The 4th Sunday in Lent, Sunday 11th March is Mothering Sunday. I am delighted that a member of staff from Beaulieu School will be our speaker at the 9.30am Abbey service. This year it will be a Holy Communion service, and suitable for families. There will be the usual 8.00am service at Buckler's Hard. Happily, and appropriately, the 11.15am service at St Katharine's Exbury on that day includes Holy Baptism, so very much a family service as well.
The last week of March is one of the most important and influential weeks in the Church’s calendar. Sunday 25th March is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. We shall begin at 9.30am outside Beaulieu Village School, where palm crosses will be distributed and blessed, and we hear the Gospel recalling our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Then we shall embark on a donkey-led procession through the village to the Abbey Church. Beaulieu Band will lead our singing. At the 10.30am benefice Holy Communion we resume our procession, waving our palms and singing "All glory, laud and honour to thee Redeemer, King". This service includes a dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel.
I always look forward to the walk whatever the weather! It is all the more poignant for its disorganised nature - capturing the spontaneity of our Lord’s entry into the city. Our procession is an opportunity to witness to the community, and is a powerful reminder to all of us of the significance of the week that is unfolding.
Thus Holy Week begins, which includes the sacred three days - the "Triduum" – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. On Maundy Thursday, the clergy and Licensed Readers of our diocese make their way to the cathedral, the "Mother" church, where they renew their ordination and ministerial vows. The Oils are blessed by the bishop, and brought back to the churches, to be used for anointing at Baptism and Confirmation, and to anoint the sick.
Maundy Thursday evening begins with all the joy of a usual sung Holy Communion, and ends with the altars stripped, the church bare; the reserved communion hosts reposing in a specially prepared garden in church – our Garden of Gethesmane, and a focus for silent prayer. We shall keep the Watch (Vigil) from 8-9pm, mindful of our Lord’s invitation to his disciples, "could you not watch with me one hour?"
On Good Friday there will be a Walk of Witness from St Paul's, East Boldre, to Hatchet Pond. In the afternoon, from 2-3pm, there will be a devotion at St Katharine's, Exbury. The Revd Lynda Mead will be leading "Tenebrae" (Latin "darkness"), a service of meditation on the "shadows" of Good Friday, and consisting of Bible Reading, singing and reflection. A feature of the service is the gradual extinguishing of candles and other lights in the church until only a single candle, a symbol of our Lord, remains.
In the evening, as part of the Music at Beaulieu programme, "Sarum Consort"will be treating us to 'Music for Holy Week'. The singers, who are drawn from various cathedral choirs, will sing Lenten music from the 11th - 20th century; their programme "built round Tallis's impassioned settings of 'Lamentations of Jeremiah'".
So there is much to look forward to and participate in as we continue to make our spiritual journey to Easter.
With the love and prayers of your Rector.