From the Rectory...
“Lord of all, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise”*
I imagine, by now, many of you are getting "back to normal" — returning to regular rhythms of work and life, as the holiday season ends. I hope you have been able to use the summer in fruitful ways — to relax, rest, recover, and think. For recreation (re-creation) itself was built into the very fabric and work of creation by God, who commands us to rest. Summer is a time of reflection and discernment— and stepping back, retreating, changing scenery, is perhaps one of the most effective tools to consider life and its direction.
The most important event of this month is our Flower Festival, 15th-17th September. Community and church groups have been planning their displays, and they will bring their creative skills to bear as they interpret lines from F S Pierpoint's hymn of thanksgiving, “For the beauty of the earth”*. The Abbey Church lends itself so well to floral displays, and we can be assured of a feast for the eye. As we gaze on such beauty, may we be led to a greater awareness of our many blessings - including the abundance of creation and the gift of family and friends. The proceeds will go to Church Funds. The festival concludes with Choral Evensong at 5.30pm on Sunday 17 September.
Sunday 17th September is Harvest Thanksgiving at St Paul's, East Boldre. Following the morning service there will be a soup and cheese lunch. Sunday 24th September will be Harvest at St Katharine's, Exbury.
On Tuesday 26th September we shall be enjoying our benefice outing to the Isle of Wight. Following a guided tour of St Mildred's Church, Whippingham, and lunch at Godshill, we shall visit the Benedictine Abbey of our Lady at Quarr, where we shall join the community for Evening Prayer.
I am delighted that our churches are open daily for personal prayer and reflection. At the Abbey I am grateful to the team of welcomers on duty before the visitors to the Motor Museum arrive after noon. As you know, we have introduced religious books alongside the various items and gifts on sale at the back of church. This stock is renewed regularly, taking account of the church's seasons, and among other things, there are gifts appropriate for baptism and marriage. At the end of August we shall have installed a bespoke bookstall/cabinet. This was generously financed by Paul Nicholas, and crafted by Colin Kitcher. The nearby children's corner continues to be much appreciated by visitors, and by parents in church with children on Sundays. My thanks to Liz Wigfield who organises this area, and to Miranda Elliot who has begun preparing appropriate crafts once a month.
This month contains St Mathew's Day, the feast of St Michael and All Angels, and Thursday 14 September is Holy Cross Day. Traditionally, of course, Good Friday is the day when we focus on the cross. The Church gives us another day, outside Holy Week, to meditate on its mystery. One of the most famous depictions of the crucified Lord is that by Salvador Dali. Inspired by a sketch by John of the Cross, the crucified Lord is viewed from above. Instead of dwelling on the pain and dereliction of crucifixion, the artist seeks to accentuate the beauty of Christ, who is bathed in the light of the Father’s love, and triumphant in his death.
I am hoping that we shall have a benefice Confirmation Service in January. A number of people have already spoken to me about their desire to take this step in their faith, and make their own the promises made on their behalf at baptism. There will be some sessions by way of preparation, and we shall be using some of the Pilgrim course. If you are not yet confirmed and would like to know more, please speak to me. The date I have agreed with the Bishop is Sunday 14th January 2018, 10 am at the Abbey.
With the love and prayers of your parish priest.