The Reverend Canon Andrew Neaum
Canon Andrew writes:
St John’s Boldre, is very lovely. It is one of the most beautiful churches in the New Forest. It is an oasis of quietude, tranquillity and peace. Its setting among paddocks and woods, is well nigh perfect.
What a place to be married in.
What a place to worship in! What a place to be christened in! What a place to be married in! What a place to be buried from and to lay your bones to rest!
The worship in St John’s is lovely. It is resolutely traditional but also lively. It is traditional, but with spark and perzazz. It is both conservative and liberal, good to be a part of.
In difficult and unbelieving times it actually has a congregation. A talented congregation, elderly for the most part, but blessedly so, a reservoir and accumulation of experience, wisdom and talent. It is leavened by some younger folk, including children. Every service has a children’s component.
It has a friendly, supportive congregation whose members do really care for one another. While by no means perfect, they approximate quite remarkably to being a “loving, forgiving community” of the sort in which love, compassion and forgiveness bring peace, wholeness and quietude to troubled lives.
Popping with paradoxes, sizzling with surprises
At no matter what stage of belief or unbelief you are at, you are welcome to join us. The Christian faith, as manifested at St John’s, is not platitudinous pap. Nor should it be, for Christianity is not a risk-free, safety zone; mean-spirited, narrow-minded and self-serving. Rather it pops with paradoxes and sizzles with surprises. It puts the first last, the last first. It declares the poor blessed, shoves and squeezes the wealthy through the eye of a needle, turns the other cheek, walks the second mile and forgives not once, twice, three times or seven times, but seventy times seven. It declares crucifixion a victory, bad Friday, Good Friday, death life, the impossible possible, the fool wise and sacrificing love to be the ultimate virtue, life’s very raison d’etre.
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Fascinatingly subversive, it subverts even subversion. There is no ideology, no philosophy, no form of government, school of thought or scheme of life, that can be unchallenged or untroubled by it. It is disturbing, exciting, challenging, life-enhancing and lovely beyond telling. It is life abundant, a shining, lustrous pearl of great price, treasure in a field, life’s very savour, light in a dark room, a beacon on a hill, the bubble in the bread, a wedding feast, a banquet. Its good news, great news. Do come and share it with us.