March 2018

The 4th Sunday in Lent, Sunday 11th March is Mothering Sunday. I am delighted that a member of staff from Beaulieu School will be our speaker at the 9.30am Abbey service. This year it will be a Holy Communion service, and suitable for families. There will be the usual 8.00am service at Buckler's Hard. Happily, and appropriately, the 11.15am service at St Katharine's Exbury on that day includes Holy Baptism, so very much a family service as well.

The last week of March is one of the most important and influential weeks in the Church’s calendar. Sunday 25th March is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. We shall begin at 9.30am outside Beaulieu Village School, where palm crosses will be distributed and blessed, and we hear the Gospel recalling our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Then we shall embark on a donkey-led procession through the village to the Abbey Church. Beaulieu Band will lead our singing. At the 10.30am benefice Holy Communion we resume our procession, waving our palms and singing "All glory, laud and honour to thee Redeemer, King". This service includes a dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel.

I always look forward to the walk whatever the weather! It is all the more poignant for its disorganised nature - capturing the spontaneity of our Lord’s entry into the city. Our procession is an opportunity to witness to the community, and is a powerful reminder to all of us of the significance of the week that is unfolding.

Thus Holy Week begins, which includes the sacred three days - the "Triduum" – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. On Maundy Thursday, the clergy and Licensed Readers of our diocese make their way to the cathedral, the "Mother" church, where they renew their ordination and ministerial vows. The Oils are blessed by the bishop, and brought back to the churches, to be used for anointing at Baptism and Confirmation, and to anoint the sick.

Maundy Thursday evening begins with all the joy of a usual sung Holy Communion, and ends with the altars stripped, the church bare; the reserved communion hosts reposing in a specially prepared garden in church – our Garden of Gethesmane, and a focus for silent prayer. We shall keep the Watch (Vigil) from 8-9pm, mindful of our Lord’s invitation to his disciples, "could you not watch with me one hour?"

On Good Friday there will be a Walk of Witness from St Paul's, East Boldre, to Hatchet Pond. In the afternoon, from 2-3pm, there will be a devotion at St Katharine's, Exbury. The Revd Lynda Mead will be leading "Tenebrae" (Latin "darkness"), a service of meditation on the "shadows" of Good Friday, and consisting of Bible Reading, singing and reflection. A feature of the service is the gradual extinguishing of candles and other lights in the church until only a single candle, a symbol of our Lord, remains.

In the evening, as part of the Music at Beaulieu programme, "Sarum Consort"will be treating us to 'Music for Holy Week'. The singers, who are drawn from various cathedral choirs, will sing Lenten music from the 11th - 20th century; their programme "built round Tallis's impassioned settings of 'Lamentations of Jeremiah'".

So there is much to look forward to and participate in as we continue to make our spiritual journey to Easter.

With the love and prayers of your Rector.

February 2018

A Happy New Year to all our readers. Christmas is now a distant memory as we resume our routines and begin to work our way through the early months of 2018. We talk about the twelve days of Christmas, ending with the feast of the Epiphany. In fact the Church observes a much longer period - forty days - culminating in the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple on 2nd February. We recall how Jesus' parents brought him to the Temple to do for their first born son what was required by the Law of Moses. It is at the time of that event and rite of passage that the aged and faithful Anna and Simeon arrive on the stage and recognise their Lord. The Presentation is a pivotal feast day: both looking back to Christmas and the joy of Jesus' birth; and looking forward to the coming days of his passion. Thus the crib remains in place until February, its wooden structure a poignant pointer to the wood of the cross. As we observe during the Good Friday Liturgy as a simple cross is brought into our midst, “This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the Saviour of the world. Come, let us worship”.

Among the Christmas presents that arrived at the Rectory was one for “Wesley”; beautifully wrapped, it came with best wishes “from the dogs of Dock Lane”. It was a scented Parisien Pomander; the Rectory has never smelled so sweet! The Abbey Church is about to smell as sweet.....

Incense has been offered in worship for centuries. Frankincense was among the mysterious and valuable gifts offered to the infant Jesus by the Magi – “Incense owns a deity nigh”. Good Liturgy is constructed to engage our whole self, to stimulate all our senses, and feed our imagination. One of the elements of good liturgy is, for example, the use of colour. Every Sunday we feast our eyes on magnificent flower dispays, beautiful and colourful altar hangings and vestments. Movement is also important, as the opening procession draws us into the unfolding drama of the Eucharist. Singing and chanting stimulate the sense of hearing. Sweet smelling incense encourages more participation. I still remember the first time I experienced “Rosa Mystica” at St Thomas', Lymington. Made exclusively at Alton Abbey, the smell captivated this young lad as the thurible swung, its chains tinkling as clouds rose to the rafters of the church. In the Book of Revelation, the burning of incense is an important part of the worship of heaven. The Sunday Eucharist is nothing less than a foretaste of life in heaven.

Of course the use of incense is nothing new at the Abbey Church. As from February, we shall be using it on the 2nd Sunday of the month.

Wednesday 14th February is both St Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday - the beginning of Lent. The forty days of Lent encourage us to grow in faith and devotion to our Lord. As well as the usual 10.30am service, there will be a 7pm Eucharist at the Abbey with ashing.

Jane Barnicoat-Chongwe and I will be running the Lent groups on the Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Lent. Using a course on Prayer by Robert Warren and Kate Bruce, we shall be considering the themes: Prayer as relationship, as enjoying God, as listening, as worship, as care. For all of us, prayer can seem like hard work or a bit of a mystery. Wherever we are on our faith journey, this course encourages joy and delight in prayer. The sessions include Bible Study and discussion. If you have never experienced a Lent group, do please consider it.

The Tuesday group will meet at the Rectory from 7pm-8.15pm. Our first session will be Tuesday 20th February. The Wednesday group will meet in the Abbey Room at 11.30am, following the morning service. A light lunch will be available at 12.30am, and we shall be away promptly by 1.30pm. I hope you will be able to join us for one of these sessions. The material will be the same for both morning and evening, so feel free to mix and match. NB There will be no Tuesday meeting on 20th March, but a combined session at lunchtime on Wednesday 21st March.

Each year the Trustees of the East Boldre Educational Charity disperse funds in accordance with the Trust's Deed. It's objectives are reviewed annually, but the purpose of the Charity is “to promote the education, including the social and physical training, of Church of England children resident in East Boldre”. Applications for grants may be made to me, as Chairman of the Trustees, or addressed to Mrs Jan Saunders c/o Beaulieu Abbey Church Office. The Trustees will be meeting on Thursday 1st March.

As I type this, January 2018 marks the centenary of the loss of submarine G8 in the 1st World War. It left for a patrol in the North Sea but failed to return and it is believed fell victim to a mine on or around 14th January. It has never been found. Sub-Lieutenant Philip Armstrong of Oxleys, Beaulieu, was a member of the crew and in his memory the wooden Calvary which stood at the south end was erected by Sir Frank and Lady Armstrong. It was the only memorial to the loss of G8. Over the years the wooden parts of the memorial have been damaged by wind and rain and in 2007 a new stone cross took its place. Some of the wooden cross was used to produce the red cross which now stands behind the High Altar. The figures now stand beside the altar in the Gallery Chapel.

On Thursday 15th March, 7.15pm-9pm, we shall be holding a FORUM at the Abbey Church. Based on the format of BBC's “Question Time”, an invited panel will respond to questions from the floor. The subject for the evening will be “NHS – crisis or opportunity.” Tickets will be £10. Further details to follow via the Benefice News, Beaulieu Churches website, and weekly newsheets.

With the love and prayers of your parish priest.

December 2017



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


“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.