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Welcome to St Mary's the Virgin 

A Message from Fr. Neil


The Old Testament readings for our Sunday services are from the Books of Samuel at the moment. These contain many favourite stories and celebrated passages: the boy Samuel hearing God’s voice; Saul; David and Goliath; Bathsheba; Solomon and so on. The word from the pews (and our noble Bible readers) is that quite apart from the sometimes unpronounceable place names, these passages are long – seriously long – forty-nine verses?? and even when the lectionary leaves bits out, the wretched vicar then still tells us what went on in the unedited version! Very long gone is that non-literary age when people would flock to street corners and churches to listen while someone read the news to them.


“Attention spans were longer then!” I hear you cry, and indeed they were. According to an article in Time magazine our average concentrated attention span before the digital age was twelve seconds; it is now eight. (Written, rather disturbingly, in 2015: I wonder where we are nine years on? Microsoft commissioned the research so they could adjust their online adverts to optimal length.) This puts us one second behind…. goldfish. Yes, goldfish. No wonder 49 verses of Old Testament seems long.

The thing about attention is that you have to work on one thing and ignore others. When we listen to God’s word in the scriptures this is doubly important; the same is true of prayer – Jesus told us to go tour own room and shut the door – i.e. shut out anything that might distract, however hard it tries to interrupt. So spend a moment now and think ‘which is my favourite Bible story?’ then book some time in and do nothing but read every word of it. (Sound simple doesn’t it!) (Do not do this on a mobile device!) It will undoubtedly take more than eight seconds; it may even take more than eight minutes if it is a long episode, (49 verses anyone?) but those minutes will be well spent.


Happy Reading.


Fr Neil.



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