News sheet for the 26th April – Third Sunday of Easter

 

Message from The Rector

And so we meet again by sharing in a service. The experience of presiding when no-one else is physically present has proved to be a very interesting one for me. The other day I was sharing experiences with Fr Tony, our local Roman Catholic priest, and we agreed that, as the apparently isolated services happened, we very much felt the presence of those worshipping with us. We somehow do not feel alone. Of course, it is not the same as actually being together in the same space at the same time and I cannot wait for us to be able to do that again. But for as long as the current restrictions apply, I hope that you too feel that, as we share words, music and prayer and the breaking of bread, there is a sense in which we are part of something greater than what we can see. And we take comfort from the fact that, wherever we are, the risen Christ is with us. Of that we have his promise – a promise that never fails.

One way in which we might be able to share in the presentation of our acts of worship is if people might like to volunteer to read one of the lessons. This can be done reasonably simply by using a phone or a tablet. Here are the instructions for iphones and ipads and I’m sure something similar is possible with other makes.

https://osxdaily.com/2016/05/04/record-audio-iphone-voice-memos/

If you’d like to have a go, then please let either me or Claire know.

 

Collect
Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

 

First Reading
Acts 2.14a, 36-41 
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Second Reading
1 Peter 1.17-23
If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.

Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

 

Hymn – Thine be the Glory

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.
Refrain:
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.
Refrain:
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.
Refrain:
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 24.13-35
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.  Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

 

Reflection by Revd Johanna Mabey

Luke 24:13-35

Disappointment. We have all been there one way or another.

A relationship breakdown… a failed exam… a dream job turned sour… trust turned to betrayal… a medical test revealing bad news… the death of a loved one… Hope was lost, and life looked dismal at best.

If you have experienced devastation, you can probably understand how the two men on the road felt that afternoon, walking from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. Theirs was a road of deep disappointment – of hope in the past tense. “We had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel,” they explained (unknowingly) to the Risen Jesus as He walked with them.

They had lost hope. Yes, there had been rumours of resurrection, but the only thing these two men knew was the reality of death. They had seen the crucifixion. There had been a body. They knew death when they saw it. Hope was gone.

The Emmaus Road can represent the road of disappointment when there seems to be no hope. Perhaps our own struggles right now seem like a hopeless uphill road?

The two men on the Road to Emmaus did not recognise Jesus when he joined them on their journey. Someone once heard two children talking about blindness. One of them asked, “How do you know when you are blind?” The other one answered, “You don’t. You only know afterwards when you can see.” Until we have recognised Jesus in our midst, we do not know what we have missed seeing before.

So here we are. Two weeks have passed since Easter. The world presses in on us. We are stressed, afraid, tired, maybe feeling our age, perhaps ill, probably unsure of what lies ahead. We read and hear bad news in papers and on television. When we bury our loved ones, we do not find empty tombs. We pray for people who are ill and often watch them continue to physically decline.

The road of our lives may seem as full of discouragement as that dusty Emmaus road did for those two men.

But wait! We have been given this story. The Emmaus story is the story of a God who will not leave us alone, even when we cannot believe, even when we are hurt and disappointed, even when we cannot recognise Jesus in anything around us, when it seems that the brightest and best in life is over.

One more thing we should notice about this story of those who finally recognised that Jesus was with them: they immediately went to share the news with others. This meant doing a turnaround in the middle of the night with no streetlights to walk a seven-mile journey back to Jerusalem to tell others that they had seen Jesus alive.

For us, the journey may have a different shape, but the message should end up being the same.

We are walking along the roads of the lives we have been given. It is quite likely that God would like us to “retune” our vision, so that we can notice and understand where God would like us to share hope, forgiveness and help in the places around us. We do not have to be afraid to see new needs or hurts, because no matter what challenges, disappointments, or opportunities we encounter, the Risen Christ is with us.

By the grace and power of the Living God, may we come to see that Jesus is risen and alive, right in our midst! By the grace and power of God, may each of us recognise in Jesus hope and challenge beyond every disappointment.  Amen.

 

Post Communion
Living God, your Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in all his redeeming work; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

 

Anzac Day 25th April 2020

by Mary Sidwell

Prior to coming to live in Aldeburgh 5 years ago, I lived in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. Our Parish church of St Mary, had several New Zealand soldiers buried in the old churchyard, having been patients at the Mount Felix hospital in the town.  A brass plaque at the back of church records the names of the deceased. ANZAC means Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.

On the Sunday nearest to April 25th each year, we had an ANZAC service of Commemoration at Evensong. The NZ High Commissioner, service personnel and other staff came to the service, where the standards were presented, we sang hymns, an anthem, an address by the vicar, the names of the dead were read out. We then filed out of church behind the British Legion standards and walked to the old churchyard, where there are engraved tombs. Wreaths were laid and prayers said. Afterwards, we gathered in the church hall for refreshments and to meet our NZ guests.

In March 2016, I was staying with family in Australia (Sydney) and in Rotorua (N. Island, New Zealand) and during my stay there were big events marking 100 years of Gallipoli. At Rotorua, my sister and her husband booked a 5-day mini tour down to Wellington, on the South Coast of North Island. The Te Papa Tongarewa Exhibition Centre near the waterfront had a display called ‘GALLIPOLI’ and had set up on the peninsula in Turkey Nga Tapuwae which means ‘the footsteps’ where you can follow trails of the ANZAC soldiers. I recommend that you follow in these footsteps and then light a candle.

Recipe for ANZAC Biscuits (sent to the soldiers on the frontline)

4 oz flour,
4 oz rolled oats,
4 oz desiccated coconut,
4 oz sugar,
1/2 teaspoon baking powder,
1 tablespoon golden syrup,
4 oz melted butter.

Mix dry ingredients together, add melted butter and syrup, and roll into small balls, flatten gently. Bake in a cool oven for 15 mins.

The Week Ahead

Next Sunday – 3rd May

Fourth Sunday of Easter

 

NOTICES

 Food Banks – Message from the Community
 Engagement Officer at the East of England Co-op

We support 22 independent and Trussell Trust Foodbanks through our Food Stores; the Foodbanks all collect from the stores who support them. To find the list of who we support and how to find out what their specific needs are please go on to our website 

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

I can confirm that we are working hard on how best we, as a Society, can best support our local communities. There have also been articles in the paper about how food banks are struggling to receive donations as many supermarket shelves are empty.

Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

 

Message from Suffolk Trading Standards 
Please pass this on to friends and neighbours
There have been reports in Suffolk of people pretending to be from the British Red Cross, knocking on the doors of elderly and vulnerable individuals, taking their money to do shopping – and then not returning.
There have also been reports that cards are being put through doors with the British Red Cross branding, offering help.

British Red Cross are NOT utilising a postcard system currently in connection to Covid-19 and any distribution of these cards locally needs to be reported to us via 0808 223 1133.
Please share and make sure your neighbours and any elderly/vulnerable relatives are aware.

 

✞Wednesday Morning Holy Week✞
During Eastertide (any beyond, if it proves to be useful) each
Wednesday morning at 10.00am
we will stream in the usual place
(Alde Sandlings YouTube Channel) a service of Holy Communion
according to the Book of Common Prayer.

