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From the Vicar - September 2020

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I’d like to begin by sharing with you one of my favourite poems.

 It seems particularly appropriate for our September magazine, as R S Thomas died in the month of September!

Kneeling

Moments of great calm,

Kneeling before an altar

Of wood in a stone church

In summer, waiting for the God

To speak; the air a staircase

For silence; the sun’s light

Ringing me, as though I acted

A great role. And the audiences

Still; all that close throng

Of spirits waiting, as I,

For the message.

Prompt me, God;

But not yet. When I speak,

Though it be you who speak

Through me, something is lost.

The meaning is in the waiting.

(R S Thomas b.1913, d.2000)

 

Some of you have heard before the story of my first visit to Cuddesdon, in 2013 I think, when I was on holiday nearby.  As I had recently begun to explore whether God was calling me to ordained ministry, a friend suggested that I visit Ripon College Cuddesdon while I was in the area.  I drove from Clifton Hampden to Cuddesdon one Sunday afternoon – it might well have been early September - and found a parking space near All Saints Church.

I was delighted to find the church unlocked, and spent some time sitting alone in the church, praying, and watching the sun stream through the stained-glass windows, leaving coloured patterns on the walls and stone floor.  Although I didn’t hear clear words, God seemed to speak to me as I sat and enjoyed the silence for, by the time I left the church – and before I even set eyes on the college – I had decided that I wanted to train at Cuddesdon, if I were selected to train for ordination.

Since my licensing as Vicar in All Saints Church in January, I have had few opportunities to pray in All Saints.  As you know, during the early months of lockdown, our churches had to be locked and, for some time, even clergy weren’t permitted to go inside to pray.

Now, fortunately, All Saints is open again for private prayer – currently only on Wednesday afternoons, though that might change shortly, with the arrival of a new intake of ordinands at the college, and the beginning of a new college year.  Sunday worship, too, has returned to All Saints – although a number of us continue to enjoy on-line worship too. And we are delighted that the Julian Meetings, which used to be held once a month in the Bishop Edward King Chapel at the college, are now being held weekly in All Saints.  

Julian Meetings are very simple.  After a short prayer or reading, we hold 30 minutes of silence.  Some use this silence for contemplative prayer or meditation.  Others use it for intercessory prayer.  And for others the 30 minutes is a gift – a time to sit and be still and not have to do anything at all.  Anyone is welcome to join us for these weekly periods of silence.  Although they usually begin and end with a prayer, you don’t have to be a practising Christian, or even consider yourself spiritual or religious, to benefit from these meetings.

Why not just come along and enjoy 30 minutes of silence kneeling (or sitting) “before an altar of wood in a stone church,” and enjoy the lovely peaceful atmosphere of our beautiful church? (Julian Meetings begin at 2:10pm and finish around 2:50pm.  During the current pandemic, we request that you wear a mask (unless you are exempt), use hand-sanitiser, and adhere to social distancing measures).

God bless

Karen Charman