Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 27th December – First Sunday of Christmas

 

Benefice Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Parish Church

10.30am

 

Message from The Rector

This feels a bit odd. I’m writing this a few days before Christmas and you will probably read it just before Christmas. But we are really looking to the first Sunday of Christmas which, this year, brings us the gospel story that ends with Jesus’s naming and circumcision. Anticipation is the name of the game.

Our services will be rather limited over the forthcoming week. There is just one in our Benefice on Sunday 27th – a service of Holy Communion at 10.30 in Aldeburgh church. And there won’t be a service there on Wednesday 30th at 10.00. But we hope and pray that there will be services in all of our churches on Sunday January 3rd as we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. Here’s hoping that the Magi have a better view of the bright shining star than we have had of the ‘great conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn in recent days. Some believe that it was just such a conjunction that was seen in the sky back in New Testament times so perhaps this is another special kind of anniversary year. And maybe the fact that we couldn’t see the two planets as well as we had hoped is just another example of the disappointments that this year has brought us. Hey ho.

2021 promises to end better than it begins, and we give thanks for, and hold in our prayers, all of those working on developing and distributing the vaccines that will eventually release us from our very 21st-century captivity. So, in the name of him whose life, death and resurrection set us all free, I with you a very happy, healthy and peaceful new year.

UPDATE – STOP PRESS.

It has just been announced that Suffolk will enter Tier 4 restrictions from December 26th. I don’t propose that we change any of our immediate plans and there will still be services in all of our churches on Christmas Day and the one planned service in Aldeburgh on Sunday December 27th. But I would ask everyone to take care. Please do read this article from the East Anglian Daily Times:

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/health/ipswich-hospital-coronavirus-crisis-revealed-6864228

The situation is now more serious here than it has ever been and 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.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Merciful Lord, cast your bright beams of light upon the Church:
that, being enlightened by the teaching of your blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John, we may so walk in the light of your truth
that we may at last attain to the light of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ your incarnate 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
Exodus 33.7-11a
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tents. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.

Second Reading
1 John 1
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Gospel Reading
John 21.19b-end

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’  So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

 

Sermon for 27th December – The First Sunday of Christmas by our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther

I met Jesus once. Or to be slightly more specific, I met a Jesus once. He was a musician who’d come into the BBC studios to be interviewed. He was Spanish. In Spanish-speaking countries Jesus is a not-uncommon name for a boy – it is, after all, just another form of the name Joshua – which comes in at No. 25 of the top 100 most popular boys names in 2020 (down nine places from 2019!). We say Joshua, they say Jesus. And it means ‘God saves.’ Remember Matthew’s account of when the angel visited Mary and told her that her baby would be called Jesus ‘because he will save his people from their sins’. That’s what the name means – and, of course, that’s what Jesus did – he lived up to his name.

Today is the Sunday when, this year, we read about the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus – anticipating the actual Festival on New Year’s Day. And so it’s a day that we approach with an extraordinary mixture of emotions. We anticipate the arrival of a New Year. We mark the passing of an old year – and that is inevitably a mixture of emotions in itself. We celebrate with the Holy Family as they initiate their new-born baby into the faith – as Jewish people had done and continue to do, following the command of God to Abraham (Genesis Chapter 17). We celebrate the naming of the one who saves.

And, I suspect, this new year of all new years, we wonder a bit about what the future holds. New Years seem to be times of uncertainty these days, don’t they? Looking back, I see that three years ago I commented on the fact that, the previous year, we didn’t see either Donald Trump or Brexit coming. And as things are I’m certainly not going to attempt any predictions about the year to come.

So, we approach 2021 with our own mixture of emotions, our own uncertainties about ourselves and those we love and the future of the world. You certainly wouldn’t be alone in being glad to see the back of 2020. But let me make a prediction or two about 2021. Politics will continue to surprise us, people will continue to die and at least one world event will happen that we didn’t see coming. This isn’t, of course, an amazing feat of fortune-telling on my part – it happens every year.
But, but …..

Another rash prediction. There will be times, in 2021, when we will have to pray a lot. We will have to ask God a lot of questions. We will join the generations and generations going back to the time of the Psalmists and even earlier, who find themselves saying ‘Why Lord. Why this? What in God’s name is going on?’ But let me quote a book I may well have quoted before, ‘Unapologetic’ by Francis Spufford. Whatever happens, he reminds us, ‘the churches are (we hope and pray) open, doing their ancient and necessary business, and they will still be open tomorrow, and the day after that …. They will still be offering the hush in which we can bear to find out what we’re like. Christ will still be looking across at us from the middle of the angry crowd. God will still be there, shining.’

As the angel said to both Mary and the shepherds, ‘don’t be afraid’. Love came down at Christmas. Jesus – Joshua – lives. God saves – still and always.

Post Communion
Grant, O Lord, we pray, that the Word made flesh
proclaimed by your apostle John may, by the celebration
of these holy mysteries, ever abide and live within us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 3rd January/Epiphany

9.30am

Holy Communion

Knodishall Church

9.45am

Holy Communion

Friston Church

10.30am

Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Holy Communion

Aldringham Church

 

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We Wish You All a
Very Happy Safe Christmas and a
Happy New Year

Christmas Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 20th December – Fourth Sunday of Advent

9.45am

Morning Prayer

Friston Church

9.30am

Holy Communion

Knodishall Church

10.30am

Morning Prayer

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Christmas Service

Aldringham Church

 

Message from The Rector

I am becoming just a little bit fed up with talk, in the press and elsewhere, of the possibility of Christmas being ‘cancelled’ this year. We know (don’t we?) that it is impossible to cancel Christmas. Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ. Covid-19 can stop a lot of things but it cannot stop us remembering and celebrating, even if the celebrations might have to take on a new shape this year. Of course, there is a huge amount that we will miss. It will be a Christmas that will be, I suspect, unlike any other that we have known, and I hope and pray that we will never know again. But however, wherever and with whoever we celebrate it, it will still be Christmas. And if we listen carefully, we will still be able to hear the angels sing.

All of our churches have services over Christmas, but a reminder that if you would like to attend the pre-Christmas services in Aldringham and Friston or the Christmas Day services in Aldringham or Aldeburgh you will need to make contact with the relevant churchwardens to book yourself in. We would hate to have to turn anyone away at the door because the church is full, and numbers are very limited this year.
A summary of the Christmas services that we have planned is as follows.

Aldeburgh

   

Sunday 20th

10.30am

Morning Prayer for the 4th Sunday in Advent

Weds 23rd

10.00am

Holy Communion according to the BCP

Friday 25th

10.30am

Holy Communion for Christmas Day

Sunday 27th

10.30am

Holy Communion for the 1st Sunday of Christmas

Weds 30th

 

No Service

Aldringham

   

Sunday 20th

11.00am

Christmas Service

Monday 21st

6.00pm

Christmas Service

Friday 25th

11.00am

Holy Communion for Christmas Day

Sunday 27th

 

No Service

Friston

   

Sunday 20th

9.45am

Morning Prayer for the 4th Sunday in Advent

Tuesday 22nd

6.00pm

A Friston Christmas

Friday 25th

9.45am

Holy Communion for Christmas Day

Sunday 27th

 

No Service

Knodishall

   

Sunday 20th

9.30am

Holy Communion for the 4th Sunday in Advent

Friday 25th

9.30am

Holy Communion for Christmas Day

Sunday 27th

 

No Service

‘Pilgrims Together’ will meet online on Wednesday 23rd at 6.30pm for a seasonal celebration of carols and storytelling. If you have a Christmas themed story, poem, script that you would like to contribute to the event please email Sue and Eric, and be prepared to have a glass of something and a bite of something at the ready for the occasion.

