Message from The Rector
Greetings from The Vicarage and welcome to another Sunday with online worship from The Vicarage. We haven’t tried an informal ‘Service of the Word’ yet so here goes. As ever, all feedback gratefully received. This one isn’t really a ‘Family Service’ but our plans are that the next one will be – watch this space!
Many thanks to those who have been in touch volunteering to read. Claire and I have compiled a list and we’ll begin to be in touch this coming week – so next Sunday’s service will be a little less of a monologue.
Before next Sunday we do, of course, mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th. Most of the national and local plans have been put on hold but at the time of writing I do know that both Aldringham and Friston churches will be doing special things in their churchyards that are not time-specific but will certainly be worth a visit. So if your daily exercise should take you past either church do look out for what I know will be beautiful tributes – and huge thanks to those who will make them happen.
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Jesus said ‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Sermon by Revd James Marston
May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We will meet again. We have hope.
Emotions run high at a time like this, we have good days and bad days, highs and lows as we live through these challenging times.
Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter – a time of hope and celebration in the church.
Some of the ways in which we usually mark Eastertide are unavailable to us but that doesn’t mean we do not have hope, or indeed the love that Easter celebrates.And I can’t help thinking as we hear Her Majesty and others talk openly about prayer in the public sphere and how at this time we might turn to something more spiritual and deeper to help us get through these weeks.
At the moment we are drawn, perhaps more than ever, to consider the role and part faith plays in our own lives when we are threatened by, not only an indiscriminate virus but also by enforced divorce from much that defines ourselves and our way of life.
There is no point in pretending that many of us do not find the conditions that we are living in painful, frustrating, and contrary to our very nature.
For those of us who now find ourselves with a surfeit of time – something we often say we crave more of but then perhaps struggle to deal with when it comes – we can turn to all sorts of activities to keep the melancholy wolf from the door.
In my own attempts to keep busy I’ve even baked a cake which, though it ended up being fed to the birds, did keep me busy during an unforgiving hour.
Time, of course, gives us greater clarity. And when we look back, we see clearly and in a different light that which has gone before. This is often the case with God, we see but glimpses of Him and His work though with the critical distance of time, those of faith often see God’s action in their lives more clearly, months, years, perhaps even decades after the event.
Today’s gospel reading with its images of sheep, shepherds, gates and flocks is little more than an exhortation to follow Jesus and be led by him and his rightful authority. We are the sheep that recognise his voice, know who he is and follow him. As a shepherd of His flock Jesus leads us rather than drives and calls repeatedly to keep us together and it is through him, the gate, we come closer to God.
Last week Reverend Jo talked powerfully to us about retuning our vision in order to recognise where God is in our lives and consider where He is asking us to share hope and forgiveness.
In our reading from Acts we hear how Jesus’ disciples, after that first Easter kept the faith by spending time in prayer and praise of God as they grew the church community.
As well as the passage of time, prayer, can also give us a wider perspective, and, in turn, peace of mind, which can help us manage our fear and anxiety. It is also how we maintain and develop and retune our relationship with God. From prayer our faith stems and it is from prayer our faith deepens.
This might be partly because prayer eventually shows to us ourselves. And once we know ourselves, we can see more clearly the reasons for our behaviour, the things we can be grateful for, and perhaps glimpse of something more than ourselves, something of the divine in the world around us and in our own lives.
At the moment we cannot go to church to pray, maybe we don’t need to, we have the countryside, exercise, the open air, our own homes and the technology that enables us to pray alongside and with the Rector the Eucharistic prayer in which we witness the breaking of bread, even if we don’t actually eat it.
Church, as we are coming to discover, is much more than the building – it is really about people and community – and prayer is nothing more than talking to God, an outpouring of words and thoughts that can be done anywhere and at any time – not just at 10.30am on a Sunday morning. There is much written about how to pray and what to do but simply being grateful to God is something we can all easily forget, preferring perhaps to pay more heed to what we want rather than what we already have. So my task for you this week, as we all retune and renew our relationship with God is simply to saying thank you to God, as often as you can, and aloud if you can, and where you can, throughout the days ahead, for all that we have, for our loved ones, for our homes, for our countryside, for our health and our lives.
Simply acknowledging God through the positivity and optimism of gratitude is often where the relationship with the love and hope of Easter, with God, starts, strengthens and deepens.
And once that gratitude is expressed the world quickly starts to look different and we can say with renewed confidence and without fear that we will meet again and that we have hope.
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 – 10th May
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Food Banks – Message from the Community
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✞
🎶 Christina Johnston Concerts – Live Streaming 🎶
How about you??