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
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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
The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 7th March
Third Sunday of Lent
This week’s review is BBC’s – The Repair Shop
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 email@example.com
✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞
Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the link.
✞ Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays ✞
The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
Please contact email@example.com 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Book/TV/Film Review Club
Please do share your reviews/recommendations with us.
How About a Walk with James?
Suffolk Historic Churches Ride & Stride
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.