The Pilgrims also report that on Christmas Day they will be opening a Zoom call from 6pm for anyone who would like to join us for a Christmas Day celebratory catch up. Details, as ever, from Sue and Eric or Gail and Stephen – All are welcome.  

For anyone who is unable, for whatever reason, to come to one of our services over Christmas there will be an online carol service (sound only) on our benefice YouTube channel from Monday. Thanks to all of those from around the benefice who read lessons for it – I’ve added some recorded music from several different sources, and I hope you enjoy the result.

And on behalf of the churchwardens and my clergy colleagues may I wish you a safe, healthy and happy Christmas!

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for
his coming as our saviour, so we may be ready to greet him
when he comes again as our judge; who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
2 Samuel 7.1-11,16
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.

Second Reading
Romans 16.25-end
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever! Amen.

Gospel Reading
Luke 1.26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

 
CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM THE REVD SHEILA HART

 

This year has been a strange year for us all and yet we have seen amazing things happen. Even Christmas will not be the same for most of us.
However, Jesus is always the same and so may Stephen and I wish you a very blessed Christmas and a hopeful New Year.

Reflection for 20th December – Fourth Sunday of Advent
by The Revd Nichola Winter

My nephew has told me that he and his wife are expecting a baby, due next April. Inevitably they are thinking about names. Some prospective parents have very decided views about the name. Others find the right name doesn’t actually make itself apparent until the birth is over and they are holding the child for the first time. A name will often say something about the person they hope the child will grow up to be – it may give some hint about character or personality. But the name by which we are known becomes very personal; it becomes a part of our identity.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent we think about names as our thoughts turn to the Virgin Mary, the young girl who says ‘yes’ to God and becomes mother of our Saviour. She is to call him ‘Jesus’, meaning ‘saviour. ‘He will fulfil the promise we read about in the book of Samuel – instead of human beings building a house to take the ark of the covenant – to provide protection for the word of God – it is God himself who is going to provide a kind of house for all humankind – an everlasting means of protection for all people.

Fast forward to the astonishing announcement by Gabriel to Mary: “you will name him Jesus. He will be great…”

Here is the amazing promise – a Saviour, whose Kingdom will outlast the petty human squabbles that continue to this day. A child who will be called ‘the Son of the Most High.’

If you keep an eagle eye on the liturgical calendar, you’ll notice that each of the days from 16th December to Christmas are given a name that begins with the exclamation ‘O’ followed by a different Latin word. These are the days of the great ‘O Antiphons’ and each of the words is followed by a brief verse and different name by which Jesus is known. The names come from the old testament prophecies about the nature and name of the eagerly awaited Messiah. The antiphons have been described as a ‘unique work of art…a special ornament of the pre-Christmas liturgy filled with the Spirit of the Word of God.’ The sequence progresses historically, from before the beginning of creation to that humble birth in a stable. O Sapientia – wisdom – coming forth from the mouth of God (think of the opening of John’s gospel where he describes the very beginning of all creation – God speaks and the word he utters brings forth life) – here we have the wisdom that God speaks. O Adonai – leader of the house of Israel. O Root of Jesse, before whom all kings will be silent and to whom all nations will pray. O Key of David – who opens and shuts, to whom we pray for prisoners and all who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. On the shortest day of the year, 21st December, when the hours of light are at their briefest, we sing O Morning Star – splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness – another plea for the relief of those who walk without light. O King of the nations, O Emmanuel, king, lawgiver and hope – the antiphons continue with an appeal to the Saviour – come and save us, O Lord our God.

The final O antiphon addresses the Virgin and brings us back to today: O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after.

Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.

The antiphons provide a rich source for meditation. For those who enjoy word puzzles, they also make up an acrostic – after the last antiphon has been sung, the singer can look back over the titles that have been invoked and see that the illuminated first letters of each name spell out the words VERO CRAS, ‘Truly, tomorrow I will be there’ – the promise that Christ will fulfil on Christmas Day.

And their nature as ‘antiphons’ is a reminder of something that’s relevant to each one of us. The word antiphon comes from the two Greek words ‘anti’, meaning ‘in return’ and ‘phon’, meaning ‘voice’. Voices, returning words to each other. As the antiphons are sung we have two parties, each responding to the other. As we journey through Advent, with its focus on end times and the return of the one who comes to judge, we find ourselves crying out to God, to the one who comes to bring healing and salvation. We lift our voices in supplication; God responds. But it’s a two-way relationship as well. God calls each one of us – and we respond. As Christians we spend each hour, each day – indeed, our entire lives – responding to the call that comes from God. He knows each one of us; he calls us by name. In the book of Isaiah the Lord says ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’ God understands the importance of a name; he will call us by ours, and his desire is that we will respond. Mary responded – and as a result of that response, we move towards Bethlehem and the birth of a Saviour.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

God responds, ‘Truly, tomorrow I will be there.’

Post Communion
Heavenly Father, who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the
mother of the promised saviour: fill us your servants with your grace,
that in all things we may embrace your holy will and with her rejoice in your salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Deciphering words in the New Testament
(It’s all Greek to me)

Amen. ‘erkou, Kurie ‘Iesou: Amen. Come Lord Jesus.
(Revelation 22.20)  

The closing words of the New Testament pray fervently for the Return of Jesus Christ.  As the Book of Revelation sees it, Christ’s return would mean a full vindication of those who had remained faithful to Him in the recent persecutions under the Roman Emperors Nero and Diocletian, and a corresponding judgement upon the people and forces responsible.

Though the prayer, ‘Come Lord Jesus’, was never answered by Christ returning physically, it still remains for us today as a real longing and prayer of the Christian heart. We won’t be alone, for the same prayer has been in constant use in Middle Eastern Christian faith ever since the time of Christ.

When you can, do please, as a final Advent exercise before Christmas Day, read the whole of the last chapter of Revelation (ch 22) to get the full resonance of the repeated prayer ‘Come Lord Jesus’. Don’t let the negative bits upset you!   AND DO NOTE the change of meaning in verses 16 – 17 where rather than the “thirsty” (that is us) calling on Jesus to come quickly, it is Jesus, his Angel, the Spirit and the Bride (i.e., the church itself) who call us to Him.  A welcome invitation.

The prayer ‘erkou Kurie Jesou’ is the rendering in Greek of an even more primitive version of the same prayer in Aramaic “marana tha” which comes at the end of Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians (1Cor.16.22).

