What We Do
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On 4 June, the evening of Pentecost, it was a joy to see Exeter Cathedral filled with people who had come from every corner of Devon to close the ten-day global wave of prayer for the Church’s mission, ‘Thy Kingdom Come.’ Many of those present have remarked to me how powerful they found the experience of local churches from across the county gathering in the mother church of the diocese to pray together, with a deep sense of unity and shared purpose in doing so. That was how it felt to me too.
‘Growing in Prayer’ is one of our three diocesan priorities, and rightly the first on the list because it is the one on which the others depend. The praying in which we seek to grow is sometimes private and personal, sometimes shared with others. Theologically, it is probably true to say that individual prayer is secondary to and dependent upon the ongoing corporate prayer of the Christian community. But whether it is the prayer of the whole church or the personal prayer of you and me, to pray is simply to be in a living relationship with God our creator—a relationship broken by our faithlessness, restored by God’s love in Christ, and expressed through promise and grace on God’s side, trust and obedience on ours.
Growth in prayer ultimately means growth in the quality of our relationship with God. God is there whether we are thinking about him or not, whether we are in a place set apart as holy or out in the mundane spaces and activities of daily life. We are always in relation to him, never away from his presence, and ‘underneath are the everlasting arms.’ When we pray, whether in words or silence, activity or stillness, we allow ourselves to be fully present in the relationship with God, the channels of communication open, available to him as he is to us across the infinite qualitative difference between God and ourselves which is bridged only by his grace, honest with him in our feelings and thoughts, our concerns and hopes, ready to receive both strength and challenge from his gracious word to us.
St Paul wrote that to have been baptized is to be ‘alive to God’ in Jesus Christ our Lord. When we are fully present to God, our prayer bears fruit in praise of him and lives more closely aligned to his will—signs of the Kingdom for which Jesus taught us to pray. As we seek to grow in prayer, so let us pray earnestly for this immeasurable gift.
The Ven Douglas Dettmer
Archdeacon of Totnes
'Oh you haven't forgotten?' Have you ever been on the receiving end of such a statement? Let's be honest we've all done it; forgotten to say something, be somewhere, do something. Therefore, in order to help us remember we may, for example, tie a knot in our handkerchief or write something down or set our phone to ping just at the right time. However, we are not just called to remember what we have to do or say, there is also the need to remember what has been done for us by others. For as time moves on one generation can so easily forget what a past generation has done for them. So we erect monuments as visual aids to remind us of the great acts of service and achievements of past generations (i.e. Nelson's column in London and multitudes of war memorials around the world). They silently cry out 'Don't forget us' and remind us to respond in the most appropriate ways. That’s why this year on Armistice Day 11th November 2018 millions of people will gather together at the Cenotaph, in places of worship, and memorials worldwide to remember the fallen and to give thanks for the ending of WW1 100 years ago.
With pride they will remember the thousands upon thousands of servicemen and women from so many nations who gave their lives in order to set the world free from the tyranny that was trying to engulf it. Such an event cannot pass without us remembering.
But what of another act in history, the greatest act in history. When Jesus Christ willingly died on a cross to order to set us free from the greater tyranny of sin that would keep us separated from our Father God.
At the last supper Jesus enacted his death with the bread and the wine and gave to us a visual aid, a memorial, as he said to his disciples, 'Do this and remember me.' Look at what I've done,' says God, look at the cross and remember 'I love you, don't ever forget that.'
As we remember the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 and all subsequent wars since then, let us also remember what God has done too, not just on one day of the year, but everyday of our lives.
I pray too, that we will respond in the most appropriate way - in service to our God and neighbour.
Paul Bysouth (Rev'd)