Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 28th February – The Second Sunday of Lent

Message from The Rector

The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday gave us some idea of how the future might look, as long as the numbers of Covid cases continues to decline. There was no detail about church services as such (they have never been formally stopped by the government) but the context in which they will be able to happen begins to look a little clearer. I very much hope that we will be able to celebrate Easter in a suitably joyous fashion, though we will still need to be very careful about numbers in our churches – the thinking caps are on. In the meantime, the online services continue and my thanks to all of those who contribute readings and sermons to Sunday morning’s worship. Details of how to join in, and also our other regular online services from both our Pilgrims Together group and St Mary’s, Friston, are elsewhere in this document.

You will also find, further down the document, Canon John Giles’s final contribution (for now) about great 20th century Christians. Archbishop William Temple was undoubtedly one of them and John’s piece is very illuminating. Those who argue that the church and politics should never mix will find plenty to chew on in the life and remarkable achievements of Temple and his contemporaries. Did Jesus involve himself in contemporary politics? Just read Luke 13:31 & 32 to see his attitude to the secular leadership of his time! John – thank-you so much for your thoughts in this and previous weeks – we eagerly await your next contributions.

With love, as ever

Mark

 

Collect
Almighty God, you show to those who are in error the light of your truth,
that they may return to the way of righteousness: grant to all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion, that they may reject those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


First Reading
Genesis 17.1-7, 15-16
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’

Second Reading
Romans 4.13-end
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. 

Gospel Reading
Mark 8.31-end
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’

 

Sermon for 28th February – The Second Sunday of Lent
by The Revd Johanna Mabey

“May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our rock and our redeemer.”

When the kids were little, we’d often walk down to the river. One afternoon was so beautiful, the water so sparkling, the grass so green, and all around us darted dragonflies and butterflies as birds chirped. If only we could hold on to this moment forever, they said to each other. Then, an idea came to them and they took their fishing net and caught a beautiful white butterfly. You can’t do that, I said, the poor thing will die. But the children wanted the butterfly to stay with them forever and live in their bedroom, and when I wasn’t looking, they popped the butterfly into a pocket. By the time they got it home, the butterfly’s wings had folded neatly, and very gently, the children placed the lifeless butterfly on a shelf.    

Wanting to hold on to the good is such a profound, natural, human impulse.

That very annoying 70’s hit song ‘I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day’ expresses something similar – we want the good times to last, and in those really special moments when everything feels just as it should be, we want life to be like this all the time.

Perhaps this is how Peter felt when Jesus started talking, ominously, about his coming death. Peter had given up everything to follow Jesus. He’d thrown himself wholeheartedly into the life of a travelling disciple with this wonderful man who healed the sick, performed miracles, spoke wisdom and truth – even when it made him unpopular to do so, and told mysterious, compelling stories about the kingdom of heaven.

And now, just at the point when Peter has got to know Jesus so well and love him so much that he feels he would do anything for him, Jesus says that it all has to come to an end.

It was such a natural human response from Peter to rebuke his master. No, Jesus, that can’t happen. I won’t let them kill you. I’ll defend you. We can carry on doing this forever, this travelling and healing and teaching.  I don’t want this to end. I don’t want to lose you.

The Gospel is full of moments like these, moments when our natural human responses clash with the strange, counter-intuitive work of the kingdom of God. The truth is, that the only way that Peter can truly know Jesus for who he is – the very God himself, walking on earth fully human and yet fully divine, alive so fully that even death itself cannot keep him – is for Jesus to die and be resurrected.

More than that, the only way that Peter can know who he himself is – this rugged, impetuous fisherman with a tendency to act first and think later – is for Jesus to die and be resurrected. Think of the transformation in Peter as he stands up on the Day of Pentecost to tell people from all over the known world that all of history, everything that had happened, was leading up to the moment when Jesus was raised from the dead.

This is Peter coming into his own for the first time, reaching his full height as an apostle whose impetuous folly will turn to bravery as he does indeed go on travelling and healing and teaching, with the Spirit of Jesus within him, in a way that he couldn’t have dreamt possible in those early days.

The only way, to live, Jesus says, is to lay down one’s life.

The only way to live is to deny oneself, take up one’s cross, and follow Jesus. If we can do this and go on doing it day after day as Luke tells us in his version of the same story, we will live more fully and deeply than we could possibly know.

The only way to live is not to hold on tight to life, and especially to those moments when life feels perfect, but to let those moments pass, to go on finding God in the ever-new moments of each day. If we are not able to do this, we might find ourselves a little like the children, with nothing to display but a dead reminder of a beautiful, living past. 

If we hold on to moments in the past, even profoundly beautiful and spiritual times, we are in danger of what Jesus warned of – of losing our lives even as we try so hard to hold on to them, as the present day and God’s presence in us eludes us because we continue to look for him in the past.     

So, what might this look like? – this life of taking up our cross and following Jesus?

It is, you may not be surprised to hear, a life that is sometimes counter-intuitive.

It’s a life of letting go of the natural human response to get your own back on those who hurt you. It’s a life of open heartedness to others, of hospitality which can mean so many different things both in and outside the home. It’s a life of choosing, in each and every moment, to put others and God above our own needs…and finding in each and every moment that putting others and God above ourselves is the best thing we could ever do for ourselves anyway, so that far from losing out, we win more than we thought possible.  

This is what a Christian life should look like, and it’s this life to which we should aspire. It’s not easy – as I say, it’s deeply counter-intuitive – which is why we need the help of God’s Spirit and God’s people.

But this is what life, lived to the full, looks like.  

Perhaps as move through Lent, there’s an opportunity for us to take time to search our own hearts and to find the parts of us that, like Peter, we’re trying desperately to hold on to – to acknowledge the moment which so quickly becomes the past…. and let’s ask God for His help in trusting in the eternal, ongoing,  ever-new life of God in us and among us, always doing a new thing… always bringing new butterflies to birth for us to enjoy as they flutter by our lives.

Post Communion

Almighty God, you see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: keep us both outwardly in our bodies,
and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The Saints Series (Heroes of Faith) by Canon John Giles

This week – WILLIAM TEMPLE (1881 – October 1944)
Archbishop of Canterbury

First, a PS to last week. A deeply important spiritual moment for Mervyn Stockwood must be mentioned. As a boy he used to visit regularly the Anglo-Catholic church of All Saints Clifton in Bristol, where he was brought up. He loved the movement of the liturgy of the High Mass, and the music. Once he had a mystical experience recalling Isaiah’s Vision in the Temple in Isaiah ch 6, where he saw the Lord, ‘high and lifted up’, in a moment of exaltation and glory. Mervyn told his clergy about this at his last Butlins Clergy Conference, at a specially called Meditation at 6.30 am. It underlay his own call to the ministry and was basic to the rest of his life. The moment is not mentioned in his autobiography but for those who were told the story it was a privileged moment. It was the link for him between worship and spirituality, and building the Kingdom of God.

The PS gives an opening link to William Temple, who when he was Archbishop of York invited Mervyn, a young priest at that stage, but already under attack for bringing politics into religion, as a parish priest and Labour Councillor in Bristol, to have tea with him at his holiday cottage in Somerset. Both were Christian Socialists and had a common concern for the poor and victims of injustice. They got on well together, Mervyn working at local level, and the Archbishop doing the same in ecclesiastical and national affairs.

William Temple was born to the cloth, you might say. His father, Frederick, had been Bishop of Exeter, and later Archbishop of Canterbury from 1897 – 1902. At first the younger Temple had not contemplated ordination, but during his academic career at Oxford, in classics and philosophy, he could resist the call no longer and was ordained in 1908. In 1910 he went to be Headmaster of Repton School, where he stayed only four years before going on to become Vicar of St. James’ Piccadilly. All this time he was writing books of theology and philosophy, but notably the boys at Repton thought so highly of his presentation of Christianity that it was through pressure from them that his sermons were first published. To us today with a missing younger generation we sorely need that sort of input.

Later Temple was called to be Bishop of Manchester (1921), Archbishop of York (1929) and finally Archbishop of Canterbury in 1942. Seriously overworked, with the country at war, he died in 1944.  Churchill talking of the Bishops of the Church of England described him as ‘the only sixpenny article in the Penny Bazaar’.

What did this extraordinarily gifted and dedicated churchman bequeath to our country (and Suffolk, and the Church of England)?

The most important thing must surely be his influence on the creation of the Welfare State, and the NHS, which is ever so slightly in all our minds today. He went to Balliol College Oxford together with RH (‘Harry’) Tawney, author of “Religion and the Rise of Capitalism” who was a close friend at school, and later William Beveridge, (author of The Beveridge Report). That trio (what an incredible coincidence that they should all have been friends in the same college) contributed to the changes in thinking that led to the foundation of the Welfare State and the NHS by the Labour government after the Second World War. Christian Socialism had a profound influence on Clement Attlee, Aneurin Bevan and the Labour Party. Of course, it wasn’t always acknowledged, but it was there.

The second thing Temple created almost single handedly (as he did most of the organisational masterminding), was the Church’s Enabling Act which was eventually passed through parliament in 1919.  It was the Enabling Act which gave the Church the freedom to organise its own life, outside Parliament, though still subject to Parliament.  In effect this dragged our Church from the age of Trollope and Barsetshire to what we know today, by creating Church Assembly and Parochial Church Councils.  It is not always easy to leave home comforts for a draughty church hall for a meeting with a peculiarly un-thrilling agenda, but from time to time the Holy Spirit has been known to descend even upon a PCC, with dramatic results. It could happen here, and it is better than what went before; but it’s up to the living church rather than Westminster to make it happen.  We can thank William Temple for setting that up as a possibility for local churches.

We should note of course the further huge development of what was set up by the Enabling Act in the establishment of Synodical Government in 1969. That is another story, but the story goes on . . .

All this time Temple was writing and preaching and conducting missions all over the country, as well as running dioceses, national campaigns, and just for extras, being President of the Workers Educational Association from 1908 – 1924.

A school chaplain said that if I wanted to understand Christian discipleship better, I should get a copy of Temple’s Readings in St. John’s Gospel. It made a lot of sense, and then I saw a biography of Temple (all 600 pages of it) and read (most of) that. Temple had become my guru.

And what about today? In a society which has to cope with multi-culturalism, multi-faith religion, multi-sexuality, multi-everything, with all the self-proclaimed victims of injustice it throws up, and all the resultant stresses and strains, not to mention pandemics, global warming and the rest, does William Temple still have anything to offer?

Quietly, into the cauldron of World War II in 1942, he condensed his thoughts in a little book “Christianity and the Social Order”. It’s not quite forgotten today. Our last Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, quoted it extensively in his Enthronement in York Minster.  Temple talks of Social Principles (A) Primary, and Social Principles (B) Derivative.

The background to everything is to accept what the Church calls Original Sin i.e., that in a society you have got to control people’s determination to put themselves at the centre of the universe, rather than God, or their neighbours. That insight really is unwelcome today, but that’s what the great man said, and it bears thinking about.  This leads into the first Principle which is that God is Love and making the world loving is what He wants. Christ draw us to Himself and to God through love. Temple quotes Lord Acton: “The action of Christ who is risen on mankind, whom He redeemed, fails not, but increases.”

The second Principle is Man: His Dignity, Tragedy and Destiny.  “Man is the child of God, destined for eternal fellowship with God. His true value is what he is worth to God; and that worth is bestowed on him by the utterly gratuitous love of God. All his life should be conducted and ordered with this end in view.”  From this follows the need to link up with others in families, the natural family, obviously, but wider families as well.” The aim in a nation is to create a harmony of stable and economically secure family units”.

The tragedy of man is that he is always wrecking this possibility, but that does not destroy harmony as the ultimate goal.

The Derivative Social Principles are three: Freedom; Social Fellowship; and Service. Freedom must be qualified by consideration for others.

Social Fellowship really follows on from what has been said about the importance of Family Units, but on a wider national and international basis.

The third Derivative Principle then is Service.  This becomes the flux, the enabler, the WD40 of helping all the above to happen. There was a movement born out of the trenches in the First World War called Toc H. Toc H drew people together out of the suffering of the Front Line and offered them Light and Hope and Friendship. Their joint activities came under the umbrella of Service.  One of their slogans was “Service is the rent we pay for our room on earth”. I haven’t heard of Toc H for many a long year, but its inspiration remains valid. I believe the greatest message to come from William Temple for our society today is to be found in that one-word Service.

John Giles

 

Useful information to help during these times 

If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available
(thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

Archbishop of Canterbury launches free dial-in worship phone line during  coronavirus lockdown | The Church of England

Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 7th March
Third Sunday of Lent

This week’s review is BBC’s – The Repair Shop
The BBC’s very successful TV programme, the Repair Shop, has been a much-appreciated visual pick-me-up for many during the dark days of lockdown. Now, each Wednesday on BBC1 at 8pm, we can all enjoy watching greatly loved family treasures being carefully restored by a team of highly skilled experts working together in an old barn in the Home Counties. The treasures often have a colourful history with only modest financial value, but they all have high sentimental value. The sight of the owners returning to collect their restored treasures, and their often-emotional reactions when shown the skilful repair which has given the item a new life, is a delight for even the most hardened viewer.
Pippa and Richard Marson

 

NOTICES

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. 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.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months 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 – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing supportercare@trusselltrust.org

 

✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞

Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

✞ 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.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

Save the dates: Saturday 6th March 7pm- Pilgrim’s Fun Quiz

Following the success of our January Quiz Night, another is planned for Saturday 6th March.  Please contact Sue and Richard if you are able to offer a round of questions.