It comes again at the end of the Communion prayer in an ancient Instruction manual for Christians in Alexandria known as The Didache. (From probably the first century AD).

So, whether as “Come Lord Jesus” or “marana tha” (for both are equivalent), the church sees Jesus as its Lord, and the only One who by his return can put right the wrongs of the world.

That still holds good today. In the meantime, our calling is to try and build a few more bricks into the walls of the Kingdom. Our inspiration and strength will come from Him whose Birth we are about to celebrate. So let us now go even unto Bethlehem . . . . .   
Happy Christmas all.

John Giles

NOTICES

Aldringham Church Calendar 2021

Calendar

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The Aldringham church calendar for
2021 is now on sale.
You can either collect a copy at any of the services at Aldringham church or contact David Gordon
to reserve your copy.

The calendars are £10 each.
Free copies have been distributed to the sick and the lonely in the congregation and the rest will be sold to raise money for church funds.

 

 Food Banks at the East of England Co-op 

Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities and have an even more vital role to play as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times. With Christmas fast approaching, your donations will make all the difference.

The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

 
 

Weekly Benefice Newsletter 

If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.
What Christmas stories do you have to share?

Bells with solid fill

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM THE REVD JOHANNA MABEY

Dear Friends,

With reports of COVID-19 infections rising, the prospect of more restrictions and a far from normal Christmas, it seems rather incongruous for me to be wishing you all a happy and jolly festive season.

This year has felt like a relentless and exhausting barrage of difficulties, challenges, and heartbreak not only for my family but for countless others. I know many of you will empathise through your own experiences. I have needed some time away from active ministry to cope with everything and I am extremely grateful to you, Revd. Mark and the clergy team for the unfailing support and care received. I aim to be back on the rota in the new year!

During the darkest of times, this prayer by Thomas Merton gave me great comfort…

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think
I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave
me to face my perils alone.

I hope that 2021 brings happier and better times for us all.

God’s blessings for a safe and peaceful Christmas.

With love, Please note my new email address:

Jo rev.johannamabey@gmail.com

FRISTON CHRISTMAS SERVICE
St Mary, Friston, 6pm, 22nd December 2020

Dear Friends – there are just 4 pews seating up to 4 people (in your bubble/household) left available for the Christmas Service at Friston this year.  There will be music, readings, poetry and the Church will – as always – be lit with hundreds of candles and lights.  Unfortunately, due to the restrictions we cannot fill the church as we would normally, and it is NECESSARY to book a pew.  Each pew can take up to 4 people from your household or bubble. All are welcome.  Please contact
Carole Edwards, Church Warden.
We look forward to welcoming you to a beautiful, atmospheric service to celebrate the coming birth of Jesus.

We Wish You All A Very
Happy Safe Christmas

WE MISS YOU!!!!

This year has been so different, hasn’t it. Again, this pandemic has highlighted that we dearly miss seeing all the families that usually come along and attend the various Church services to celebrate this special time of the year with us.

So we thought, what can we do for the children that unfortunately won’t be able to come to the Christingle Service, Christmas Messy Church, and of course our very popular Crib Service (last year we had a record number attend of 440). Ahh, we will deliver them a Christmas bag of goodies. So Revd Johanna Mabey organised and put together 99 bags that were delivered to Aldeburgh Primary School. The teachers were absolutely delighted and thanked the Church.

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 13th December – Third Sunday of Advent

9.45am Holy Communion Friston Church
10.30am Family Service Aldeburgh Church
11.00am Holy Communion Aldringham Church

Message from The Rector

Unusual circumstances call for unusual solutions and this coming week there is a rather special event, prompted by the fact that many people will not be able to sing carols in the way that they are used to this Christmas. ‘Doorstep Carols’ happens between 6 and 7pm on Wednesday December 16th. The idea is that, if you wish, you can sing along with Radio Suffolk on your doorstep and invite neighbours to join in from theirs.
All of the details are here:

https://www.doorstepcarols.co.uk/is-your-area-involved-/suffolk

.. including details of how to raise some money for charity too. Sounds like fun!

If, however, you’d like something a little more traditional then the day before (Tuesday 15th) at 6.30pm there will be a gathering on Mill Hill in Aldringham for some socially-distanced carol singing. Wrap up warm (it won’t last too long) and come and sing some old favourites.

Our church services for Christmas include something Christmassy in Aldringham on Sunday 20th at 11.00am and Monday 21st at 6pm – contact David Copp with your preferred service and the number of people who can sit together in a pew – we don’t want to have to turn people away. Similarly, there is a special Christmas service in Friston on Tuesday 22nd at 6pm (contact Carole Edwards for details of booking).

There are services in all of our churches on Christmas Day at the usual times, but it would be good to let me or one of the churchwardens know that you are coming so that we can keep an eye on numbers. Again, it would be dreadful to have to turn you away because the church was full and numbers are, inevitably, restricted.

Finally, some details of the national church’s Christmas campaign this hear. It’s called ‘Comfort and Joy’ and has all sorts of ways of being involved – streamed services, reflections, downloadable resources of one kind and another, even a special phone app. Do have a look here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards
of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Isaiah 61.1-4, 8-end

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

Second Reading
1 Thessalonians 5.16-24
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.  May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Gospel Reading
John 1.6-8, 19-28
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.  This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” ’, as the prophet Isaiah said.  Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

 

Sermon for 13th December – Third Sunday of Advent
by The Revd Sheila Hart

Today we have three amazing readings from the Bible to ponder and meditate upon.

The passage from Isaiah 61 sets out the message of hope for the future of those who are still in exile. It is almost saying ‘Don’t worry about your current circumstances, they are only temporary for I am giving you a message of hope that all will be well.’

The statement made by the prophet in the first verses of the chapter is, of course the words which Jesus applied to himself after he had read this passage in the synagogue in Luke chapter 4, ‘today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Our reading from Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians is written to the young church to encourage them in their faith and their growth in their relationship with God.

And, since traditionally on the third Sunday of Advent we remember the ministry of John the Baptist, the reading from John’s Gospel highlights just that, firstly by the mention of the Baptist in the Prologue to the Gospel and then taking us on to John’s ministry and how the people received both him and it.

All of this is fine, but what is the message from these passages and how are they relevant to us today?

In the reading from Isaiah chapter 40 which we heard last Sunday the message from the prophet was that God wanted to comfort His people in their exile in Babylon and it was relatively easy to apply that to how God might want to comfort us in our ‘exile’ or ‘captivity’ as a result of Covid 19 and, indeed, there is much hope for the future control of the pandemic through the roll-out of the vaccines as they become available.

In our reading from Isaiah chapter 61, however, the prophet goes much further and spells out that God has sent him to

‘Bring good news to the oppressed,
To bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives, And release to the prisoners;
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort those who mourn.’

This is a real message of hope, not only for the exiled Israelites, but also for those of us who are beginning to become a bit wearied by our current situation.

It poses the question, though, ‘is this hope for us alone, or do we have some sort of responsibility in, not only rejoicing in its application to our situation, but also in trying to share it with those who are not yet able to trust in the message of God for themselves?

