Posts by uitchen

Christian Comments, April 2017

Posted by on May 7, 2017 in news and events | 0 comments

The other day whilst driving home from church, I flicked on the radio and heard what sounded like a very exciting discussion going on. The debate was between some very passionate protagonists. I wondered what it could possibly be that had so animated this panel of learned and wise individuals? World hunger, poverty, war, politics, ethics, economics. No, they were in fact arguing about Marcel Duchamp’s extraordinary submission to an art competition in Paris in 1917. I know, the current affairs of today! Duchamp took a mass-produced toilet and signed it – declared it art, called it ‘Fountain’ and, according to the panel, divided the art world into two camps lineated along the lines of: ‘It is Art’, and ‘It isn’t Art’. They did forget my own personal camp, the – ‘Who Cares if it is Art’ category however. The panel concluded that whatever it was, it was a significant ‘artistic’ milestone. Even though it added nothing to human knowledge, well-being or progression. I arrived home and immediately asked my wife, who went to Art College, whether Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ was art? She looked at me deeply, thoughtfully, and then asked me: ‘Define what is Art?’ All those years at Art School not wasted then, I thought quietly, secretly, and expressionlessly. Basically, in our modern world it can be concluded that Art is anything people want it to be. If people think an American urinal is beautiful and worthy of a place in a museum, then it is. And who am I, or any of us, to say it is not. So here’s the conundrum: how do we deal with a world where growing numbers of people no longer recognise divine authority or knowledge to guide them in life? Authority is shifting from what is divine into the heart of oneself, not God. What the Human Being wants and thinks is the only thing that truly matters. In Politics, the people know how to vote; in Ethics the person does what feels good; in Economics we produce ever more to keep the customer happy. The source of authority in the universe belongs to us. We no longer need to rely on God – It’s all about the Human Being, our choices. It’s all about us. That is a lonely place – and I feel the shame of it, of a humanity that still relies on weapons to decide arguments, withholds resources from those in need, pollutes, destroys and agitates. I cannot think of a time when God was more needed by humanity. Thank God then he sent us Jesus, Jesus who gave Himself up to death on the Cross so we can know we are never abandoned, never alone, never not loved, even if we choose to abandon God ourselves. Jesus asks God to ‘forgive us, because we know not what we do’. We must choose, seek, listen and pray, for God is listening. I lament our arrogance and self-reliance. ‘I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax, it has melted within...

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Christian Comments, March 2017

Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 in news and events | 0 comments

The other day I attended a wonderful service at Winchester Cathedral at which the new Dean was Installed. I love the Cathedral and its worship. There is something about it that sort of floats my boat – I am very passionate about our Cathedral and the mission it serves to the county. By a sort of accident however, I ended up taking my daughter’s boyfriend along with me to this service. It’s a long story, so I will not explain. At the end of the service, which was quite long, he told me that he had never actually heard a Cathedral choir before, and found the music amazing; and the spectacle of the installation thought-provoking. He then went on to ask ‘who was the fellow with the big stick’? He was referring to the Bishop of Winchester, his description only mildly less dubious than enquiring about the fellow in the pointy hat. I have been thinking a great deal recently about something this rather tellingly illustrates. My daughter’s boyfriend was not ill disposed towards the church. In fact he rather thought it all very compelling. He was not dismissive of the theological, ethical and cultural significance of Christianity – but he just didn’t know anything about it. ‘Who’s the guy with the big stick’, is nearly as glib as was reported to me recently – but might not be accurate – that David Beckham (the ex-footballer) had said that he wanted his children baptised, but hadn’t yet decided what religion. Anyway, the point clearly being made is that the message of God’s love is a universal one. Many people understand their existence in relation to God – they are spiritually hungry and inquisitive – but the church has not for some unfathomable reason engaged them. Church has passed them by, yet their lives are full of need and desire, looking for meaning and answers. They have somehow missed the incarnational, inspirational empowering message of Christ. Why? I cry out – WHY! Now that might need a little bit of unpacking – and in reality I do not have the answers – but here’s what I think. Christianity is not just a Sunday morning expedition in the realm of God, it is not something we leave behind when we step out into the world on Monday morning. It is the spring-board into the market places, the work places, the homes and shopping centres where prayer (especially prayer) and Christian presence can and will make a difference. A disciple that is a true follower of Christ, who is confident that God loves them, and us and the world, has the answers to all the questions and anxieties and despair anyone could possibly have – Christ is the answer to all our hungers, all our fears, all our anxieties. We should see our faith as an adventure that is liberating and fulfilling. We need to encourage – especially the young – and nurture the tradition we have inherited. We need to tell those that have not heard, and invite them into the family of Christ – all of you tell someone about your faith, and tell them Jesus sent...