News sheet for 19th April – Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday 19th April

Second Sunday of Easter

 

Message from The Rector

When we are living through extraordinary times, and when news bulletins are full of so much information that it becomes hard to absorb anything, it takes a particularly bold headline to attract our attention. One such headline that did it for me recently was ‘Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre closed for the first time since 1349’. The coronavirus outbreak has caused even that holy place to be shut. It hurts to know that our places of worship have to be closed but closed they must be. The government has asked that we keep churches closed to protect individuals and also to help the NHS not to be overwhelmed. The Covid-19 virus can remain active on surfaces anything between a couple of hours and a couple of days. Door handles, pews where people have rested their hands when they pray, books that they may have picked up, all of these could potentially allow the transmission of the virus unless they were disinfected after every contact. And I don’t need to remind you, I’m sure, of the horrifying daily statistics of the number of people who are dying every day. As church we need to be part of the solution not part of the problem.

I have become aware in recent days of many heart-warming stories about local people being helped by agencies and individuals. Food parcels are being delivered, shopping is being done, appointments met, errands run and much more besides. As we hold in our prayers those who are ill and those who have died so we also give thanks and pray for all who are going the extra mile (sometimes quite a lot of miles) to help those in need.

We plan to continue online services every Sunday at 10.30am and Wednesday at 10.00am. Sunday morning’s acts of worship will include Holy Communion, Morning Prayer (Mattins) and less formal ‘Morning Praise’ services. Each Wednesday morning will be a simple service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer. Each Wednesday evening at 6.00pm a service of Compline is being said by parishioners in Friston and at 6.30pm the Pilgrims Together group gathers – both of these initiatives using ‘Zoom’. I should also remind you of Morning Prayer each morning at 8.30am said by Bishop Martin in his little garden oratory in Ipswich. Around 90 now join him online and it’s a good way to start the day. https://www.facebook.com/BishopsCofEsuffolk/

Our services from The Vicarage, and those led by our bishops, remain on the relevant sites afterwards so if you don’t manage to be with us ‘live’ you can rerun the service at a time that suits you.

Please be assured of my continuing prayers and if there is ever anything that you think I might be able to help with don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Collect
Almighty Father, you have given your only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
Acts 2.14a, 22-32 
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. ‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and fore knowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him,
“I saw the Lord always before me,
 for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover, my flesh will live in hope. 
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption. 
You have made known to me the ways of life;
 you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”

‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
“He was not abandoned to Hades,
 nor did his flesh experience corruption.” 
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.

Second Reading
John 20.19-end
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. 

Psalm 16

1  Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge; 

I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord,

all my good depends on you.’

2  All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, 

upon those who are noble in heart.

3  Though the idols are legion that many run after, 

their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,

neither make mention of their names upon my lips.

4  The Lord himself is my portion and my cup; 

in your hands alone is my fortune.

5  My share has fallen in a fair land; 

indeed, I have a goodly heritage. 

6  I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel, 

and in the night watches he instructs my heart.

7   I have set the Lord always before me; 

he is at my right hand; I shall not fall.

8  Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; 

my flesh also shall rest secure.

9  For you will not abandon my soul to Death, 

nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit.

10 You will show me the path of life;

in your presence is the fullness of joy 

and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Reflection by Revd Sheila Hart

John 20:19 to the end

There is so much contained in these 13 verses from the Gospel of John that it is hard to know what to emphasise and where to begin.

We have moved on from the early morning to the evening of the first Easter Day and the disciples are pictured gathered together, supporting each other because they are afraid of what might happen to them subsequent to Jesus’ crucifixion and the revelation from Mary, Peter and John that He had risen from the dead and Mary’s exuberant announcement that she had actually seen Him!

Apart from the fear, it is difficult to imagine what the gathered disciples might have been thinking about and feeling as perhaps they reflected together on the happenings of the week between Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the promised Messiah, his betrayal, arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion, death, burial and disappearance from the tomb where he had been laid to rest and His subsequent appearance to Mary in the garden. I would imagine their heads would have not only been reeling with the speed with which these things had happened but also, they’re with disbelief and amazement that His body was not where they had left it in the sealed tomb. The fact was it wasn’t there. Oh Yes Mary said she had seen Him, but she was only a woman and women were subject to flights of fancy. You should never trust a woman for they have very fertile imaginations.

And into the middle of their reflections, like a bolt out of the blue, Jesus came and stood among them, just like He always did, and offered them Peace – just like in the midst of the storm on the lake of Galilee when they had been afraid before and He had commanded the wind and the waves to be still using that same offering of Peace – just like when He had spoken about leaving them and they didn’t understand what He was alluding to, He had told them ‘Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give you, not as the world gives. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’.

Having offered them His peace – the traditional Jewish greeting – shalom – Jesus goes on to initiate their future ministry ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ He breathes into them the Holy Spirit, the One whom He had promised would come to them after He had left them – the advocate; the Comforter; the Counsellor. Did this pre-empt Pentecost? No this was the anointing of the Holy Spirit who would eventually bring them the power for ministry, but at this time was the agent of peace and comfort. The one who would prepare them for their future ministry.

This is followed by the account of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas a week later. Thomas had always seemed the one who took a longer time that the others to understand Jesus’ message. He was the one who didn’t quite understand ‘the way to the place where Jesus was going’ in the farewell discourse of John chapter 14 which we alluded to earlier and Jesus had to speak about His being ‘the way, the truth and the life.’ And he was the one who in this account couldn’t quite bring himself to believe in the resurrected Christ until he had seen for himself.

When he had seen, however, there was no stopping his enthusiasm and his worship ‘My Lord and my God.’

So, what about us? Where does this leave us today?

Well we certainly need the Peace of Christ in these troubled times. The peace of knowing that the resurrected Christ is with us, our loved ones and those who are suffering and who have sadly died as a result of this pandemic and the testing times in which we are living. We have not seen the risen Christ but we do believe and trust in Him and the power of God through the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk through these days of isolation and for many, hardship and loss in His peace knowing that despite everything we are still loved and cared for. Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ I pray that we will continue to believe as we walk through this crisis with our Lord and share His sufferings and His isolation as He prepares us for the shape of our future ministry as His people and may the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us all and may we be agents of God’s peace to those with whom we are in contact who may need to know His peace too.

 

The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

The Week Ahead

Next Sunday – 26th April

Third Sunday of Easter

 

NOTICES

UU Food Banks – Message from the Community UU Engagement Officer at the East of England Co-op

We support 22 independent and Trussell Trust Foodbanks through our Food Stores; the Foodbanks all collect from the stores who support them. To find the list of who we support and how to find out what their specific needs are please go on to our website 

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

I can confirm that we are working hard on how best we, as a Society, can best support our local communities. There have also been articles in the paper about how food banks are struggling to receive donations as many supermarket shelves are empty.

Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

 

Message from Suffolk Trading Standards 
Please pass this on to friends and neighbours
There have been reports in Suffolk of people pretending to be from the British Red Cross, knocking on the doors of elderly and vulnerable individuals, taking their money to do shopping – and then not returning.
There have also been reports that cards are being put through doors with the British Red Cross branding, offering help.

British Red Cross are NOT utilising a postcard system currently in connection to Covid-19 and any distribution of these cards locally needs to be reported to us via 0808 223 1133.
Please share and make sure your neighbours and any elderly/vulnerable relatives are aware.

 

✞Wednesday Morning Holy Week✞
During Eastertide (any beyond, if it proves to be useful) each Wednesday morning at 10.00am we will stream in the usual place (Alde Sandlings YouTube Channel) a service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer.

