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.

February 2014

I want to share with you elements of a message which I together with a number of other people received from the bishop of Winchester at Christmas.

Bishop Tim wrote “The past year has been remarkable. To me, it feels a bit as if the glory of the Lord has appeared among us. At the Diocesan Synod Conference in September, I realised that it had been two years to the day since my appointment as Bishop of Winchester was announced. So much has happened already as we have sought and seen the Holy Spirit at work among us. What lies ahead may appear daunting; but don’t be afraid, it’s good news.

In September, through our synodical representatives, we listened to the Holy Spirit and agreed what we are trying to achieve:

Under God, delighting in His grace and rooted in the Diocesan rule of life, we will be a Diocese in which:

    1. We grow authentic disciples;
    2. We re-imagine the Church;
    3. We are agents of social transformation;
    4. We belong together in Christ, practising sacrificial living and good stewardship of all that God has entrusted to us.

Now we are beginning to plan for how we go about achieving these four strategic priorities. 


Working with the Bishop’s Staff Team, the Rural / Area Deans and the Lay Chairs of Deanery Synods, we have begun to map out what this might look like in the year ahead. We have already begun to make some structural changes, getting our framework right. We’ve started drawing up role descriptions for all existing senior posts, and we’ve created some new ones too. We’re hoping, very soon, to appoint an Archdeacon for Mission Development, an innovative new position heading up five areas of responsibility:

2.

    1. The School of Mission, the Bishop’s seat of teaching for all forms of lay and ordained mission and ministry;
    2. ‘Sodal’ ministry and communities, including pioneers, evangelists, chaplaincies and some fresh expressions of church;
    3. Social enterprise, working in collaboration with key partners to transform our communities;
    4. Education, including our schools and the colleges and universities in the Diocese;
    5. World mission partnerships, including our links with the five Anglican provinces and the Diocese of Newcastle. 


We’re also hoping, in the next year, to take some practical next steps. I’m hoping that, in one way or another, we’ll all be taking part in the Diocesan Lent Course 2014, exploring together what we are being called to do and how we are going to do it. We’re also going to begin to develop a Diocesan Rule of Life, inspired by our deep Benedictine heritage, which will help to resource our new vision and mission. Professor Sarah Foot of Christ Church College, Oxford, an Ecclesiastical Historian with a particular interest in the Benedictine movement, is going to help and inspire us with her Lent Lectures.

We’re hoping to have a social enterprise company established as a subsidiary of the Diocesan Board of Finance by early in 2014, while Deaneries and Parishes will be exploring how Mission Action Plans can help to deliver the key priorities in the variety of local contexts across this Diocese.

There is plenty going on – and we’re all part of it. Inevitably some of this will be uncomfortable. We will be stretched and challenged; some things will be revitalised, other things will need to change. But we pray for the glory of the Lord to shine around us, and through us, and out into the communities we represent.

Is this wonderful, or terrifying? Don’t be afraid; it’s good news!”

3.

Picking up on the Lent course, I am going to run two in parallel – one on Tuesday evenings in the Church Room at East Boldre and a second after the Wednesday morning Holy Communion Service in Beaulieu. Last year this was followed by a bread and soup lunch which went down very well and so will be repeated. Further details will be in next month’s magazine.

Finally, the Abbey Church Heating Project is cranking into action. With regard to the fund raising, with the £30,000 which the PCC had reserved and a further £21,000 so far collected we still have some way to go towards the £90,000 target.

On Palm Sunday Jonathan, Bishop of Southampton is coming to re-open the Church and also dedicate the Cross in the Niche. Just as the latter has been generously paid for without any recourse to the PCC’s funds so it will a mark of the responsibility which the parish takes for it’s church if the same can be said of the heating improvements by the time the work is complete.

Bishop Tim is not the only one who puts his trust in God and believes in the goodness of people – as Parish Priest here for the past seven years I share that faith.

Ryc.