Saturday 20th March 7pm – ‘Did you know Ceilidh’

Following the great success of our first ‘Did you know Ceilidh’, another has been planned!  Tell a story of local interest, provide an interesting fact or 2 about our community, introduce us to our local area past and present…surprise us with nuggets of information, the possibilities are endless…you might want to share a short presentation…

Come along and share, come along and just listen.  Enjoy the evening with a glass / mug of something special of your choice.  
Please email Sue Atkinson if you have something to contribute to the evening.

More details to follow… All are welcome!

 

Tuesday Coffee Morning with Mark & Friends 

Our regular Zoom coffee morning will be from 10.30am – 11.30am every Tuesday. All are very welcome. Grab your favourite morning beverage and let’s have a good ole chat – just like we used to.

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

 
 
 

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.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.

 

Book/TV/Film Review Club 
Have you found a great escape during this lockdown in books, a tv series, or a good film? Are you re-visiting the classics, or reading them for the first time? What box sets are you binge watching? Are you watching The Serpent, The Bay, A Perfect Planet, The Crown? 

Please do share your reviews/recommendations with us.
Just send your review to admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk.
We would really love to hear your suggestions.

How About a Walk with James? 
As the weather gradually gets better, our assistant curate James is offering to walk and chat for those that might like to. If you feel like getting out and meeting up with James give him a call on 01728 688451 to arrange.

 

Suffolk Historic Churches Ride & Stride
Fran Smith (Team leader for Aldeburgh) has received a “Thank you and well done” letter to say that the Saxmundham area (no 19) raised £12,202 for SHCT last year, the highest of all areas.
Aldeburgh raised a big part of that total due to the generosity of the congregation, friends and families. The total for Suffolk was £175,000, including Gift Aid, which is a great total considering the pandemic.

Date for your diaries – 11th September for the 2021 Ride and Stride.

 
 
 

A Notice from Elizabeth Smith at Aldeburgh Baptist Church. World Day of Prayer – 5th March 2021

World Day of Prayer – 5th March 2021- Notice Two

Every year on, the first Friday in March there is a World Day of Prayer, celebrated by Christians all round the World.

This year the WDP Service has been prepared by the women of Vanuatu, a tiny group of islands in the Western Pacific. To learn more about Vanuatu you can watch the YouTube video at https://www.wwdp.org.uk/2021/01/13/introducing-vanuatu/

Due to Coronavirus restrictions, we will not be able to hold the usual WDP Service in the Fairfield Centre in Aldeburgh. Instead, the Aldeburgh WDP Committee, consisting of women from each of the three churches in Aldeburgh, is preparing a YouTube video Service which will be available for people to watch on Friday 5th March. This is an opportunity for many more of us to attend this service, and pray together for Vanuatu, and for the world. It will be lovely if you can join us on 5th March; but if you are not free then you will be able to join in the Service at a later date, using the video link which you will find on the Aldeburgh Baptist Church website – http://www.aldeburghbaptistchurch.com/

Pippa Marson has very kindly shared this spectacular cloud formation with us. Do share your interests with us too.

A cloud in the sky

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 21st February – The First Sunday of Lent

Message from The Rector

Each year during Lent (which began last Wednesday) our diocesan bishops hold a Lent Appeal. We would normally announce it in church and support it from our collections but while we are not gathering in our church buildings, I thought you ought to know about it. As in one or two years in the past the focus is on Kagera, our link diocese in Tanzania and the aim is to support key workers there, including trainee doctors at Murgwanza Diocesan Hospital and farmers who are being taught new and more sustainable ways of working. Our diocese’s web page with all of the details, including how to donate, is here:

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/exploring-faith/our-bishops/bishops-lent-appeal/

Do, please, do what you can.

To focus our minds on Kagera throughout Lent the diocese has also come up with a daily Lent Challenge as a way of collecting a small amount of money each day which, by Easter, will have built into something more substantial. This is the booklet …

https://d3hgrlq6yacptf.cloudfront.net/
5f214e41ab1e4/
content/pages/documents/1610380031.pdf

… and I notice that today (Friday, as I type) we’re being encouraged to collect 10p for each musical instrument we possess. So, for us that’s a piano, Ro’s flute, four recorders …… the counting continues!

A huge thank-you must go to Chris Theobald from The Parrott and Punchbowl in Aldringham for helping us (via Zoom) to cook pancakes last Tuesday. There were sounds of much excitement as the mixing and cooking happened and some beautifully decorated pancakes emerged as a result. Take a look here:

https://www.facebook.com/Pilgrims-Together-925268094321475

You don’t need to be a Facebooker to look but if you are then you might like to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ the Pilgrims Together page.

I sincerely hope that by next week we will know more about how we might emerge from our current lockdown and begin to worship in church once again. Watch this space – and pray for good news!

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:
give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit;
and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Genesis 9.8-17
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’


Second Reading
1 Peter 3.18-end
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1.9-15
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ 

 

Sermon for 21st February –First Sunday of Lent
by The Revd Sheila Hart

The readings we have today seem a little strange, to say the least, for the First Sunday in Lent.

In the Old Testament we hear about the covenant that God made with Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by flooding it and He would set the rainbow in the sky as a permanent reminder of that. Interestingly, we only seem to see rainbows after there has been a heavy rainstorm, not when there has just been a short, light shower.

In Mark’s Gospel – the main reading for the day – we read Mark’s account of Jesus’ Baptism and His testing in the wilderness which is dismissed by the Gospel writer in one short paragraph – almost as if it really doesn’t matter or hold any relevance for his readers.

And in the Epistle, Peter looks back to God’s covenant with Noah and links his experience of the flood and his safe keeping in the ark with the rite of baptism.

We would, in the other years of the lectionary, have had a detailed account of the testing of Jesus in the wilderness; what the temptations were; how Jesus responded to them and we would be in no doubt at the end that Jesus had come away from the wilderness prepared for His life’s ministry of remaining completely sinless to enable Him to fulfil God’s destiny for Him in saving the world from sin, death and the devil, through His death on the cross and His resurrection.

Sermons would have dissected the testing of Jesus in the wilderness and given some good ideas of how congregations might usefully spend the forty days of Lent ensuring that their spiritual lives were in good order and, indeed, deepened by the whole Lenten experience of prayer, courses linked to the Bible and self-denial. But not this year!

In fact, the detailed accounts of Jesus’ testing in the wilderness are only recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. As I said earlier, Mark dismisses it in two verses and John makes no mention of it at all.

So, what are we to make of our three readings for today? Should we look to the more detailed accounts in Matthew and Luke? Should we also dismiss the significance and relevance of Jesus’ testing by the devil, as Mark appears to? Or should we, perhaps use the opportunity which is presented to us this year to look at the bigger picture and reflect on the meaning of Baptism, both in the life of Jesus and also in our own life?

I think that looking at the more detailed accounts in Matthew and Luke would be out of the question as we looked at Matthew last year and we will look at Luke next year so why pre-empt them?

We cannot dismiss the accounts of Jesus’ temptations out of hand for several reasons: Firstly, it is clear that Jesus certainly had some sort of experience in the ‘wilderness’, be it an actual wilderness or a spiritual wilderness, when He was tempted to satisfy His spiritual wellbeing with worldly pleasures. Secondly, this was another of the accounts, following His baptism, where He is clearly shown to be fully human as we are often tempted throughout our life to put our trust in something other than those things which God would bring to us.

Thirdly, the Bible clearly states that ‘He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.’

So, we are left with the third option of looking at the true meaning of Baptism and reflecting on that.

The season of Lent is one in which we accompany Jesus on His journey to Jerusalem, His arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection. Baptism, for the Christian, is the beginning of our journey with God through life. It is where we turn away from sin and enter our new life in Christ. The water signifies our washing, cleansing from sin, and our readiness to enter upon our Christian pilgrimage. The prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit and our signing with the cross enable us to grow in faith and have the power within us to continue on our journey in Christ as ‘His faithful soldier to our life’s end.’

The flood, in Genesis, was God’s way of trying to rid the world he had created of sin – the sin of disobedience to Him. He did manage to find one family – Noah’s family who remained faithful and obedient to Him despite having to build a big boat in a land where water, especially in the form of rain, was scarce and for a very long time, that boat was their home alongside two of each kind of creature that God had created. It was a kind of baptism – a new start if you like.

The baptism of John, into which Jesus was baptised, was a baptism of repentance – turning away from wrongdoing and disobedience to a new life after the cleansing in the waters of the river Jordan. Jesus was baptised to indicate that he was fully human and the descending of the dove of the Holy Spirit and the voice from heaven when He came up out of the water showed that He was also fully divine. It is interesting that Jesus’ wilderness experience followed that which was for Him a spiritual high.

Lent is a season in which we reflect on our life, our faith and our experience of God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our baptism, as I have said, is the beginning of that life of faith. So, let us spend some time during this season Lent – which is for us this year in the midst of lockdown and a global pandemic a truly wilderness experience – reflecting on our own journey of faith as we walk with Jesus through His wilderness experience to the cross and beyond. Amen.

 

The Saints Series (Heroes of Faith) by Canon John Giles

This week – MERVYN STOCKWOOD (1913 – 1995), Bishop of Southwark 1960 – 1980 

As Vicar of Great St Mary’s, Cambridge, from 1955, Mervyn Stockwood drew huge numbers of students to his services to hear him and star speakers, including lay men and women, not all Christian, who tackled headline issues, political as well as religious, from the pulpit. The addresses led to heated discussions at the back of the church after the services. Out of this fiery crucible of faith, non-faith, worship, vision and controversy, came literally hundreds who decided to put their shoulders to the wheel of the ordained ministry, while confirmed ordinands, such as myself, found their vocation and vision of the job that lay ahead widened and strengthened.

I would meet Mervyn again twelve years later at Walsingham, when, as Bishop of Southwark and Administrator of the Shrine, he was dedicating a new aisle in the church. I was there having taken students there on a retreat. Mervyn tackled me at the reception, asking “Who are you, and why are you here?” It happened to be at a time when I was thinking of pastures new. He put me down in his little black book and I forgot all about it. Six months later a letter arrived asking if I would be interested in a large parish in South East London and join his Diocese. Kidbrooke was a huge challenge, and I accepted readily.

As Bishop, Mervyn fulfilled all three biblical functions of Prophet, Priest, and King. He was a true priest, working tirelessly to inspire and equip his people and parishes for ministry. He came to dedicate a new church centre on the huge GLC housing estate in my parish. He had prepared a special sermon for the occasion, but when he saw who was actually there, including even a keep-fit class in leotards, he realised his words would go right over all our heads so improvised a brilliant simpler talk which was dead right. His churchmanship was middle to high, and he was totally dedicated as priest. He prayed for his clergy in his chapel every morning, using his Christmas cards to remember them individually. No clergyman in the diocese ever failed to send him a card or absented himself from the Clergy Conferences at Butlins Holiday Camps, a typical crazy idea, which helped to create a deep family feeling in the Diocese.

He was Kingly too – you might say a Prince Bishop, with a forceful natural authority. That sounds a bit backhanded. Yes, he could be pretty arch and maddeningly autocratic, yet all was forgiven in view of his fearless leadership and almost invariably correct decisions. When he eventually retired from the diocese in 1979, high-placed supporters gave him a farewell dinner where toasts were proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Barbara Cartland, and Frankie Howerd. His influence was as wide as that. It must have been quite a party.

On the first Sunday of Lent, we remember Isaiah 58.6: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to lose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke.” The job of the Prophet is to give the word of the Lord, and Mervyn undoubtedly prophesied to the nation.

In the summer of 1976, the National Front were resurgent, infiltrating football crowds with their propaganda. He called on the parishes to support a protest march through the middle of Lewisham. Mervyn led the march. Prime Minister Jim Callaghan acknowledged that Mervyn’s action had helped turn the tide of public opinion against the National Front.

His connections with Wandsworth and Brixton prisons, gave him the background to speak powerfully in the Lords and the House of Bishops on penal reform and the abolition of Capital Punishment. He identified completely with the Wolfenden Report and homosexual law reform.

Against strong opposition he appointed John Robinson, who would later write “Honest to God”, as Bishop of Woolwich, and spoke with him in support of the publication of DH Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”.

Members of non-stipendiary ministries will know that the Diocese of Southwark under Mervyn initiated the original Southwark Ordination Course, opening the way for large numbers of men, and later, women, to fulfil their vocations in the church. He initially opposed the ordination of women in General Synod because of the way the campaign was being run. However, in 1978 he ordained Elizabeth Canham as deacon in Southwark, and later accepted an invitation to assist in her ordination as priest in the USA, becoming the first Bishop of the Church of England to take this step.

The stories of Mervyn are endless, and his life speaks for itself, so no more from me.  If you want your faith in the Church of England gingered up (and who doesn’t? – that has to be the link with Aldeburgh and the Benefice this week), read “Chanctonbury Ring”, Mervyn Stockwood’s autobiography, published by Hodder & Stoughton.

John Giles

Useful information to help during these times
If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available
(thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

 

This Week’s Film Review – The Dig

I’m sure that by now many of you will have watched ‘The Dig’ – the film that tells the story of the amazing Anglo-Saxon archaeological discoveries at Sutton Hoo. If you haven’t seen it (it’s on Netflix but, hopefully, will soon also be able to be shown in cinemas) I would thoroughly recommend it.