If we look at the prologue of St John’s Gospel, where he mentions John the Baptist, we read about his coming into the world, not as the ‘Light of the world’, but as ‘the witness to that light.’ And later, John the Baptist, himself declares that he is not the Messiah, but the ‘voice crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.’

If we take these two readings as a whole, is that not our mission and ministry, to witness to Jesus, the Light of the world so that others may come to know Him as we do?

The question is: How can we do this if we, too are overtaken by despair and hopelessness in our current situation?

The answer to this question is to be found, I believe in our reading from Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians when he encourages the young Christians there by writing:

‘Rejoice always
Pray without ceasing,
Give thanks in all circumstances,
Do not quench the Spirit,
Do not despise the words of the prophets
But test everything, hold fast to what is good.’

As we take Paul’s very sound advice, I believe we will grow in our knowledge and faith in God who alone can take us through our current circumstances and into the future He has for us whatever that may hold, and we can do no better than commend ourselves to God using the words with which Paul sums up his advice:

‘May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely, and may your body and soul be kept sound and blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.’ Amen

Post Communion
We give you thanks, O Lord, for these heavenly gifts; kindle in us the fire of your Spirit that when your Christ comes again we may shine as lights before his face; who is alive and reigns now and for ever.

The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
20th December – Fourth Sunday of Advent

9.45am Morning Prayer Friston Church
9.30am Holy Communion Knodishall Church
10.30am Morning Prayer with Baptism Aldeburgh Church
11.00am Christmas Service Aldringham Church

Deciphering words in the New Testament
(It’s all Greek to me)

‘En Christo – In Christ

Over the last few weeks, we have looked at snap shots of key words of Jesus. Hopefully they have brought into sharper focus for us words in Greek as heard by most of the first Christians. “Be of good heart – tharsei”, “Don’t be afraid – me phobou”, “Steadfast Endurance – hupomone”, “Sin, or Missing the Mark – hamartia”, “Repentance, or Change of Heart – metanoia”, “Love and Friendship – agape & philia”.

What emerged from those who first heard these powerful words was a band of disciples, learners on “The Way” (Acts 9.2), the first name given to the Christian movement. They would come to be called the Church, ‘ekklesia’ in Greek, those “called out” of the world to make up a new family.

In the Epistles of Paul, Peter, John and James we find a portrait of this new family life. In them we read of the shared experiences and beliefs of the early church, as its new members explored the richness of new life and faith under the Lordship of Christ, under his Cross indeed, but in the joy, confidence, and faith of the first Easter. At the same time church leaders had to start coping with the first divisions and arguments which, predictably, with human nature being what it is, soon arose, and we have to admit, have continued ever since.

Yet behind this was a unity of church members, symbolised in Baptism, (which was by total immersion in those days), in which the candidates, wearing the robe of baptism, entered the fellowship of those en Christo, in Christ. Paul wrote to the Galatians (ch. 3.28) “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (en Christo Jesou)”. The same phrase occurs again and again in Paul’s Letters.

The words are engraved in my memory from being sent off on National Service in Germany in 1954 as a representative British soldier in blitzed Dortmund, where British soldiers were not exactly popular, to share Christmas Day with a German coal-mining family on a distant housing estate. I went to a Lutheran service with the family where an old man, at one point, seized me by the hand and said emotionally “Wir sind alle einer in Jesu Christi”: we are all one in Jesus Christ.

En Christo: At the altar rails (soon may they be restored to us) all are one in Christ.

A young curate, before going to his first Deanery Chapter was warned that it might be a bit of a shock. “But perhaps you should remember”, said his vicar, “when meeting some of these older clergymen, that however good or bad or lazy or crazy or saintly or arrogant or cynical or pompous or despairing or defeated, at some time in their lives they were inspired by Jesus Christ.”

And that will surely be true for the great majority of our fellow worshippers in the pews and at the altar rails. In Christ, en Christo, we find our unity, however different, however diverse we may be. In that is the secret energy of the Church which can pick it up by God’s grace again and again and put it back on the rails. To be personal it was that sense of us all being one in Christ, en Christo, which has upheld my own feeling of loyalty to and family membership of our Benefice in recent months and prompted me to make this tiny contribution to our life together.

Next Sunday, the last before Christmas, we shall pray the prayer of the last verse but one of the New Testament: “Even so, come Lord Jesus”.
As He most certainly will!

John Giles

DAY ALDERTON ORFORD ALDEBURGH
Monday 8.00 to 14.30 8.00 to 18.30 8.00 to 18.30
Tuesday 8.00 to 18.30 CLOSED 8.00 to 18.30
Wednesday 8.00 to 18.30 8.00 to 13.00 8.00 to 18.30
Thursday 8.00 to 18.30 8.00 to 13.00 8.00 to 18.30
Friday 8.00 to 18.30 8.00 to 13.00 8.00 to 18.30

STAFF MEETING CLOSURE DATE

The surgery will be closed between 14.00 – 16.00 on Thursday 21st January for a staff meeting.

We appreciate that not all of our patients have internet access, but in the current rapidly changing climate our website & Facebook page are the most direct route for you to find up to date patient information.

If you are unable to access the internet please call the surgery if you have any queries on 01394 411641.

www.thepeninsulapractice.co.uk

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. With Christmas fast approaching, your donations will make all the difference.

The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

Weekly Benefice Newsletter

If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.
What Christmas traditions do you have? Your home decorations or that special recipe that is always a Christmas favourite.

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 6th December – Second Sunday of Advent

 9.30am

Morning Prayer

Knodishall Church

 9.45am

Morning Praise

Friston Church

10.30am

Holy Communion

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Morning Prayer

Aldringham Church

 

Message from The Rector

December has arrived and we are able to resume worship in our churches. (Aldeburgh’s 9.00am Mon-Fri Morning Prayer will resume next Monday). The restrictions remain pretty well as they were before the recent lockdown so we still have to be very careful about numbers, about not being too close to people outside our immediate family or ‘bubble’ (outside the churches as well as inside), congregations still can’t sing and must wear masks unless they are medically exempt from doing so. And Christmas approaches! What can we possibly do? Well – we do what we can. I’m afraid that the ‘big’ services such as Aldeburgh’s Crib Service and Midnight Eucharist will be impossible – we simply can’t handle those kinds of numbers. I couldn’t, however, think of Aldeburgh church being closed on Christmas Day so there will be a service of Holy Communion at 10.30. There can’t be any congregational singing and we will have to restrict the numbers so please keep an eye on the website for details of how to reserve a place. We will try and contact everyone who isn’t on email by phone so that no-one misses out. But I’m afraid you won’t just be able to just turn up on the day, you will need a reservation.

Each of our village churches will also have a Christmas Day service at the usual time – 9.30 in Knodishall, 9.45 in Friston and 11.00 in Aldringham. There will also be a Christmas service in Friston on Tuesday 22nd at 6pm (contact Carole Edwards through Aldeburgh Church website to enquire about a place for this service). And there will still be chance to sing carols outdoors too. The usual gathering of carol singers on Mill Hill in Aldringham will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday December 15th. We may not be able to retire to the Parrot & Punchbowl afterwards, but we can certainly have a good (socially distanced) sing! All are welcome.