 

Easter Day

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY EASTER

Sunday 12th April Easter Day

Message from The Rector

To say that Easter Day will be a bit different this year is, to say the least, an understatement. Not to be able to be together, not to be able to celebrate the greatest Christian festival with friends and lots of guests, as we usually do, is heart-breaking. We need to remember, though, that whatever the world throws at us we can be absolutely confident of Easter’s message.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

If you are able to join us online at 10.30 you will be very welcome – and you might like to have a bell of some sort (or at least something with which to make a noise) handy.

Plans are beginning to be formulated as to how we might continue to worship together online during the rest of Eastertide and beyond. Before we look forward, I’d like to look back over the last week and give hearty thanks to, firstly, my clergy colleagues for their contributions to our Holy Week services. Their bible-reflections have been thoughtful, inspiring and a joy to read out. Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank our administrator, Claire Turner, who has worked way over and above the call of duty to circulate pew-sheets and orders of service to you all and, together with her husband Jamie, rescue me when I have had technical problems with the online services. I’m sure you will agree that ‘every church should have one’ – thank you Claire!

Collect

Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity.

Post Communion

God of Life, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection have delivered us from the power of our enemy: grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

First Reading
Jeremiah 31.1-6
At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’

Second Reading
Acts 10.34-43
Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’

Gospel
John 20.1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Sermon by The Rector, Revd Mark Lowther

Acts 10: 34-43

John 20: 1-18

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

Most of us, most of the time, are most comfortable when we feel that we’re in control of our lives. It’s good, isn’t it, to have some sense of what the day ahead might hold – and then we can cope better with the occasional surprise. Well I don’t know about you but at the moment I feel totally out of control. I don’t know what each day will bring and I wake up to the Today Programme news with a real sense of trepidation – what might have happened overnight? What will happen today? What will we learn today? What decisions will be taken on our behalf, for better or worse, that will change the way we live our lives? It’s frightening, unsettling, outside any idea we might have of ‘normal’.

Now, put yourself in the position of one of Jesus’s closest friends, 2000 years ago. This extraordinary man had totally transformed your life – in the best possible way. He’d taught you more about life, about God and about yourself than you could ever possibly have imagined. And you loved him in a way that you’d never loved another human being before. And then – he was killed. Tried on a trumped-up charge, tortured and killed, before your very eyes. You’d stood right next to that cross, that simple but horrifying instrument of torture, and heard him breath his last. What was that he said? ‘It is finished.’ Well, that’s that then, isn’t it? All your hopes, all your dreams dashed. Sure, he’d sometimes said something about ‘rising again’ but you had no idea what he meant. I mean, if you’re dead, you’re dead, aren’t you? What did he mean when he said “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again”? Beyond me!

Those words are from Mark’s gospel, but something like them appear in Matthew and Luke too. And you can well imagine just how strange they must have sounded. Peter even took Jesus aside and tried to tell him off – ‘God forbid it, Lord. This must never happen to you!’ For the most part we can only live in the present reality – we, like those first disciples, find it impossible to take the mental leap to a new reality, to, if you like, a new ‘normal’.

The resurrection story in John’s Gospel, that we’ve just read, contains beautiful accounts of individuals’ reactions to encountering a very particular and very special reality – the truth of the ultimate miracle. Peter, bless him, bounds into the empty tomb, sees the linen and the headcloth – and, we assume, doesn’t get it. Because John’s account says specifically that the other disciple, the disciple Jesus loved (generally thought to be John) ‘saw – and believed’. Just seeing the evidence was enough for John to put two and two together – it’s really happened! Mary Magdalene’s story is different – and for a reason. She sees Jesus – but doesn’t recognise him. The story tells us that he’s actually standing there – but Mary can’t believe it truly is Jesus until ….. until he speaks her name – calls her – and then she really knows who it is. I love this story because it so beautifully goes beyond an account of the events to become an account of their consequences. The risen Christ calls us by name and when he does, we recognise him for who he truly is – and our response has to be to call him our ‘rabbouni’, our teacher. In his beautiful book called God’s Pattern David Stancliffe (former Bishop of Salisbury) describes Mary Magdalene’s story like this.

(Mary.) The name – her name – sounds magical. It’s that way of saying her name that restores in an instant the fragile relationship that she thought was severed forever. It’s that quality of personal relationship – knowing and being known by name – that matters. ….. In the middle of the griefs and miseries of a selfish world, where people are out to grab what they can for themselves and throw their weight around to achieve it, it’s knowing God, and knowing that you are known by God, that counts. …. The proof of the resurrection is not to be found by gazing into the abyss of an empty tomb, but in the risen Christ meeting you on the way and, like Mary in the garden, calling you by name. The proof of the resurrection is not a statement or an assertion: it is knowing yourself, like Mary, to be called by name and loved by God with a love that will never let you go.

D Stancliffe God’s Pattern SPCK 2003

I return to where I began and borrow part of one of Bishop David’s sentences. In the middle of all of the chaos and difficulty and uncertainty of life at present it’s knowing God, and knowing that you are known by God that counts. Whatever may happen we are all called by name and loved by God with a love that will never let us go. Alleluia. Christ is risen!

Amen

The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

Eastertide Greetings

This comes from Nick & Nicky Winter to wish you every blessing at this unique Eastertide. We may be prevented from sharing in Holy

Communion at this Queen of Festivals, but it is good to know that we are linked and sharing in prayer and worship – remotely, digitally and/or spiritually. There will be much to celebrate when we are eventually able to join in fellowship again. But in the meantime, although we have to fast from the Sacrament we can still feast on the Word – and I know that many are doing just that.

As we celebrate the risen Christ the words of the 14th century

Anima Christi, used daily throughout Passiontide, continue to resonate:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me;
Within Thy wounds hide me;
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me;
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee;
That with Thy Saints I may praise
Thee Forever and ever.
Amen.

Next Sunday – 19th April

Second Sunday of Easter

NOTICES

 Food Banks – Message from the Community 

Engagement Officer at the East of England Co-op

We support 22 independent and Trussell Trust Foodbanks through our Food Stores; the Foodbanks all collect from the stores who support them. To find the list of who we support and how to find out what their specific needs are please go on to our website https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/foodbanks-(1)?viewmode=0

I can confirm that we are working hard on how best we, as a Society, can best support our local communities. There have also been articles in the paper about how food banks are struggling to receive donations as many supermarket shelves are empty.

Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-thecoronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

Message from Suffolk Trading Standards 

Please pass this on to friends and neighbours

There have been reports in Suffolk of people pretending to be from the

British Red Cross, knocking on the doors of elderly and vulnerable individuals, taking their money to do shopping – and then not returning.

There have also been reports that cards are being put through doors with the British Red Cross branding, offering help.

British Red Cross are NOT utilising a postcard system currently in connection to Covid-19 and any distribution of these cards locally needs to be reported to us via 0808 223 1133.

Please share and make sure your neighbours and any elderly/vulnerable relatives are aware.

Wednesday Morning Holy Communion

During Eastertide (and beyond, if it proves to be useful) each

Wednesday morning at 10.00am we will stream in the usual place (Alde Sandlings Benefice YouTube Channel) a service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer.

Good Friday

Friday 10th April

Good Friday

 

 

 

First Reading
Isaiah 52.13-end of 53
See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.  Just as there were many who were astonished at him—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals— so he shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.  Surely, he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.  By a perversion of justice, he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.  Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. 

Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, 
and are so far from my salvation,
from the words of my distress?
O my God, I cry in the daytime,
but you do not answer; 
and by night also, but I find no rest.
Yet you are the Holy One, 
enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
Our forebears trusted in you;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
They cried out to you and were delivered; 
they put their trust in you and were not confounded.
But as for me, I am a worm and no man, 
scorned by all and despised by the people.
All who see me laugh me to scorn; 
they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,
‘He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him; 
let him deliver him, if he delights in him.’
But it is you that took me out of the womb 
and laid me safe upon my mother’s breast.
On you was I cast ever since I was born; 
you are my God even from my mother’s womb.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near at hand 
and there is none to help.
Mighty oxen come around me; 
fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side.
They gape upon me with their mouths, 
as it were a ramping and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water;
all my bones are out of joint; 
my heart has become like wax
melting in the depths of my body.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd;
my tongue cleaves to my gums; 
you have laid me in the dust of death.
For the hounds are all about me,
the pack of evildoers close in on me; 
they pierce my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones; 
they stand staring and looking upon me.

They divide my garments among them; 
they cast lots for my clothing.
Be not far from me, O Lord; 
you are my strength; hasten to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword, 
my poor life from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth,
from the horns of wild oxen. 
You have answered me!
I will tell of your name to my people; 
in the midst of the congregation will I praise you.
Praise the Lord, you that fear him; 
O seed of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, O seed of Israel.
For he has not despised nor abhorred the suffering of the poor;
neither has he hidden his face from them; 
but when they cried to him he heard them.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation; 
I will perform my vows
in the presence of those that fear you.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; 
those who seek the Lord shall praise him;

their hearts shall live for ever.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the Lord, 
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s 
and he rules over the nations.
How can those who sleep in the earth
bow down in worship, 
or those who go down to the dust kneel before him?
He has saved my life for himself;
my descendants shall serve him; 
this shall be told of the Lord for generations to come.
They shall come and make known his salvation,
to a people yet unborn, 
declaring that he, the Lord, has done it.

Second Reading
Hebrews 10.16-25
‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds’, he also adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Gospel
John 18.1-end of 19
After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’  Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he.  So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First, they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing round it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.’ When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?’ Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, ‘You are not also one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’ Again, Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters.  It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ (This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ They shouted in reply, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. 4Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ 6When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ 7The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’  Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says,
‘They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.’  And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ And again, another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’

Reflection by Revd Nichola Winter

In the east window of Aldeburgh Church is a vivid depiction of the crucifixion.

Christ hangs on the cross. One of the soldiers pierces his side – making certain of his death. His family and closest friends weep at the foot of the cross. Assorted individuals pass by – curious? Indifferent? Morbid? At one side we see the soldiers, playing at dice. Casting lots for the clothes of the dying man. Look closely and you see the dice suspended in mid-air – the lot has yet to be decided. Those dice have been caught in their suspended animation for as long as the window has been in place. How symbolic of life itself – particularly at this time when life feels so fragile and tentative in the light of present afflictions. So many issues, so many questions, so many uncertainties. How will the dice fall? What will be the outcome?

The journey through the last weeks has been an emotional rollercoaster for so many. Each person reading this will have their own story to tell, their own experience. Holy Week takes on its own dynamic in the context of what is going on in the world. Acts of kindness, anger – and possible questioning of faith.

A small child said to me recently, ‘but we know it all turns out happily in the end.’ We may be so familiar with the events that tumble upon each other at this time that we lose sight of their gravity and significance. But not one of us can bypass the cross. It is something we all have to confront; to acknowledge our own weakness and sinfulness and then wonder that our Lord takes it upon himself to carry our shame and put an end to it for ever. In his own agony he takes the worst in each of us; his death erases it and enables us to find new life.

Consider those final words: ‘It is finished.’ One theologian has written that this is a cry of victory… the triumphant cry that what Jesus came to do has been done. All is accomplished, fulfilled work.

It is strange and puzzling. If the work of Christ is complete when we see him hanging, tortured and dying, on the cross, then what kind of a completion is that? What kind of victory? It may be tempting for us to dismiss it all. It happened a long time ago. We live in the post-modern age; we know a lot, we communicate fast. We think we’ve worked out how the universe works, and we don’t want to be confronted with images of an exhausted common-place itinerant teacher bleeding to death on a cross – it’s an image that is so not the 21st century.

But the reality is this. Christ will be resurrected – ‘but the resurrected One remains the One crucified.’ It was Pascal who said that ‘Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.’ We live in the ‘in-between times.’ The world of today, the 10th April 2020 – the world in the grip of an unknown virus – is simply too imperfect to be the world that God really wants as his perfected creation. So where did Jesus on the cross get the idea that he could claim ‘It is finished’?

John’s gospel makes clear to us that the cross is not a symbol of defeat but of victory. Think back to the passage where Jesus asks that the Father’s name be glorified by his obedience and a voice comes from heaven saying, ‘I have glorified it and I will glorify it again.’ Jesus tells us that this voice comes for our sake – so that we might understand that ‘now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ Jesus has carried out his part; he has been lifted up on the cross. In full view of passers-by; in full view of those who love him and those who hate him. In full view of the authorities of the time, in full view of those passing in and out of the city, on their way with news, gossip and day to day busy-ness. Whose eye could not be drawn to such a horrific spectacle? Who could be indifferent to this vulnerable creature, helpless on the cross? The invitation has been issued; Jesus has been lifted up and we are drawn to him. It is our choice whether we respond or whether we turn away.

 

It is finished, but it is not over. Rowan Williams calls us not to become nostalgic for a supposedly less compromised past or take refuge in some imagined purified future, but to dwell in the tension-filled time between times, to remain awake to our inability “to stay in the almost unbearable moment where Jesus is.”

Jesus has played his part. It is finished. The victory is won. Our work really begins as we share the message in these difficult times. How do we now keep alive and dynamic the teaching of the One who became human so that we might become divine?

Maundy Thursday

Thursday 9th April

Maundy Thursday

 

Collect
God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to his Church to proclaim his death until he comes: may he nourish us by his presence, and unite us in his love; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion
Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that in this wonderful sacrament you have given us the memorial of your passion: grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries of your body and blood that we may know within ourselves and show forth in our lives the fruit of your redemption, for you are alive and reign, now and for ever.

First Reading
Exodus 12.1-4 – 11-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household.  If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 11.23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Gospel
John 13.1-17, 31b-35
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Reflection by The Rector, Revd Mark Lowther

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

.. he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

John 13:5

The ‘roads’ of biblical times were dusty and dirty – both in the cities and outside in the country. Animals passed along them and, well, let’s not go into too much detail but we can easily guess what might have been on the road – and in quite large quantities too. And however hard you tried, the dust and the dirt ended up on your feet. It must have been a great relief to kick off your thin leather sandals and have a good wash. When you arrived at someone else’s house you’d usually do that yourself, so as not to tread dirt into the house. If you visited someone wealthy enough to have servants it would have been one of them, often, of course, a slave, who would have performed the task – and it can’t have been very pleasant. So it’s not surprising that Simon Peter was so shocked by what Jesus did. The host washing the feet of the guests. And, after all, Peter had been the first to identify Jesus as Messiah – he above all people knew what a big gesture this was. The Messiah acting like a slave and, literally, doing the dirty work.

