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Introduction to Iconography

Holy Week & Easter Services

Mothering Sunday Service, St Andrew’s Church

Colyford – Donations for Refugees

March – The Rector Writes

I am not sure what words you use as a toast when you raise a glass of sherry in company (or a glass or something else…or as you clink your mugs of Horlicks…) but there is a wonderful old Irish toast I came across the other day: ‘As you slide down the bannisters of life, may the splinters always point in the right direction’. It made me chuckle, anyway.

During the season of Lent (which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter) we shall be focusing on Prayer in our Mission Community: encouraging one another to think about and develop our prayer lives.

What is a ‘prayer life’? It is the way you feel about God, and how you express it. Everyone at some point in their life will have prayed, or tried to pray. Everyone will have a different understanding of it. Some find prayer easy, some find it hard. Like anything, it needs a bit of attention if we are to find God in it and feel encouraged by it. It is as much about listening as it is about finding words or articulating expressions of how we feel or where we are. Whether we feel we are ‘sliding down the bannisters of life’, picking splinters out of our … or leaping up the stairs two at a time, prayer is beneficial. And there are lots of different types. ‘Arrow prayers’ (a quick prayer when you are halfway down the bannisters and you are anticipating the splinters), ‘contemplative prayer’ when you are somewhere quiet and alone, and other prayers for everywhere in between.

We often see images of saints kneeling, still, praying in heaven, hands together, eyes transfixed on higher things. This is not a bad image in itself, but it focusses too much on the individual, ‘mindfulness’ aspect of prayer, or of prayer simply as a singular activity, or mainly an act of deference to the Almighty. ‘Mindfulness’ is all the rage these days, and we are all encouraged to take time to be still and quiet as part of a good mental health regime. These things are very good and beneficial, but only part of what Christian prayer is.

The saints in heaven enjoy life to the full. In heaven, prayer is life and life is prayer. That is what prayer is: finding fullness of life and simply being with God and being part of his life, in stillness or activity.

Praying is often laying before God our lives and opening our hearts and minds—switching our radio sets from ‘transmit’ to ‘receive’. Not always an easy thing to do, but God has given us a prayer—The Lord’s Prayer—which can be used at any time, in any place, on our own, or in company. It reminds us of who God is and that he is always ready to hear us, even if at times we can’t bear that, or deal with it, or comprehend it, his huge and constant love is always there. Most importantly, it involves time.
Join us to spend more time thinking about prayer this Lent. Each Thursday evening we have a Lent Course session on prayer around the churches (details in the magazine or on the website). Our speakers are our local, friendly clergy (…and me….) and no previous experience is necessary. On Wednesday 5th April the Bishop of Exeter will be with us, sharing his personal insights on prayer. I warmly commend these sessions to you, even if you can only come to one of them.

From 1st March we shall be resuming Evening Prayer around the villages. These are traditional, informal short services (about 25 minutes), 5pm at a different church on Tuesdays (Colyford), Wednesdays (Colyton), Thursdays (Branscombe), and Fridays (Northleigh).

As always, there is a lot going on in our six churches. Details of our services during Lent and Easter can be found on our website ( or contact me if you are wondering when or where the next service is. I appreciate it can be confusing…I am always having to top and think, and check when and where I am going…which is another good analogy for prayer…

With every good wish and blessing,
Fr Steven

Holyford at Prayer

Lent Course on Prayer 2023

Please click here for Canon Karen Curnock’s talk on ‘Praying the Eucharist’.

Please click here for Hetty Kothari’s talk on ‘Contemplative Prayer’.

Doves of peace in St Andrew’s Church

The doves are from Branscombe, Colyton and Musbury Primary Schools with prayers for peace written by the children.

Donations for Ukraine

Good Grief Tea & Chat, Tuesday 7th March

24 Hour Vigil for Peace

The Vigil starts on Sunday 26th at 11am. Following the parish Eucharist there will be a bring-and-share lunch in the Church and we shall be providing hospitality for local Ukrainian guests.  A letter of invitation can be found in English here and in translated into Ukrainian here.

We shall be praying not only for Ukraine, but for peace in all places currently experiencing war or conflict. It will also be an opportunity for people to come and offer prayer for themselves, families and communities, and whatever may be preventing or disturbing their own peace at this time.   Like every church, our churches in the Holyford Mission Community exist to facilitate and encourage prayer: they are spaces where people—no matter who they are, how they feel, or where they come from—can find themselves and God, and experience his light and his peace.

Friendly Friday Thank You!

A big thank you to Trevor Glasper for organising our new Friendly Friday Aprons and to our excellent hospitality team for making Friendly Friday so friendly!

Musbury Table Top Sale

December 2022

From the Rector

At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel—‘God with us’. At the heart of the Christian faith is the notion that God’s greatest desire is to be with us, in all that we are and all that we do.  That may sound overwhelming or daunting, but if we can spend some time getting our head around it, it becomes nothing short of miraculous and life-giving. God wishes to be with us, here and now, all the way to the other side of the grave into eternity.  We know all this because of the babe born in Bethlehem. 

            This Christmas will be a time of great joy and fellowship for some, or will be tough for others—the trials of life often come to the fore during the festive period.  The empty chair at the table, the struggle to keep up with expectations and traditions, especially during a period of financial worry.    

            From the accounts of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels we learn that the first Christmas was wonderful, but far from easy for the Holy Family. Yet they came through.  The Angels reassured Mary and Joseph, the Wise Men brought encouragement and affirmation; they all knew that God’s desire to be with them was so strong that they could not fail.  This is the same hope Christians hold to today. 

            In the new year we shall be organizing some groups for people to come and explore the idea of faith.  We plan to follow the Being With course, devised by the Reverend Dr Sam Wells and the Reverend Sally Hitchiner from the renowned Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.  The title Being With may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, but this is a good course, especially for those who have no experience of the church or are thinking of returning. The course is run over ten sessions, covering topics like essence, story, community, suffering and hope.  There are no expectations, and each session is about people coming together to share their story. There is no judgement, wrong answers or prescribed path. The course is an invitation to invest in becoming the type of person who knows how to be at ease with yourself, others, the world around us and through this to be with God. It is an invitation to discover faith in the context of discovering friendship.  If you are interested in joining a Being With group, or would like more information, please let me know (  or  01297 553180).

Details of our Christmas services and events can be found in this magazine and online. There are lots of opportunities to join us in any of the six churches which make up our group, called the Holyford Mission Community. Please see our website ( Facebook page (@holyfordmission) or contact a churchwarden or me for details of the types of services there will be, and times. 

On behalf of all of us at the six churches of the Holyford Mission Community, I wish you all a happy, joyful and peaceful time as you prepare for Christmas. Whether or not you are able to have ‘the perfect’ Christmas, for whatever reason, I pray that the light and peace which sustained and encouraged the Holy Family at Jesus’ arrival may find its way into your hearts and homes.

With every good wish and blessing,

Fr Steven.

Christmas Services at St Andrew’s, Colyton