Rector’s Letter February 2017

Prayer First

The Bishop of Exeter has set out three clear priorities for the churches of the Diocese which are easy to grasp and which have resonated strongly with many people.  These priorities are:

Growing in prayer

Making new disciples

Serving the people of Devon with joy

The first challenge for us is how to grow in prayer as individuals and churches.  Bishop Robert rightly believes that prayer should underpin the rest of our church life, including the making of new disciples and serving people with joy.

Lent is a particular time set aside for growing in faith and prayer and we will be running Lent groups again this year following the York Course “Receiving Christ in five different ways”.  Anne Jerman has kindly organized these for us and there will be a choice of five groups to join plus a group in Sandford which will be following a different course.  I will also suggest some books to borrow for Lent, and we will include teaching about prayer in our sermons.

Praying on our own can be challenging, but it is an essential foundation for the Christian life.  It’s not that we necessarily need to spend long in prayer.  Short and often is probably better for most of us!  But setting aside time to pray without distractions, even a few minutes, is very valuable as it reminds us of our priorities; it develops a thankful heart; it strengthens our relationship with God and it brings us consolation and strength in times of darkness or struggle.

Our churches were built for prayer, and Holy Cross church was built for daily services.  We still continue this tradition and the times of daily prayer are always published in this magazine.  In the monastic tradition this daily prayer is called the ‘Opus Dei’ (not to be confused with the somewhat controversial organization of the same name).  Opus Dei means ‘the work of God’ and for monastics included prayer seven times a day.  Our Anglican forbears thought that two prayers a day at morning and evening were sufficient and that is the usual practice through the Church of England.

Since Paul Fillery’s licensing at Sandford people have been invited to join in prayers at 9am on Wednesday morning and a good number have responded.  We also have a gathering on Wednesday morning at 9.15am at Holy Cross which meets for about 25 minutes to say a simple form of morning prayer and then to offer prayers for work with children and young people in Crediton.  We also hold prayer on Friday morning at 9.15am and Helen and I would like to make this a time when we focus especially on praying for those who are in need of healing.  If you would like to join us and pray for anyone you would be most welcome. And on Wednesdays we will say a simple version of Morning Prayer followed by a time of prayer for those who have particularly asked for our prayers.  We will finish not later than 9.40am to get ready for the following Prayer Book Communion at 10am.

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we have a short Communion Service at 8.15am which includes elements of morning prayer, like a psalm, and which lasts half an hour. And on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings at 4.45pm we say Evening Prayer which lasts about 20 minutes.  I am pleased to say that, as well as the clergy, we have lay people attending most of these services and I would like to invite you to consider if you might come along as well, perhaps as a spiritual discipline during Lent, or perhaps as a part of your weekly routine.

There is a sense that we are offering these daily prayer as part of the whole Church throughout the world, and as part of the prayer which is offered by the ‘whole company of heaven’.  It is an amazing and inspiring thought.  This work is too important to be left to the clergy!  Do consider if you might like to be part of it.  Or if you live away from Crediton why not get together with a few friends to pray in your own church or home.  Paul, Helen or myself would be happy to provide some resources.

Don’t forget that if you would like prayers offered for yourself or someone you care about you can come to the Lady Chapel at Holy Cross during the distribution of communion at the 9.30am service.  Our prayer ministry team will listen to your requests and pray briefly with you.  This ministry is entirely confidential.

Some dates for your diaries:

Sunday 5 February at 6pm: Choral Evensong with Procession for Candlemas at Holy Cross

Sunday 12 February at 12.30pm: Parish Lunch in the Boniface Centre (prior booking needed)

Sunday 19 February at 6pm: Compline at Holy Cross

Sunday 26 February at 3pm: Tea Time Music with the Exe Trio followed by tea and cakes in the Boniface Centre

Wednesday 1 March – Ash Wednesday: services at 12noon at St Lawrence Chapel, Threshers and at 7.30pm at Holy Cross

With every good wish and blessing to you all,

Nigel Guthrie

Rev. Prebendary, Crediton Parish Church.

Photos © Bill Jerman