As priest theologian Timothy Radcliffe points out, there’s an extra layer of meaning that often goes unnoticed here. There was one person apart from a servant or slave who might wash a man’s feet – his wife. I quote from an unpublished sermon Radcliffe wrote for Maundy Thursday: ‘A rabbi would not let his disciples wash his feet, but he could ask his wife; not because she was a servant but because they were one body. There is a charming little story called ‘Joseph and Asenath’, written about this time, in which Asenath, Joseph’s bride, will not let anyone else touch Joseph’s feet. “Your hands are my hands and your feet are my feet and I will wash them, and no-one else will touch them.” Throughout the Middle and Far East you will find that the washing of feet is part of the betrothal and marriage ceremonies.’ And what does Jesus say to Peter in today’s Gospel – ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me’. This is Christ uniting himself with his followers in a very special way.

So what about us here, now? My wife did offer to have her feet washed on a live streamed service but I politely declined – camera angles could be a bit tricky! But just imagine that in a moment or two one of the clergy washed your feet. A symbolic gesture – but symbolic of what? Well at one level, of course, it’s ‘service’ – an example of what Christ’s life was all about – a ministry of service – the servant king. A priest is still a deacon (whose function is to serve), just as a bishop is still both priest and deacon – the threefold order of priesthood is incremental like that and foot-washing is a symbol that we’re all still servants. At another level there’s that symbol of, as the Book of Common Prayer Marriage Service puts it ‘the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his church’. Your feet are my feet. We belong one to another.

But as people come up to take part in this most intimate of ceremonies, there’s a traditional chant that’s usually sung – ‘Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est’ – ‘Where there is charity and love, God is there’. ‘God is there’ – not ‘God might be there if we’re lucky’ or ‘God will be there if we get it right’. All that’s necessary is charity and love. Then God will be there. It’s not a biblical phrase but it might as well be – it’s one of the most powerful statements of the nature of God as there is. And, in those final words of today’s Gospel, Jesus commands us to love as he loved us. He washed the disciple’s feet – symbolically our feet – so we must do the same for others. And, I imagine, in these troubled times in which we’re living there must be a lot of foot-washing of one kind or another going on – serving others, trying our best to meet their needs. Perhaps next year at this time we should wash each other’s feet as well as having our own washed. And then maybe we should all head off to The Parrot or the Cross Keys with a bowl of water and a towel over our arm and give some people a real shock. Amen.

No foot-washing today, as I said, but here’s Maurice Duruflé’s beautiful reworking of the traditional chant for ‘Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.’ The melody is centuries old, the 20th-century harmonies are Duruflé’s own.

MUSIC Ubi caritas – Duruflé

Holy Week – Wednesday

Reading
Matthew 21:18-22: Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry.

And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to this fig tree; but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.

Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

Reflection by Revd Sheila Hart

On the surface, this account of Jesus cursing the fig tree seems a simple but quite an odd lesson about faith and the prayer of faith but if we look at it in the context of the whole of Matthew chapter 21 we begin to see that it could be seen as one of four parts of a chapter which is primarily centred around the judgement of Israel in the light of the life and ministry of Jesus when compared with the traditions of the Jewish faith.

The first is the upsetting of the tables of the money changers and dove sellers when Jesus enters the Temple following his triumphal entry into the city. He makes a statement which constitutes a judgement on the traditional rites of Jewish worship ‘My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’ This links remarkably well with Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman in the 4th chapter of John’s Gospel when he says, ‘God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.’ This 1st judgement is that despite all its rites and rituals the worship which took place in the Temple at Jerusalem was not true worship.

The second was judgement on the priests because they could neither understand nor embrace the ministry of Jesus among those who were considered outside the norm. They were so bound up with the rituals and rules of worship that they were unable to countenance the fact that there might be another way to worship with joy and praise – a kind of fresh expression which bent the rules, but which brought new life into the worship. This links with Jesus’ statement in the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel ‘I have come that you might have life – life in all its fulness.’

The third is our passage on the cursing of the fig tree. In the Bible Israel is often portrayed as the fig tree or the vine and the problem with this fig tree was that it was not bearing fruit, only leaves. Again, in the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel Jesus speaks about the vine whose branches don’t bear fruit. Those branches are cut off, thrown into the fire and burned while our fig tree is cursed because of its lack of fruit. If the fig tree and the vine are illustrations of Israel, the judgement here is based around a lack of fruit, not actual as per a fruit tree, but spiritual fruit. Later in chapter 15 of John’s Gospel Jesus tells his disciples this: ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.’

The fourth and final judgement was on the Jewish leadership and their lack of integrity. The chief priests and the elders question Jesus’ authority to teach in the way he was. Jesus decides not to give them a direct answer but to ask them a question regarding whether the baptism of John the Baptist was from heaven or from human origin. This creates a dilemma for them about which they spend some time arguing. In the end they decide not to commit themselves one way or the other and Jesus replies that in that case he will not tell them where his authority lies.

The application of this whole chapter for us to examine and reflect upon during this Holy Week is by implication fourfold.

  • How can we worship God in spirit and in truth?
  • How open are we to embrace new expressions of worship or are we hidebound by our traditional rites and rituals?
  • Where is the fruit both in our own life and in the mission and ministry of the Church, of our relationship with God through Jesus by the Holy Spirit?
  • Does our faith have an integrity about it which permeates who we are and what we do?

Holy Week – Tuesday

 

Reading
Mark 11:15-19: Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.
And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

Reflection by Revd James Marston

We heard yesterday of a moment of tranquillity – the anointing of Jesus at Bethany – before the gritty grim drama that was about to unfurl. Well in today’s reading the turmoil really begins to get going. Jesus is all guns blazing – at his most angry and at his most frustrated.

His anger is well directed – aimed at those who have subverted of the holiness of the temple by turning it into a “den of robbers”, a place of commerce, a place where God is a mere side-line.
He points out, with actions and words, that the religious authorities have got the balance all wrong. The temple – the house of God – should first and foremost be a place of prayer, not a place of money making and trade. Human instincts have overridden the divine purpose of the Temple and Jesus sees it and calls it out.

And as a result, His death is openly plotted amongst the religious authorities who are threatened and exposed by Jesus. The crowd are spellbound, Jesus still has their ear, but the scribes and chief priests don’t like what they hear, nor the power Jesus has over the crowd, and they respond with conspiracy to get him out of the way. One thing leads to another.

Imagine, for a moment the scene – turmoil, and people running, tables being thrown around, shouting, noise, and disturbance – with one man in the middle of it all quoting scriptures to the very men who were meant to be the authoritative and all-knowing guardians and interpreters of it. Jesus is threatening, at all sorts of levels, the political and religious and social power of the powerful and the curtain is raised for the final act, the showdown that is coming. Jesus’ actions upset the status quo.

Crucially, this incident is one of prophetic symbolism and the scripture Jesus quotes is the key. Jesus uses the prophesy of Jeremiah and the phrase “den of robbers” comes from Jeremiah 7:11. In this passage, Jeremiah is predicting the destruction of the first temple because of the sin of the people. The scribes and chief priests would have known exactly what Jesus was saying and doing – Jesus is likening the people of his day to the unfaithful generation of Jeremiah’s day. He is heralding, by His own authority, the end of the power of the temple.

Jesus was threatening, at all sorts of levels, the political and religious and social power of the powerful and the curtain is raised for the final act, the showdown that is coming. Jesus’ actions are upsetting the status quo.

And Jesus knows the consequences of his actions, he knows what he was doing. The gritty drama has begun in earnest.

