From the Rectory
February 2009

Candlemas - 2nd. February

"A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel." (Luke 2:22-40)

Candlemas, the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, celebrates the day on which the infant Christ was taken by Mary his mother and Joseph his "father" to the Temple in Jerusalem where thanks would be offered to God, according to the correct and ancient Jewish custom. When Simeon, 'an upright and devout man', well advanced in years saw them he knew that this was the child who was the Messiah for which Israel and the world had been waiting. He took the child in his arms and praised God and declared that this child would be a light to all the world. To commemorate what Simeon said, churches have special services involving candles. The candles are blessed and the Song of Simeon or Nunc Dimittis recited. There is a saying, Candlemas, Candleless, meaning that after Candlemas the days start getting longer, and we don't need artificial light in the evenings. Spring is on the way, and we should start enjoying it. So after the long, hard winter let's all look forward to lighter days and the spring flowers as they begin to bloom.

No sooner do we get Christmas over, and really it does seem recent history, than we begin to look towards Lent, Holy Week and Easter. In order that you have plenty of notice of events for this important time in the Church's calendar I'm giving you the details this month.

Lent, Holy Week and Easter

Ash Wednesday falls on 25th February and there will be a Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes at 7.30p.m

Following the Morning Services on Sunday 1st, 8th and 15th March a Lent lunch of bread and soup will be served in the George Lee Room. There will not be a Lent lunch on Mothering Sunday (22nd). All profits from the lunches will be given to support the work of Christian Aid.

Passiontide begins on 29th March and in place of Evensong on this day there will be a Service of Sung Compline at 6.30p.m.

During Holy week there will be Meditations in Church at 7.30p.m on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Maundy Thursday at 7.30p.m there will be Holy Communion with a re-enactment of the Last Supper followed by a Vigil until 10.00p.m in St. Monica's Chapel. During the meal (a list will be at the back of the Church for you to add your name too to help with the catering arrangements) we hope to have a quintet or similar playing music.

On Good Friday there will be a Service of an 'Hour at the Cross' from 2.00p.m - 3.00p.m. On Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Day) from 10.00a.m - 12 noon there will be a workshop for young children and adults. During this time we will make bread for the Eucharist on Easter Day, decorate eggs, make the Easter Garden, have music and craft workshops and finish with a brief act of worship.

On Easter Day we will celebrate with Parish Communion with the renewal of Baptismal Vows (plenty of water will be involved) and in the evening there will be an Easter Songs of Praise.

Lent Course

This year's Lent Course is in six parts and is called Great Events and Deep Meanings. It's one of the York Course series which most of you will be familiar with. It points us to some important landmarks in time starting with Christmas! Yes Christmas. Then Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Day, and Pentecost.

The day-time session will be held in the Rectory at 2.00p.m on Wednesday 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th March, 1st, 8th. April.

There will also be an evening session led by Malcolm Harper on Wednesday evenings at 7-30pm. Depending on numbers this will be held at William's house or The George Lee Room. A list to sign up for either the afternoon or evening session is posted on the notice board. Please sign up. It would be lovely to have a larger attendance than that seen at the Advent Meditations.

Alarm Bells or Organ Pipes

When the PCC last met, Craig Lawton our Director of Music reported on the poor state of the organ, which unless some quite extensive work is done may well cease to function altogether in the near future.

The PCC are investigating a number of options. This is not an easy issue to resolve because the organ is used at practically every service held in the Church as well as for concerts, school productions and acts of collective worship and, of course, the occasional offices. The following options are under consideration.

A full restoration and overhaul which would put the organ out of use for about three months and could cost in the region of 100,000 or more, using the grand piano in the interim period, or a chamber organ.

Sell the organ and replace it with an electronic equivalent, other Churches in Southampton have done this, but it would require extra loudspeakers, electrical work, carpentry and screening to cover the gap.

Moth-ball it until the money can be raised at a later date and use a replacement as above until such time.

All of these options will be very costly and cause some disruption. No decision as to what to do has, as yet, been made, but in case you hear strange noises coming from the organ during services and think that the organist has fallen asleep on the keyboard, he hasn't. The organ does now have the facility, because of its poor condition, to pretty much play itself at times. Not good news, but better know the true state of things than bury our heads in the sand and pretend all is well, when it isn't. We will keep you informed of any progress. A copy of Craig's full report is available if you wish to read it, not recommended for reading at bed-time. It might cause nightmares.

Yours for Christ's sake.