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)



July 2017

Canon Michael Joint writes.... 

All congregations are made up of individuals who, by working together, are able to further the work of Christ's Church. The strength of the Church lies in the way in which its individual members can work together. Human nature being what it is, means that all too easily different temperaments can upset to the smooth-working of the whole. We are all different and it is by no means certain that we can blend together. Each of us has his or her particular talents and these can blend together to enrich the life of the Church. A congregation is made up of people of different backgrounds and political views; extroverts, introverts, and yet capable of being blended together to do the work of God and to follow the guidance given by Jesus Christ and to spread the Gospel. 

I ask myself where will this blend be found, and how can it be enabled? Surely, it is through the Holy Spirit that we come back to the gifts of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness, Faithfulness, Humility and Self-control. These gifts are made available to us if we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and not hesitant and holding back. The Holy Spirit is the dominating factor which makes the Church different from many other organisations in the world. It is indeed true that even after 2000 years, we still find ourselves experiencing the effects initiated on that first Pentecost. Our task is to build on all the best that has been achieved in the past; and what we can do in 2017, and in the years to come, is of vital importance if we are to hand on the strength of the Church to those who follow us. 

We are assured that through the power of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible. The future is God's and in our hands; we are not expected to strive on our own, for Jesus Christ our Risen Lord and Saviour is always with us.

 With prayerful good wishes,

 Fr Michael Joint 

O eternal God, the refuge and help of all your children, in our weakness you are our strength, in our darkness, you are our light; in our sorrow you are our comfort and peace. We cannot number your blessings, we cannot declare your love, for all your goodness we bless you. May we ever live in your presence and love the things you love, and serve you with the service of our daily lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Prayer of St Boniface)

 

 

April 2017

From the Rectory 

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”                                                              [Ecclesiastes 3.1-8]

These well-known verses were printed on the front of a card sent to me following the death of my beloved Labrador, “Barclay”, just before Christmas. The extract comes from Ecclesiastes, part of the Old Testament’s so-called “Wisdom Literature”, in which the writer observes life, facing it with realism and reaching various conclusions. The writer seems to state the obvious, that changes and challenges happen to us all, though we might question the timing. “Barclay” had been my companion for over thirteen years, my second dog since Ordination, and as the weeks have gone by, and after many tears, I can now appreciate his last amazingly happy year with me in Beaulieu. I know, of course, that he wasn’t human, but he was my baby!

Thankfulness and tears can come in the self-same moment. For one bereaved, a tune heard out of the blue on the radio can be at once comforting and heart-breaking. Breaking down and building up; mourning and dancing, seeking and losing, war and peace, loving and hating, these seasons are not always opposite, but rather intimately woven together. Life is seldom neat and packaged as we would wish it to be. But the Incarnation is about the God who chose to come among us in Jesus Christ, taking us by the hand, leading us, and being alongside us in all the joys and muddles and seasons of our life. The one who shows us, paradoxically, that in losing our lives and dying to self we can discover life in all its fullness.

As we approach the season of Spring, we are not yet even thinking of Lent and Passiontide because this year Easter Day falls unusually late in mid-April, despite the creme eggs on the shelves in our supermarkets before New Year's Eve!

For the greater part of February, the liturgical colour for altar frontals and vestments is green, the colour of growth and new life and renewal. “A time to plant...to build up...to heal." Already sunrise is more than 30 minutes earlier than on the shortest day, and we can enjoy an hour's more daylight before nightfall than on Wednesday 21 December 2016.

Nationally, we can also anticipate seasons of change, as the implications of Brexit become a reality. There can be no greater prayer than, "...a time for peace.." in our troubled and complex world.

Looking ahead to March, may I flag up an event in the Abbey Church on Saturday 18 March at 7.00 pm. The Revd Donald Reeves MBE, former Rector of St James’ Piccadilly, and founder director of “Soul of Europe”, (described as: “A visionary with attitude” – Jack Dee. “A very dangerous man” – Baroness Thatcher), he will give a presentation entitled “Peacebuilding and Bach”. Donald will be playing some of Bach‘s chorale preludes, interspersed with stories of peacebuilding in the Balkans. Further details next month, but please put the date in your diary; we are assured of an insightful and challenging evening.

With the love and prayers of your Rector.

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