Holy Week – Monday

 

Reading
John 12: 1-8:
The anointing at Bethany
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Reflection by Revd Nichola Winter

There is something heart-stoppingly beautiful about this passage coming at this point in Holy Week. The gritty grim drama of what follows will unfold in all its shame and horror, highlighting the fragile nature of humankind. But here we have a tender, loving action, performed by a simple trusting woman who sat earlier at the feet of Jesus listening closely to his words (see Luke 10:30: ‘Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying…)

Jesus is amongst friends – who knows what thoughts were going through his mind? Impending doom, betrayal, the inevitability of it all and yet the firm sense of purpose at fulfilling his father’s will. We can only imagine…

And who can imagine what was going through the minds of his friends? Mary, Martha and Lazarus – those with whom he had shared those intimate moments of sorrow, confidence, death and hope? For this evening at least, for this moment, he rests in the companionship of his loving friends – an interlude of peace, calm and tranquillity before the turmoil of the days to come.

It is at this point that Mary performs her outrageous act of courage, faith and love which has gone down in history as one of the most moving parts of the story of Holy Week. ‘Horrors,’ think some of the others – ‘what a waste!’ How much good might have been done with the money the ointment might have fetched? But that simply misses the point. There are times when we have to turn aside from our busy-ness, our frantic activity and our continual ‘doing’ and just kneel at the feet of Jesus and offer him the costliest part of ourselves in adoration, worship and love.

Malcolm Guite writes this beautiful sonnet in homage to Mary’s action:

Come close with Mary, Martha, Lazarus,
So close the candles flare with their soft breath,
And kindle heart and soul to flame within us,
Lit by these mysteries of life and death.
For beauty now begins the final movement,
In quietness and intimate encounter,
The alabaster jar of precious ointment
Is broken open for the world’s true lover.
The whole room richly fills to feast the senses
With all the yearning such a fragrance brings,
The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,
Here at the very centre of all things,
Here at the meeting place of love and loss
We all foresee and see beyond the cross.

Benefice News Sheet

Sunday 5th April

Palm Sunday

Message from The Rector

And so we arrive at the most important week of the church year, Holy Week, and we trace Jesus’s journey to the cross, and beyond. I am sure that you share with me the sadness of not being able to worship together in church. There are alternatives but, of course, they are not the same – we all know that. I do hope, though, that if you have access to the internet you have been able to share some of the resources that I mentioned last week. There is daily worship online from either Bishop Martin’s house or our cathedral. This week we are going to try something a little more local too. I have managed to stitch together some gadgetry and, all being well, should be able to stream some services from The Vicarage.

The first will be on Sunday morning (Palm Sunday) at 10.30am. It will be a service based on the traditional Palm Sunday service though without Holy Communion. If you would like to dig out a palm cross from a previous year it will come in useful.  Then from Monday to Thursday next week there will be a service at 6pm. Each day we will send out an email with an Order of Service and the relevant readings which you will be able to use (please do contact Claire if you wish to opt out of daily emails during Holy Week).
On Monday-Wednesday the service will follow the pattern of Night Prayer (Compline) followed by a short meditation. On Thursday, reflecting what we would usually be doing in church, I will celebrate Holy Communion for Maundy Thursday and then, in some token way, ‘strip the altar’. On Good Friday there will be a short service at 12 noon and, again, we will send out some suitable material to help with solemn meditation. Then, on Easter morning, … well, watch this space! Something celebratory will happen and it may be somewhat weather-dependent! Let’s see.

So, where do you find these services? I have set up a channel on YouTube in the name of the Alde Sandlings Benefice and you can go straight to it with this link.

https://www.youtube.com/

Each day from Sunday onwards, at the appropriate time, a live link will appear which, if you click on it, will join you to The Vicarage. It is all somewhat experimental and I would very much appreciate your feedback.

The rest of this document contains the readings for Palm Sunday (which I will use on Sunday morning) and a typically thoughtful reflection from Nicky. I do hope that you find time to be able to be with us in prayer in some way or other. Wherever we are, whatever our individual circumstances there is one thing that we can be sure of – that God is with us, always and forever.

Mark

Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion
Lord Jesus Christ, you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant, and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation: give us the mind to follow you and to proclaim you as Lord and King, to the glory of God the Father.

First Reading
Isaiah 50:4-9a
The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

The Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

Second Reading
Philippians 2.5-11
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel
Matthew 21:1-11
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.”  This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Reflection by Revd Nichola Winter

Like so many this year I shall miss singing the wonderful Palm Sunday hymns we are so used to. ‘Ride on, ride on in majesty…’; ‘All glory laud and honour to thee, Redeemer King…’ and others. I’m going to miss being part of the crowd that walks along Aldeburgh High Street with the stark wooden cross on Good Friday. And I’m going to miss the excited crowd gathering on the beach at dawn in Thorpeness to celebrate Easter Day and our risen Saviour.

Crowds are often such a feature of our everyday life. Crowded streets, shopping centres, beaches. Football matches, crowds at concerts, theatres and cinemas. We’re used to being surrounded by people. But that has all changed for the time being. Even smaller groups and gatherings are no longer allowed.

Imagine how it might have been in the time of Jesus without the crowds. No cheering, no waving of palms. No joyful sounds of song and acclamation. How significant was that clamorous gathering as Jesus arrived in Jerusalem?

Jesus had engaged in a popular ministry marked by personal encounters with disciples and onlookers, trying to teach them what he was all about. Finally, the road to Jerusalem, into the glare of national, political, public debate and conflict. And danger.

Jerusalem was not a peaceful, prosperous city. It was a city with a history of repeated invasion and attack, in a country occupied by a mighty imperial power. A city full of rumours, threat, discontent. Like the poor of so many cities throughout history, the people of Jerusalem expected deliverance to come through military force – their own prophets had told the story of conquest often enough. But there was always the promise to keep hope alive in testing times – the promise of a Messiah, a deliverer. Many of them looked for a great leader, a warrior hero to save them. Some of them, as the rumours spread like wildfire through Jerusalem, thought that Jesus might be that leader. Clearly Jesus was aware of that – this was no attempt to slip quietly into the city without anyone noticing. The way he came, the time and manner of his coming, all of this referred back to the scriptural prophecy. Jesus came to Jerusalem – but he entered it in the humblest of fashions, riding on a donkey. There is little doubt that the crowds would see Jesus’ entry in the light of this prophecy. A donkey was not the customary mount for a warrior or a king. It was the mount of a civilian, a merchant, perhaps, or even a priest. Many of the prophets saw ‘the Messiah’ as the prince of peace – but now, see how he arrives…

This posed a real challenge. Jesus appears, making the most audacious and apparently blasphemous claim, trailing a vagabond army of followers from the north, into a holy city in an occupied territory of the greatest power on earth. It posed a challenge to the Pharisees, who did not want anything to upset the Romans, in case it might threaten their freedom to practise their religion. It posed a challenge to Herod, who was already very confused about what was going on. It posed a challenge to the military, who didn’t want their job of controlling a city – and a country – made any more difficult by yet another popular insurrection. And it posed a challenge – or at least, a question – to the ordinary people of Jerusalem. Jesus had asked, ‘This is who I say I am. Who do you say I am?’ The entry into Jerusalem was probably the most political act of Jesus’ life.

