December 2017

 

FROM THE RECTORY

This is a combined edition. Our Benefice News can only be as good as those who contribute to it. Thank you to those who have provided articles throughout the year - including clergy, parishioners, local reporters, authors, researchers and photographers. Thank you to our advertisers and sponsors, and importantly, thank you to you, our readers. Our thanks to Jaki and John who each month have received our copy and produced excellent editions.

As I write, charity literature continues to drop through the letterbox encouraging my support this Christmas; which is a particularly difficult time for those who find themselves homeless. Among the leaflets – actually one of the few that didn't end up contributing to “Wesley”'s teething routine - was one from “Crisis at Christmas”. It claims that some 160,000 households across Britain are experiencing the worst forms of homelessness. A recent article in the “Lymington Times” (10 November), draws on the charity Shelter's figures, reporting that the New Forest is among the top 50 areas of the UK with the highest rates of homeless people. “Crisis at Christmas Charity” is running a “Table” scheme; each 'place' providing company, three nutritious meals, a bed for the night if necessary, a health check, advice on housing and employment, and access to year-round training and support. Remarkably, in 2016, the charity enabled 37,552 meals to be served, and provided 797 health checks. All this and more for the modest sum of £26.80.

As you know the Waterside Winter Night Shelter is due to open on 1st December. Whilst we shall not be providing a venue, nevertheless several of you have kindly volunteered to help with this project. Our PCC's agree the charities we support for the year. I know that many of us have our own 'pet' charities that are close to our hearts. Whatever the demands and pleas, we cannot do everything. Thank you for supporting our church charities as generously as you have this last year.

December contains the four Sundays of the season of Advent. 3rd December is Advent Sunday. On the one hand, we are anticipating the joy and pleasures of Christmas: the renewing of friendships, the parties and the presents. On the other hand, the Church tells us that Advent is a season of restraint and penitence: reflected in the absence of flowers, the solemn purple altar hangings and vestments. The Gloria is not sung until its joyful explosion at the Midnight Mass of Christmas. Christians have always rejoiced at the birth of Jesus from the earliest days, but have also always had in mind the Second Coming of Jesus - ‘in glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead”, as the Collect puts it. Thus Advent has encouraged the faithful to reflect on the themes of Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell, the so-called “Four Last Things.”

You will find in this edition details of our benefice Christmas services. This year Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday. There will be no 9.30am service in the Abbey Church because there will be the benefice Midnight Mass. There will, however, be a 8am Holy Communion at Buckler's Hard, and the 11.15am Carol Service at Exbury. The benefice Crib Service will take place at 4pm.

On Christmas Day there will be an 8am service at Buckler's Hard, a shortened Holy Communion with carols at the Abbey Church, and Holy Communion at 11.15am at East Boldre.

This edition straddles both 2017 and 2018. I find myself looking forward to a new year wondering what it will bring, both excited and not a little anxious. We have no way of knowing what lies ahead. Certainly 2017 has been momentous, including the Referendum and the decision to exit Europe; all this will need to be worked out further in the coming year. I hope it will be a happy and healthy one for my family. I find myself recalling ML Haskins' words, spoken by George VI in his 1939 Christmas broadcast, “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.' And he replied: 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'”

The most important event of January 2018 is our Confirmation Service at the Abbey Church on Sunday 14th January. It will be the only morning service of the day. Please note the later start - 10am - and make every effort to come and support those who are taking this next and important step on their spiritual pilgrimage. There will be Evensong at 4.30pm.

I look forward to seeing you at one of our services during the Christmas period.

With every blessing for Christmas and the New Year.

 

November 2017

FROM THE RECTORY

“Wesley” continues to grow apace and as I type he is nudging my knees, anxious for attention and exercise. Over the weeks I have seen him increase in confidence. He makes me laugh: he does not like the sound of motor-bikes, but delights in the metallic noise of his empty food dish, which he rolls and chases around the kitchen. Now when I lose a bunch of keys, the first place to check is his bed; the TV remote has become a favourite gadget to chew. Recently, I was amused to see him poised in front BBC's “Strictly Come Dancing”; like the celebrity contestants, he also responds to encouragement and praise – but I've noticed the message penetrates quicker when accompanied by a tasty morsel!

This month includes Remembrance Sunday. On Sunday 12th November there will be Morning Prayer at 10am at the Abbey Church, followed by the Act of Remembrance at the War Memorial. Our preacher will be The Revd Canon Ray Hubble. At 3pm there will be Evensong at St Paul's, East Boldre, followed by an Act of Remembrance in the churchyard. Please note, there will be no evening service at the Abbey.

Our second Rector's Benefice Lunch – 12.30pm for 1pm - takes place on Sunday 25th November. If you have not yet experienced it, do join us. Further details on our weekly newsheets.

