St Denys' and St Mark's Joint Benefice

  • The Rectory
  • Mayfield Road
  • Rotherfield
  • East Sussex
  • TN6 3LU

01892 852536
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July 2017

There is no doubt that as we age and mature our tastes and appreciation of things can change. For example, this evening Cathie and I, to celebrate our wedding anniversary will be going to the Royal Opera House to see a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata.  I imagine those who knew me 40 years ago when heavy rock music and groups like Motorhead, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple were my essential listening, could never have imagined I would be enjoying Opera!

Life is like that and I imagine all of us have things we could give as examples of a change in taste and appreciation.

I remember as a youngster visiting an elderly retired clergyman whose eye-sight was failing.  Before I left he asked if I would read some passages from the Bible to him.  When asked what he would like to hear, he would always suggest I read from the Book of Psalms.  On one occasion, I enquired why he always wanted the Psalms read to him.  His response, which I can now appreciate: “The older I get, the more comfort and assurance they provide me with.”

Many of us can appreciate this sentiment, especially when we consider Psalm 23 and the words resonate deep within us.  Why is this?  I wonder if it is because the psalms, as someone suggested, are “expressions of the heart made in the spirit of worship.”

The intrinsic beauty of the poems, hymns, and prayers and the sentiments that they convey have contributed toward their appreciation. They cover a wide-range of emotions and express the extremities of our feelings.  As we take time to read and reflect upon them, we can discover their value and comfort, as so often what is written addresses the same questions and concerns that we face and experience.  Sometimes the psalmist is in despair and angry at the way things are, feeling that there is no hope and God is distant; while on other occasions there are expressions of hope and joy and a real sense of God’s presence. 

In recent years my attention has been drawn to using them for preaching and reflection, and as part of my daily morning office a psalm is read.  I am delighted that the choir at St Denys now sing a psalm on the 4th Sunday morning service, while St Mark’s continue the tradition within the service of Matins.  Admittedly the traditional singing of a psalm (Anglican chant) can take time to practise and appreciate, but as it is the hymn book of the Old Testament, it is important to have it as part of our Sunday worship.

On a more personal level, I am using and finding helpful a book titled, “My Rock, My Refuge” – a year of daily devotions in the psalms by Timothy Keller.  It is a great way of getting to read, know and appreciate the psalms.

I hope and pray that you may enjoy the psalms too and allow their content to inform, comfort and assure you in your daily lives.

Finally, just to say, I haven’t quite got the rock music out of my system, as later in the year I have tickets to see Deep Purple on their farewell tour!