Yet, all of them, in their different ways, missed the point of this very public challenge. The Pharisees – scholars and theorists as they were – did not know how to respond to this man who refused to debate or argue with them. Jesus hardly spoke to them at all, in fact, but countered their intellect nit-picking and entanglement by doing things which, infuriatingly, were hard to argue with but left them feeling foolish and exposed. The military authorities knew how to put down armed uprisings, but they had no strategy to deal with someone who offered no violence to anyone – who discouraged his followers from using violence – and yet still posed a threat to public order.

And what about the people? They had crowded the streets of the city to welcome him; they wanted peace. They wanted an end to occupation; they wanted bread to feed their families; they wanted a better life – things that people always want. Of course, they were going to welcome him. But crowds are fickle… Crowds love a spectacle. A crowd will come out for celebrations and carnivals – it joins in with enthusiasm, is good- natured. It comes out equally for death, for funerals and wakes, when it will stand silently, or weep and pray. It will come out in solidarity, to make a point, to demonstrate a feeling. But a crowd can also turn angry, become threatening, turn nasty and do terrible things. What changed the mood of the crowd that had welcomed Jesus with such excitement and anticipation?

Was it when they realised that peace was not going to be an instant quick-fix? For Jesus, peace was not an outcome but a way – and a challenging way at that. Did the mood change when he challenged the crowd to make hard choices that went against conventional wisdom, that might even lead them into danger?

The crowd’s suspicions were well-founded. Jesus’ friends had already found themselves on the losing side. They’d given up their quiet lives. They’d let go their livelihoods, their family attachments – all the things that had made them who they were. They had to give up their prejudices and their preferences. Some of them had to give up their lives.

Jesus was the catalyst for change in that crowd in Jerusalem. We can perhaps think of crowds we have witnessed through news reports and TV coverage. The moods that rippled through Jerusalem have all been visible to us in some way or other – in city mobs, in the challenges they present. Palm Sunday is always happening somewhere in the world and we are always being confronted by the challenge of that different ‘way of being’; the way of peace that does not shrink from conflict but refuses violence; the way that does not theorise, but engages with the real needs of suffering people; the way that sees the people who are overlooked and not counted; the way of self-offering.

We cannot be part of the crowd right now. There is a sadness in this abrupt departure from the gathered worshipping community. Almost a sense of abandonment; certainly a loss of that sense of security and companionship that comes with our weekly worship. A signal of just how fragile society can be. Is now the time when we can find opportunities to draw closer to God – closer to the one ‘in whom we live and move and have our being’? A strange time to have it inflicted on us but as we walk with Jesus through Holy Week, let us pray for the courage to face these challenges.

O Christ, you entered the city as a poor man, not in style, but simply,
yet still you caused uproar, and questions everywhere;
you drew the expectations of a hungry crowd,
and brought buried conflicts to the light.
May we, who are sometimes swayed by the crowd’s approval,
and who often avoid conflict for fear of its cost to us,
hold fast to the gospel of peace and justice,
and follow faithfully in your way of compassion and solidarity
with those who are poor and excluded,
wherever it may lead us.
Amen. (Based on ‘Palm Sunday is always happening’, by Kathy Galloway

The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

The Week Ahead

Holy Week – Including Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

Next Sunday – 12th April -Easter Day

A message from Canon John Giles –
Palm Sunday, a time when we are normally all together.

It is unthinkable that we cannot be together in church for Palm Sunday. But there it is.  We all know why things are as they are. These hymns may help.

All Glory, Laud and Honour (60 in the red books): We had uncanny echoes of that first Palm Sunday on Thursday last at 8pm when people gathered at their windows to applaud and cheer on the NHS doctors and nurses and other staff who are exposed to such danger in these dark days at home  “. .to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring”. Here again were children’s voices mixed with older voices cheering.  There was a note of celebration, for here were human beings at their best.   And all those years ago there was the teacher from Galilee entering Jerusalem, bringing a message of hope to the people of the city.

We find the same hope in Christ’s message today.

Our second hymn to recall is “Ride on, ride on in majesty” (61) – a grand and noble hymn which brings to the cheering celebration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem a deeper note of impending tragedy tinged with the foretaste of an unlikely victory: “the winged squadrons of the sky look down with sad and wondering eyes to see the approaching sacrifice”,  followed by “bow thy meek head to mortal pain –  then take, O God thy power, and reign.” Yes. There is, and there was, a sacrifice.

The solemnity of the words and the music fits the sheer determination of Christ’s unwavering commitment to his faithful following of God’s will, and the cost of it. We know also there will be a victory of love the other side of the injustice, the cruelty, and the humiliation of Christ’s crucifixion

Our third hymn is truly astonishing: “My song is love unknown” (63) – astonishing as it sounds so contemporary – and yet it was written in the dark days of England’s civil war, looking back to similar times when . . “men made strange, and none the longed-for Christ would know.  But O my Friend, my Friend indeed, who at my need his life did spend. .  . Here might I stay and sing: no story so divine; never was love, dear King, never was grief like thine! This is my Friend, in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend.”

In the dark days through which we are passing we must support one another in a fellowship of the spirit, aided by three great hymns for Palm Sunday and Holy Week.

NOTICES

Food Banks – Message from the Community
Engagement Officer at the East of England Co-op

We support 22 independent and Trussell Trust Foodbanks through our Food Stores; the Foodbanks all collect from the stores who support them. To find the list of who we support and how to find out what their specific needs are please go on to our website

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

I can confirm that we are working hard on how best we, as a Society, can best support our local communities. There have also been articles in the paper about how food banks are struggling to receive donations as many supermarket shelves are empty.

Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

Message from Suffolk Trading Standards
Please pass this on to friends and neighbours
There have been reports in Suffolk of people pretending to be from the British Red Cross, knocking on the doors of elderly and vulnerable individuals, taking their money to do shopping – and then not returning.
There have also been reports that cards are being put through doors with the British Red Cross branding, offering help.

British Red Cross are NOT utilising a postcard system currently in connection to Covid-19 and any distribution of these cards locally needs to be reported to us via 0808 223 1133.
Please share and make sure your neighbours and any elderly/vulnerable relatives are aware.

Benefice news sheet for 29th March

Sunday 29th March Fifth Sunday of Lent/Passiontide Begins

 

Message from The Rector

This is the week when we move into Passiontide, the darkest part of our church year. Sunday’s Gospel reading tells the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead – reminding us that the darkness reflected in the readings over the next couple of weeks will be followed by the blazing light of Jesus’s own resurrection. There is hope, and that is a message for our times if ever there was one.

I am currently exploring ways of us being able to share ‘virtual’ services over Holy Week and Easter and will have more news by next week. In the meantime, I do hope that you are aware of the daily services offered online by Bishop Martin. He says Morning Prayer at 8.30am each weekday and you can be with him at –https://www.facebook.com/BishopsCofEsuffolk/.
The staff of our cathedral also offer services at –www.facebook.com./stedscathedral.
There are two services, including one of Holy Communion, every day. All of these services can be viewed retrospectively too.

I am very grateful to our curate, James, for his beautiful reflection after a walk earlier in the week. Our own walk with Christ, remembering his trials, crucifixion and resurrection, is going to feel very different this year. May it be for all of us an opportunity to spend quiet time with God, safe in the knowledge that God is with us everywhere and always.

Thought for the Day

For the first time in nearly eight months I didn’t go to Aldeburgh church this Monday morning. Instead, over my bacon sandwich, I decided to go for a walk. As I left Friston rectory and headed over the fields I began to think of how we might respond as clergy to the odd situation in which we find ourselves.

