Sunday 19th April
Second Sunday of Easter
Message from The Rector
When we are living through extraordinary times, and when news bulletins are full of so much information that it becomes hard to absorb anything, it takes a particularly bold headline to attract our attention. One such headline that did it for me recently was ‘Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre closed for the first time since 1349’. The coronavirus outbreak has caused even that holy place to be shut. It hurts to know that our places of worship have to be closed but closed they must be. The government has asked that we keep churches closed to protect individuals and also to help the NHS not to be overwhelmed. The Covid-19 virus can remain active on surfaces anything between a couple of hours and a couple of days. Door handles, pews where people have rested their hands when they pray, books that they may have picked up, all of these could potentially allow the transmission of the virus unless they were disinfected after every contact. And I don’t need to remind you, I’m sure, of the horrifying daily statistics of the number of people who are dying every day. As church we need to be part of the solution not part of the problem.
I have become aware in recent days of many heart-warming stories about local people being helped by agencies and individuals. Food parcels are being delivered, shopping is being done, appointments met, errands run and much more besides. As we hold in our prayers those who are ill and those who have died so we also give thanks and pray for all who are going the extra mile (sometimes quite a lot of miles) to help those in need.
We plan to continue online services every Sunday at 10.30am and Wednesday at 10.00am. Sunday morning’s acts of worship will include Holy Communion, Morning Prayer (Mattins) and less formal ‘Morning Praise’ services. Each Wednesday morning will be a simple service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer. Each Wednesday evening at 6.00pm a service of Compline is being said by parishioners in Friston and at 6.30pm the Pilgrims Together group gathers – both of these initiatives using ‘Zoom’. I should also remind you of Morning Prayer each morning at 8.30am said by Bishop Martin in his little garden oratory in Ipswich. Around 90 now join him online and it’s a good way to start the day. https://www.facebook.com/BishopsCofEsuffolk/
Our services from The Vicarage, and those led by our bishops, remain on the relevant sites afterwards so if you don’t manage to be with us ‘live’ you can rerun the service at a time that suits you.
Please be assured of my continuing prayers and if there is ever anything that you think I might be able to help with don’t hesitate to be in touch.
Almighty Father, you have given your only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of 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.
Acts 2.14a, 22-32
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. ‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and fore knowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him,
“I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover, my flesh will live in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”
‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
“He was not abandoned to Hades,
nor did his flesh experience corruption.”
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
1 Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge;
I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord,
all my good depends on you.’
2 All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble in heart.
3 Though the idols are legion that many run after,
their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
neither make mention of their names upon my lips.
4 The Lord himself is my portion and my cup;
in your hands alone is my fortune.
5 My share has fallen in a fair land;
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
6 I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel,
and in the night watches he instructs my heart.
7 I have set the Lord always before me;
he is at my right hand; I shall not fall.
8 Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices;
my flesh also shall rest secure.
9 For you will not abandon my soul to Death,
nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit.
10 You will show me the path of life;
in your presence is the fullness of joy
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
Reflection by Revd Sheila Hart
John 20:19 to the end
There is so much contained in these 13 verses from the Gospel of John that it is hard to know what to emphasise and where to begin.
We have moved on from the early morning to the evening of the first Easter Day and the disciples are pictured gathered together, supporting each other because they are afraid of what might happen to them subsequent to Jesus’ crucifixion and the revelation from Mary, Peter and John that He had risen from the dead and Mary’s exuberant announcement that she had actually seen Him!
Apart from the fear, it is difficult to imagine what the gathered disciples might have been thinking about and feeling as perhaps they reflected together on the happenings of the week between Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the promised Messiah, his betrayal, arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion, death, burial and disappearance from the tomb where he had been laid to rest and His subsequent appearance to Mary in the garden. I would imagine their heads would have not only been reeling with the speed with which these things had happened but also, they’re with disbelief and amazement that His body was not where they had left it in the sealed tomb. The fact was it wasn’t there. Oh Yes Mary said she had seen Him, but she was only a woman and women were subject to flights of fancy. You should never trust a woman for they have very fertile imaginations.
And into the middle of their reflections, like a bolt out of the blue, Jesus came and stood among them, just like He always did, and offered them Peace – just like in the midst of the storm on the lake of Galilee when they had been afraid before and He had commanded the wind and the waves to be still using that same offering of Peace – just like when He had spoken about leaving them and they didn’t understand what He was alluding to, He had told them ‘Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give you, not as the world gives. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’.
Having offered them His peace – the traditional Jewish greeting – shalom – Jesus goes on to initiate their future ministry ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ He breathes into them the Holy Spirit, the One whom He had promised would come to them after He had left them – the advocate; the Comforter; the Counsellor. Did this pre-empt Pentecost? No this was the anointing of the Holy Spirit who would eventually bring them the power for ministry, but at this time was the agent of peace and comfort. The one who would prepare them for their future ministry.
This is followed by the account of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas a week later. Thomas had always seemed the one who took a longer time that the others to understand Jesus’ message. He was the one who didn’t quite understand ‘the way to the place where Jesus was going’ in the farewell discourse of John chapter 14 which we alluded to earlier and Jesus had to speak about His being ‘the way, the truth and the life.’ And he was the one who in this account couldn’t quite bring himself to believe in the resurrected Christ until he had seen for himself.
When he had seen, however, there was no stopping his enthusiasm and his worship ‘My Lord and my God.’
So, what about us? Where does this leave us today?
Well we certainly need the Peace of Christ in these troubled times. The peace of knowing that the resurrected Christ is with us, our loved ones and those who are suffering and who have sadly died as a result of this pandemic and the testing times in which we are living. We have not seen the risen Christ but we do believe and trust in Him and the power of God through the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk through these days of isolation and for many, hardship and loss in His peace knowing that despite everything we are still loved and cared for. Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ I pray that we will continue to believe as we walk through this crisis with our Lord and share His sufferings and His isolation as He prepares us for the shape of our future ministry as His people and may the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us all and may we be agents of God’s peace to those with whom we are in contact who may need to know His peace too.
The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:
You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:
The Week Ahead
Next Sunday – 26th April
Third Sunday of Easter
UU Food Banks – Message from the Community UU Engagement Officer at the East of England Co-op
We support 22 independent and Trussell Trust Foodbanks through our Food Stores; the Foodbanks all collect from the stores who support them. To find the list of who we support and how to find out what their specific needs are please go on to our website
I can confirm that we are working hard on how best we, as a Society, can best support our local communities. There have also been articles in the paper about how food banks are struggling to receive donations as many supermarket shelves are empty.
Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.
Message from Suffolk Trading Standards
British Red Cross are NOT utilising a postcard system currently in connection to Covid-19 and any distribution of these cards locally needs to be reported to us via 0808 223 1133.
✞Wednesday Morning Holy Week✞