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From the Vicar - March 2022

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On Thursday 24th February, I attended the 7:30am College Eucharist in the chapel of Ripon College Cuddesdon, as I often do.

I’d been working until late the evening before, and hadn’t seen the news.  Bishop Humphrey Southern began the service with the sobering news that Russia had invaded Ukraine, tanks were rolling over the borders, and COBRA (the Civil Contingencies Committee that is convened to handle matters of national emergency or major disruption) was meeting to consider the UK’s response.  The words and sacrament of Holy Communion seemed most appropriate and comforting for this distressing news; and remembering Jesus’ sacrifice, made once for all upon the cross, through the breaking and sharing of bread, served to unite us with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. “Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread.”

The previous day, the college had met in church for all-age worship – led partly by some of the children who are part of the community – and had considered the question, “Who is my neighbour?”  For some, I suppose, this answer might change from day to day.  One thing is certain, though: our ‘neighbour’ can no longer mean only “the person who lives beside, or in close proximity to, my house.”  We have global neighbours, around the world, who we are called to love as we love ourselves, and called to stand alongside in times of adversity.  Today, our neighbour must include the men, women and children of Ukraine.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, have condemned the attack by Russia on Ukraine as “an act of great evil,” and urged Christians to make Sunday 27th February a special day of prayer for Ukraine, Russia and for peace.  Although that date will have passed, by the time you read this article, Christians believe that it is never too late to pray.

The Archbishops are also supporting a global day of prayer and fasting for peace on Ash Wednesday (Wednesday 2nd March). Our benefice churches (St Mary’s, Garsington; All Saints,’ Cuddesdon; and St Giles’, Horspath) are all open most days for private prayer, and I hope to print some prayers and place them in our churches shortly, for use when people pop into church and, perhaps, during some more formal and organised opportunities to pray.  I have also asked our congregations to pray for Ukraine in our intercessions, in our private and public prayer.  I wonder if you could join us in praying for Ukraine – or, if you are not accustomed to prayer, or do not believe in a God who hears our prayers, perhaps send positive thoughts for peace in Ukraine and, perhaps, seek to support the people of Ukraine through financial giving or other means?

On Ash Wednesday (Wednesday 2nd March), we have a Service of Holy Communion with the Imposition of Ashes, in St Giles’ Horspath, at 7:30pm.  This service will include an opportunity to pray for Ukraine.  I invite you, if you are able, to attend this service, which marks the beginning of Lent.  In the liturgy, Christians are invited “to the observance of a Holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.”  As part of our Lenten observance, I hope that many Christians will commit to pray regularly (daily, perhaps?) for Ukraine and for peace, and strive to keep that most difficult commandment, which Jesus taught was the greatest of all the commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself,” (Luke 10:27).

If you feel able to join me, and others, in praying for Ukraine, you might wish to use the following prayer:

God of peace and justice,

we pray for the people of Ukraine today.

We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons.

We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow,

that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them.

We pray for those with power over war or peace,

for wisdom, discernment and compassion

to guide their decisions.


Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear, 

that you would hold and protect them.

We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.



Thank you.

I hope to see many of you around the village, but do please get in touch if you would like a visit, or to receive Home Communion if you are unable to come to church.

God bless