St Denys' and St Mark's Joint Benefice

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

01892 852536
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January 2018

I do hope you had a good and enjoyable Christmas and a happy start to the New Year.

We have another gift of a New Year and an opportunity to reflect on how we might make the most of it.  I assume many of us have made some resolutions for the coming year, hopefully realistic and attainable!  I know this time last year one of our parishioners made a resolution for the coming year, and has kept her resolution all year; well done, you know who you are!

New Year resolutions are made by many people in the hope that life will be different, perhaps slightly better than the previous year.

There is a story of a family sitting around the table at breakfast and Dad announces that they should all make some resolutions for the forthcoming year.

After a period of quiet, Mum said: "Okay. I resolve to get less stressed when the house is untidy."
The family cheered: "Yes!"
Then Dad said, "I resolve to help clean up more often."
The family said, "Great. Okay!"
The daughter, Elizabeth said, "I resolve to brush Farley (the dog), to keep my room clean, and not fight with Michael (her brother)."
Everyone said, "Good!"
Then Michael said, "I resolve to play on my computer, hang out with my friends, and watch more television."
"Wait a minute," said Mum, "we all made real promises; your resolutions are worthless."
Michael answers, "I know ... but at least mine will be kept."

Some of you, I’m sure already have plans for the new year, while others may be still formulating ideas. Some from past experience may decide to resolve not to have any New Year resolutions!

You may not realise, but the diocese has designated 2018 as a year of prayer, which follows on from the year of mercy and the year of the Bible.  We are encouraged to take additional time this year to explore various aspects of prayer, focusing on our own prayer lives and our community prayer life.  The diocese has produced a booklet outlining a range of teaching aids and suggestions which are there to build us up in our prayer lives, as well as encouraging us to be become more active in prayer.

I’m not sure what your thoughts are on prayer, and whether or not you pray. Some of you from childhood will have been encouraged to say your prayers at your bedside before going to sleep and may have been taught a simple prayer to recite.  My own up-bringing did not involve this practice, like many of you my first experience of prayer was at school where I was taught to recite the Lord’s Prayer.  Looking back, I now realise that whilst I knew it off-by-heart, I did not know or understood what prayer was really about and was not aware of it’s potential impact on my life.

Some treat prayer as a last resort when all else has failed, very much like ‘in case of emergency’ we appeal to God for help.  From time to time, people say to me, “Oh, I prayed once, but it didn’t work, so I gave up.”

I feel that we sometimes can treat God like a heavenly Father Christmas and produce a list of what we want, claim to be good people all year round and then demand that he deliver on our list.  Not surprising we might feel let-down and disappointed, because that is not what prayer is all about.  Prayer in its simplest form is about relationship.  None of us would feel comfortable if all one person did was ask us for things and once communicated disappeared as quickly as they had arrived.  Likewise, with our relationship with God, it is a friendship rather than a one-way means of supplying our wants.  As we know, in any relationship people need time to be together, to listen and to share.

Evagrius Ponticus suggested: “Prayer is the intimate conversation of the mind [or spirit] with God.” Consequently, life and prayer are one; in fact, prayer can become like oxygen to the body, is essential in what helps sustain us in our walk with God.  Without prayer we find that we lose that sense of God’s presence.


The diocese are hoping that we will discover the importance, power and practice of prayer, which enable us to live in a closer walk with God, and that such an intimacy might impact on our lives in this New Year.  Let’s hope (and pray!) that we become a more prayerful community in this special year.