My Labrador, “Wesley”, is growing and has graduated from pink bag Puppy food to green bag Junior food. I'm weaning him off lamb and rice and on to chicken, which will now serve him until he is about 18 months old. Greek writers and philosophers often complained about their pupils' ability to learn; the notion of milk and solid food was often used figuratively, contrasting basic and advanced learning. Wesley's maturing digestion reminded me of a reference in St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians! Paul admonished the community at Corinth who were beset by jealousy and quarrelling, and who regarding themselves as intellectually superior. Disarmingly, he reminds them that however they might regard themselves, they are really still children in the faith. “You were not ready for solid food,” he tells them, “Even now you are still not ready”. (I Cor. 3.2) The writer to the Hebrews insists, “Mature people need solid food – and by 'mature', I mean people whose faculties have been trained, by experience, to distinquish good from evil.” (Heb. 5.14)
Sunday 8th July is Sea Sunday. As in previous years, we are holding a special outdoor service at 6.30pm at Buckler's Hard. The 18th century ship-building village on the banks of the Beaulieu River is the perfect setting with its rich maritime history. Our speaker will be the Revd Reg Sweet, Master, St Cross Hospital, Winchester. The Collection will support the work of “Missions to Seafarers”, an international charity whose personnel work in over 200 ports in 50 countries. The distinctive Flying Angel is their logo. Chaplains offer spiritual support and advice, and are trained to recognise and respond to signs of post-traumatic stress. Flying Angel centres provide refreshments, activities, and facilities. Notable family projects are located in Ukraine and in the Philippines. Since many ports are located some distance from towns and amenities, Missions to Seafarers also provide welcome transport, enabling seafarers to enjoy the local area. The Beaulieu Village Band will provide musical accompaniment, and the choir will lead the singing. I look forward to seeing you there.
The Beaulieu Village Fete is on Saturday 21st July. This is always a happy and enjoyable community occasion, providing something for everybody, but it demands good organisation, and much effort. Peter Melhuish co-ordinates the event, from which normally half the net proceeds are given to the Abbey Church. If you are able to help on one of the stalls, assist with the setting up or clearing up, please contact Peter, whose details are at the front of the magazine.
Our Annual Benefice BBQ is in the late afternoon of Sunday 22nd July, and will be in the grounds of Palace House, by kind permission of Lord Montagu, the large marquee remaining in place from the previous day's activities. Further details, including the menu, can be found in the weekly newsheet, and on our website. I am in the process of organising an alternative event for some of our families – date and details available via the same sources.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written an open letter to clergy drawing our attention to the real problem of human traffiking. The National Crime Agency estimates that tens of thousands of people are being exploited in the UK, forced to work long hours, and often under threat of violence. The Primates cite, in particular, hand car washes where abuse is said to be rife, and commend the Safe Car Wash campaign. An free app. is available to download, and takes you through a short survey about the working conditions of the hand wash, and suggests a form of action if necessary. As the leaflet endorsed by the Archbishops comments, “We cannot be indifferent to the suffering around us, in our own communities, and as the Church we cannot turn away from our neighbour who may be in need. Instead we must turn to them and say 'we see you'”. (www. THECLEWERINITIATIVE.ORG/SAFECARWASH)
On Saturday 14th July the church commemorates the Tractarian John Keble. An academic, he gave up his position at Oriel College, Oxford, to follow his clerical calling, becoming his father's curate in Gloucestershire. A gifted poet, during this period he produced “The Christian Year”- poems for all the Sundays, and some feast days, of the Liturgical Year. Many of these become hymns, among them, “Blessed are the pure in heart”, and “New every mornng is the love”. Keble became Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1831. He was Vicar of Hursley near Winchester and Oxford's Keble College was founded in his memory.
A reminder that next month, 12th August, there will be no Evensong in the Abbey Church, but instead, at 6.30pm, “Songs of Praise”. I am delighted that the popular and enthusiastic Hugh Ashley, who compered last year's outside event, will be leading it. Do put the date in your diary.
With my love and prayers,