I am writing this having just attended a meeting of Beaulieu School Governors. Our business was interrupted briefly in order to move outside, where we joined the school community at the Village War Memorial for an Act of Remembrance. The children had made 100 cardboard poppies to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, which the Parish Council displayed in the Twinning Garden. This was one of the many poignant acts of Remembrance, including that at the Abbey Church, where all the seats were taken, and many people had to stand. It was a delight to see so many young people on this occasion.
Now suddenly a number of Christmas trees have appeared in the village heralding the Victorian Christmas Market. This is always a popular community event, and for some people marks the beginning of Christmas.
This is a combined December-January News. As 2018 draws to a close, may I take this opportunity to thank Jaki and John for their scrupulous attention to each edition. Thank you to those who, in submitting adverts, have provided valuable sponsorship; and to those who have contributed articles during the year. We are proud of the quality of this publication, which is only as good as the material that it showcases. Please continue to submit articles, support as you are able those whose adverts are contained herein, and let us know how you think we might continue to improve it and make the magazine attractive to a wide readership.
Jane Noble and I have begun preparations for the Crib service. This is one of the best attended services at the Abbey Church. We look forward to welcoming families at 4pm on Christmas Eve; and we hope that the children will come along wearing appropriate costumes - religious or seasonal!
During the lead up to Christmas, leaflets cascade through my letterbox. Among them I notice one to the parish from 'Crisis', and we're invited to open the enclosed card, “to see what £281.80 could do at Crisis at Christmas”. The poet, GK Chesterton, in his poem, “The House at Christmas”, wrote about the homeless Mary and Joseph - “There fared a mother driven forth Out of an inn to roam; In the place where she was homeless All men are home. The crazy stable close at hand, With shaking timber and shifting sand...” His words provide food for thought as we remember how, according to Crisis' latest literature, in 21st Britain, 236,000 will be stuck in crowded and unsafe places, sleeping on people's sofas, living in cars or tents – or even out on the streets; many will be feeling lonely, desperate and in danger. Crisis endeavours to open Christmas Centres to welcome as many homeless guests as they can. (www.crisis.org.uk/help)
The Abbey Choir, under Robin Phillips, are preparing for our service of Lessons and Carols. The service was conceived by the Bishop Edward Benson. Later it was modified for use in the chapel of King's College, Cambridge, the Bidding Prayer composed by its Dean, Eric Milner-White. The shape of the service is so familiar, and for many of us one of the great joys of Christmas is the act of worship recorded at King's. The Abbey Carol Service will be at 6pm on Sunday 23 December. Exbury's Congregational Carol Service will take place at 11.15am on the same day. East Boldre's service will be at 6.30pm on Christmas Eve. Please consult the diary for details of all the Benefice Christmas and New Year services.
NB Sunday 30 December is a 5th Sunday, and the united benefice service will be 10.00am Holy Communion at the Abbey Church.
In 2019 we intend to start a short series of Lunchtime Organ Recitals. They will be from 1pm-1.45pm during February and March. Soup and bread will be available. Proceeds from the recitals will be towards the upkeep of the Abbey Church. Further details to follow in the weekly news sheets and on the benefice website. The provisional dates are: Thursdays 7, 14 and 21 February. Wednesdays 13, 20, 27 March.
“Almighty God, you make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of your Son Jesus Christ: grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold him when he shall come to be our judge; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen”.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas, and a healthy and fulfilling 2019..