It is important to remember what the film is. It does not claim to be a historically accurate record of the times – though much of it is.

It is a film based on a book, by John Preston and also called ‘The Dig’, which itself takes a certain amount of ‘literary license’ with the real story. But what emerges is a thoroughly gripping yet gentle film, telling of the discovery of one of the most important archaeological finds in Great Britain and the hugely important part played in it by Basil Brown.

Brown was a Suffolk man, from Bucklesham, and was more or less self-taught. He studied on correspondence-courses and achieved diplomas in astronomy, geology and geography. In the film he is played, with skilful understatement, by Ralph Fiennes and his performance is the glue that binds the film and the story together. We also meet Edith Pretty, the landowner in whose fields the discoveries were made in the late 1930’s. Her portrayal by Carey Mulligan (20 years younger that Pretty would have been at the time) and the subtle growth of her relationship with Brown (described by Ralph Fiennes as ‘not clouded by love or romance’) is very special and beautifully realised in the film. The whole story is told against the background of impending war, and the image of huge Suffolk skies and passing RAF aircraft is one that leaves a lasting impression. The blending of fact and fiction is, for the most part, skilful and sensitive and I found the whole film both engrossing and touching.

By the way, if you are interested in the real Sutton Hoo story do have a look at these archive BBC film clips – and, among other people, you’ll meet the real Basil Brown and hear his glorious Suffolk accent!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/
sutton_hoo_dig_collection/zs6xqfr

Revd Mark Lowther

NOTICES

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. 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.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation
Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months 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 – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing supportercare@trusselltrust.org

 

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.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.

 

✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞
Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning

To join the Zoom Meeting, please use this link.
Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

✞ 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.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

Save the date: Saturday 6th March 7pm- Pilgrim’s Fun Quiz

Following the success of our January Quiz Night, another is planned for Saturday 6th March.  Please contact Sue and Richard if you are able to offer a round of questions: or please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for more information.

 

Tuesday Coffee Morning with Mark & Friends 
Our regular Zoom coffee morning will be from 10.30am – 11.30am every Tuesday. All are very welcome. Grab your favourite morning beverage and let’s have a good ole chat – just like we used to.

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

 

 Book/TV/Film Review Club 
Have you found a great escape during this lockdown in books, a tv series, or a good film? Are you re-visiting the classics, or reading them for the first time? What box sets are you binge watching? Are you watching The Serpent, The Bay, A Perfect Planet, The Crown?
Please do share your reviews/recommendations with us.
Just send your review to admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk.
We would really love to hear your suggestions.

 

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 28th February
Second Sunday of Lent

 
 

A Notice from Elizabeth Smith at Aldeburgh Baptist Church. World Day of Prayer – 5th March 2021
On 26th May 1940, when Britain was close to defeat during the 2nd World War, and the entire British Army was trapped at Dunkirk, King George VI called for a National Day of Prayer. Millions of people across the British Isles flocked into churches praying for deliverance and the Miracle of Dunkirk took place in the next few days.
Today the whole world is facing an emergency as great as Britain faced in 1940. It is surely time for us all to come together to pray for God’s deliverance and for his blessing. On Friday 5th March the annual World Day of Prayer Service will be very different, in Aldeburgh, from the one we are used to. Instead of meeting in the Fairfield Centre we will be viewing the Service on YouTube, where we can pray together for Vanuatu and the World, facing the pandemic together.
Learn more about Vanuatu, a beautiful tropical group of islands in the Western Pacific, by watching this video https://www.wwdp.org.uk/2021/01/13/introducing-vanuatu/

Join the service the Aldeburgh WDP Committee is preparing:
on Friday 5th March connect to the YouTube Service
The link will be on the Aldeburgh Baptist Church website – http://www.aldeburghbaptistchurch.com/

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 14th February – The Sunday next before Lent

Message from The Rector

Lent approaches. Ash Wednesday is this coming week and there will be special online services that day to mark it. From 10.00 a service of Holy Communion for Ash Wednesday will be available on our YouTube channel (we’ll rest the Book of Common Prayer just for this week) and at 6pm the regular service of Compline from Friston will include some special material for this first day of Lent. And a reminder that during Lent there will be opportunities for study and reflection online, including:

Living Faith in Suffolk Basics Course

Staring 23 February 2021 7.00pm to 9.00pm

Through Lent Bishop Mike and Barbara Hill (Deputy Warden of Readers) will lead this online course for people who are involved in, or considering, any kind of ministry, whether local (e.g. Lay Elder ministry) or national (e.g. Reader ministry or ordination), as well as those interested in looking more deeply at expressing their faith (this isn’t just for potential public ministers). The course consists of five sessions: Being Disciples : Being Called : Working Together : Sustaining Ministry : What now?

The courses will run on Zoom: Tuesdays (from 23 February) 7pm – 9pm.

Visit: https://lfis-basics-20210223.eventbrite.co.uk for more information and to sign up to attend the whole course.

Radical Faith: Inspirational Christians Lives for Challenging Times

St Edmundsbury Cathedral will be hosting a series of speakers during Lent looking at five inspirational Christian lives for today’s challenging times and circumstances. Speakers include The Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie author of ‘A Field Guide to English Clergy’ and Liz Dodd, journalist, and home news editor of The Tablet. Full details of the topics and speakers can be found on the cathedral website.

https://stedscathedral.org/events/radical-faith/

If Lent begins on Wednesday, then Tuesday must be Pancake Day! See elsewhere on the pew-sheet for full details of the opportunity to join in the pancake-making fun with Chris Theobald from The Parrot and Punchbowl in Aldringham at 4.30pm.

A week on Monday (February 22nd) the Prime Minister will be making an announcement about his ‘roadmap out of lockdown’. In the light of that announcement we will take decisions about when we re-open our churches for worship. History tells us that the announcement may be short on essential details that only emerge in the following days but please be assured that we will do what we can when we can. It is heartening to know that so many people have now received their first vaccination, although I read yesterday (Thursday) in the East Anglian Daily Times that in our immediate local areas (Leiston and Aldeburgh, Saxmundham and Coldfair Green) cases of Covid-19, though small in number, increased week-on-week. We must continue to be careful, for our own sake and for the sake of others.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty
before he suffered death upon the cross: 
give us grace to perceive his glory, 
that we may be strengthened to suffer with him
and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
2 Kings 2.1-12
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent.’
Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he answered, ‘Yes, I know; be silent.’ Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ He responded, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.’ As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Second Reading
2 Corinthians 4.3-6
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


Gospel Reading
Mark 9.2-9
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

 

Sermon for 14th February –Sunday next before Lent
by The Revd James Marston

May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit

“And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.”

Snowbound in the rectory I’ve learnt two lessons this week. Firstly, that, despite its striking colour and head turning looks, a two seater with a fabric roof might not be the most sensible motor for rural ministry and secondly that when it comes to exercise I’m very much a fair weather walker.

Indeed, on top of lockdown, the recent blast of snow has perhaps curtailed our activities even further – a double whammy of restrictions – that have left us looking at the four walls with plenty, perhaps, too much time to think.

Indeed, our Gospel reading today tells a story so bizarre, so strange, that it can’t be understood easily – and I think the transfiguration not only challenges us, but forces us to think, to analyse and to contemplate.

This theophany – a theological word which means a visible manifestation to humankind of God – has quite a bit for us to consider.

And this event is not just in the gospel according to Mark’s either. It appears in Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts and the second letter of Peter, so try as we might, we can’t ignore its presence in Holy Scripture. The belief that something supernatural happened on that mountain is part of our faith.

Not only have we got a dazzling white Jesus, but we’ve got an account of an event taking place high up on a mountain, involving Moses and Elijah – both characters from ancient history, and then, to cap it all, a cloud envelops them, and mysterious voice tells them to listen. No wonder the disciples were a bit spooked.

Nonetheless this theophany – a theological word which means a visible manifestation to humankind of God – has quite a bit for us to think about.

Obviously, the transfiguration is a supernatural event that Mark is recording. It’s something that defies explanation. It is a mystery, a concept that we, as Christians, are not unused to as part and parcel of faith. It is ok not to have all the answers.

But what we can say is that the transfiguration is a turning point. A moment in which Jesus’ ministry of teaching, healing, and preaching, looks forward to Jerusalem, the shame of the cross and the glory of the resurrection – indeed as a foretaste of Jesus’ shining light as the son of God, the transfiguration is a cautionary tale – that the message and glory of Jesus can only be understood in relation to the death and resurrection of Christ.

The traditional interpretation of the appearance of Moses and Elijah points towards the claim that Christ is the fulfilment of the law – Moses – and the fulfilment of the prophets – Elijah. That Jesus is a fulfilment of all that God has promised and that Jesus life on earth accomplishes this promise.

Yet the transfiguration also not only looks forward to the final act of Jesus’ life but also to his past – expressly his baptism, for at Jesus’ baptism the same voice says a similar thing “This is my son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased: listen to Him.”

This event is also a moment of revelation. A reminder to us in this troublous world, that Jesus is here, Jesus is divine and that we have no need to fear. Our church communities today, though pulling together in many respects, are also facing stresses and strains – we cannot meet, or worship as we might like, our lives are restricted like never before.

It is hard indeed to entrust our lives into the hands of God when we are up against what might appear to be an insurmountable outside threat.

But I think the transfiguration, for all its meanings and mystery, is also, at its root a timeless and repeated invitation to follow Christ, to keep the faith and to never lose sight of the hope and wider perspective Jesus offers.

In this event we see Jesus in his glory, in his dazzling white, revealed as the living God, in a moment of illumination. The story of redemption, of Calvary, of troubles ahead, has yet to be worked out. Yet the transfiguration assures us that the ultimate victory of the cross and resurrection, the ultimate victory of light, the ultimate victory of God, is secured.

I have no spiritual challenge, no little task, no thought to think about for you this week, but I thought it might be a good idea to remind you that I, and other clergy, are here because we are called by God to live among you to live alongside you as a presence in your community. And, indeed, our prayers are with you.

A final thought: As Christians in this place and in these days, we can, at least hold on to the fact that whatever happened on that high mountain on that strange day we are left with hope, a hope that can make all the difference, a hope that can keep us going in our own times of distress, a hope in God, that we can rely on and a hope that ultimately transforms and transfigures our own lives.
Amen.

Post Communion
Holy God, we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ:
may we who are partakers at his table reflect his life in word and deed,
that all the world may know his power to change and save.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The Saints Series (Heroes of Faith) by Canon John Giles

This week – Dame Cicely Saunders (22 June 1918 – 14 July 2005) and the Hospice Movement.

We are all by now familiar with Hospices, for adults and for children. But we may not know the story of how a new understanding of care for the dying in hospices was largely brought about by a remarkable dedicated Christian woman, Dr Cicely Saunders, in the 1960s.

Forgive me if I start with a personal connection.  In 1967, I was a chaplain at UEA. It was the era of John Robinson’s “Honest to God”, from the Christian side, and “The History Man” by Malcolm Bradbury and the serried ranks of the agnostic counter-culture on the opposing side.

Students, caught in the middle of religious and anti-religious arguments, discussed and questioned vigorously, and asked “What does Christianity add up to in practice? What difference does it make?” To try and answer that question we held a London Weekend looking at work being done by the Churches.  By a stroke of great good fortune, we were able to get Cicely Saunders to come and speak to us and show slides of her newly opened St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, South London. How she fitted in the time to do this is impossible to imagine, but she did, and the students later agreed she was the star turn of the weekend.

Cicely Saunders had a troubled family life with separated parents.  She won a place at Oxford to study PPE, but when war broke out, wanted to do something to help with the human casualties of the war and turned to nursing.  She trained at St Thomas’ Hospital, but a bad back meant she had to change course and became an almoner, the equivalent today of a hospital social worker. Seeing the need for further expertise if she were to develop care for the terminally ill, she went on to qualify as a doctor. 

Meanwhile she gained experience for the work that lay ahead in a small private home for the dying at St Luke’s Bayswater, and, as a doctor, gave three days a week to working at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Hospice, in Hackney. There as well as confirming her vocation, she worked on quite new programmes of drug treatment and pain relief for the dying. She saw the need to be professionally expert as well as good at heart and well-intentioned.

Faith-wise she was by now a convinced Evangelical Christian, influenced by John Stott at All Soul’s Langham Place. Very soon, however, she realised that this was too narrow a background for the work she felt called to do. Rather she had to work for all people, regardless of religious or non-religious persuasion. 

Our own Celia Cook, having worked at the East Anglian Children’s Hospice in Ipswich, has spoken well of this need to work for the good of all. Christian ministry needs to work with allies.

The full story of the vision behind St Christopher’s Hospice, the long hard slog of gaining approval for its building, and the raising of the money for it is too long to tell today can be read in “Cicely Saunders – The Founder of the Modern Hospice Movement” by Shirley du Boulay.

The new Hospice was opened in July1967 and led to many others. One was St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield, doing wonderful work when I was in that city. In Ipswich we have the St Elizabeth Hospice and the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, open to all sick children, not just terminally ill, but a true development of insights gained from St Christopher’s.

The hallmarks of Cicely Saunders’ vision were that life should still go on in the Hospice. While the medical care and use of drugs had to be the very best available, patients should still be surrounded with life, laughter and loving care. Families were welcomed as visitors with their children; birthdays were celebrated; rules kept to an absolute minimum; a ministry of prayer should be always available to patients, but never enforced. Worship in the chapel was important. Space and light were features of the small four and six bedded wards, while beds were positioned sideways to the windows to give views of gardens and grounds.  From my London parish a number of patients were admitted, whom I visited, and all I can say is that it all worked.

