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.

Praying for victims of terror



'In the midst of life we are in death.'

Lord, in a place of pleasure, terror struck, in a place of life, death came. Hold us in our shock and grief, comfort the distressed, heal the injured, calm the anxious, reunite the separated, console the bereaved, and give rest and everlasting peace to those who have died, for your love never fails and through the darkness your light always shines. Amen.

Team Vicar

2016 Accounts and 2016 Review

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Raise the roof

An opportunity to invest in a major Witney landmark

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!!

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Inspiring Change

Creating a Community Space for the 21st Century

As part of our wider commitment to serve the people of Witney, we have formed a vision for renewing St Mary’s Church, our town’s landmark civic church: to enhance the ways the spiritual, community and cultural life of Witney people in the 21st century is served by St Mary’s church.

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Latest Witney Way

You can read the latest edition of the 'The Witney Way' by clicking Here

Remember Dale Carnegie’s bestseller, How to Make Friends and Influence People? Well he also wrote, ‘Today is the tomorrow, you worried about yesterday.’ Mindfulness is currently a popular method of temporarily ridding oneself of extraneous stimuli, emptying and calming the mind, and concentrating on the Now. Of course metaphysically, Now can never exist; even as you read this sentence, the beginning is already in the past, and the end is still in the future.

The following pages are full of Yesterdays; accounts, reminiscences, recollections, memories and history; but also hope for our Tomorrows. Bishop John Pritchard helps us to look forward when we may be struggling or have lost our way, John Wesley reminds us that ‘faith is a journey not an end’, and Bishop Steven invites us to ‘come and see’.

Our Team Vicar Neil has left for pastures new, our curate Alastair is planning his departure, and we are looking forward to welcoming Ross as he prepares to join us as curate, on the next phase of his ministry. Pray for them all.

The 40 days of Lent – Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday, minus the six Sundays – commemorate Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, prior to his ministry. For us, it is a time of reflection and preparation, looking back at our lives; but also looking forward to our Lord’s glorious Resurrection. It is a time of spiritual discipline, reading, prayer, self-denial, charitable giving and actions. What are you doing?

Love and prayers,
Toby Wright
Team Rector

Staffing News

We are delighted to announce the appointment of a new Team Vicar

The Rev'd Ness Whiffin has been appointed to serve as Team Vicar in the Parish of Witney. Ness will be licensed in S. Mary's on 6 September 2017 and all are welcome to come and pray for her as she begins her new ministry here in Witney.

Please pray for Ness as she prepares for this move and the next step in her priestly ministry.

New Curate appointed


We are delighted to announce the appointment of Ross Meikle to serve his curacy in the parish. Ross will be ordained on Saturday 1st July at Christ Church Cathedral. Please pray for Ross as he continues his formation. you can read more about him HERE.

Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, by your Holy Spirit you have appointed various orders of ministry in the Church:
look with mercy on your servants now called to be deacons and priests;
maintain them in truth and renew them in holiness,
that by word and good example they may faithfully serve you to the glory of your name
and the benefit of your Church;
through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen

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Holy Week Addresses

The Rev'd Canon Dr Joanna Collicutt led Holy Week 2017 on Remembering.
The text of her addresses is available Holy Week 2017 here

Holy Week

Oxford Diocese

Seven days a week, more than 50,000 Anglican disciples are dispersed across the Diocese of Oxford and the world, serving God in a huge variety of contexts and making a difference in the world. Together as a Diocese we support an enormous range of voluntary projects serving the local community often in partnership with others: these include food banks, children’s centres, support for the homeless and refugees, community groups, parent and toddler groups and many more. Over a thousand church buildings and church schools are centres of life and hospitality in their communities. There are around a hundred stipendiary chaplains working across the Diocese in prisons, hospitals, the police, universities and schools. We have three formal overseas links with Kimberley and Kuruman (South Africa), with Växjö (Sweden) and with Nandyal (India) and many other links at parish level.

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