- Published: Thursday, 08 February 2018 13:22
A Happy New Year to all our readers. Christmas is now a distant memory as we resume our routines and begin to work our way through the early months of 2018. We talk about the twelve days of Christmas, ending with the feast of the Epiphany. In fact the Church observes a much longer period - forty days - culminating in the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple on 2nd February. We recall how Jesus' parents brought him to the Temple to do for their first born son what was required by the Law of Moses. It is at the time of that event and rite of passage that the aged and faithful Anna and Simeon arrive on the stage and recognise their Lord. The Presentation is a pivotal feast day: both looking back to Christmas and the joy of Jesus' birth; and looking forward to the coming days of his passion. Thus the crib remains in place until February, its wooden structure a poignant pointer to the wood of the cross. As we observe during the Good Friday Liturgy as a simple cross is brought into our midst, “This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the Saviour of the world. Come, let us worship”.
Among the Christmas presents that arrived at the Rectory was one for “Wesley”; beautifully wrapped, it came with best wishes “from the dogs of Dock Lane”. It was a scented Parisien Pomander; the Rectory has never smelled so sweet! The Abbey Church is about to smell as sweet.....
Incense has been offered in worship for centuries. Frankincense was among the mysterious and valuable gifts offered to the infant Jesus by the Magi – “Incense owns a deity nigh”. Good Liturgy is constructed to engage our whole self, to stimulate all our senses, and feed our imagination. One of the elements of good liturgy is, for example, the use of colour. Every Sunday we feast our eyes on magnificent flower dispays, beautiful and colourful altar hangings and vestments. Movement is also important, as the opening procession draws us into the unfolding drama of the Eucharist. Singing and chanting stimulate the sense of hearing. Sweet smelling incense encourages more participation. I still remember the first time I experienced “Rosa Mystica” at St Thomas', Lymington. Made exclusively at Alton Abbey, the smell captivated this young lad as the thurible swung, its chains tinkling as clouds rose to the rafters of the church. In the Book of Revelation, the burning of incense is an important part of the worship of heaven. The Sunday Eucharist is nothing less than a foretaste of life in heaven.
Of course the use of incense is nothing new at the Abbey Church. As from February, we shall be using it on the 2nd Sunday of the month.
Wednesday 14th February is both St Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday - the beginning of Lent. The forty days of Lent encourage us to grow in faith and devotion to our Lord. As well as the usual 10.30am service, there will be a 7pm Eucharist at the Abbey with ashing.
Jane Barnicoat-Chongwe and I will be running the Lent groups on the Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Lent. Using a course on Prayer by Robert Warren and Kate Bruce, we shall be considering the themes: Prayer as relationship, as enjoying God, as listening, as worship, as care. For all of us, prayer can seem like hard work or a bit of a mystery. Wherever we are on our faith journey, this course encourages joy and delight in prayer. The sessions include Bible Study and discussion. If you have never experienced a Lent group, do please consider it.
The Tuesday group will meet at the Rectory from 7pm-8.15pm. Our first session will be Tuesday 20th February. The Wednesday group will meet in the Abbey Room at 11.30am, following the morning service. A light lunch will be available at 12.30am, and we shall be away promptly by 1.30pm. I hope you will be able to join us for one of these sessions. The material will be the same for both morning and evening, so feel free to mix and match. NB There will be no Tuesday meeting on 20th March, but a combined session at lunchtime on Wednesday 21st March.
Each year the Trustees of the East Boldre Educational Charity disperse funds in accordance with the Trust's Deed. It's objectives are reviewed annually, but the purpose of the Charity is “to promote the education, including the social and physical training, of Church of England children resident in East Boldre”. Applications for grants may be made to me, as Chairman of the Trustees, or addressed to Mrs Jan Saunders c/o Beaulieu Abbey Church Office. The Trustees will be meeting on Thursday 1st March.
As I type this, January 2018 marks the centenary of the loss of submarine G8 in the 1st World War. It left for a patrol in the North Sea but failed to return and it is believed fell victim to a mine on or around 14th January. It has never been found. Sub-Lieutenant Philip Armstrong of Oxleys, Beaulieu, was a member of the crew and in his memory the wooden Calvary which stood at the south end was erected by Sir Frank and Lady Armstrong. It was the only memorial to the loss of G8. Over the years the wooden parts of the memorial have been damaged by wind and rain and in 2007 a new stone cross took its place. Some of the wooden cross was used to produce the red cross which now stands behind the High Altar. The figures now stand beside the altar in the Gallery Chapel.
On Thursday 15th March, 7.15pm-9pm, we shall be holding a FORUM at the Abbey Church. Based on the format of BBC's “Question Time”, an invited panel will respond to questions from the floor. The subject for the evening will be “NHS – crisis or opportunity.” Tickets will be £10. Further details to follow via the Benefice News, Beaulieu Churches website, and weekly newsheets.
With the love and prayers of your parish priest.