Message from The Rector
December has arrived and we are able to resume worship in our churches. (Aldeburgh’s 9.00am Mon-Fri Morning Prayer will resume next Monday). The restrictions remain pretty well as they were before the recent lockdown so we still have to be very careful about numbers, about not being too close to people outside our immediate family or ‘bubble’ (outside the churches as well as inside), congregations still can’t sing and must wear masks unless they are medically exempt from doing so. And Christmas approaches! What can we possibly do? Well – we do what we can. I’m afraid that the ‘big’ services such as Aldeburgh’s Crib Service and Midnight Eucharist will be impossible – we simply can’t handle those kinds of numbers. I couldn’t, however, think of Aldeburgh church being closed on Christmas Day so there will be a service of Holy Communion at 10.30. There can’t be any congregational singing and we will have to restrict the numbers so please keep an eye on the website for details of how to reserve a place. We will try and contact everyone who isn’t on email by phone so that no-one misses out. But I’m afraid you won’t just be able to just turn up on the day, you will need a reservation.
Each of our village churches will also have a Christmas Day service at the usual time – 9.30 in Knodishall, 9.45 in Friston and 11.00 in Aldringham. There will also be a Christmas service in Friston on Tuesday 22nd at 6pm (contact Carole Edwards through Aldeburgh Church website to enquire about a place for this service). And there will still be chance to sing carols outdoors too. The usual gathering of carol singers on Mill Hill in Aldringham will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday December 15th. We may not be able to retire to the Parrot & Punchbowl afterwards, but we can certainly have a good (socially distanced) sing! All are welcome.
The restrictions give the current season of Advent a whole new twist too. Traditionally we talk of Advent as a time of watching and waiting – and many of us this year have been waiting for some kind of normality to return for what seems like ages. So much has been disrupted. So many have had their lives turned upside down. But Christmas remains and, though it may be going to feel rather different for us this year, its message never changes. So we continue to watch and wait – but we can be sure that Christmas will still be Christmas. As it says on the board outside Aldeburgh church ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.’
With love, as ever
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.
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her that she has served her term, that her
penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double
for all her sins. A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the
way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made
low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ A voice says, ‘Cry out!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
2 Peter 3.8-15a
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him.
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’, John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
Reflection for 6th December – Second Sunday of Advent
by The Revd James Marston
As a friend and wannabe comedian said to me “‘tis the season to be jolly careful” and “you better watch out sanitiser’s on his way.”
As I open my Aldeburgh advent calendar each morning – to be greeted by the image of a gingerbread man or a sprig of Holly – or switch on the television, or visit the supermarket, it is easy to get bombarded with Christmas and the ever longer run up to it. Often, somewhere in the mêlée there is an image one of the greatest saints known to the Christian faith, a man venerated and recognised as Holy across the western and eastern Christian traditions, a man whose generosity and kindness have shone through the centuries and who has never really been forgotten.
This man wears today a white beard, red trousers, black belt and red jacket. He has a sleigh and reindeer. And is particularly loved by children. We know him now as a festive figure of folklore, but he existed nonetheless. We may think we have turned him into a fictitious character and given him the name Santa Claus or Father Christmas but as every child will tell you, he is actually real.
Today, alongside the second Sunday of Advent, is St Nicholas day. Here in our benefice, it seems we quite like the saints, we observe the patronal festivals of St Peter and St Paul, St Andrew, St Lawrence as well as the blessed virgin herself. We like to hear about saints, who they were and what they did. They can inspire, and make us think, as well as call us to holiness as we march along the path of faith.
St Nicholas of Myra is not a figure of legend whose origin is lost in the mists of time but was a real person. A churchman in fact who attended the council of Nicea in AD325 at which point Christian belief began to become codified in the form of a creed.
Born at the end of the third century, in about 280, Nicholas was a very devout young man who, still quite young, became a Bishop and then the Archbishop of the then great city of Myra, which is in the province of Lycia in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.
There he was renowned for his charitable deeds. There he set up orphanages, hospitals, hostels for the mentally ill, fed the starving in famine, and set up a drainage system so that his people would not die from the diseases incurred by poor hygiene.
He freed captives unjustly imprisoned, saved sailors in stormy seas, redeemed young girls who were bound for child prostitution. The stories about Nicholas highlight his ability to give, to care and to love.
It is Nicholas’ generosity, his loving kindness, his dedication to the faith and life of Christian witness that we can see Christ himself, and how Nicholas calls us once again to us to holiness as we march along the path of faith.
St Nicholas – Patronages
As well as various cities and countries around Europe including Greece, Liverpool.
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.
Aldringham Church Calendar 2021
The Aldringham church calendar for 2021 is now on sale.
Deciphering words in the New Testament
(It’s all Greek to me)
AGAPE and PHILIA – Love and Friendship
In Christina Rosetti’s words “Love came down at Christmas”. So, Advent is a good time to think about it. The Love we are talking about in Greek is “AGAPE” (three syllables). Agape is the shining sun which gives warmth and life to our faith. “Love was Our Lord’s meaning” said Julian of Norwich.
First then, AGAPE is the word for the Love that God has for all his children on earth, given to us in human terms by Jesus. (John 3.16) “God so loved the world that he gave .
Secondly, it is the word for the love by which we in our hearts respond to that same love (John 14.15) (If ye love me, keep my commandments); or in St. Paul writing to the Romans (ch. 5.5) “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Thirdly, it is the word for love between people, when care and respect for them is touched with real good intent. Love is more than merely liking. When Jesus took from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19.34) the words “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 5.43) he uses the word ‘agapao’ (as a verb) which is practical in meaning, i.e., wanting the best for them. To love the hungry, for example, practically, is to give them food. He then continues “love (agapate – imperative tense) your enemies”. Well, that should make us think.
We put so much romance and sentimentality (not to mention the physical side) into our use of “love” today. Both in the Old Testament, and in the teaching of Jesus, love is present and shown by good intent more than emotions of the heart.
Secondly there is “PHILIA” or friendship. In the famous chapter,
(John 15,) where Jesus speaks of himself as The Vine, with his followers as the Branches, he goes on in verse 14 “You are my friends (philoi-plural) if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants (or slaves – the Greek ‘doulos’ has both meanings), for a servant does not know what his master is about. I have called you friends . . .”
This is so deep. We must try to understand all that follows from this, the privileged relationship with Christ that can be at the heart of discipleship. It is wonderfully recalled in the hymns “My song is love unknown” and “What a friend we have in Jesus”.
Agape and Philia overlap to some extent. In John 21, Peter does not presume to use Agape in reply to Jesus’ first and second questions “Do you love me?” (using Agape); while third time round both Jesus and Peter settle for Philia, i.e. “Do you love me as a friend?” “Yes, Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you as a friend”. “Feed my sheep”. That is the church’s episcopate.
So much to ponder and give thanks for. Christmas approaches. Here is Love in action, and this time no lockdown.
The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
13th December – Third Sunday of Advent
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. With Christmas fast approaching, your donations will make all the difference.
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.
📆 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.