Silent Prayer - Saint Mary's Wednesday 1630

We read in St Luke’s gospel that before Jesus named his apostles ‘he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God’. He must have spoken of his hopes and fears, asked for wisdom and strength for himself and for the chosen ones since he did not know how God’s plan for man would work out. But the night is a long time. In Matthew 6.vv 7, 8 in his teaching on prayer Jesus says ‘do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words ... Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him’. Surely that night of prayer must have included many silences as Jesus recognized and rested in His Father’s presence.

In Luke 10, we have the story of Martha and Mary. Martha is busy with the necessary preparation for her visitor while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet apparently idle. Upon Martha’s complaining about the injustice of the situation Jesus comments ‘Mary has chosen the good portion that shall not be taken away from her’. Not a condemnation of action, I think, but rather a commendation of silence before action.

I think it, therefore, not unreasonable to believe that from the very early days after the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit men and women have sought to know the Lord in the silence and this form of prayer is not some new fangled bright idea or just an idea borrowed from the practice of other great faiths. It has a truly Christian origin as is testified by many writers throughout the Christian era.

Meditation is very simple. It is letting go and letting God be God. It is acknowledging our helplessness and trusting ourselves to the mercy of our loving Creator. Our minds are a constant babble overloaded with a myriad of images and ideas and meditation calls for the discipline of a quiet mind. The meditator chooses a sacred word or phrase (known as a mantra), stills his body, sits upright and alert, and then slowly repeats his word throughout the period of meditation thus keeping the mind from wandering. If it does stray, simply return to the word. It is a discipline we have to learn and daily practice. We are not asking for anything or seeking any reward, simply being who we are called to be, people of love and compassion.

 

'In contemplative prayer we seek to become the person we are called to be, not by thinking of God, but by being with God. Simply to be with God is to be drawn into being the person God calls us to be'   John Main

Over time, months and years, we do find that we are being changed; more loving, less judgmental, less concerned about having to be right, more trusting in the love of God who has promised that we will never be forsaken.

Some find it encouraging and helpful to meet and meditate with others from time to time. Such a group meets at St Mary’s each Wednesday at 4.30pm. You would be very welcome whether you are a beginner or have been on the way for some time.

Exploring Spirituality Programme 2019

Exploring Spirituality Programme 2019

The Exploring Spirituality Programme 2019 booklet lists events, together and details of Sunday Services and Prayer through the week across the Benefice of Witney.

If you are planning to attend an event or want more details please contact the office. Financial assistance is available if a book needs to be purchased as part of a course.

Click here to download ESP 2019 The Exploring Spirituality Programme 2019 booklet

775 Sermon Series

Do join us as we celebrate our 775th Anniversary with a series of sermons:

2018

    Sept 9th The Rev'd Toby Wright A Christlike Church
    The sermon text is here: Feast 2018
    Oct 7th The Ven Judy French A Servant Church
    Dec 9th The Rev'd Dr Joanna Collicutt A Pondering Church

2019

CHANGED DATE: Feb 3rd Baroness Caroline Cox A Courageous Church • Feb 17th The Rev'd Helen Cameron A United Church • Mar 10th The Rt Rev'd Steven Croft A Learning Church • Apr 21st Fr Stephen Tucker A Resurrection Church • May 5th The Rt Rev'd Chris Lowson A Kingdom Church • Jun 16th Sr Stella CSMV A Contemplative Church • Jul 7th The Team Vicar A Creation Church • Aug 4th Robin Brunner-Ellis A Renewing Church • Sep 8th The Rt Rev'd Colin Fletcher A Missional Church

Witney Flower Festival 2019

Plans are well in hand for the Witney Flower Festival 2019 which takes place 5th to 7 July 2019. Full details to be posted here over the next few months.

In the meantime please do take a look at this video of the 2016 Flower Festival which reminds us all of what to expect next summer.

Witney Wonderland

We have teamed up with a local charity, Joss Searchlight and a number of generous sponsors to host the first Witney Wonderland Festival in the church. Expect to find St Mary's full of christmas trees, each individually decorated to reflect what Christmas means to different parts of our community. There will also be a fantastic Christmas scene to delight children of all ages.

As we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas, our Carol services will be extra special this year; we'll be hosting a number of local schools as well as the Mayoress's Carol service on December 14th and the service of lessons and carols on Christmas Eve. There'll also be a number of special events throughout December, including concerts, bands, sing a long film nights, community vocal and dance groups and even a special visit from Santa. Find out more by visiting witneywonderland.co.uk

Raise the roof

Severe winter frosts have destroyed the limestone slates on St Mary’s Roof. We need to replace them before winter sets in. Local Witney people have already sponsored 2,200 slates. Only 1,800 slates to go!!

Please Sponsor a Slate for £10. Your civic landmark church needs you!

Donate with JustGiving and PayPal

Please find out more

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The Church is the new creation, it is life and joy, it is the sacramental fellowship in which we share the ultimate purpose of God, made real for us now in our hearing the Word and sharing the Sacrament.
Rowan Williams

Click here to view the Witney Parish 2017 Annual Report and Accounts

Annual Review 2017