The restrictions give the current season of Advent a whole new twist too. Traditionally we talk of Advent as a time of watching and waiting – and many of us this year have been waiting for some kind of normality to return for what seems like ages. So much has been disrupted. So many have had their lives turned upside down. But Christmas remains and, though it may be going to feel rather different for us this year, its message never changes. So we continue to watch and wait – but we can be sure that Christmas will still be Christmas. As it says on the board outside Aldeburgh church ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.’

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us,
and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our
sins and wickedness we are grievously hindered in running the
race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may
speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ your Son
our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and
glory, now and for ever.

 

First Reading
Isaiah 40.1-11
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her that she has served her term, that her
penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double
for all her sins.  A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the
way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made
low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ A voice says, ‘Cry out!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’  See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.  He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. 

Second Reading
2 Peter 3.8-15a
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.  The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?  But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1.1-8
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’, John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

 

Reflection for 6th December – Second Sunday of Advent
by The Revd James Marston
St Nicholas

As a friend and wannabe comedian said to me “‘tis the season to be jolly careful” and “you better watch out sanitiser’s on his way.”

As I open my Aldeburgh advent calendar each morning – to be greeted by the image of a gingerbread man or a sprig of Holly – or switch on the television, or visit the supermarket, it is easy to get bombarded with Christmas and the ever longer run up to it. Often, somewhere in the mêlée there is an image one of the greatest saints known to the Christian faith, a man venerated and recognised as Holy across the western and eastern Christian traditions, a man whose generosity and kindness have shone through the centuries and who has never really been forgotten.

This man wears today a white beard, red trousers, black belt and red jacket. He has a sleigh and reindeer. And is particularly loved by children. We know him now as a festive figure of folklore, but he existed nonetheless. We may think we have turned him into a fictitious character and given him the name Santa Claus or Father Christmas but as every child will tell you, he is actually real.

Today, alongside the second Sunday of Advent, is St Nicholas day. Here in our benefice, it seems we quite like the saints, we observe the patronal festivals of St Peter and St Paul, St Andrew, St Lawrence as well as the blessed virgin herself. We like to hear about saints, who they were and what they did. They can inspire, and make us think, as well as call us to holiness as we march along the path of faith.

St Nicholas of Myra is not a figure of legend whose origin is lost in the mists of time but was a real person. A churchman in fact who attended the council of Nicea in AD325 at which point Christian belief began to become codified in the form of a creed.

Born at the end of the third century, in about 280, Nicholas was a very devout young man who, still quite young, became a Bishop and then the Archbishop of the then great city of Myra, which is in the province of Lycia in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.

There he was renowned for his charitable deeds. There he set up orphanages, hospitals, hostels for the mentally ill, fed the starving in famine, and set up a drainage system so that his people would not die from the diseases incurred by poor hygiene.

He freed captives unjustly imprisoned, saved sailors in stormy seas, redeemed young girls who were bound for child prostitution. The stories about Nicholas highlight his ability to give, to care and to love.

It is Nicholas’ generosity, his loving kindness, his dedication to the faith and life of Christian witness that we can see Christ himself, and how Nicholas calls us once again to us to holiness as we march along the path of faith.

St Nicholas – Patronages

Sailors,

Merchants, 

Archers,

Repentant thieves,

Prostitutes,

Children,

Brewers, 

Pawnbrokers,

Unmarried people,

Students

As well as various cities and countries around Europe including Greece, Liverpool.

 

Post Communion
Father in heaven, who sent your Son to redeem the world and will send him again to be our judge: give us grace so to imitate him in the humility and purity of his first coming that, when he comes again, we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Aldringham Church Calendar 2021

The Aldringham church calendar for 2021 is now on sale.
 You can either collect a copy at any of the services at Aldringham church
or contact David Gordon.

The calendars are £10 each.
Free copies have been distributed to the sick and the lonely in the congregation and the rest will be sold to raise money for church funds.

   
 

Deciphering words in the New Testament
(It’s all Greek to me)

AGAPE and PHILIA – Love and Friendship

In Christina Rosetti’s words “Love came down at Christmas”. So, Advent is a good time to think about it. The Love we are talking about in Greek is “AGAPE” (three syllables). Agape is the shining sun which gives warmth and life to our faith. “Love was Our Lord’s meaning” said Julian of Norwich.

First then, AGAPE is the word for the Love that God has for all his children on earth, given to us in human terms by Jesus. (John 3.16) “God so loved the world that he gave . 

Secondly, it is the word for the love by which we in our hearts respond to that same love (John 14.15) (If ye love me, keep my commandments); or in St. Paul writing to the Romans (ch. 5.5) “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Thirdly, it is the word for love between people, when care and respect for them is touched with real good intent. Love is more than merely liking. When Jesus took from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19.34) the words “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 5.43) he uses the word ‘agapao’ (as a verb) which is practical in meaning, i.e., wanting the best for them. To love the hungry, for example, practically, is to give them food. He then continues “love (agapate – imperative tense) your enemies”. Well, that should make us think.

We put so much romance and sentimentality (not to mention the physical side) into our use of “love” today. Both in the Old Testament, and in the teaching of Jesus, love is present and shown by good intent more than emotions of the heart.

Secondly there is “PHILIA” or friendship. In the famous chapter,
(John 15,) where Jesus speaks of himself as The Vine, with his followers as the Branches, he goes on in verse 14 “You are my friends (philoi-plural) if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants (or slaves – the Greek ‘doulos’ has both meanings), for a servant does not know what his master is about. I have called you friends . . .”
This is so deep. We must try to understand all that follows from this, the privileged relationship with Christ that can be at the heart of discipleship. It is wonderfully recalled in the hymns “My song is love unknown” and “What a friend we have in Jesus”.

Agape and Philia overlap to some extent. In John 21, Peter does not presume to use Agape in reply to Jesus’ first and second questions “Do you love me?” (using Agape); while third time round both Jesus and Peter settle for Philia, i.e. “Do you love me as a friend?” “Yes, Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you as a friend”. “Feed my sheep”. That is the church’s episcopate.

So much to ponder and give thanks for. Christmas approaches. Here is Love in action, and this time no lockdown.

John Giles

The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
13th December – Third Sunday of Advent

9.45am

Holy Communion

Friston Church

10.30am

Family Service??

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. With Christmas fast approaching, your donations will make all the difference.

The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

 
 

📆 Weekly Benefice Newsletter 📰

If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.
What Christmas traditions do you have? Your home decorations or that special recipe that is always a Christmas favourite.

