September 2018

As I write this month, the workmen have just completed the refurbishment of the Abbey Church kitchen. This has been a priority for several years and I am delighted that we have now succeeded in this venture. Although not a catering kitchen, we have nevertheless increased the cooking potential with a new four-ringed hob, oven, and microwave-combi oven. We have maximised the limited space, creating a stable door for additional serving, and improving the storage facilities in and around the area. This project has been made possible by the generosity of Mr Edward Fort OBE, and we are immensely grateful to Ted for his kindness. We look forward to upcoming social events in the hall, including the September Rector's Lunch, and December's “Turkey and Tinsel”.

Sunday 2nd September will be Peter Hackston's last Sunday as Director of Music at the Abbey Church, a post he has held for the last ten years, having been a chorister for several years before that. He has occasionally acted as cantor during services when we have appreciated his lovely solo voice, and as an accomplished brass player, has often played the Last Post during the Act of Remembrance. We thank Peter for his faithfulness and commitment during these years. A collection has been organised by the churchwardens, and we shall be making a presentation to him on his last Sunday in post, at which service he will be organist. Robin Phillips has kindly agreed to oversee the choir until the end of the year, and this will provide us with leadership and continuity, and enable the choir to prepare for the imminent major services, including Christmas. Please remember our church musicians in your prayers, and pray that God will direct the right person to succeed Peter in this significant post.

Whilst we are considering things musical, I want to thank Martin Penrose, organist of St Thomas' Lymington, who gave us an excellent recital in August, and which I hope will lead to a series of lunchtime organ recitals.

As a choirboy I remember with great excitement preparing for the Winchester Choir Festival. We came from all over the diocese, having spent weeks in our home parishes preparing the repertoire; following a mass rehearsal in the cathedral on the Saturday and tea, it culminated in the glorious public act of worship. This year the festival takes place on Saturday 29th September; the worship, to which everyone is welcome, is at 5.30pm. I look forward to seeing some of you there.

The Trustees of the “East Boldre Educational Charity” will be meeting in October. Its purpose is to promote the education, including social and physical training, of children resident in the parish of East Boldre. Applications for grants may be directed to me, or to Mrs Jan Saunders, c/o The Benefice Office, Beaulieu.

At the end of this month we celebrate the feast of St Michael and All Angels. The word 'angel' comes from the Greek for 'messenger'. The Bible tells us that angels are from God - spirits created before humankind. In the Old Testament angels are often called “the heavenly host”, an imaginary army of soldiers who fight for God against the forces of evil. Jacob dreams of a ladder set up on the earth, the top reaching to heaven; and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. The angels in the dream were intermediaries, conveying to God the prayers of the people of Bethel. Jesus himself quotes from this vision when talking about Nathaniel praying under the fig tree (John 1.51). Over and over in the Bible, angels are said to bring people messages from God, warning them of danger, or instructing them in the way they should go.

Evidently aware of the community's failure to demonstrate a warm welcome, the writer to the Hebrews warns “Do not neglect to show hospitality; by doing so, some have entertained angels unawares”. (Hebrews 13.2). Down the centuries, artists have had free reign, painting beautifullly winged, harped and haloed beings. In our own time, who, when visiting Coventry, could not fail to appreciate John Hutton's expressionist work in the Cathedral's great west window, or be impressed by Jacob Epstein's bronze depicting St Michael overwhelming Satan.

My first vicar used to say that St Michael and All Angels' Day was invariably overlooked; lost among the cauliflowers and marrows – coming as it does during the period observed as Harvest Thanksgiving. Happily this year the day need not, and it is the Saturday before our Combined Benefice Service, so we shall observe it on that Sunday. Please note this will be at the later time of 10am and at St Paul's, East Boldre. This will be the main service for the benefice. There will, however, be the usual 8am service at Buckler's Hard.

With my love and prayers.