From the Rectory June 2021

The pair of swans about which I wrote last month have become parents...four tiny, fluffy, cute cygnets nestle in the feathers of the Pen; two eggs are yet to crack open.

Following our benefice Annual Meetings, Adam Mills and Sally Brearley, Dr Graham Sterling, and Brian Hernaman and David Hughes were elected churchwardens. Thank you to them, and to those serving as PCC members this year.

On 17th June 1246, some 42 years after its construction was begun, Beaulieu Abbey was dedicated. The service was conducted by the Bishop of Winchester in the presence of King John's son, King Henry III, his wife Queen Eleanor, their son, Prince Edward, the Abbot Alcius de Gisors, and the bishops of Bath and Wells, Exeter and Chichester. Although the Cisterican Monastery is now largely ruined, nevertheless the remaining buildings and stones remind us of what was once one of the wonders of Christendom. Belinda, Lady Montagu's wall hangings in the Domus provide us with a vivid record of the Abbey's history. It was a seat of learning, religious works being copied and illuminated. Fugitives could claim sanctuary at Beaulieu, so long as they remained within the precincts. Although the monks were not medically trained, nevertheless a garden in the Cloister includes many medicinal herbs used to treat various complaints.

It is a privilege to worship in the monk's former Refectory. There has, in the history of the Church, always been a deep relationship between buildings and those who use them. Buildings can express our feelings of profound hope or faith. There has always been sacred space where God has spoken, and holy ground where the only appropriate response is worship; as T.S. Eliot expressed it in his 'Four Quartets', “where prayer has been valid”.

St Paul uses the image of a building in a more specifically spiritual way. He speaks not of a physical building, but of the people of God as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. He says that we are the building, and each one of us is a living stone. As such, we support each other by living for each other; by being there for one another. We give thanks for our Cistercian heritage, for the first monks who journeyed from Citeaux to Beaulieu, and for those worshippers whose prayers through the centuries have made this hallowed ground.

Congratulations to Marion Loveland who celebrates her 100th birthday on Sunday 6th June. Following the 9.30am service refreshments will be served in the Cloister – weather permitting.

 

With my love and prayers,

Father John

 

From the Rectory May 2021

As you know we shall be producing three editions of the Benefice News, the first of which appears later in the year. A more substantial Bulletin will now appear on the last Sunday of each month, offering news and the next month's diary. I am grateful to Sally and Elizabeth for producing this first edition.

As I write, a pair of swans are preparing for parenthood on the pond next to the Rectory. Their nest has taken shape over the weeks, the pen busily collecting feathers and twigs; she now perches expectantly... Just over the fence from them buds are bursting forth, the garden heralding new life and potential. Following further easing of the lockdown and greater opportunities for reunions, shopping and outdoor hospitality, we can feel optimistic, though we need to heed the warnings to be cautious.

Philip Baxter officially resigned as Director of Music in March 2020, and during the last year it has proved impossible to sustain a choir. Church and community choirs have been unable to sing together. In the wake of these imposed restrictions, it seemed sensible to disband our choir and to look forward to new leadership. I know you would want to join me in thanking the choir for their commitment and service. Having placed the advert for a Director of Music, I am pleased to say that I have already received some response.

The Easter season lasts some fifty days - forty days will lead us to Ascension Day - and culminates, on the fiftieth day, in the feast of Pentecost. Throughout the Easter season the Paschal Candle continues to occupy a prominent place in church, symbolising Christ's risen presence with us. On the Sundays of Easter, we discover in our readings from 'Acts of the Apostles' how the early Christians lived in the power of the resurrection, how the fledgling church began to find its feet; and we learn what faith in the resurrected Christ can do.

We look forward, with the cob and pen, to what gifts the future will bring us...

With my love and prayers.

Fr John.