On a practical note, today Covid is causing a big financial problem for our Ipswich Hospices through loss of income from the Charity shops. We are all asked to help if we possibly can.

Cicely Saunders was made a Dame in 1980, but she certainly put into practice Jesus words: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move.” Well, it did move, and the students who heard the story so early on duly took note.

John Giles

     
     

 Book/TV/Film Review Club 
Have you found a great escape during this lockdown in books, a tv series, or a good film? Are you re-visiting the classics, or reading them for the first time? What box sets are you binge watching? Are you watching The Serpent, The Bay, A Perfect Planet, The Crown?
Please do share your reviews/recommendations with us.
Just send your review to admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk.
We would love to hear your suggestions.

This week – A Long Petal of the sea, by Isabel Allende
This is a story of members of a Spanish family on the Republican (losing) side in the Spanish Civil War who consequently leave their country and, via the Pyrenees, the French concentration camps and a long sea journey, end up in Chile.  The time covered is from 1938 to 1994 and the setting is historically correct, including the involvement of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. It is the most recent of Allende’s books and doesn’t contain the magical/mythical elements of some of her work, but it is a great story well told. The characters are varied and interesting; the writing is in parts grimly realistic and in others beautifully descriptive. I found it a thoroughly absorbing read.

by Rosemary Lowther

A Snowy St Andrew’s Church, Aldringham

I took these photos on Wednesday when doing a check to make sure the church was secure. It struck me that St Andrew’s looks beautiful at the best of times but takes on another dimension in the snow. I thought that as many of our parishioners might not be wishing to venture out in the snow, they might appreciate seeing how pretty the church and its surroundings looked.

Chris Burrell Saward – Church Warden

A church in the snow

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

A picture containing tree, outdoor, snow, plant

Description automatically generated

A church in the snow

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Thank you, Chris, for sharing these with us.

 

 

Useful information to help during these times 
If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available 

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

Text

Description automatically generated


Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

 

NOTICES

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. 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.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months 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 – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing supportercare@trusselltrust.org

 

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.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.

 

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.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

Pilgrims Zoom Pancake Making with Chris from
The Parrot – 4.30pm on Shrove Tuesday

We are very much looking forward to sharing, with as many of you who are able, in pancake making, tossing and eating next Tuesday 16th.

If you just wish to watch from the comfort of your armchair, then that’s good too.

Following the tremendous success of the Jammie Dodger bake, Chris from the Parrot will be leading us in endeavouring to make that perfect pancake to celebrate Shrove Tuesday.

Ingredients needed for the basic pancake:
Eggs,

Plain flour

Milk

Your choice of Toppings

Quantities will be explained as we make them!


So go for something savoury, something sweet, something a bit unusual, something you’ve not tried before, something that might work / might not…a different topping for each pancake you make?…think pancake, think creative …

Have your camera at the ready and email over photos of your pancakes being prepared, tossed, topped, eaten…and we will compile them onto the Facebook page!

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

Save the date: Saturday 6th March 7pm- Pilgrim’s Fun Quiz

Following the success of our January Quiz Night, another is planned for Saturday 6th March.  Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for more info.
More details to follow… All are welcome!

 

Friston Sunday Services on Zoom 
Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning
Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

How about a walk with James? 
As the weather gradually gets better, our assistant curate James is offering to walk and chat for those that might like to. If you feel like getting out and meeting up with James give him a call on 01728 688451 to arrange.

 

Tuesday Coffee Morning with Mark & Friends 
Our regular Zoom coffee morning will be from 10.30am – 11.30am every Tuesday. All are very welcome. Grab your favourite morning beverage and let’s have a good ole chat – just like we used to.
Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 21st February
First Sunday of Lent

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 7th February – The Second Sunday before Lent

Message from The Rector

These are the in-between times. In the church calendar we have two Sundays (this week and next) between the end of the Christmas season at Candlemas and the beginning of Lent – Ash Wednesday is on February 17th. One way and another these feel like ‘in-between’ days too – between the worst of the Covid outbreak and the end of lockdown – between winter and summer (the snowdrops are looking beautiful already). We will reflect a little on ‘in-between-ness’ in our online service, available, as ever, from 10.00 on Sunday morning.

Our Pilgrim’s Together group is hosting something rather special from 7pm on Saturday 6th. They call it a ‘Did You Know’ Ceilidh … stories and nuggets of golden information, past and present, about our local area.

Tell a story of local interest, provide an interesting fact or 2 about our community, introduce us to our local area past and present…surprise us with nuggets of information, the possibilities are endless…you might want to share a short presentation…

Come along and share, come along and just listen. Enjoy the evening with a glass / mug of something special of your choice. All are welcome! Details of the Zoom link are further down this pew-sheet.

Lent is normally a time for a bit of study and we usually run some kind of Lent Course in our benefice. Though things may soon begin to improve, it is impossible to plan anything that involves gathering in the same place at present. Our Diocese has come up with a variety of possibilities for online Lent courses and I would particularly commend two of them to you.

Living Faith in Suffolk Basics Course

Staring 23 February 2021 7.00pm to 9.00pm

Through Lent Bishop Mike and Barbara Hill (Deputy Warden of Readers) will lead this online course for people who are involved in, or considering, any kind of ministry, whether local (e.g. Lay Elder ministry) or national (e.g. Reader ministry or ordination), as well as those interested in looking more deeply at expressing their faith. The course consists of five sessions: Being Disciples: Being Called: Working Together: Sustaining Ministry: What now?

The courses will run on Zoom: Tuesdays (from 23 February) 7.00pm – 9.00pm

Visit: https://lfis-basics-20210223.eventbrite.co.uk for more information and to sign up to attend the whole course.

Radical Faith: Inspirational Christians Lives for Challenging Times

St Edmundsbury Cathedral will be hosting a series of speakers during Lent looking at five inspirational Christian lives for today’s challenging times and circumstances. Speakers include The Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie author of ‘A Field Guide to English Clergy’ and Liz Dodd, journalist, and home news editor of The Tablet. Full details of the topics and speakers can be found on the cathedral website.

https://stedscathedral.org/events/radical-faith/

And Lent is, of course, preceded by Shrove Tuesday. In the last few years adults and children have enjoyed an afternoon of decorating (and eating!) pancakes at The Dolphin in Thorpeness. This year, fresh from his success at encouraging us to make ‘Jammy Dodgers’, Chris Theobald from ‘The Parrot and Punchbowl’ in Aldringham is going to be hosting an online pancake-making session at 4.30pm. Put the date in your diary, encourage all, especially children, to join in and we’ll put the Zoom details in next week’s pew-sheet.

Finally, a reminder of all that is on offer in the benefice in this coming week.

Sunday 7th Feb – 9.45am

Online (Zoom) Morning Prayer from Friston

From 10.00am

Online (YouTube) Service of the word for in-between times

Tuesday 9th Feb – 10.30am

Online (Zoom) Coffee Morning

Wednesday 10th Feb -10.00am

Online (YouTube) Service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer

6.00pm

Online (Zoom) Service of Compline
(Night Prayer) from Friston

6.30pm

Online (Zoom) Pilgrim’s Together worship

Anyone is very welcome to be with us for any of these services and events – the necessary links are elsewhere in this pew-sheet.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth
and made us in your own image: teach us to discern your hand
in all your works and your likeness in all your children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who with you and
the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things, now and for ever.

First Reading
Proverbs 8.1, 22-31
Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race. 

Second Reading
John 1.1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

 

Reflection for 7th February – Second Sunday before Lent
by The Revd Nichola Winter

It may feel a bit strange hearing these words from the beginning of John’s gospel quite so soon after hearing them at Christmas. But, in some ways, it feels appropriate at this time. It is still quite bleak outside – and bleak inside for many, too, as this seemingly relentless latest lock-down continues. There are welcome signs of lengthening days; the first green shoots of spring are in evidence, but winter can still have a sting in its tail. As I write, snow is in the forecast for next week. But we are reminded that ‘in the beginning was – God…’ ‘God’ that strange, brief word, so often uttered without thought, taken in vain or used as a byword – but, at its most profound level, the word that describes the fundamental origin – ‘the one in whom we live and move and have our being.’ God is there from the beginning; He is the source of life and He comes to be with His creation in all its chaos and calamity.

We’re in a kind of ‘in-between time at the moment.’ The church’s Christmas and Epiphany season has just ended with the celebration of Candlemas but that great message of Christmas still has one last shout as we read the words from John’s gospel. ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us… and we have seen his glory.’ A promise to hold on to throughout the year – that great promise of ‘Emmanuel’ – God with us.

And accompanying God, at the beginning of creation was Wisdom. Often alluded to in the Old Testament as a commanding presence who summons the people boldly, with confidence and joy, Wisdom is endowed with feminine qualities. She is an alluring presence who builds the house and invites the people to a lavish banquet – the original creative home- maker.

In both readings we are given reassurance and comfort; a reminder of God’s grace and a pointer to the wonders of creation. Take those words from Proverbs:

‘I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.’

We get a picture of a playful child, ‘rejoicing before him… delighting in the human race.’ With that sense of innocence comes the earnestness of a child at play, where the make-believe world the child inhabits takes all his or her thought, energy and imagination. Play is so crucial for children – indeed for children of all ages. That means you and me. As we grow older, we abandon it at our peril. During the periods of lock-down, we have been encouraged to discover new ways of looking at life, of exploring the world around us – even when our world may have shrunk to just the four walls that contain us. It may well be that we have slowed down the pace of our frantic lives and rediscovered a kinder, gentler pace. God does not create us for frantic, frenetic ceaseless activity. Look again at the words from Proverbs:

‘When he (God) established the heavens I (Wisdom) was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command…’ Wisdom was there – playing, delighting, rejoicing. The sea plays a crucial part in creation, but it is just one aspect of God’s plan for humankind. Chaos and unrest touch the lives of most folk; but Wisdom is there, too. We all have to undertake a journey of some kind – we’ll all encounter rough seas and life’s storms on the way. The way we respond to the signs God sends will determine the outcome of our struggle. May we all find ways to play, to delight and to rejoice.

 

The Saints Series (Heroes of Faith) by Canon John Giles

This week – JANANI LUWUM

Ash Wednesday, 17th February, will be the 44th Anniversary, to the day, of the death or martyrdom as it was, of JANANI LUWUM, Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, in 1977, who figures in the list of martyrs in our Common Worship prayer books.

It’s a long way from Aldeburgh, I know, but we are thinking not so much of saints, formally recognised as such, but heroes of faith, with a message for us today. I feel I can’t miss this chance to give all readers who have got this far an account of a deeply influential, first-hand encounter I once had with this courageous and faithful Christian.

When I was Rector of Kidbrooke, SE London, we used to see Jesse Hillman, the Overseas Secretary of the Church Missionary Society on Sundays when he was in England. Jesse and his wife Dorothy ran a CMS Hostel for visitors from overseas in Blackheath. One day Jesse rang and said, “Do come to our weekly Bible Study in the Hostel this week as a rather special visitor will be there”.  I duly went. The visitor was Janani Luwum, in his third year as Archbishop of Uganda. He was a big man from the north of the country and was clearly very tired. He hardly spoke but was asked to bless us at the end of the meeting. I have never ever felt a deeper sense of holiness in a person as he blessed us.

Only a few weeks later Uganda Radio announced that he and two others had been arrested. The following day it was announced the men had been killed in a motor accident. In fact, on the orders of President Idi Amin, Janani had been shot, twice through the chest and through the mouth.

Uganda had had a star-crossed history church-wise. The first missionaries, CMS Anglicans, went in 1877 and were followed by Roman Catholic White Fathers. Alexander Mackay, a Scottish engineer, combined highly practical work building a boat to go on Lake Victoria with preaching a Billy Graham Christian message calling for repentance and personal conversion to Christ. The boy pages of the Kabaka of Uganda were attracted to the new faith as both Anglicans and Catholics, but in a tragic story suffered terribly when the Kabaka, the ruler of Uganda, who had no wish to see the new faith established, had them all burned alive. They are remembered as the Ugandan Martyrs. Yet the churches established themselves and grew. Janani Luwum too, born in 1922, came under the spell of the gospel, and after serving the church as a teacher, was ordained and recognised as a leader of great potential. He was sent to London to study theology, and after two parish posts at home was made bishop of Northern Uganda in 1969, and eventually Archbishop of Uganda in 1974.

Meanwhile there was trouble afoot. Idi Amin had seized power in a coup in January 1971 and rapidly turned into a ruthless dictator. The churches stood in his way and became the only source of opposition. Luwum was arrested when he called a council of Christian leaders to protest at some of Amin’s actions. His courage was immense. His death led to a true Easter moment. 

Jesse Hillman himself, who had flown to Uganda himself to be present at the funeral in person, asked to preach to us in Kidbrooke the Palm Sunday after his return. Janani’s funeral had already been arranged on the assumption that his body would be handed over, which was not to be. The grave was dug but there was no coffin. The service in Namirembe Cathedral went ahead as planned and the huge crowd of mourners poured out to go to the graveside. Over and over the song of the Ugandan Martyrs rang out: “Daily, daily sing the praises/ of the city God hath made”. At the empty grave the mood suddenly changed to joy, for had not Jesus’ tomb been empty. The greeting “Christ is Risen. He is risen indeed” burst out. Easter Joy stayed with the church, inspiring a resurrection in its life.   The congregation that Sunday in Kidbrooke would never forget the story they heard.

