Blue Monday: Beating the Winter Blues

Winter can be a difficult season for many of us – especially once Christmas is over.

In our current issue of Denham Parish News (pages 26-27) we offer some tips on how to beat the winter blues…

Click on the link above to read the magazine. The article also contains information about organisations that can help.


Here is an excerpt from Ben Palpant’s new book “Letters from the Mountain” (Rabbit Room Press):


An excerpt from Letters from the Mountain.

I’ve heard that we’re born with only two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. If true, this reinforces the very real fact that we accumulate fears over time. We undoubtedly manufacture some, but life experiences saddle us with the others. From worry to severe anxiety disorders, from run-of- the-mill fears to irrational phobias, we all live somewhere on anxiety’s broad spectrum. We fear heights, spiders, bats, public speaking, rejection letters, financial collapse, negative judgments, loneliness, memory loss—the list is endless. And these fears bang incessantly on the tin roofing of our hearts.

And if anxiety were not paralyzing enough, it brings discouragement along for company. We listen to fear’s lies, fully knowing they are lies. We look in the mirror each morning and wonder when fear will finally stop being an unwanted house guest.

History offers a long list of faithful God-followers who fought anxiety or depression, some for much of their lives—Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, Job, Elijah, Jonah, Hannah. Even King David struggled, as evidenced by his psalms, though he had tasted remarkable courage many times, even defeating a lion, a bear, and Goliath. Charles Spurgeon, William Cowper, G. K. Chesterton, and Mother Teresa likewise struggled. Some suffocated so badly beneath the weight that they entertained suicidal thoughts not once, but many times.

Anxiety does not discriminate. It takes the strong and the weak, the cheerful and the melancholy, the spiritual juggernaut and the spiritual lightweight. And addressing the topic is complicated by ambiguity. The line between anxiety and worry, for example, is not as clear as we would like. When is the brain working improperly and when are we simply fretting? When is panic a biological reflex and when is it self-induced?

Those who have fallen down the rabbit hole of depression know the seriousness of anxiety. They also have learned the hard way that the world is uncomfortably silent or unhelpfully trite on the subject. Even Christians squirm around it. Some people are downright flippant in their judgments, shaming vulnerable people into silence rather than serving them.

In a classic Bob Newhart sketch, a young woman seeks counsel for her claustrophobia. She is terribly afraid of being buried alive in a box. He says that his psychotherapy sessions last only five minutes, and they come with two important words which she is to incorporate into her life: “Stop it!” That’s it. To Newhart’s character, recovery is as simple as that.

Those who have never stood on the edge of a mental breakdown and those who have never suffocated beneath depression’s heavy hand find the skit funnier than those who have. If “Stop it!” were all we needed to conquer the giant, Anxiety, then it would not have so many carcass trophies hang- ing on its wall. And for some strange reason, we still think that anxiety can only be defeated by sheer willpower. Our mortal vantage point is woefully insufficient for helping us deal with our repeated failure to defeat it.

God’s promises provide a new vantage point, a divine perspective that we all need. He says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10, NKJV). 1 Peter 5:7 says we can cast the whole weight of our anxieties upon God because we’re his personal concern. Romans 8:28 confirms that promise: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” (MEV).

These are not Pollyanna promises. Nor are they mere talismans against dark forces. In a seismic spiritual earthquake, they are the firm, unshake- able ground on which we stand.

Belief in these promises changes how God’s children hear the every- day question, “How are you doing?” If God is faithful to keep his promises, then in an ultimate sense we can truthfully answer, “Everything is going my way.” He intimately uses my circumstances, even the scary ones, for my benefit. All the time. Guaranteed.

Anyone who answers that way risks sounding pompous, or at the very least presumptuous. But what if we answered that way in our minds? Would we start seeing differently? Would we see opportunity where others see limitation? Would we see abundance where others see scarcity? Would our thankfulness, gladness, and peace grow? No matter the circumstances? Perhaps.