 

Christmas 2020 – A Message from our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther

None of us has known a Christmas like this one.  Many of the things that we normally associate with Christmas will be different and that, I’m afraid, includes our church services.   Aldeburgh Parish Church is normally at the centre of our community as families come and join together to celebrate the birth of Christ.  It breaks our hearts to not be able to hold our usual services (Christingle, Crib Service, Midnight Eucharist) but the pandemic continues to prevent us doing many of the usual things.   
With guidance from the Government and the Diocese regarding tier two level services we have created a plan.  Safety has to be our priority.  We will be holding a Christmas Day Holy Communion Service at 10.30am.  This will unfortunately have to have a restricted number in the congregation and I fear that congregational singing will still not be possible.  You will need to book in advance and we must stress that if you haven’t been allocated a confirmed place you will not be able to attend.  If you would like to enquire about booking a place for this service, please use the contact form and we will try our best to reserve a place.

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 29th November – Advent Sunday

This week’s service will be streamed live from
Friston at 9.45am on Zoom.
You may need to install Zoom on your device.

Or you can view it using the usual method on the
Alde Sandlings YouTube Chanel from 3pm on Sunday.

 

Message from The Rector

Last week I wrote that ‘we still await government guidance about what we can and can’t do after December 2nd. I’m writing this at 3.30 on Friday afternoon (I really can’t keep Claire waiting any longer) and the Church of England website still says, ‘Following the publication of the Government’s Covid-19 Winter Plan, including permission for the resumption of public worship, we are awaiting the publication of detailed guidance after which we will update our advice.’ So, we know that we will be able to resume Sunday services from December 6th, but we don’t know anything about additional restrictions that might be put in place as a result of Suffolk being in ‘Tier 2’ of local restrictions. I think we can assume that congregational singing will still be off limits and that there will be some restrictions about the numbers that we can allow in church – but we cannot yet be certain. It is very frustrating.

Having said that, we do have news of two special online services this week. On Sunday morning at the earlier-than-usual time of 9.45 our Friston Elders, Emma and Martin Steadman, will be leading a special Advent Sunday service on Zoom and this will be our benefice offering for this week. Everyone is welcome to join – all you need is a computer, phone or tablet that has an internet connection, a camera and a microphone. Then, a few minutes before 9.45, if you click on the link that Claire has provided, you will be able to join in. Everyone is very welcome. If you are not able to be there at 9.45, I hope to have a recording of the service available in the usual YouTube place very soon afterwards.

The following day, Monday November 30th, is St Andrew’s Day and Aldringham church would normally hold a Patronal Festival service followed by fish and chips. Given that the lockdown will still be in place on Monday we have an alternative plan. Together with our Pilgrims Together group we have come up with an unusual and, I hope, inspiring online service. In their regular worship the Pilgrims use a good deal of material from the Iona community. Andrew is, of course, the Patron Saint of Scotland and after enquiries were made at the community the suggestion emerged that we might adapt their ‘Ceilidh’ service for our own use. We tend to think of a Ceilidh as a dance but it can be rather more than that – a gathering in people’s homes at which hospitality is shared, stories told and new people welcomed. Our service will hopefully be just that. The stories that we share will be both about St Andrew and St Andrew’s church – some of the group have long memories of the important part that the church has played in their lives. There will be music and prayer and it promises to be a memorable event. All are welcome to join.  The service will begin at 6.30 and last about 45 minutes, after which you are welcome to leave the link open and share some chat and food. If you’re not used to Zoom it would be a good idea to check in in good time so that we can make sure that all is well. The Pilgrims have also asked that you don’t share the link on a public platform (social media like Facebook, for example). Their lack of security can cause problems. You are, however, very welcome to share it in emails to friends who you think might enjoy the service – all are welcome!

Elsewhere on this pew sheet there are details of the services that we hope to hold in our churches on December 6th and by next week I very much hope to be able to give you detailed information about our Christmas services. In the meantime, please stay warm and safe.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal
life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious
majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life
immortal; through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Isaiah 64.1-9
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that
the mountains would quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!  When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.  From ages
past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.  You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.  We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.  There is no one who calls on your name or attempts to take hold
of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us
into the hand of our iniquity. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are
the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity
for ever.  Now consider, we are all your people.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 1.3-9
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gospel Reading
Mark 13.24-end
‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ 

Sermon for 29th November – Advent Sunday
by The Revd Sheila Hart

Advent is a season in which we are asked to watch, wait, be patient and stay awake and alert and, as I reflected on this, I cannot help thinking that the whole of this year has been a time of watching, waiting, being patient and staying alert. And as I continued to reflect, I am very conscious of how difficult it is for people, us, me to watch, wait, be patient and stay alert. It’s fine when we are not told that this is what’s expected of us, but when the expectation is to do all of these things, I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely hard.

There is a sense of desperation, almost anger or frustration with God, in our reading from Isaiah. ‘O that you would open the heavens and come down…..When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.’ There is a sense of the prophet, the writer saying, ‘Come on God, get a move on, we want to experience your real presence among us again.’ And bursting into a chorus of ‘Why are we waiting?’

This is followed by a sense of understanding as to why the people are waiting – they have sinned; they have turned away from God ‘We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth……There is no one who calls on your name or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.’

Having acknowledged the perceived reason why God seems to have deserted His people, the writer changes his tone somewhat and pleads with God – ‘Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity for ever.’

It reminds me of the naughty child who knows he has not met the expectations of his parents and goes to them with his sense of failure and guilt and pleads with them to forgive him and reassure him that they still love him really, despite all he has done to anger and upset them and there is a sense of reconciliation.

But the people of Isaiah’s day had to wait a long time for the experience of being enabled to be fully reconciled to God, for Jesus, the Messiah had not yet been born, let alone lived and then been crucified and been raised from the dead so that God’s people could experience new life in Him.

In that respect we are fortunate in that we no longer have to wait for salvation for it is there for us to grasp if we will, through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

So, what are we waiting for? And why is it so difficult?

Once Jesus had begun to speak openly to his disciples about his impending death and making veiled references to his resurrection, he began to hint that he would, someday, come back and reign on the earth as King. Paul writes about the return of Christ in many of his letters to the young churches in order to give them hope for the future. But they will have to watch and wait and be patient.

In our gospel reading from Mark, we read about the difficult times that are coming for those who believe in Jesus. Prior to the verses we have heard this morning, Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple, persecution of those who believe even from members of their own family and the days of desolating sacrilege. After this comes the promise of Jesus’ return to the faithful BUT we do not know when this will happen – only God knows the day and the hour – so we are told to stay awake – alert.

Waiting, watching and staying alert are all difficult because they require patience. I don’t know about you, but I can wait for a certain length of time and then my patience begins to run out. I also find it much easier to wait when the end is in sight. One of the hardest things about the times we are living in at the moment is that we really are not sure when the end will come – we have no target to work towards. We have little chinks of light on the horizon, but we really don’t know when the vaccines will be available, when we will be able to have them, how safe they are long-term, how effective they are and how many doses, and how regularly we will have to have them to enable life to go back to normal – whenever that is. It is hard to live with uncertainty because most of us like routine and certainty.

And awaiting the return of Christ falls into this category too. There is some certainty in that, if we believe the Bible, He will come again to reign in glory. But there are also a lot of uncertainties about exactly when and even how this will happen. And so we wait and hold the tension between expectancy of an imminent return and our need to wait and watch and stay alert in our unknowing of the fine details.