We have connections with this story in Aldeburgh. Leslie Brown, Bishop of Ipswich, had himself been the first Archbishop of Uganda. He counselled Benjamin Britten when he was dying, and indeed took his funeral. Clive Young, our Suffragan here till quite recently, was married to Susan Tucker, the daughter of another Ugandan Bishop. Our recent Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who splendidly entertained all the guests at his enthronement with sandwiches in the grounds of York Minster, rather than disappearing off into a smart hotel with VIPs, had been close to Janani Luwum and was eventually sent to England for his own safety.

Janani’s favourite preaching text was Romans 12.1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” That is just what he did. Thank God for Janani Luwum.

 

Useful information to help during these times 

If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available
(thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

Text

Description automatically generated

Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

 

Vaccination Transport Information 

Possible suggestions for transport to Woodbridge for your Covid vaccinations.

  • Coastal Accessible Transport (CATs) – 01728 830 516
  • Aldeburgh Community Cars – 01728 831 215
  • For residents of IP15 postal district Aldeburgh Good Neighbours Scheme (AGNES) – 0777 303 1064

Taxi services willing to help with an agreed charge of between £25 and £30 for the return trip:

  • Amber Community Cars – 01728 833 621
  • Laurie Henderson Taxis Leiston – 01728 830 101
  • Bill Hamilton Limousine Service – 07985 707 023

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 14th February
Sunday next before Lent

 

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 31st January – The Fourth Sunday of Epiphany/Candlemas

Message from The Rector

Firstly, an apology. It seems that the link to join us for the Tuesday Zoom coffee morning didn’t work for everyone – I’m so sorry. Please do email admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk and we will give you the link.

Then it depends on what kind of a gadget you are using to connect. For some people the link will do all of the work. For others, you may need to enter the Meeting ID and Passcode. They are:

Meeting ID: 822 5695 6551

Passcode: 112626

Or you can go to the Zoom website:

https://zoom.us/join

and enter the ID and Passcode there.

It is also possible to join in on the telephone. Obviously you won’t see everyone, and they won’t be able to see you, but you should be able to hear everyone clearly and they you. You will need to ring any one of these numbers:

020 3481 5240

020 3481 5237

020 3051 2874

… and then, when prompted, enter the Meeting ID and Passcode into your phone.

Unlike the computer video there is, I’m afraid, a cost (the phone-call) but it’s good to know that those without computers will be able to join in if they wish. Please do pass the message on to anyone you think might appreciate it – everyone is welcome to join us for a few minutes or the full hour from 10.30am.

It has been good to hear of how many members of our congregations have managed, one way or another, to receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. But this has also been the week when the number of people who have died with COVID-19 mentioned as a cause on the death certificate has topped 100, 000 – a sobering statistic if ever there was one. Archbishop Justin and Archbishop Stephen have written a ‘letter to the nation’, which is here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/
2021-01/20210126%20Letter%20to%20the%20nation.pdf

In it they say this:

One thing we can all do is pray. We hope it is some consolation to know that the church prays for the life of our nation every day. Whether you’re someone of faith, or not, we invite you to call on God in prayer. Starting on 1 February we invite you to set aside time every evening to pray, particularly at 6pm each day. More than ever, this is a time when we need to love each other. Prayer is an expression of love.

There are some excellent resources for prayer on the C of E website, among which is this beautiful prayer attributed to St Augustine.

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give your angels and saints charge over those who sleep.
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Rest your weary ones.
Bless your dying ones.
Soothe your suffering ones.
Pity your afflicted ones.
Shield your joyous ones, and all for your love’s sake.
Amen.

We are already beginning to think about how, once it is safe to do so, we can come together in prayer for those who are suffering in any way as a result of the virus. Not just those who have caught it but those who, in shielding themselves and their loved ones, have been isolated, frightened or lonely.

This week marks the end of the Christmas season as we celebrate Candlemas and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. This festival reminds us of the light of Christ, shining in the darkness for the whole world. A light that, however dark things may sometimes seem to us, is a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness to us all. Perhaps, when you pray, you might like to light a candle, just to remind you that God is with you, always.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Almighty and ever-living God, clothed in majesty,
whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple,
in substance of our flesh: grant that we may be presented to you
with pure and clean hearts, by 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.

 

First Reading
Malachi 3.1-5
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. Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Second Reading
Hebrews 2.14-end
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. 

Gospel Reading
Luke 2.22-40
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’ Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,  ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

 

Sermon for 31st January – Candlemas
by Our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther

God be in our mouths and in our speaking, God be in our ears and in our hearing, God be in our heads and in our understanding. Amen.

I don’t know about you but I’m really missing a good sing at the moment. Whether you sing as a member of a choir or as a member of the congregation – and however good a singer you are – singing hymns is such a vital part of worship for so many people and, even when we have been able to be together, not being able to sing together just doesn’t seem right. How does the old hymn go – ‘Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?’.

We take our hymns and liturgical music rather for granted, don’t we? Of course, we sing hymns – why wouldn’t we? All being well, and as long as the choir helps us a bit, we sing other things too, psalms and stuff. But take a step back for a moment. Where else, these days, do people who aren’t musicians, sing? Gone are the days of gathering around the piano at home for a sing-song. Mostly gone are the days of people finding an excuse to sing their party-piece. Unless you are a member of a choir the chances are that you might only ever sing in church …. or at a football match.

The bible is full of references to singing and songs. After the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land Moses and the Israelites burst into song. ‘I will sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously.’ After David has killed the giant Goliath ‘the women came out of all the towns, dancing and singing’. The book of Psalms is actually a song-book – in many cases complete with instructions as to how they should be sung. And in the New Testament there are three songs in particular that have become very familiar to us through our liturgy. One is Zechariah’s thanksgiving song at the circumcision of his son John the Baptist – ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who has come to his people and set them free’. Another is Mary’s song when she discovers that she is to be the mother of Jesus the Christ – ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’, and the third is Simeon’s song on seeing Jesus in the temple, the one we’ve just heard in our Gospel reading, ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word.’ All three songs are in the first couple of chapters of Luke’s gospel and, of course, we know them best as canticles at Morning and Evening Prayer, the Benedictus, the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis. Canticles – from the Latin canticulum, a diminutive of canticum, “song”. Each is so very familiar to so many of us – we’ve sung (or just said) them so many times.

But the fact that Cranmer and his colleagues included them all in the services that they put together for the original 1549 Book of Common Prayer tells us that they have an importance over and above their basic function in the bible. In their different ways they demand to be sung rather than just spoken. ‘Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?’

One of the reasons that we sing in church at all is because singing helps, or should help, to project words. In the days before sound-systems if you wanted to allow everyone to hear a text it helped to sing it. Because, as we all know, if a voice drops at the end of a sentence its often hard to hear what the word is. (And, by the way, that accounts for the old-fashioned clergy-speak that doesn’t inflect a sentence in the same way as normal speech – it’s a sort-of halfway house to singing.)

The canticles are worthy of singing because they contain some essential truths about the Christian faith. The one we heard today, the one that we call the ‘Nunc Dimittis’, is another important stage in the realisation of who Jesus was. An angel told Mary who he would be. Angels told the shepherds who he was, the stars told the Magi who he was, and one star led them to find him. He heard God’s voice at his baptism telling him who he was. And now here’s old Simeon, who had been told that he would not die until he had seen the Christ, realising that he can now die in peace because this child who had come to the temple for his ritual presentation was indeed the Messiah and, (and we miss this bit sometimes because the words are so familiar) he would be a light to lighten the Gentiles as well as being the glory of Israel. In other words, Simeon knew what we also learn from the Magi – that Jesus wasn’t just the Messiah for the Jewish people but was God incarnate for the gentiles too – for the whole world. And so we’re reminded of that – or we should be reminded – every time we say Evening Prayer or sing Evensong.

‘Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?’.

Every day we’re reminded of Simeon’s words – of the nature of the incarnation – of the miracle of God in human form. ‘A light to lighten the gentiles’ indeed – and it’s those words that have given this Candlemas festival its link with light and candles. In many places it’s today that candles are blessed to be used in church throughout the rest of the year. Lights that remind us of that one true light – the light that shines in the darkness and that darkness can never overcome. For her collection called ‘Watching for the Kingfisher’ Ann Lewin wrote a poem called Candlemas Prayer and it goes like this;

*I left my candle burning. Lit from light
Borrowed from another, it stood there
Witness to Christ, Light of the world;
Prayer that light would overcome darkness.
As I left, another lit a candle from my light,
Dispelling gloom with added strength.
Who knows how many joined their light to those,
Or drew fresh courage from their company;
Who knows how many took a step, drawn by the
Light of Christ from darkness to new life.
Lord Christ, set me on fire.
Burn from me all that dims your light,
Kindle an answering flame in lives around;
That darkness may be driven back,
And glory stream into this world,
Transforming it with love.

Amen

 

*Watching for the Kingfisher – Ann Lewin

Canterbury Press 2009

 

Post Communion
Lord, you fulfilled the hope of Simeon and Anna, who lived to welcome the Messiah: may we, who have received these gifts beyond words,prepare to meet Christ Jesus when he comes to bring us to eternal life; for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

Book/TV/Film Review Club 

Have you found a great escape during this lockdown in books, a tv series, or a good film? Are you re-visiting the classics, or reading them for the first time? What box sets are you binge watching? Are you watching The Serpent, The Bay, A Perfect Planet, The Crown?
Do share your reviews/recommendations with us.
Just send your review to admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk.
We would love to hear your suggestions.

This week Claire starts with her recommendation of a book quartet ‘My Brilliant Friend’ by Elena Ferrante.

My Book Recommendation –
My Brilliant Friend -The Neapolitan Quartet
by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend (Tie-in Edition) - Elena Ferrante

If you are anything like me, a series of books can be a bit off putting.
In normal times, I don’t mind committing to two tops, but anything else disappoints the feeling of the achievement of finishing a ‘good story’.
So, I have surprised myself in that I have been thoroughly engrossed in a quartet book series. Ok, I did watch the first instalment, that has been made into a Sky Atlantic series on TV. Then I was completely hooked
and so intrigued that I carried on with these two girls on their journeys in growing up in an Italian neighbourhood. We are first introduced to Elena and Lila in the 1950s near Naples. The story is about their friendship and how two very different characters with opposite end of the scale hopes, ambitions and education can still revert to their friendship, created as children. We follow their lives right through until around 2004 in the fourth and final book. If you normally like action packed page turners, these books may not be for you. However, I loved Elena Ferrante’s style of writing, and felt like I had walked the streets with her characters in Southern Italy during the 50’s. Also, if you do have Sky, do search for it on Sky box sets for the first two book adaptations, which I highly recommend too.

Claire Turner

 

Useful information to help during these times 

If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available
(thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

Text

Description automatically generated

Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

 

 Vaccination Transport Information 

Possible suggestions for transport to Woodbridge for your Covid vaccinations.

  • Coastal Accessible Transport (CATs) – 01728 830 516
  • Aldeburgh Community Cars – 01728 831 215
  • For residents of IP15 postal district Aldeburgh Good Neighbours Scheme (AGNES) – 0777 303 1064

Taxi services willing to help with an agreed charge of between £25 and £30 for the return trip:

  • Amber Community Cars – 01728 833 621
  • Laurie Henderson Taxis Leiston – 01728 830 101
  • Bill Hamilton Limousine Service – 07985 707 023

The weeks of Epiphany at your home 
Having put my Christmas tree and candle lights up for December 6th
(St Nicholas) when it then came to the twelfth night, I decided to keep the three sets of candle lights on until Candlemas. The candles were left shining from the front of my home and in the garden room at the back. It really makes a brighter evening and have had lovely favourable comments from passers-by. I can recommend to others as it gives a purpose to the weeks of Epiphany.             Mary Sidwell

NOTICES

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. 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.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months 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 – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing supportercare@trusselltrust.org

***There is also a local foodbank run from the United Church in Leiston.  We are investigating if and how we might be able to help them and should have some more news soon. ***

 

 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.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.

 

How about a walk with James? 
As the weather gradually gets better, our assistant curate James is offering to walk and chat for those that might like to. If you feel like getting out and meeting up with James give him a call on 01728 688451 to arrange.

✞ 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.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

The weekly Wednesday Zoom link is:
(this remains the same link every week)

Please do email admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

Update from The Pilgrims

A lovely time was had by all those who gathered on Saturday afternoon to Zoom bake Jammie Dodgers together, under the awesome guidance of Chris from ‘The Parrot’!

Watch this space for more Zoom baking events!

Saturday 6th February from 7pm

A ‘Did You Know Ceilidh … stories and nuggets of golden information, past and present, about our local area’

Tell a story of local interest, provide an interesting fact or 2 about our community, introduce us to our local area past and present…surprise us with nuggets of information, the possibilities are endless…you might want to share a short presentation…

Come along and share, come along and just listen.  Enjoy the evening with a glass / mug of something special of your choice.  All are welcome!

Zoom link to follow nearer the time.

Please email Sue Atkinson if you have something to contribute to the evening.

 
 

✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞

Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning

Please do email admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

 

Tuesday Coffee Morning with Mark & Friends

Our regular Zoom coffee morning will be from 10.30am – 11.30am every Tuesday. All are very welcome. Grab your favourite morning beverage and let’s have a good ole chat – just like we used to.

