St Dunstan’s


Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire, England

St Dunstan's James Tomkins 2

James’ Message

Dear Friends,

One of the services I remember most vividly was twenty years ago when I was confirmed. I especially recall the sermon given by the Bishop, who was speaking about "keeping in touch". Apparently the Bishop had asked various vicars the names of the 'Spice Girls' (a girl pop group from the 1990s for those who don't know!) to see how 'in touch' the vicars were with contemporary culture. My vicar at the time scored three which was apparently about average. Maybe you could have named more and I guess the modern equivalent would be the names of 'One Direction' - a highly successful 'boy band' of the last few years, I'm led to believe!

Keeping in touch is nothing new and 150 years ago people would avidly write letters on at least a daily basis, although it might take several weeks or even months before the communication arrived. Nowadays, thanks to mobile phones, social media, satellite links, the internet and emails it's very easy to keep in touch with family and friends at the click of a button, even if they live on the other side of the world. This communication does, however, come with its disadvantages, as people can become too attached to their wireless devices without engaging with meaningful face to face dialogue.

Whatever the distance or however primitive the communications technology, there has however always been one historical constant: the ability to keep in touch with God personally in prayer. Before instant messaging and email, people of faith kept in touch with the whole world by keeping in touch with God. By knowing that God was hearing the prayers of loved ones far away, the traveller, the soldier and the missionary felt closer and in communication with those at home. The comfort of prayer was a great solace and support to millions in the world and continues to be so today.

When Jesus was the most stressed, the most pressurized by the crowds, the most frustrated by his disciples' ignorance, the most abused by the sinfulness and cruelty of humanity; that's when he found the most time for prayer. He knew that it was only in prayer, only in that intimate communication with the Creator of the Universe, that he could find the strength and peace his soul yearned for. Why is it then that we tend to see prayer not as a first course of action, but as the last straw we grasp at in desperation when all our fix-it plans have unravelled? How many times have you heard, 'All I can do is pray'? Shouldn't prayer be a first resort rather than a last resort? Prayer isn't the least you can do; it's the most you can do.

During August we are again running a series of short services of prayer in a variety of formats. You'll find the details of these on page 17 in this Newsletter and hopefully one or more of these services will enable you to keep in touch with God. And if you're still wondering whether you're in touch with contemporary music, the original line-up of the Spice Girls was: Melanie Brown ("Scary Spice"), Melanie Chisholm ("Sporty Spice"), Emma Bunton ("Baby Spice"), Geri Halliwell ("Ginger Spice"), and Victoria Adams ("Posh Spice") and of One Direction: Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik.

With all good wishes,

James