Are we living in the last times? Many have thought so throughout the generations from the time of Jesus onwards and we are still here, and he hasn’t yet returned as far as we are aware. Meanwhile we trust in Christ’s promises and we continue to watch and wait and stay alert and in that watching and waiting we pray that we will grow in our love and knowledge of him who loves us and gave His life so that we might have life in his name. Amen

As we can’t hold a Christingle service in Church this year, we thought, perhaps we could still celebrate Jesus Christ as the “Light of the World”. 

Here are some ideas to create your Christingles.

What is the meaning behind each part of the Christingle?

Here are some notes to make you own Christingles and also to teach children/grandchildren about the symbolism behind each part of it.

  • The candle represents Jesus being the light of the world, bringing hope to people when they are in need.
  • The sweets/dried fruit represent God’s creations in the four seasons.
  • The orange represents the world.
  • The red ribbon represents God’s love for the world and the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross.

How to make a Christingle

  • Tie a red ribbon around the middle of an orange.
  • Push four cocktail sticks into the orange.
  • Carefully, put sweets or dried fruit on the ends of the cocktail sticks.
  • Push a candle into the top of the orange. Light the candle.

The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
6th December – 2nd Sunday of Advent

Hopefully will be:

9.30am

Morning Prayer

Knodishall Church

9.45am

Morning Praise

Friston Church

10.30am

Family Service

Aldeburgh Church

11.00am

Holy Communion

Aldringham Church

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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.

 

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.

 

Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 22nd November/Sunday next before Advent/Christ the King

Message from The Rector

We have reached the end of the church year and I don’t really need to say what kind of a year it’s been, do I? Suffice to say ‘not what any of us anticipated or would have wanted’. But at least nowadays the church year ends with a bang and not a whimper. The Feast of Christ the King, which we celebrate this week, is comparatively new in the church calendar and began in the Roman Catholic church in 1925, finally and permanently making it into the Church of England lectionary when Common Worship was introduced in 2000. Previously this Sunday was merely ‘The Sunday Next Before Advent’ and was colloquially called ‘Stir-up Sunday’ – the words taken from the Book of Common Prayer’s collect for the day and taken literally by many who ‘stirred-up’ their Christmas puddings this weekend. But it’s good to celebrate something that is rather than something that’s about to be – and The Feast of Christ the King has now firmly taken its place in the calendar. (Though the ‘stir-up’ collect prayer is still with us and will feature in this week’s online service.)

Christmas plans are beginning to form, though we still await government guidance as to what we can and can’t do after December 2nd. All being well, in the week before Christmas, there will be services of words and music in both Friston and Aldringham churches and there will be services of Holy Communion in some or all of our churches on Christmas Day. Sadly, the big occasions – including Christingle, the Crib Service and Midnight Eucharists are off the agenda this year but we will try to supply some online worship to compensate as best we can. It has been really difficult to try and work out what we can realistically do in these strange times – but the most important thing is that we keep safe. Covid-19 seems to be able to find ways of spreading very quickly once we relax and if we are to try to have a reasonably normal 2021, we still need to be very careful. I promise that we will do what we can.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Eternal Father, whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne
of heaven that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of
peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Ezekiel 34.11-16, 20-24
For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.

Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.

I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 25.31-end
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ 

 

Reflection for 22nd November – Christ the King,
by The Revd Nichola Winter

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
rejoice, again I say, rejoice

I had so hoped that in a year in which we have been deprived of celebrating those great festivals of Easter and Pentecost in church we might just manage to mark the final Sunday of the church’s year, Christ the King, with jubilant acts of worship. Singing some of our wonderful hymns that mark the kingship of Christ – ‘O worship the King all glorious above’; ‘Rejoice the Lord is King’; ‘Alleluia, sing to Jesus’. We miss it so much.

But it cannot be. We can only sing in our hearts, join with the online offerings, and work out our faith in our individual ‘lockdown’ ways. Next week sees the beginning of Advent, the start of the church’s new year and – I think we all pray for this – new hope. It’s been hard – I don’t need to list the ways in which our worship has changed and evolved. It is, perhaps, the fellowship that we’ve missed most – those opportunities for sharing joy and sorrow, companionship and laughter, bring-and-share meals – and, of course, frequent ‘cake’ opportunities. Perhaps ‘Cake and King – Let us Sing’ might be the basis for one of our first acts of communal worship once we’re allowed!

Over the altar in Aldeburgh Church is the dramatic window depicting the crucifixion of Christ. But raise your eyes a little higher and we see Christ depicted in all his glory. Kingly, serene and majestic – ‘king eternal, earth thy footstool, heaven thy throne.’ There is scarcely a grander or more widespread image used in the Bible than that of ‘king’. The Hebrew-Aramaic word for king, ‘melek’, is one of the most commonly used words in the Old Testament, occurring approx 2700 times. In the New Testament the Greek word, ‘basileus’, occurs more than 125 times. If you add in associated words such as kingly, kingdom, the verb ‘to reign’, then the motif of kingship weaves its way through the entire fabric of the message of the Bible. Much relates to earthly kings but today we think about our divine king, Jesus Christ, redeemer, saviour, servant, healer, teacher and companion.

There have been many images over the last months of people in positions of power and authority welcoming photo opportunities that demonstrate how they are ‘at one’ with the people. ‘Coronavirus opportunities’ for the great and the good show just how much they try to be ‘on side’ with the rest of us. Commendable as these may be they are nothing compared with the way in which Jesus lived out his life engaging completely with the people – peaceably for the most part but not above criticising when necessary. The king we worship is extraordinary. Wholly human and completely divine. Sent from God to be with God’s creation. Emptying himself of kingship so that he could be as one with, and of, us. God comes to be with his people – to be with you and me, finding us wherever we are, in whatever state we find ourselves. Happy, sad, joyful, despairing, lonely, stressed – he’s right there. At the Clergy Conference last week we were reminded of the importance of allowing ourselves to be still and quiet with God. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and hassle of instant communication via electronic media. We need to guard the space – allow those times of quiet. Ours is a king who rejoices when we are still and attentive.

Paul’s words to the Ephesians come as a timely reminder – and can be a prayer for us all:

‘I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…’

At this festival of Christ the King, may we find the eyes of our heart enlightened and our souls cheered by the hope to which he has called each one of us.

 

Deciphering words in the New Testament
(It’s all Greek to me)


METANOIA, or repentance, is a key word for Christianity.  I admit I had my own fancy idea of what I could say about it until I actually got down to working on it.  Metanoia enters the New Testament via John the Baptist. Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell us that his message was a call for Repentance.  Mark (1.4) and Luke (1.3) both use identical words in the Greek: John’s baptism was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. Baptisma, a baptism, metanoias, of repentance, eis, for, aphesin, the forgiveness, hamartion, of sins. 