Please do email admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 7th February
Second Sunday before Lent

   

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 24th January – The Third Sunday of Epiphany

Message from The Rector

This online pew-sheet seems to grow a little each week – which is excellent. When people are unable to meet and chat in the normal ways it is good to have different ways of disseminating information – and a bit of fun too. All contributions are welcome. Claire is doing a magnificent job in co-ordinating it all and we are very much in her debt. She will thank us all, however, if we let her have contributions by Thursday evening. This gives us Friday to compile and check before publishing on Saturday morning.

Our first Zoom Coffee Morning, which took place last Tuesday, was well received and will now become a regular occurrence. Each Tuesday morning, between 10.30 and 11.30, there will be an online gathering to which you are warmly welcome. Stay for five minutes, stay for the whole time, drop at any point during the hour. The link will be the same every week. Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

… and all you should need to do is to click on it and then, when asked ‘enable computer audio’. Should you need the ID or Passcode they are:

Meeting ID: 822 5695 6551

Passcode: 112626

It is also possible to join in on the telephone. Obviously, you won’t see everyone, and they won’t be able to see you, but you should be able to hear everyone clearly and they you. You will need to ring any one of these numbers:

020 3481 5240

020 3481 5237

020 3051 2874

… and then, when prompted, enter the Meeting ID and Passcode into your phone.

Unlike the computer video there is, I’m afraid, a cost (the phone-call) but it’s good to know that those without computers will be able to join in if they wish. Please do pass the message on to anyone you think might appreciate it.

This week has been another busy week for all of those involved in opposing the potential SPR and National Grid substation development in Friston. The Planning Inspectorate has held more Zoom hearings and has been presented with a great deal of powerful evidence, from organisations and individuals, as to why the proposals are wholly unsuitable. The inspectors will be visiting Friston this week and though Covid-19 restricts the number of local people that can be directly involved, the inspectors will, I’m sure, be presented with yet more useful evidence. And they will be visiting Friston church. Please do hold all involved in your prayers.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles
the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Genesis 14.17-20
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.

Second Reading
John 2.1-11
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

 

Reflection for 24th January – The Third Sunday of Epiphany by The Revd Johanna Mabey

Despite the trying times and wet weather, I await some happy news…

Tom and Lynsey, who were my first wedding couple back in 2019, are expecting their first baby very soon. Tom is my Godson and so their wedding was a very special family event.

On that beautiful day two summers ago, covid-19 and social distancing rules had never been heard of. In a magical marquee lit with thousands of fairy lights, we danced, held hands and toasted the happy couple long into the evening. My husband’s headache the next morning was strong confirmation that unlike the wedding at Cana, the wine supplies remained very steady!

As I write this reflection, memories of that happy wedding day remind me more than ever of the potential for joy we have in our relationships and commitments to one another, and how we draw deeply on that joy and have a desire to celebrate it with others.

Perhaps one positive that emerges from our current restrictions is a renewed sense of thankfulness for others and a cherished anticipation of times when we can gather again freely.

Our gospel reading today offers us a glorious way into an account of Jesus being revealed as God’s Son, by starting with a generous and celebratory miracle. It doesn’t help the poor, it’s unnecessary, it undermines the local wine-producing economy, and it slashes the outsider caterer’s profits… but, boy, does God know how to throw a party! According to my maths, 900 bottles of wine from nowhere, and really good stuff too!

It’s a story full of details – the size of the jars, the seemingly harsh rebuke of Jesus to his mother, the humour of the steward’s comment, and the inside track shared by Jesus and the servants. But at the start comes a phrase which signals the importance of the story.

‘On the third day’, says John, there was a wedding at Cana. ‘On the third day’… a thrilling and disturbing phrase for Christian hearers of this gospel, because it speaks of resurrection, the power of God’s life over death, of Jesus the risen Lord. And then at the end comes the punchline, the little verse which changes our whole take on the story: ‘Jesus did this, the first of his signs, and revealed his glory – and his disciples believed in him.’

This isn’t just a story. It’s a sign. It shows Jesus to be who he truly is.

I wonder why this story is at the beginning of John’s gospel, but in none of the other gospels? It seems so trivial compared to healing lepers, curing the demon-possessed, or raising the dead. Perhaps John is telling us that there’s amazing truth in this story for those who have eyes to see it.

‘Standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification’, says John. Jesus takes water meant to make people holy and turns it into wine. Jesus transforms religion into life, life which comes from Jesus, who John refers to later as the water gushing up within us to eternal life, the true vine.

This is a sign as well as a story. It’s not about a wonderworker who makes instant converts or does a trick as a favour for his mother. This Jesus is God’s life for us, the Jesus whose hour to be revealed openly has come on the third day. It’s not just a story. It’s not just a party – not even just a miracle. It reveals to us the nature of God, the God for whom generosity overtakes holiness, the Son of God whose glory is revealed in ordinary things.

Perhaps the simple message of the wedding at Cana, is that we shouldn’t expect to find Jesus just in religious and miraculous experiences. Cana, after all is about wine at a party. There are signs of God and God’s glory all around us if we have eyes to see. Like John, we can find signs of God in unexpected places!

And what about us as simple servants of God?… when we are called ‘to do whatever he tells us’, we need to look out for the glimpses of wine that may flow from the carrying of water that we’ve been involved in.

Those glimpses will encourage and amaze us, and the joy will be cause for thankfulness and rejoicing.

God willing, Tom and Lynsey’s new little life will be here soon… another cause for thanks and joy, and even a glass of some good stuff.

So to finish, may I offer a toast…

Cheers! Good Health! and in Hebrew, L’Chaim! which translated means ‘to life’ or more literally ‘to lives’ because we live in relationship with one another, and most importantly with God.

Amen.

 

Another interesting series from Canon John Giles

Saints of East Anglia – This week – Saint Julian

JULIAN OF NORWICH – 1342 – died sometime after 1416

Julian lived in Norwich as an anchoress, i.e., alone, confined to her single room cell, attached to the older church of St. Julian from which she took her name. The cell had one window into the church, through which she could join in worship, and receive holy communion. A second window opened on to the road outside through which she was able to speak to friends and visitors who came for godly counsel – she had quite a reputation in her day, though she was never canonised. The church is still there, close to the centre of Norwich, not far from the football fans of Norwich City at Carrow Road. Following bombing in World War II her cell has been rebuilt.

She lived through times more calamitous, surely, than anything we know. The Black Death of 1348, which went on for at least five years, with later recurrences in 1360 and 1369, carried away up to half of the population. Norwich was also at the heart of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, culminating in the Battle of North Walsham, when local peasants and farmers were defeated by forces raised by the Bishop of Norwich, and much slaughter ensued. Imagine local reactions and divisions following such events. Julian, in the midst of them, was presumably trying to concentrate on reconciliation rather than revenge and/or vindication to bring hope and calm into the lives of those around her.

Julian was the first woman known to have written in English, and a contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer, who was born a year or two later than her. She was to write of a “glad and merry” pilgrimage rather different from that of the poet’s pilgrims. What would the two authors have said to one another? I wish we could know.  Sometimes she is called “Mother” Julian, from her insights into the Motherhood of Christ and God (especially Christ). As such she has received much attention from feminist theologians, but her real importance is not so much in what she says about diversity as in her grasp of a Divine Love which allows fallen people to get hurt, while still loving them with tender care and keeping them united with him.

Aged thirty she had fallen seriously ill. Dying she received a series of visions of Christ on the cross, in which she saw Christ carrying in himself the guilt and sin of mankind, (his “noughting”) and neutralising it through forgiveness and love, which for the faithful follower, in full trust, can result not only in comfort and consolation, but in much joy, merriment and mirth, to use three of her own favourite words. She recovered and wrote down what she had experienced in her “Revelations of Divine Love”. Twenty years later she rewrote her account. So, her words, as we read them today, have twenty years of reflection and meditation behind them, giving them greater weight.

Her most famous words are those of cosmic optimism: “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”. Against the suffering of Christ on the cross and his identification with fallen human nature as it is, such confidence is welcome, though quoted perhaps just a bit too often, without taking on board the cost of such confidence. More helpful is the way she tackles guilt. Guilt is still for many, and church-goers in particular, the greatest barrier to inner quietness of soul and peace. “I saw not sin” she says, “for I believe it hath no manner of substance, nor no part of being”. Or again “The Lord looks on his servant with pity, and not with blame.  In God’s sight we do not fall; in our sight we do not stand.. Both of these are true. But the deeper insight belongs to God.”  A grounding in the wisdom of Julian can strengthen the roots of faith, and hence commitment and purpose in life’s wider challenges in leading the Christian life.

To take this further you can contact the Julian Centre in Norwich:
  www.juliancentre.org, Tel: 01603 767380.
For reading, try “Julian of Norwich: Enfolded in Love – Daily Readings” @£4.99
from the Centre, now in its fifth edition. Something for Lent perhaps.                                                     
                                                                                                                              John Giles

 

Useful information to help during these times 

If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available
(thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

 

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

Text

Description automatically generated

 

Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

 

 

Vaccination Transport Information

Possible suggestions for transport to Woodbridge for your Covid vaccinations.

  • Coastal Accessible Transport (CATs) – 01728 830 516
  • Aldeburgh Community Cars – 01728 831 215
  • For residents of IP15 postal district Aldeburgh Good Neighbours Scheme (AGNES) – 0777 303 1064

Taxi services willing to help with an agreed charge of between £25 and £30 for the return trip:

  • Amber Community Cars – 01728 833 621
  • Laurie Henderson Taxis Leiston – 01728 830 101
  • Bill Hamilton Limousine Service – 07985 707 023

 

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 31st January
The Fourth Sunday of Epiphany/Candlemas

 

 

NOTICES

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. 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.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months 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 – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing supportercare@trusselltrust.org

***There is also a local foodbank run from the United Church in Leiston.  We are investigating if and how we might be able to help them and should have some more news soon. ***

 

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.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.

 

Friston Christian Website 

Emma Steadman (Lay Elder at Friston Church) has created a blog website – www.fristonchristian.com. This includes regular updates and news from St Mary’s, Friston, and daily readings and prayers, where you can contribute with posts and request prayers. Do take a look!

Butterfly Garden – Priors Oak

You have probably visited Trudie Willis’ wonderful ‘butterfly garden’ at Priors Oak on the Aldeburgh/Aldringham Road.  Trudie opens it for charity about six times annually and this has included openings for Aldringham church. 
Trudie has now published a book about the garden called The Wildlife Garden at Aldeburgh, available from the Aldeburgh bookshop at £7.50.
A good read in these ‘covid times’.

A book with a flower on it

Description automatically generated with low confidence

 

Readers

For our online services each week we need two readers who can record themselves on their phone, tablet or computer and email the result to Claire or Mark.  If you haven’t done this before and would like to join the list, you would be very welcome. 
Please let Claire or Mark know of your interest.

 

✞ 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.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

The weekly Wednesday Zoom link is:
(this remains the same link every week)

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

 

How about a walk with James?

As the weather gradually gets better, our assistant curate James is offering to walk and chat for those that might like to. If you feel like getting out and meeting up with James give him a call on 01728 688451 to arrange.

 
 

Pilgrims Biscuit Making

Saturday 23rd January at 2pm

Chris from the Parrot will be guiding us in the ways of baking Jammie Dodgers!  Slight change to timing: this will now be an afternoon event so we can enjoy the biscuits as an afternoon treat.

The baking will start at 2.00pm (probably around an hour) and then have a break for an hour.  We will then come together with our biscuits and a cuppa and share and enjoy our biscuits!

These are the ingredients you will need to have ready:

100g butter

175g caster sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

200g plain flour

Jam


Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

As with all Pilgrim events, ALL ARE WELCOME

Please do forward this information to those locally in our community who you think would like to join with us.

 

✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞

Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

 

Quidenham Carmel – Carmelite Monastery

Many of you are probably aware of the lovely cards that the Sisters of the Carmelite Monastery (Norfolk) sell. They now have a wonderful selection of Monastery garden soaps and balms available to buy.
https://folksy.com/shops/MonasteryGardenSoapsandBalms

If you prefer to email the order and pay by cheque, you can email with your order soaps@quidenhamcarmel.org.uk

 

Covid Vaccine Update

It has come to the attention of The Peninsula Practice that some people are receiving invitations from NHS England to attend vaccination centres that are, in some cases, a long way from Aldeburgh.  You are, of course, welcome to take up the offer but be assured that you should expect, in due course, to receive an invitation to the local vaccination centre in Woodbridge.  You will recognise this because it will include the reference ‘My Health Book’.

 

Tuesday Coffee Morning with Mark & Friends

Our regular Zoom coffee morning will be from 10.30am – 11.30am every Tuesday. All are very welcome. Grab your favourite morning beverage and let’s have a good ole chat – just like we used to.

Please contact admin@aldeburghparishchurch.org.uk for the link.

 

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 17th January – The Second Sunday of Epiphany

Message from The Rector

Since last week there have been a lot of discussions taking place about what we can do to continue to be a functioning church during the time that we’re not physically together in our church buildings. One idea that has emerged is a weekly Zoom Coffee Morning and we plan to launch that this week. On Tuesday Jan 19th, from 10.30 to 11.30, anyone is welcome to spend a few minutes, or even the whole hour, as part of a Zoom gathering. Make yourselves a cup of your favourite beverage and join us at any time between 10.30 and 11.30 (clicking on ‘Enable Computer Audio’ when it pops up) and you will find friends to chat to. Please do get in touch via the Aldeburgh Parish Church Website if you would like to join and we will send you the Zoom link.

