgh the Christingle and Crib services and the traditional services of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are coming up we are carefully managing these events in the light of the pandemic. You’ll need to book in advance if you wish to attend certain services. You will have received attached Christmas dates, and information with today’s email.  

Meanwhile Christmas Carol services are keeping our singers busy under the direction of Mish Kelly who is hoping to enhance worship with a group of voices drawn from across the benefice. 

Let’s enjoy our worship, let’s be as safe as we can be. 


O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us,
and with great might succour us; that whereas,
through our sins and wickedness
we are grievously hindered
in running the race that is set before us,
your bountiful grace and mercy
may speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honour and glory, now and for ever.

First Reading
Malachi 3.1-4
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.

Second Reading
Philippians 1.3-11
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 3.1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” 


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Sermon by The Revd James Marston preached on
Sunday 28th November 2021

Sermon Luke 21: 25-36

When I first came here, now over two years ago, I was given some advice I’ve never wavered from. Whatever you do don’t upset the flower ladies, or at least try not to.

Yesterday afternoon, by the Moot Hall in Aldeburgh, our community gathered to turn on the Christmas lights in our local town.

The weather wasn’t exactly perfect, but we gathered nonetheless, sang a couple of carols, a very jolly Father Christmas did a countdown, the tree lit up, families cheered, and the bells pealed.

And, despite the weather, there were smiling faces all round, a great and long-established tradition had been upheld.

But of course, it’s all totally wrong. The most inappropriate time of year to be lighting lights and singing carols. Christmas, the moment we celebrate light of Christ coming into the world, is weeks away. I’m not sure when this great and long-established tradition of the great light switch on started- almost certainly within living memory and probably no earlier than the 1980s or 1990s.

Until comparatively recently there were not four weeks, or even longer, of partying and merry making and shopping – instead not so long ago there were 12 days of Christmas following Christmas day. Christmas was the start of celebrations, not the culmination of what is now called the run up.

And I’m afraid to tell you that in the church it still is the other way around. We are seemingly, on this festival, out of kilter with the rest of the world.

Advent is how we, as Anglicans, build up to Christmas;

Advent is a period of watchful, and prayerful anticipation as we wait for anniversary of that day when the light came into the world and the saviour was born among us. So far so good.


The season of advent also looks ahead to Christ’s final advent as judge at the end of time.

Indeed, the Four Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell – have been traditional themes for Advent meditation.

The characteristic note of Advent is therefore expectation, rather than penitence. Indeed, the anticipation of Christmas under commercial pressure has also made it harder to sustain the appropriate sense of alert watchfulness, but the fundamental Advent prayer remains ‘Maranatha’ – ‘Our Lord, come’ (1 Corinthians 16.22).

So despite this tension from the outside world, church decorations remain simple and spare. It is because of this we dress the church in purple and I find myself gently negotiating with the flower ladies to quietly stop them glorifying God in the usual way. It’s is not because I personally, or anyone else, doesn’t like the church being decorated in advent, it is because advent demands no other distractions from the contemplation and prayer the season demands.

Advent is not only the beginning of the church year and a season of expectation and preparation, but also a time which looks ahead to Christ’s final advent as judge at the end of time.

The readings and liturgies not only direct us towards Christ’s birth, they also challenge the modern reluctance to confront the theme of divine judgement.

But confront it we must.

Indeed, our gospel reading today forces us to respond with a process of self-examination. A moment of self-refection we might not want to engage in.

“People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.”

So I ask you today how ready is your conscience? How prepared is your soul? How keen are you to be judged? How alert are you to the coming of the Lord?

Indeed, if we have got Christmas the wrong way round, where in your life are things out of kilter? What other things have we got the wrong way round?

And what are you hiding from the all-seeing God? When have you stood on your pride or selfish desires? When have you failed to turn the other cheek and love your neighbour?

The challenge to all of us this advent is to look within. To assess and analyse our faith, our behaviours, our attitudes, our prejudices – and I’m afraid there’s no hiding the fact we’ve all got them.

So, think about how, why, and when you get it wrong. Think about how let yourself and God down. And ask yourself is your faith genuine or is church just a Sunday morning club?

Prepare your souls for judgement. Pray for your salvation.

Think about how you need the light of Christ in your lives and in your hearts.

God be with you this advent, it is in fact, the most uncomfortable time of year.


Post Communion
Father in heaven, who sent your Son to redeem the world
and will send him again to be our judge:
give us grace so to imitate him in the humility and purity of his first coming
that, when he comes again, we may be ready to greet him
with joyful love and firm faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Next week
Sunday 12th December
Third Sunday of Advent

Canon John Giles 60th Ordination Anniversary
John will be marking this great milestone in his ministry journey on December 12th, by preaching in the 10.30am service. Do come along and join us at Aldeburgh Parish Church on the 12th December. 
We also invite you to raise a glass to John after the service.

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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

Christmas Service Dates at Aldeburgh Parish Church

To make sure everyone feels safe in church this Christmas, we are offering you the chance to reserve your seats for selected services.  Due to the popularity of the Crib Service (Christmas Eve) we have decided the safest option is to have two services, one at 2pm and one at 3.30pm.  You can reserve seats for the following services:

  • Crib Service 24th December – 2.00pm
  • Crib Service 24th December – 3.30pm 
  • First Communion of Christmas 24th 11.15pm – Socially Distanced
  • First Communion of Christmas 24th 11.15pm – Non Socially Distanced
  • Christmas Day 10.30am Service – Socially Distanced
  • Christmas Day 10.30am Service – Non Socially Distanced

Please do let Ken Smith, or Claire at know of your wishes.  These dates will be published in the local papers and available to book online from the 1st December.
You can reserve your seat online here


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.

Food Banks at the East of England Co-op

Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities. 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.

The Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last year 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 – 

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.   People are welcome to email 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

Zoom Bible study meets on Thursdays. Please email for all the links. You don’t need to have attended previous sessions.