November 2017


“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.