Offended by the M&S Merry Pigmas cards?

We shouldn’t be taken aback that Christ is being airbrished out of Christmas, says James Mildred. But the future of Christianity is God’s business. Ours is to share the good news and show the love of Jesus.

Here is a short excerpt from the article. Read the full article here…

A few years ago, a survey showed that less than one per cent of Christmas cards had religious themes. While stores displayed hundreds of different options, only a handful featured the traditional Christian nativity. Morrisons was the worst offender. Second worst was Tesco.

This year, Marks and Spencer have caused anger with their Percy Pig-themed charity Christmas cards and money wallets, which replaced the world ‘Christmas’ with ‘Pigmas’. Author Laura Jansson took to Twitter to complain, asking whether M&S would replace the name of another religion’s prophet with ‘pig’ for a laugh.

If you were to ask me whether I think Christmas is being airbrushed of any actual Christian content, I’d say yes! But why should we be surprised by that? It’s simply a reflection of where we are as a society. We’re now swimming in very dark waters. God’s word tells us that when a society gives up on God, as an act of judgement, God gives it over “to do what should not be done” (Romans 1:28).

Thankfully, the future of Christianity does not rest on inaccurate portrayals of ‘traditional’ nativity scenes on Christmas cards that are often more the product of human imagination than fact. The future of Christianity is, ultimately, God’s business. It is far better that we get on with proclaiming the good news, being salt and light and demonstrating the love of Christ in a whole variety of ways – and do so with profound thankfulness that for all the pressures, we are still remarkably free to preach Christ.

BBC Report: Young more likely to pray than over-55s

Young people in the UK are twice as likely as older people to pray regularly, a new survey has found.

Some 51% of 18 to 34-year-olds polled by Savanta ComRes said they pray at least once a month, compared with 24% of those aged 55 and over.

It also found 49% of the younger age group attend a place of worship every month, compared with 16% of over-55s.

The associate director of Savanta said the numbers could reflect the move to online worship during the pandemic.

Chris Hopkins added that there were “a few theories” as to why young people made up such a large proportion of the religious landscape.

“Firstly, as the demography of the UK changes, minority faiths do tend to have a larger proportion of practising young people, and therefore as the population of these groups increases within the UK, so will the prayer habits of the population at large,” he said.

He explained it was important to “factor in the impact the pandemic has had on the ability to engage with one’s faith” with virtual prayers and services being held online.

“It is possible that the pandemic opened up more avenues to prayer to young people, and this is reflected in the findings,” he said.

Click here for the full story…

Dare like Jesus: Christ-shaped courage

New series of talks starting this Sunday (19 September) at our 10.30am service

During lockdown our ministry team took part in the “ChurchNext” programme to explore what our next steps as a local church might be. One theme emerged early on: God is asking us to put a DARE behind PRAY | WELCOME | SHARE. This series is about Christ-shaped boldness, not foolhardy bravery or ostentatious derring-do.

Our courage must be grounded in the Father love of God, shown by Jesus and mediated by the Holy Spirit.

The photo at the top is a visual representation of the goal of this series: God is gently nudging us to step into the river of his purposes for us and for the world, but he will not abandon us as we do.

Future themes: The courage to …

  • be compassionate
  • be vulnerable
  • take responsibility
  • obey
  • dream
  • witness
  • heal

Our small groups will follow the same themes. Contact our church office if you’d like to join one…

Joel Edwards: Translating the Good News of Jesus for our time

In today’s service Christoph quoted a letter, written by Joel Edwards to the UK Church in 2015.
He was an influential leader in the UK church for many years and recently died of cancer on June 30th.

Find out more about his life:
Premier Christian News…
Evangelical Alliance…

To catch up on the service, click here…

“Good translation mediates God’s brilliance and passion from the Church to the world without our baggage getting in the way. The cultural complexities of our day present us with an overflow of challenges. We could see the world’s hostility as direct threats to biblical truth: or we could see it as a world scrambling for meaning. Let’s reposition ourselves as courageous translators, helping people understand what God is still trying to say.”