There’s no agenda, just a chance to get together – it’s the closest we can get to ‘after service coffee’ at the moment.

It is also possible to join in on the telephone. Obviously, you won’t see everyone, and they won’t be able to see you, but you should be able to hear everyone clearly and they you. You will need to ring any one of these numbers:

020 3481 5240

020 3481 5237

020 3051 2874

… and then, when prompted, enter these numbers:

Unlike the computer video there is, I’m afraid, a cost (the phone-call) but it’s good to know that those without computers will be able to join in if they wish. Please do pass the message on to anyone you think might appreciate it.

While we’re not meeting in church, these pew-sheets will also contain some extra things to read. This week Canon John Giles begins a series of articles about some saints who still speak to us over the years and he begins today with Botolph – probably a pretty unfamiliar name but someone with a very strong local connection. John’s piece is further down this pew-sheet and it’s well worth reading – thanks John.

Most of you will have received information about how and where the Covid vaccines are to be administered and for those registered with the Aldeburgh Surgery it will necessitate travelling to Woodbridge. For some, that journey may be difficult. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would appreciate a lift and we will see what we can do.

And finally, some personal news. This coming April, I will be 65 and plan to retire as Rector of the Alde Sandlings Benefice later in the year. My original plan (hatched a while ago) was to stay until the end of August and, having missed it so much last year, have a ‘proper’ Sandlings Summer with the Festival, Carnival, Lifeboat Service etc etc. We simply don’t know at present how normal this summer will be and how many of the regular summer events will be possible, but I would still like to stick to my original time-scale and retire at the end of August, with August 29th being my last Sunday.

Another important part of my decision to stick to this timescale is that our curate, James, will be attached to the benefice until at least June 2022. His presence should help to make the transition as smooth as it can be and I know that, with his dedication as well as that of Nicky, Sheila and Jo – and my wonderful retired colleagues – I will be leaving the benefice in good clergy hands.

I know that I’ll miss this beautiful and inspiring part of the world a great deal, not to mention the many people that I’m now very happy to call friends. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve here. Ro and I plan to do ‘something completely different’ to mark the fact that we will both be retired. We will be renting a house in France (the Minervois to be precise) for a year from the beginning of October – and who knows what may follow.

But August is a long way off and there’s lots to do before then. Onward!

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns
with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
1 Samuel 3.1-10
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore, Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’

Second Reading
Revelation 5.1-10
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.’

Gospel Reading
John 1.43-end
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’

 

Sermon for 17th January – The Second Sunday of Epiphany by The Revd Sheila Hart

It is not insignificant that the central themes of the readings for this Sunday are about the calling of God.

In their effort to cover the main events of Jesus’ life in some sort of chronological order, the Church has chosen to follow the Baptism of Christ with the theme of vocation and the call of God.

As James wrote in his sermon last week, those of us who were baptised as babies will remember nothing about the actual event, apart from that which has been recalled for us through the adults who were present and, perhaps photographs of the event in the family album. Among the promises that were made on our behalf at our baptism is the sense that, not only is baptism the rite of entry into the Church, the Christian family, but that it is also our entry into a life of service and witness in the world, to ultimately be confirmed by us, after a time of nurturing, growth and maturing in our faith, at our confirmation when we affirm the promises made on our behalf at our baptism and pledge ourselves to a life of Christian service through the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is the ideal, but, as we know, it is not always the reality. But it is our hope and prayer for all those whose baptism we have witnessed over the years in our churches.

After Jesus’ baptism, he went through a time of testing in the wilderness and then began his earthly ministry. But what follows our baptism?

For many who are baptised in our churches, there appears to be little that follows baptism as we hardly see most of them in church again and so we can feel that our prayers for them are in vain and perhaps we question the sense in our baptising children at all. But, as Christians we live by faith, not necessarily by sight and, as the saying goes, ‘hope springs eternal,’ so we continue to baptise, and we continue to pray for those who have been baptised and their growth in faith and we are sometimes surprised by what God does with them in later life as a result.

In our readings today, we have examples of God’s call on our lives. Samuel was a much longed for child and one who, as soon as he was weaned was dedicated to God, brought back to the temple at Shiloh and given to Eli the priest to be brought up in the service of God. He was a child when he heard God speak to him for the first time, in the dead of night and before he was old enough to really understand the faith and know God for himself. When he hears the voice of God, he thinks it is Eli who has called, and he runs to him to discover what he wants. Eli, on the third time Samuel comes to him discerns that it is God whose voice the boy has heard and instructs him to go back to bed, and if he hears it again to say, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’ We know the end of the story that eventually Samuel is called to be one of the greatest prophets of the Jewish faith.

In our gospel reading we read of the call of Philip and, his bringing Nathaniel to Christ. And in our reading from Revelation, we read of the call of the faithful to life with Christ in glory.

But what about us? How does God call us?

I, like Samuel, had a strong call, or vocation to teach when I was only three years old. I barely remember it, but apparently, I stood in front of my mother and announced that when I grew up, I was going to ‘become a teacher like my daddy.’ Now one could dismiss this as just a little girl who idolised her father having a desperation to ‘follow in his footsteps’ so to speak and wishing to copy him in every aspect of her life. Yet, for me, it was something which became a part of my aim and ambition throughout my early years and my education. I played schools with my dolls and teddy; I taught them to read; from the age of 11 I went to school with my father when I broke up for holidays before he did, to help in the reception class, hearing the children read, under the careful eye of their teacher and I loved it. Ultimately, I went to Teacher Training College and became a teacher.

At the age of 15. I had a call to preach and, having battled for several years with the idea of my being too young to preach, just as Jeremiah did when God called him to go and prophesy to the people of his time, I eventually responded and became a Local Preacher in the Methodist Church.

During that time several people who knew me well challenged me to think about ordained ministry, but it was not until we moved to Suffolk in 2003, that I could ignore the call to ministry, and I was ordained Deacon in 2008 and the rest is history, so they say.

God does not force us to do anything we don’t want to, but he does keep chipping away at us until we can ignore Him no longer.

The Gospel reading is about Philip who, having met Jesus himself, goes off to tell his friend Nathaniel and encourages him to come and meet Jesus for himself. One could interpret this as ‘a call to evangelism’ for Philip. I feel, however, that we are all called to share our faith with our friends and, indeed, this experience of the past year has been a wonderful opportunity to share with those whom we know are finding it tough, how our faith in God is helping us get through this pandemic with hope for the future.

The reading from Revelation gives us glimpse of the ultimate future for those who believe and the hope that is set before us. Isn’t that more than enough to motivate us to share our faith with others?

So, to sum up: We may not all have a specific call to ministry as Samuel did, but we do all have a responsibility to grow in faith and share that faith with our friends and neighbours – not through Bible bashing, but through sharing faith and hope and love with those who really need it. Amen

Post Communion

God of glory, you nourish us with your Word who is the bread of life:

fill us with your Holy Spirit that through us the light of your glory

may shine in all the world.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Another interesting series from Canon John Giles

Saints for Suffolk – This week – Saint Botolph

We all need a break from Covid, and to think what happens post-Covid. Can we learn from the past and so build for the future?  Maybe some Christian heroes from the past (and some not all that long ago) can show us today where we come from, and where we should be going.

First stop: B for BOTOLPH. Go to Snape Maltings. Don’t go shopping; miss out the Plough & Sail; don’t gaze down longingly at the grand old-timers moored by the quay. Instead go through and look out over the marshes to Iken Church.  For there, almost certainly, was the monastery of Saint Botolph, dated round about 654 AD, as mentioned by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 

We have two solid pieces of evidence: First the stone shaft of the Anglo-Saxon Cross, now to be seen in Iken Church. Such crosses didn’t happen by accident. They marked centres of Christian worship and outreach. Some pretty serious Christian life was going on, on that little knoll from which the present church looks out over the River Alde.

Second piece of evidence: the 7th Century graves uncovered by the Barber’s Point Dig of 2010, all of which pointed to Christian burial. Just across the river from Iken, those concerned were no doubt part of the Christian community living there.

Behind all that is the figure about whom sadly we know so little, Saint Botolph. He was one of that band of early missionaries who brought the Christian faith to Suffolk and East Anglia, one with Felix, Cedd, and Etheldreda at Ely.  We live in a countryside won to the Faith by these great missionary figures of the past.

Ten years ago, the bones at Barber’s Point were blessed, using an old Anglo-Saxon prayer:

May the blessing of God be with us and those buried here:
May the blessing of the saints be upon us and them,
And the peace of the life eternal;
Unto the peace of the life eternal:
As it was;
As it is;
As it shall be, evermore: O Thou Trinity of grace! With the ebb and with the flow.
O Thou Trinity of grace! With the ebb and with the flow.
Amen.

 

And lastly the poem ‘Iken Church’ by Aldeburgh’s “beloved physician”,
Ian Tait:


‘From the river’s edge
The sunlit tower invites you
To a pilgrimage.

Larks rise to meet you.

Round the tower in flint and stone
Saints wait to greet you.’

We live on hallowed ground. Even in the midst of Covid here is something to remember and celebrate.

John Giles

 

Useful information to help during these times 
If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available
(thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

Text

Description automatically generated

Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

 

NOTICES

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. 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.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months 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 – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing supportercare@trusselltrust.org

***There is also a local foodbank run from the United Church in Leiston.  We are investigating if and how we might be able to help them and should have some more news soon. ***

 

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.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.

 

Friston Christian Website 

Emma Steadman (Lay Elder at Friston Church) has created a blog website – www.fristonchristian.com. This includes regular updates and news from St Mary’s, Friston, and daily readings and prayers, where you can contribute with posts and request prayers. Do take a look!

Butterfly Garden – Priors Oak

You have probably visited Trudie Willis’ wonderful ‘butterfly garden’ at Priors Oak on the Aldeburgh/Aldringham Road.  Trudie opens it for charity about six times annually and this has included openings for Aldringham church. 
Trudie has now published a book about the garden called The Wildlife Garden at Aldeburgh, available from the Aldeburgh bookshop at £7.50.
A good read in these ‘covid times’.

A book with a flower on it

Description automatically generated with low confidence

 

 Readers 

For our online services each week we need two readers who can record themselves on their phone, tablet or computer and email the result to Claire or Mark.  If you haven’t done this before and would like to join the list, you would be very welcome. 
Please let Claire or Mark know of your interest.

 

✞ 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.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

 
 

Fun Quiz Night on Zoom 

Sue and Richard Bodek have kindly organised a Quiz Night this
Saturday 16th from 6.45pm – starting at 7pm.
There will be 8 rounds of questions kindly compiled by a number of our Pilgrims members. Halfway through we will have a break to relax and enjoy together, if you wish to, a glass of whatever you fancy (or maybe a mug?) and a nibble on something. Not to be taken too seriously – we will be marking our own answers – and the question compiler’s ruling is final! Prizes – fun, fellowship and a 2-week world cruise [NOT!]’

Please do get in touch with the Pilgrims if you would like to join and they will send you the Zoom link.

 A date for your diary 

Saturday Morning 23rd January (time to be confirmed)

We are delighted that the lovely Chris Theobold, from The Parrot will be joining us to lead us in a Zoom biscuit making venture, followed by a time to share our efforts with each other over a mug of tea / coffee… once they have come out of the oven!  Ingredients list, Zoom link and further details to follow…Or if you would prefer just to come along and enjoy the conversation and watch the Zoom kitchen experience, rather than bake, then you are more than welcome to do that too!

As with all Pilgrim events, ALL ARE WELCOME

Please do forward this information to those locally in our community who you think would like to join with us.

 

✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞

Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning

Please do get in touch via the Aldeburgh Parish Church Website if you would like to join and we will send you the Zoom link.

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 24th January
The Third Sunday of Epiphany

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 10th January – The First Sunday of Epiphany/The Baptism of Christ

Message from The Rector

Last week, writing my piece for the pew sheet on Thursday 31st December, I hinted that the ‘foreseeable future’ was not very long these days – and this has turned out to be true. After having consulted the churchwardens of our parishes last weekend I decided that it would be best for all of our churches to close for communal worship. It wasn’t an easy decision, or one taken lightly but the current Covid situation is very serious indeed, and seems to be becoming more serious day by day. And, in the end, do we want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

Having taken that decision the next thing is to make sure that as many people as possible have access to ways of worshipping and ways of keeping in touch. You will find another attachment with this email listing available online and broadcast services of different kinds. In the benefice we will continue to make online services available from 10.00 on Sundays and Wednesdays. Pilgrims Together continue with their weekly Zoom gatherings at 6.30pm on Wednesdays (details of how to join in are further down the sheet) and, also using Zoom and on Wednesdays, Compline is said in Friston at 6pm. Friston are also going to try a Zoom Morning Prayer at 9.45am each Sunday. It (like the Compline) is open to all – just drop Friston Elder Martin Steadman a line and he’ll send you the necessary details – see notices.

We are also very aware how much people miss the chance for a chat after a service. We propose a new experiment – a weekly Zoom Coffee Morning. Make yourself a cuppa, log on and join in for however long you wish. We’ll begin on Tuesday January 19th at 10.30am and publish the login details on next week’s pew sheet. All are welcome and we’ll keep the virtual café open for an hour, so if you can’t make 10.30 you can drop in when you are able to.