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Upper Itchen Benefice Council, Annual Meeting 2017

Posted by on Feb 19, 2017 in news and events | 0 comments

ABCM Notice 2017

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“Now and Then.” A little Saxon Church its neighbours and its visitors…

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in news and events | 0 comments

Over 14,600 people visited the big house during December and also enjoyed our display of Christian Christmas Traditions, here at All Saints, Hinton Ampner. Many came to the Services, sang carols, listened to readings and saw our advent candles lit. So much so, we all but exhausted the quiz with its questions about the true meaning of Christmas! It was a joy to look on as parents explained the story behind the Nativity Scene and learnt about it; the meaning of the wreath, and the origins of Crackers and Christmas Cards, or simply enjoyed the tranquility of All Saints and its Christmas Tree, hung with angels and twinkling lights. Every day the first arrivals opened one of our advent calendars, read out the Christmas story, and hung a message on the tree for others to read. Thank you to everyone who bought Christmas Cards and also to Cheriton Village Stores, Hinton Ampner House and Bramdean Garage for selling so many more than we dreamt possible. To think that in houses all round the world, families and friends enjoyed 1200 of our cards showing the beautiful Nativity Scene! The money from sales is apparently going towards regular maintenance and an audio and lighting improvement project; we can’t wait! All very different from the young Saxon days when King William ordered the Domesday Book. Back then the village was known simply as “Hinton” and the Benefice looked very different too. We looked up to our neighbours in Beauworth with their three churches; Bramdean and Kilmeston had two Lords. Aldred’s wife ruled in Kilmeston, while Bramdean even had two freemen. “Miles the Porter” was one of its Lords. As to Cheriton and Tichborne: marshy places in the Itchen valley, Miles the Porter always took the visitors via the high...

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Rectors Report February 2017

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in news and events | 0 comments

Since the last Forum meeting on Oct 31st 2016, there have been three funerals, one at Cheriton, Tichborne and Bramdean respectively. There have been no weddings and two baptisms. Christmas was a particularly wonderful and busy time so thank you to everybody who gave so much time organising and delivering services and supporting the mission here. The period was complicated for me this year because I developed a flu in the early part of December. I then, as the month progressed lost my voice, which meant by Christmas day I had to invite the congregation at Bramdean to ‘Join with me as we whisper our Christmas day service’. It has taken some time to feel that I am back in my stride, and back to normal. We did see many wonderful services across the Benefice during the Advent/Christmas period. Again, the Crib which was great fun to be involved with – but a lot of preparation. The Midnight services also seem to have been very well received again this year. Christmas Day itself, services were very well supported and brought many from our communities into the church. To everybody that made our churches so welcoming and vibrant – again thank you. I continue to write for the Christian Comment in the Hampshire Chronicle – the coordinator of which is leaving the Diocese a little before Easter. It has been intimated to me that a new coordinator needs to be found, I am pretty reluctant to take on that role. I am on the board of Governors at Cheriton School. I take assembly there once a fortnight. I am a member also of the Diocesan Board of Education and the Executive Resource Group of the DBE. I continue to be on Diocesan Synod, and have just completed my first year as Area Dean, which is a very interesting piece of work, but at times rather challenging. One particular joy, on the 25th Jan we licensed the Revd. Clare Welham as the new Priest in Charge of the Bishop Sutton, West Tisted and Ropley benefice. Clare is lovely, and previously was the Chaplain to Harrogate Ladies’ College. I invite you all to pray for her, and her ministry as she takes on a set of parishes that require a lot of love and attention. Caroline and I now offer some hours a month to the Cathedral as Chaplain, and Jan does the same for HMP Wincher’s chaplaincy dept. I have been variously involved in supporting Alresford and the Arle Valley as they no longer have an incumbent. I have taken a number of Funerals and Holy Communion services for them, as required. They do have a very good and dedicated Ministry team so this has not been a particularly difficult thing to do. On December 11th we welcomed the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, at Cheriton Church. He was warmly received – which was a bit of a relief. Also, while we had him, he was asked to licence the Revd. Jan Brookshaw as our associate Priest, which he duly did. We have an ongoing structural project at Bramdean, a lighting project at Hinton Ampner, as well as an archaeological project at Kilmeston church. We also have the sale of the Parish Hall in Cheriton. At the time of writing, following a rather large legacy and some other monies we also have the opportunity to introduce a new sound system and drop down screen and projector into Cheriton Church – we are not far away from our total money required to see this project through, and I do think...

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