National Day of Reflection

On Tuesday 23 March we will pause and remember the many people who have died during this pandemic – each one missed by family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

Let’s take time to reflect on our collective loss, reach out and show the millions who are grieving that they are not alone, and pray for them.

St Mary’s Church will be open for personal prayer on Tuesday from 11 am to 4pm – please come to be still, reflect and pray. At 12 noon we are invited to stop and be still, wherever we are, whatever we are doing. We will toll a bell at St Mary’s at mid-day to remember the many people we have lost and to invite everyone to pause and pray.

Please join us.

Download a special prayer postcard…

God of Love,
As we think about all that has changed this year,
help us to trust that you are always with us.
As we remember those who have died,
help us to trust they are at peace with you.
As we reach out to others with kindness and care,
may hope shine out in every heart and home.

(The National Day of Reflection is organised by Marie Curie and supported by The Church of England.)


Census Day: This coming Sunday, 21 March!

Have you got your census letter?


The census is coming, and it’s about you. Without the information you share, it’d be more difficult to understand our community’s needs and to plan for the future.

By taking part, you will help inform decisions about the services you and your community need, like doctors’ surgeries and new schools. Anonymised data will also help us shape our church’s work in future years.


Census day is on March 21, but households will already have received letters with online codes explaining how they can complete their forms. If you haven’t received one yet, please get in touch with the census contact centre. You can also request a paper questionnaire if you’d prefer to complete your census that way.


There is lots of support available such as a help area on the census website and a contact centre that can give you help over the phone and guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats, including paper questionnaires and large print. You can also use your postcode to find local census support centres on the census website.


The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales and is independent from the government. All information is held securely for 100 years. Statistics are only compiled based on anonymised data and personal information is not shared with any organisation and is never sold.


For more information, and to find out how to get help, visit or call the contact centre on 0800 141 2021.

Wellbeing Thought for Sunday 7 March

Stewardship, not ownership

 Did you know that 16 of the 38 parables Jesus told were concerned with how to handle money and possessions? True wellbeing includes the financial and material area of our lives. Worries about money are one of the main causes of stress. God wants us to live in financial peace (“shalom”) – having margin each month, with opportunities to save for the future and to give to help others.

As Christians we believe that all things come from God – we don’t own them, but God wants us to steward them. That is a crucial difference if we want to enjoy internal freedom from fear and worry. Once we have settled that God is the owner, we can begin to learn how to manage our finances his way!

Where is your financial dial – red, amber or green? How might knowing God is the owner and you his steward help you grow in financial peace and wellbeing?


(Excerpt from: Dave Smith, God’s Plan for your Wellbeing.)

Working from Rest

(This is a reflection from the LICC Bible Reading Plan “Working from Rest”. Click here to find out more…)


“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(Exodus 20:8–11 NIV11-GKE)
The command given the most ‘air-time’ on Sinai details sabbath rest. Through it, the Lord nullifies the entire system of anxious production and the need to ‘get ahead’. Work is placed within limits. One of the results of the current pandemic is that, for many, the boundary between work and rest has become blurred. Constant emails and texts mean we never switch off. Our boundaries have been eroded.
For reflection: What limits might God be asking you to put around work?
Prayer: Thank you for the sabbath and the priority you, Lord, give to rest. Help me to honour that priority. Amen.
Sabbath rest is communal – it is offered to all sons and daughters, all cattle, all immigrants, all who have left the anxiety-driven system of Pharaoh. God’s people are no longer defined by competition, achievement, production, or acquisition. Their new identity is one of community, relationship, and rest.
For reflection: From where do you draw your sense of identity?
For prayer: Lord, please help me to recognize and affirm my identity as one shaped by community, relationship, and rest. Amen.