We are also very aware that there are loyal members of our community who aren’t able to ‘do technology’ and join in online events. Claire had the excellent idea of asking whether some of those people might appreciate receiving a CD of the Sunday service, to play at their leisure. By definition these people won’t be reading this online pew-sheet and we will try and make contact to make the offer. But if you know of anyone who might appreciate a weekly CD please could you let Claire, or I know? And if you, or anyone you know, is in need of any help that you think anyone at church might be able to supply please don’t hesitate to ask. We will always try to do what we can.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Genesis 1.1-5
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Second Reading
Mark 1.4-11
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.’

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

 

Sermon for 10th January – The First Sunday of Epiphany/Baptism of Christ by The Revd James Marston

May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

On a snowy January day in 1976 a very beautiful baby boy – me – was baptised in a small village church in west Suffolk. I wore the family’s ageing christening gown. The vicar, too scared to go out in the snow, had to be collected by my father and driven to church – mother laid on refreshments for various friends and family. I was, as it happens, very well behaved and compliant to the proceedings.

It was an event of which I have no memory, not until I started on the path of vocational discernment did I even give it a second thought. Indeed, it wasn’t until I had to prove I was baptised that I asked when, where and why I had been baptised as a child in the first place. I never really got a sensible answer, apparently it was as much more to do with being “the done thing” and “family tradition” than an expression of religious belief, perhaps wrapped up with a nebulous concept of being formally named.

We don’t often think about our baptism – for many of us it was done as a child and is not often a memory we actually hold. Those who get baptised later in life, I imagine, think about it and learn about it in a different way and but for lots of us it is a rite of passage that we are often unaware of.

Baptism remains for many a way of introducing a new child to the community, it is an event which is usually followed by a celebration. It is also a church service in which a child or adult is anointed, and it is special. It marks the beginning of a new life in Christ.

We have heard in our gospel reading today the story of Jesus’ baptism. And event which, when it happened, was extraordinary and perhaps a bit strange, John’s ministry of calling for repentance and baptism by water has little, if any, precedent in religious teaching of the time. And why would the divine need to be symbolically washed of His sins? Why baptise Jesus who has come to fulfil John’s prophecy? Indeed, there is “no hint in Mark’s narrative that John recognised Jesus as the one whose coming he had proclaimed.” 1*nor is there any hint of why Jesus is baptised at all.

Instead, the story provides the setting for the revelation of the identity of Jesus – emphasised by the descending of the spirit and the voice from Heaven. “You are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.” And the account also provides an important signpost to the doctrine of the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all present.

But there’s yet more. The baptism of Jesus is the moment Jesus of Nazareth comes out of the shadows of obscurity and begins his ministry. In Mark’s Gospel this is where Jesus is introduced for the first time and Mark is describing a divine epiphany through which Jesus’ life and ministry are to be viewed. And immediately after this episode Jesus prepares for what is ahead of him by retreating into the wilderness and the story of his ministry of healing, exorcism, and teaching continues.

So, what of our own baptism? Today Christian baptism remains a sacramental marker on the journey of faith. “The forgiveness of sins; the gift of the Spirit, the bestowing of a dignity as a beloved Son of God” 2*– all of these blessings and joys come to us through Christian baptism – even if we don’t remember it or think about it very often.

And it is through baptism that we often begin our own journey of faith and align ourselves with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus himself and, by doing so, the eternal joy of salvation. It is in baptism that we turn to Christ and give our lives over to God to be guided by His hand.

Indeed, it is not by accident that the baptism of Christ is celebrated at the beginning of the year, as baptism marks not only a beginning but it points to the future as well – and that future is, with faith, always one of hope.

Indeed, thinking about our own baptism may present us, as it did Jesus, with not only a renewed sense of vocation but also a renewed hope in the light of the resurrection.

And in these dark days of January 2020 where fear and foreboding reign, the season of epiphany is brought into ever deeper focus as we look for and find signs of joy and signs of hope.

Putting our lives into the hands of God, rekindling our faith and hope, remembering own baptism into the joy and blessings of the incarnation, is something we must hold onto with all our might.

Through prayer, through worship, through community – howsoever curtailed, God is there for us in these troubled times, and our baptism reminds us of that as well.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.3*

Amen.

References

1* Hooker, Morna D, The Gospel Acccording to St Mark. p45
2* – www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/worship-music/regular-services/sermon-archive/jesus-baptism-and-our-baptism
3* – God Knows, Minnie Louise Harkins

 

850th Anniversary of the murder of Thomas Becket,
by David Gordon.

Last week marked the 850th anniversary of the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in Canterbury Cathedral on 29th December 1170.

Had it not been for Covid restrictions we would probably have held a service in Aldringham church to mark this anniversary, given that it is a most significant event in the history of Aldringham church.

The catholic church, headed by the Pope in Rome, had authority separate from that of the state and King Henry II wanted to change this. He wanted the power!  When he appointed Thomas in 1162, he thought that he had the man to change things and to bring the church under the king’s control.  But Thomas had other ideas. As Archbishop he saw his duty as being to protect the church from any earthly authority. Matters came to a head in 1170 when Henry, in France at the time, lost his temper and said, ‘who will rid me of this pestilential priest.’  Four of his knights took him at his word, travelled back to England and did the deed.

But this was not good news for Henry. People regarded Thomas as a martyr for the rights of the church. Pilgrims started to visit his tomb and the Pope put further pressure on Henry when he declared Becket a saint in 1173. 

And Henry’s enemies took advantage of the situation. Even his wife plotted against him and encouraged their two sons to rebel against him in an alliance with his enemies, the kings of France and of Scotland who launched invasions of his lands. 

Henry decided that he had to make penance for the murder of Becket and in July 1174 he walked barefoot into the city of Canterbury, prostrated himself before Becket’s shrine and spent the night in prayer.

Henry was thus preoccupied and had to send his trusted knights to deal with the Scottish invaders.  The English force of 400 knights was led by Ranulf de Glanvill and the Scots were defeated at the battle of Alnwick (in Northumberland) on 13 July 1174. The very day that Henry was in Canterbury praying.

Now Ranulf was a local lad. Born at Stratford St Andrew, he married a local lass, Bertha, daughter of the lord of the manor of Parham. And with the marriage came a marriage dowry of land at Butley.  Another consequence of the murder of Thomas was the practice of founding monasteries.  And Ranulf founded Butley Priory on his land at Butley in 1171.

The defeat of the Scots started the end of the rebellion and Henry had a great deal to thank Ranulf for!  So, he gave him a present.  A vast tract of land in Suffolk – the manor of Leiston – stretching up the coast from Thorp to Minsmere and inland to Theberton and Leiston.  And it included Aldringham church. So, the advowson of our little church passed to Ranulf. At that time, it was probably more a chapel than a church, likely a modest wooden building. Ranulf immediately passed the advowson to his newly founded priory at Butley and so, very briefly, Aldringham was in the care of Butley priory.

Ranulf decided that he would use Henry’s present to found another monastery and so in 1183 he established Leiston Abbey, not on its present site but in the marshes at Minsmere.  And he gave the whole of the manor of Leiston to the Abbey including the advowson of Aldringham church which was transferred from Butley priory in 1185.

Thus, started a period of 350 years during which Aldringham church was in the care of Leiston Abbey and during which time the present church building was built. This only came to an end with the dissolution of the monasteries by king Henry VIII.

Murdering an archbishop has unexpected consequences!

 

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 17th January
The Second Sunday of Epiphany

 

Useful information to help during these times 

If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available (thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.

Text

Description automatically generated

Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843

 

NOTICES

 

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. 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.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months 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 – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/ By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing supportercare@trusselltrust.org

***There is also a local foodbank run from the United Church in Leiston.  We are investigating if and how we might be able to help them and should have some more news next week. ***

 

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.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.

Readers
For our online services each week we need two readers who can record themselves on their phone, tablet or computer and email the result to Claire or Mark.  If you haven’t done this before and would like to join the list, you would be very welcome. 
Please let Claire or Mark know of your interest.

✞ 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.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email pilgrimstogether473@gmail.com 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.

✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞
Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am.  It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer with Emma and Martin leading.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning  (starting 10th January).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 3rd January – The Epiphany

 

9.30am

Holy Communion

Knodishall Church

9.45am

No Service

Friston Church

10.30am

Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Holy Communion

Aldringham Church

 

Message from The Rector

As the New Year begins, I would love to be able to write to you without feeling that I have to mention Covid-19. But, such is the state of the world, I fear that is not possible. With the encouragement of Aldringham churchwarden Chris Burrell-Saward I have now signed up to the Covid-19 reporting app run by King’s College, London – and, if you have a smartphone, I would encourage you to do the same. By answering three quick questions each day you help to increase the understanding of Covid, how it is spreading in the local area and, as time goes on, to monitor the effectiveness of the vaccines as they are rolled out. (Search your phone’s app store for ‘COVID symptom study’ and look for something with a blue and purple capital ‘C’ that says, ‘Help urgent medical research’.) And you receive information too – and that’s the bit that is currently, locally, rather worrying. A graph of the cases of Covid in the Suffolk Coastal area shows (as I type on Thursday) that there are 828 local cases, up 405 from last week – the cases have doubled in a week. We must be very, very careful. Please remember that this doesn’t just affect ourselves. We can pass the virus on to others before we even know that we have it, if we ever do – almost half of the people who have Covid don’t know that they have.

So, what about coming to church? The decision is, of course, yours and, for the foreseeable future (which isn’t very long!) at least some of the churches in our benefice will remain open. But, being in possession of some local knowledge, the PCC in Friston has, wisely, decided to keep the church closed for the time being. There will be services in Aldeburgh, Aldringham and Knodishall on Sunday 3rd. I would, however, reiterate what I wrote last week. The first thing that everyone must do is to look after themselves and those close to them. If that means that you don’t feel able to come to church at the moment, everyone understands. There will continue to be services online. We will monitor the situation and make adjustments to our plans should they become necessary but please don’t risk your own health or that of others.

Having said all of that, the future does look better. Two vaccines are being rolled out as fast as is humanly possible. There will come a point when we can relax. 2021 will, I hope and pray, end much better than it begins. The story of the Magi reminds us that the good news of Christ’s birth is for the whole world and for all time. ‘The star shines out with a steadfast ray’. And, confident that light will always overcome darkness, may I wish you the very happiest possible 2021.

With love, as ever

Mark

 

Collect
O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at last behold your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Isaiah 60.1-6
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 
A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.


Second Reading
Ephesians 3.1-12
This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 2.1-12
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’ Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

 

Reflection for 3rd January – The Epiphany
by The Revd Nichola Winter

Over the door of the retreat house at Belsey Bridge is inscribed the legend, ‘Look to him and be radiant.’ It is a version of the words from the passage from Isaiah: Lift up your eyes and look around… then you shall see and be radiant. Your heart shall thrill and rejoice…

After what may have been one of the strangest Christmases we have experienced we will be hoping and praying that 2021 will be a better year for all. This is, perhaps, where the season of Epiphany comes into its own. Our hearts thrill and rejoice as we celebrate the gift of the Christ-child. We mark the gift of a new year. We count our blessings. The days are still short and dark; politically and economically, as a nation and as individuals we may have a difficult journey ahead. We feel ongoing stresses from the implications of Covid-19; local threats from SPR to our community and environment remain – and many are working incredibly hard in an attempt to encourage a more sensible solution. But we are a Christmas people. We follow the star and we have a hope that no-one can take away. Our hearts thrill and rejoice…

Stars play an important role at this time of the year. When I first moved to Friston I was struck by the beauty and clarity of the night sky. Just before Christmas the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was clearly visible in the evening sky – such a close encounter occurs rarely and there is speculation that when it happened at the time of Christ’s birth it created the biblical light that led the Magi to the stable. In the bible stars are images of mystery. At a literal level they demonstrate God’s awe-inspiring creativity. Symbolically they appear in apocalyptic visions of impending cosmic events that we can barely imagine. Hardly surprising, then, that it is a star that leads the wise to kneel and worship at the crib of the new born king.

We are Christmas people; we need to focus on the positive. Rowan Williams summarised it neatly some years ago when he wrote in the Christmas edition of the Radio Times. He summarised the Christmas story like this:

‘A long journey through a land under military occupation; a difficult birth in improvised accommodation; and alongside these harsh realities, the skies torn open and blazing angelic voices summoning a random assortment of farm labourers to go and worship in the outhouse; or a mysterious constellation in the heavens, triggering a pilgrimage by exotic oriental gurus to come and kneel where the farm labourers have knelt.’

It is a story of culture and cross-culture. But it is a story where boundaries are crossed; the unthinkable becomes reality before it even becomes the thinkable. God’s wonder knows no bounds; it is only our human minds that impose limitations.

Let us rejoice in this Epiphany; this manifestation; this starlit moment. We can raise our eyes from the darkness and see; we can focus on the positive in our lives, bring it as an offering to God and allow him to take what we offer, accept it and make it great for his sake. In the words of that beautiful Epiphany carol, ‘Low at his feet lay thy burden of carefulness; high on his heart he will bear it for thee; comfort thy sorrows and answer thy prayerfulness, guiding thy steps as may best for thee be.’

Then we shall see, and be radiant; our hearts will thrill and rejoice…

 

Post Communion
Lord God, the bright splendour whom the nations seek:
may we who with the wise men have been drawn by your light
discern the glory of your presence in your Son,
the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 10th January
The First Sunday of Epiphany/Baptism of Christ

9.45am

No Service

Friston Church

10.30am

Service of the Word

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Holy Communion

Aldringham Church

 

NOTICES

 

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. 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.