We shall be having a benefice Confirmation service on Sunday 14th January 2018. The Bishop of Southampton will be coming to the Abbey Church to conduct it. The Christian faith is a journey. The service derives its meaning from baptism. At our baptism parents and godparents publicly declared on our behalf that they believed in God, and that they would encourage us to grow in the faith of the Church. At Confirmation, candidates 'confirm' from their own mouths those earlier promises, and their decision to live a life of committed discipleship. Those who have been confirmed are then able to receive the bread and wine at the Holy Communion. I have been pleased to receive several names already, but it is not too late to be included; please speak to me as soon as possible. Our first session will be at the Rectory, 7.30pm-8.30pm on Friday 17th November. I hope that you will be able to join us, as we seek to encourage one another, and build up each other in the way of Christ.

Thursday 30th November is the feast of St Andrew the Apostle. The Gospel tells us that after the fisherman encountered Jesus, he knew he could not keep it to himself, and excitedly rushed off to fetch Simon-Peter. Thus Andrew, Peter, James and John were launched on their journey of faith, prepared to leave everything behind in order to throw in their lot with the One who had been promised from of old. In the words of a hymn we shall sing during Advent - “Hark! The glad sound the Saviour comes, the Saviour promised long. Let every heart prepare a throne, and every voice a song”. It would not be a simple, straightforward road, and those first disciples would have to learn the way of Christ-like sacrificial love; Andrew himself would be martyred in Greece. Each of us, marked by the cross at baptism, is similarly challenged to consider what fidelity to Christ and the Gospel might look like for us personally. Significantly, the Sunday before Andrew's feast day is called “Christ the King”. Bringing to an end the long season of Trinity, we are directed to the costly, self-giving love of the King whose coming we proclaim during the purple season of Advent.

On Saturday 2nd December, the eve of Advent Sunday, we have arranged an outing to Winchester Cathedral for their Advent Procession. This service, a perfect preparation for the season of Advent, begins in darkness and ends in the light. Sung by the cathedral choir, it combines beautiful music, candlelight, readings from Scripture, and some of the Church's oldest and most beautiful hymns. I hope that you will be able to join us. Further details about the coach trip will be posted on the benefice website and through the weekly newsheets.

With my love and prayers.

September 2017

 

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.

 

 

August 2017


From the Rectory....

At school we delighted in singing the round, “Sumer is icumen in: Lhude sing cuccu”. Probably mid-thirteenth century, it is one of the earliest pieces of music to integrate both secular and religious words. Summer is here, and as I write, children, teachers and parents are looking forward to the holidays. At Beaulieu School, the children of Years 5 and 6 are rehearsing for their summer presentation, “Pirates of the Curry Bean”, a comical take on the fantasy Caribbean characters. 

University results have been published, and graduation ceremonies are taking place. Some of you have shared news of how family members have fared. Among the successes is Fr Michael's grandson, Ben, who achieved a 1st class degree from Aberystwyth University. Congratulations to him and to his sister Sian, whose exam result in catering has been rewarded with a permanent post at a London hotel. At the end of the summer, Isabel Brearley takes up a  post as Graduate Music Assistant at King's School Bruton, in Somerset. A professional musician, Tiggy has delighted us with her beautiful oboe playing, both in our Sunday worship and in Recitals. She will be returning to Beaulieu as her commitments permit, and continue to be involved in our motet group “Chorale”. We wish her well. 

Like July, August is a month of recreation – or re-creation; the pace of life relaxes. How we choose to spend our times of recreation is down to personal choice and preference. Jesus merely sought a few hours of rest and solitude for his disciples, but for others much longer periods are a must. Importantly, 're-creation' is only effective if the end result enables us to be refreshed, renewed, and ready to face new challenges and goals. Restoration, through a short change of scene, a period of alternative physical or mental activity, or a much longer period overseas, is essential to refresh our jaded minds and bodies. The pattern of our church services continues even during holiday months, and whether we are on holiday or not, it is a reminder that the discipline and joy of corporate worship is the context for our life as Christians. Our faithful attendance at these services is simply a reflection of God's eternal faithfulness towards us. 

Having finished their initial training and achieved safeguarding certificates, our benefice visitors are beginning their ministry. They do so with my authority, and will be carrying photo and card identification. If you would appreciate a visit, or know someone who would, please let me have their name and contact details. 

At 6.30pm on Sunday 13th August we are holding a “Songs of Praise” in the Abbey ruins. It will be led by Hugh Ashley who was for 20 years presenter/producer at BBC Radio Solent. Many of us remember his popular programme, “Ancient and Modern”. Hugh has conducted about 1200 hymn singing events across the south of England and in West Wales in the last 35 years. I look forward to seeing you there. The Abbey Choir will lead the singing, and Beaulieu Band will be providing musical accompaniment. (If the weather is not conducive, we shall be in the church.) 

With the love and prayers of your parish priest. Father John

O God our Father, we thank you for the times of rest from the normal daily round. We pray that those who are on holiday at this time may be enabled to find the threefold recreation of body, mind and spirit that will strengthen them for your service in the days that lie ahead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (B.Woolf)