Church services, which have been cancelled at the moment, are only a small percentage of what the clergy do – we spend our time visiting people, going to meetings, teaching, writing, reading, engaging with the wider community, and turning up to things, moving furniture, and all the rest of it, as part of our offering to the service of God. As a result, my diary has suddenly cleared over the last week or so. Instead of a training day in Ipswich on bereavement ministry I was at home in the rectory. I sometimes write a sermon on a Saturday afternoon, but the Mothering Sunday service was cancelled so instead I cleaned the bathroom and sorted the garage, I polished the car too, just to keep it shiny.

An historic and definitive part of the Church of England’s missional calling is to be a Christian presence in every community – the parish system. That is why each parish has a church and why Mark lives in Aldeburgh, I live in Friston, and clergy up and down the land live near the churches and communities they serve. The parish is the basic unit the church serves.

This parish system has stood the church in good stead for centuries, it is ancient way of doing things – a thousand years old or more – and, in these times, perhaps more relevant than ever as communities such as ours turn to each other for help and assistance in these troubled days – something which until not so long ago communities had done since time immemorial – worked together. Indeed, the parish churches we see in our own benefice weren’t merely planted by the church or built up by some outside agency – they themselves are, more often than not, the result of communal work, communal fundraising and a communal sense of purpose.

So, as I walked over the field at the back of the rectory these things were spinning in my mind – what can we do? How should we respond? When I was at college there was no training for pandemic ministry.

The first thing is, perhaps, to fall back on Christian tradition; to follow Jesus is to act and serve others so we can respond with loving service – helping out where we can across the benefice. As ordained clergy we are called to be available to our parishioners – so let’s be available, at the end of the phone, or via email, or whatever.

Yet I can’t help thinking, as the pace of life quietens, that clergy are called first and foremost to be people of prayer in their communities. We are the people who stand apart already from daily life and have what is known as the cure of souls. I am an assistant curate, which is why I am here, to help with the cure of souls. In addition my job, as deacon is to serve, indeed at services I wear the diagonal sash of a servant to highlight this diaconal aspect of my role. And it is in this role of servant that I pray for you all every day.

Prayer, of course, has many benefits, not least, at this time, in calming us all down as we still ourselves before God. It is through prayer, through Jesus Christ, that we communicate and intercede with God’s love. So, it was somewhere between Friston and Knodishall I decided to make my walk a prayer walk and looked at the Daily Prayer- the daily office of morning prayer – on my mobile phone. I said out loud the opening sentences and first few prayers before realising that walking and talking at the same time isn’t as easy as you might think. I crossed, with the help of my map, into Knodishall and said the psalm 77 “I cry aloud to God – I cry aloud to God and he will hear me” along Fitches Lane.

Walking makes us see things from a different angle and before too long I came upon Aldringham church from the lower part of the graveyard – it looked lovely in the morning sun and as I criss-crossed the graveyard I thought back to July 2018 when I first visited the benefice and thought how much has happened in the last 18 months.

Walking from the top of the churchyard I headed past the alms-houses and through a farmyard before coming to a large reed bed – the fen – circumventing it on a boardwalk. I saw no one and felt so far from the world I wasn’t totally sure if I’d ever see anyone ever again. I found I was thinking about how, as a nation, we have all but forgotten to think about God, and how our frenetic lives have overtaken our spiritual well-being in an unending and ultimately fruitless search for fulfilment through secular, materialism – even now, as we are not able to buy what we don’t need, the void is more obvious than ever.

Then, at what was called on my map Peggy’s Perch, I walked along the side of North Warren, one of the earliest RSPB reserves. I found a bench and read the first reading – Exodus – in which Moses killed an Egyptian, a story I had forgotten. I read the next reading Hebrews, which talked about how the people of Israel worshipped and how Christ offered himself to “purify our conscience” as we worship the living God.

At some point I was hoping to walk into Aldeburgh along the old railway line, but I must have taken a wrong turning as I found myself on the main road alongside some very smart houses. Curiosity got the better of me and I had a peer over the hedge quite a few times.

I said the Benedictus – the Song of Zechariah – as I walked across the fairway of Aldeburgh Golf club and it was here I had my first contact with people – two metres apart – as I sort of lost my way. I was directed up towards what I suspect might be the Hazelwood area of the parish. It was here I prayed for all of you, for my family, for the world, the church, the scientists, the hospitals, my sister, the key workers, the government and the Queen. I said all this out loud and finally finished morning prayer at about 1pm – my feet were getting tired and I still had some way to go.

An hour or so later I walked into the rectory gate, up the drive and unlocked the door to the kitchen, took off my shoes, and almost seized up. It took all my energy to make a cheese and pickle roll.

I had crossed farmland, woodland, graveyard, river, reed bed, warren, golf course, I’d seen the sea, the Alde estuary, enjoyed the huge East Anglian sky, walked in the fresh air and worn myself out. I had been a presence in all of our parishes just in a different way, from a different perspective and with the purpose of prayer – I could not help but think how lucky we are, how lucky I am, how much we have to look forward to, how fortunate we are to have one another, and how, ultimately, God shows us the way.

James

A train traveling down a dirt road

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A large tree in a forest

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A close up of a dry grass field

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The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:

https://www.churchofengland.org/

You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:

https://www.cofesuffolk.org/publications/e-news

Collect
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do also for you: give us the will to be the servant of others as you were the servant of all, and gave up your life and died for us, but are alive and reign, now and for ever.

First Reading

Ezekiel 37.1-14
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’ 

Second Reading
Romans 8.6-11
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason, the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Gospel
John 11.1-45
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

 

Prayer for our times from Norwich Cathedral

Covid 19 Prayer

God of compassion, have mercy upon this nation and our world in this time of fear and confusion: we bring before you those who are suffering and who tend to their needs; may those in isolation know your comfort and company and may neighbours show your love in works of care, kindness and prayer;

we pray for the National Health Service and all engaged in scientific research and we pray too for those upon whose shoulders the yoke of leadership rests, that in their conversation and communication your still small voice may be heard;

we ask this in the power of the Holy Spirit, through the One who stretched out his hands to bless and to heal even Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Written by Canon Andy at Norwich Cathedral

Next Sunday – 5th April
Palm Sunday

 

NOTICES

Food Banks – Message from the Community Engagement Officer
at the East of England Co-op

We support 22 independent and Trussell Trust Foodbanks through our Food Stores; the Foodbanks all collect from the stores who support them. To find the list of who we support and how to find out what their specific needs are please go on to our website 

https://www.eastofengland.coop/food/ethics-and-sustainability/food-banks-(1)?viewmode=0

I can confirm that we are working hard on how best we, as a Society, can best support our local communities. There have also been articles in the paper about how food banks are struggling to receive donations as many supermarket shelves are empty.

Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.

 

 Message from Suffolk Trading Standards 

Please pass this on to friends and neighbours

There have been reports in Suffolk of people pretending to be from the British Red Cross, knocking on the doors of elderly and vulnerable individuals, taking their money to do shopping – and then not returning.
There have also been reports that cards are being put through doors with the British Red Cross branding, offering help.

British Red Cross are NOT utilising a postcard system currently in connection to Covid-19 and any distribution of these cards locally needs to be reported to us via 0808 223 1133.
Please share and make sure your neighbours and any elderly/vulnerable relatives are aware.