St Denys' and St Mark's Joint Benefice

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

01892 852536
Email Us


September 2018

Many of us look forward to periods of holiday, opportunities to rest and appreciate a more relaxed routine.  It is something many of us look forward to in anticipation, and as a friend of mine suggested: “It’s what keeps me going!”

I’m sure you have a favourite place you like to return to again and again; for Cathie and I this place is the Lake District.  Once more, we have enjoyed a holiday relaxing beside lakes and walking on fells, all within the beautiful confines of the Lake District where the views are stunning.

Sometimes, it is the simple things of life that bring such pleasure.  Our last night was spent by the jetties of Derwent water, enjoying fish and chips, and watching the sunset; such colours and everchanging display on a natural canvas.  I was very much reminded of a verse from the psalms: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (19 v1)”

It is understandable that on such occasions we desire to try and capture something of the moment, something to hold on to and take back with us as we return to our normal lives.  Our homes contain photos and souvenirs that we have brought back with us to remind us; each item holding a special memory or a feeling.  I like to video holidays so during winter months the family can enjoy evenings watching and recalling past adventures.

What is true of family holidays and events is also true of spiritual and key times in our lives when we look back and recall, what we refer to as, turning points in our lives.  Milestones we remember when something significant happened.  For me it was the start of my Christian journey as a teenager, marriage, the arrival of my children and a sense of calling on my life to be ordained.  It was often on holiday or a retreat when I could hear more clearly when I was away from the usual routines, possibly more open to discern and hear.

Of course, such things have happened for countless people of faith throughout the centuries going back to the disciples.  Even the apostle Peter recalled an incident that had a dramatic effect on his life and something he was to recall many years later as he wrote to young Christians.  In his 2nd letter we read: “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Peter ch1 v16-21)

Peter is recording the occasion of the transfiguration, an event that took place away from the normal activities.   We can only imagine what these three disciples experienced, but we can appreciate their desire to spend time soaking up the occasion, so much so that Peter suggests the building of shelters for these special guests.  We read: “Master, it is good for us to be here.  Let us put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

However, a few moments later it is all gone and back to normal and the “glorious splendour” once again is hidden from mankind.

We speak of ‘mountain-top experiences’ and they are those times when we felt like we were on top of the world.  Or we felt that we were really close to God. 

Many of us have experienced such occasions, when as it were, we glimpse something extraordinary, something that takes our breath away, takes us out of ourselves, but sadly no sooner we are aware, it is gone. 

Inevitably we want to hang on to that moment for as long as we can, but to freeze that one moment in time shuts off the possibility of the next moment.  The time on the mountain wasn’t just for us to feel good it usually leads to something else. You see, God never meant us to live on the mountaintop, but rather at ground level in the valleys.   A Scottish theologian wrote: “It is not God’s desire that we live on the mountaintops. We only ascend to the heights to catch a broader vision of the earthly surroundings below. But we don’t live there. We don’t tarry there. The streams begin in the uplands, but these streams descend quickly to gladden the valleys below.”  

The streams start in the mountaintops, but they come down to gladden the valleys below.  You see what we gain on the mountain top is meant to help us in the Valleys.