Then comes a discovery. Luke (24.28) tells us right at the end of his gospel, that immediately prior to the Ascension, Jesus commissions the disciples to go out and preach to all nations “repentance and forgiveness of sins”, using exactly the same Greek words as are used about John the Baptist’s message, thus linking Jesus and his cousin John, the beginning and end of Christ’s ministry on earth.

Once I was at a clergy school where we were challenged by the speaker to recall what Jesus told his disciples to go out and preach. Not one of us could remember these words from St. Luke.  Yet they were clearly very important to the first Christians.  “Metanoia eis aphesin hamartion” must have been a well-known formula, even a mantra, for the early church. If we forget this phrase, we are forgetting words at the centre of the first Christian preaching.

So, to METANOIA. Meta, when linked to a following word, means ‘change’. Noia is a variation of ‘nous’ which means ‘mind’. So meta noia means change of mind, or in our case, repentance.

It doesn’t mean grovelling abasement, but rather a new outlook, turning our thinking inside out. Maybe it might come to mean seeing that God loves the other person and not just me. Here is the basis for the best sort of inclusivity.  Maybe on this understanding we can all go a bit woke!

Behind that is a basic humility, a realistic self-awareness before something so much greater than ourselves.  This is the humility of the tax-collector (the publican) in the Temple praying with the Pharisee (Luke 18.23) – or the Canaanite woman (Matt 15.22) – or the two blind men (Matt 9.27).   The great Christian Prayer which expresses this is the Jesus prayer of the Orthodox Christians: “Lord / Jesus Christ / Son of God / have mercy on me”.  To be repeated slowly, phrase by phrase, over and over and over again. No gold medals here, no celebrity status, but maybe peace, love, joy. Amen.

John Giles

 

The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
29th November – 1st Sunday of Advent

 

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Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 15th November/Second Sunday before Advent

The week ahead online services

Sunday 15th

10.30am

Holy Communion from Friston

Monday 16th

6.30pm

The Power of Prayer

Wednesday 18th

10.00am

Holy Communion (BCP) Aldeburgh

Wednesday 18th

6.00pm

Compline from Friston

Wednesday 18th

6.30pm

Pilgrims Together

 

 

Message from The Rector

There isn’t a huge amount to say that is new this week. We continue with our online services recorded in church – this week’s Sunday morning service of Holy Communion will be recorded in Friston church. We continue to hope and pray that we will be able to return to worshipping in our churches from December 6th, but we wait and see what restrictions there may still be.

In the meantime, there will also be some special services online too. This Monday evening at 6.30pm our Pilgrims Together group has been asked to lead half-an-hour of online prayers as part of a week-long county-wide ecumenical celebration of prayer in its many forms. It’s called ‘The Power of Prayer’ and if you would like to take part you can get the Zoom link by emailing the organisers at thefarmbythewater@gmail.com

If you are unsure of the details of how to access any of these online services, please let me know and I’ll be happy to pass them on to you.

Finally, may I please say an enormous thank-you to all who helped to organise and lead our Remembrance Sunday commemorations last week. I have had lots of very positive feedback. In the middle of all of the current strangeness it was good to stop, pray and remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. We will always remember them.

With love, as ever

Mark

Collect
Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son was revealed to destroy
the works of the devil and to make us the children of God and
heirs of eternal life: grant that we, having this hope, may purify
ourselves even as he is pure; that when he shall appear in power
and great glory we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Zephaniah 1.7, 12-end
Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests. 
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.’ Their wealth shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them. The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter, the warrior
cries aloud there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. 

Second Reading
1 Thessalonians 5.1-11
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. 

Gospel Reading
Matthew 25.14-30
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”


Second Sunday before Advent.   Notes on this Sunday’s readings, and thoughts arising by Canon John Giles

Advent Sunday is only a fortnight away. Our lessons today confront us with one of the more sombre themes of Scripture, to which we shall be returning in Advent, that of the Day of the Lord (the prophet Zephaniah); the Second Coming of Christ (Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians); and a rather worrying judgement of ourselves as to whether we have used what gifts we have effectively enough for the Lord (the Parable of the Talents). All in all, we have a general theme of Judgement. 

Let’s first get rid of the notion that Covid is a divine judgement. Covid is a natural phenomenon, a pandemic, like Spanish flu, or the Plague. Jesus specifically denied that natural disasters were sent by God to punish particularly wicked people. When the Tower of Siloam collapsed, killing eighteen people, they were, he said, no more wicked than anyone else. (Luke 13.4). That still didn’t stop the need for everyone to heed a deeper moral judgement on their actions. Similarly, with Covid, we must now look to science to help us find out how and where it started, and hopefully how to defeat it. 

Our lessons are all concerned with a deeper moral judgement, teaching that doing wrong things, or not doing right things, can lead to big trouble. The prophet Zephaniah foresees a truly 3D day of disaster, darkness and distress. Neither silver nor gold will be able to save the people from the Lord’s wrath. Zephaniah wrote in a time of national apostasy; of falling away from the true faith; and a time of idolatry, in which the worship of pagan religious gods with associated practices, some of which were highly immoral, was widespread. The international scene was full of predatory rival states. A nation, corrupt in its heart, would fall prey to one of them sooner or later. Zephaniah was right. Within fifty years, the Jews would be carried off as captives to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. Zephaniah’s prophecy of judgement was fulfilled.

Six centuries later Jesus had brought a new message of hope to the world. He had been cruelly put to death. Spiritually he had reappeared to his followers.  Physically he was no longer with them, but the belief grew in the church that he would come again and put both the world and the church to rights (see today’s Epistle). This was predicted in the gospels, especially in Mark 13 and Matthew 23 & 24. Hence the expectation of the Second Coming of Christ. The years passed and no Second Coming took place. The church’s understanding of these passages changed. Christians came to see that through the gift of the Holy Spirit the Risen Jesus had always been with the church. We celebrate that in our Communion hymns, and it remains true today: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18.20). 

So, our gospel for today, the Parable of the Talents, is a passage to challenge the church to be brave and use its gifts both on the level of personal discipleship and in the life of the church. There is indeed also a warning against doing nothing, burying talents in the ground. Maybe we all need to take that on board. The wider challenge remains as we look at the work and the witness to which we are called in the world today. Christ is always around the corner when we need Him. We can be sure of that.  He will come again – indeed He has never left us. Hurrah! Amen.

Post Communion
Gracious Lord, in this holy sacrament you give substance to
our hope: bring us at the last to that fullness of life for which
we long; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

 

Tell us your news!
Remembrance Day in lockdown 2020 by Mary Sidwell
Having learnt soon after I moved to Aldeburgh, about the Dutch Kayakers memorial (near Sizewell beach) that is where I hold the two-minute silence and I place a poppy on Remembrance Day. Today (11th) there were several crosses and poppies placed on it, and the Lest We Forget flag nearby flew well, in the stiff SE wind.

I then drove to Aldringham churchyard to see the Remembrance display. It is a very moving tribute, so well researched and presented, and I’m glad a donation was possible. Thank you to all who had installed this tribute, the young men, and their families would be very proud and humbled by it. I highly recommend a visit.

Mary Sidwell

The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
22nd November – Christ the King