Category Archives: Reflection

Charlbury New Economy Reading Group​


Our friends at the Charlbury Quaker Meeting invite you to join their stimulating reading group. The Reading Group meets for an hour each month to discuss each of the Quaker “Building the New Economy” booklets. These are all focused around how we can move towards a more sustainable economy which doesn’t rely on consuming our natural resources and economic growth every year. Fortunately, you don’t need a degree in economics to understand this because each booklet is written for beginners. Continue reading Charlbury New Economy Reading Group​

The Sacrament of the Present Moment


‘The sacrament of the present moment is the doorway to the eternal and universal’, says Sally Welch, vicar of St Mary’s Charlbury, in her recent book How to be a mindful Christian (Canterbury Press, 2016).  It is an experience that we try to cultivate at our regular Mid-Month Meditation in the Chase Benefice (3rd Tuesday, 6.15pm). The joy of a midsummer meditation at Holy Trinity Ascott is that we can have the door wide open and tune in and out of the sounds of the village and the valley of the Evenlode. Continue reading The Sacrament of the Present Moment

Lent is for Loving

David Soward writes…

‘Lent is not meant to be miserable’, ran a headline in the Church Times. Rather, the author suggested, Lent should be about ‘clearing the decks’, as Jesus does in the wilderness (which ‘represents solitude, rest, and a profound trust in God’). And instead of setting our own agenda – what we will give up, what we will take up – we should leave the agenda ‘entirely to God’.

Waiting on God

It is Shrove Tuesday, after all, which is for being shriven (confessing and then receiving absolution); Lent should be a positive engagement in life, maybe a re-focusing, a time for ‘waiting on God’, and also a celebration of spring flowers and what the Mowbray Lent Book for 2017 calls ‘Glimpses of Glory’. It was hard to be entirely miserable at the Ash Wednesday service at Ascott, with the churchyard and the lime walk blooming with crocuses in the early spring sun!

In that spirit, we might give more time in Lent for joy, for listening, for embracing a change in our routine, a limit to our normal personal comforts, but all in a positive frame of mind. Laurie Vere in her article suggests that ‘people might value shorter sermons, briefer intercessions, and more times for shared silence and reflection’. We will have our Lent suppers and our weekly services but we could also attend a Jesus Prayer, a Meditation or even a Quaker meeting.

Count your blessings

Christian Aid is urging us this Lent to ‘count our blessings’ and to think of Matthew 25 and be there for our neighbour. When Wychwood Circle talked about homelessness recently we had the image of a white homeless man begging on a pavement and holding a notice which read, ‘I used to be your neighbour’. That seemed as poignant as the discussion itself. Our homeless neighbours are of course not just on our own streets, and many of them are not white and are seeking refuge after losing their homes far away.

So if we are putting money aside from reducing our consumption or if we are changing our habits, we should perhaps make a point of expanding our consciousness beyond what much of our national press would like us to consider and think of the thousands of homeless refugees – on our own doorstep, both literally and metaphorically.

Everyone needs a safe place

At a time when for many the situation is every bit as challenging, Christian Aid Week this year will see the charity going back to its original purpose in 1945 of supporting refugees across Europe – and beyond. 65 million people across the globe are thought to be without a safe place. That’s about the size of our own national population.

But for now we have Lent and we have Easter and we have our own wilderness and our glimpses of glory. You can download the ‘Count Your Blessings 2017’ calendar from the Christian Aid website. Or you can sponsor Revd Kate Stacey (Wychwood Benefice) who is running the London marathon the Sunday after Easter to raise funds for Christian Aid and is still short of about £500 to reach her target.

And love is the meaning of Lent

There is an echo of a Lenten clearing of the decks in an Ash Wednesday meditation by John Bowker where he says that what we should be giving up, or maybe just seeking to identify, is ‘whatever there is that is blocking or impeding or standing in the way of [a] direct conversation with God.’ For him the clearing out might include a ‘burning out of all that is dead’, as a result of which ‘there will be great warmth and light for others … – one might even say love. And love is the meaning of Lent’.





Winter Days


Ascott - crocus3
Crocuses carpeting the churchyard in Ascott-under-Wychwood

Enstone resident and local writer, Elizabeth Birchall, has recently written a seasonal poem. We are grateful to her for sharing it with us.


                        WINTER DAYS

Like Shakespeare’s schoolboy I trudge
Reluctantly to the ancients’ keep fit class.
Alone today I can look around. There
In the north-facing lea of a hedge
Protected from wind but subdued by cold
Squats a drab rosette of foxglove leaves,  clad
In the faintest down of frost. And so
Their summer roughness seems as soft
As ‘Rabbits’ Ears’ – for just a moment more.
The January sun nears its zenith
And all the village roofs have already
Lost their bloom.

Some days the sky, heavy as an elephant,
Hardly has energy to unload
Its drizzle. Then my garden cowers
In winter gloom. No bees fly but birds pick
Among the deadhead fuzz of asters.
Two weeks ago the cotoneaster tree
Cascaded brilliance from crown
To lowest branches; surely the feast
Would last the season through. Fieldfares, precise
As Mondrian, then cut away the red
In horizontal bands that left a lattice
Of black framing despondent light.
No spark of brightness –

Yet beneath dank layers of leaves beetles lurk
And brave pricks of green shelter until Spring.
Today the rotting mass is crisp and laced
With rime and the naked tree
Filigrees the blue.

Elizabeth Birchall.
January 2017

For information on Elizabeth’s published books, click on the images below, but do order them from our local bookshops!

Birchall01     Birchall02




Stop stepping on my toes!


Those who follow the goings on of the Church of England will have will have seen much coverage in the media about the statement by the House of Bishops Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations’ published on Friday 27 January 2017 ahead of the February sitting of The General Synod.  After three long years of ‘Shared Conversations’ on the nature of marriage and the experiences of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Christians this report has been been seen by many if not all in the LGBT community as unbelievable, unacceptable and ungodly. Continue reading Stop stepping on my toes!

For the love of … God’s creation

Springs Alley by Gordon Cooper –

Creationtide, a Church season initiated in 1989 by the Orthodox Church and since adopted by Anglicans and Catholics, began on September 1st with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and it runs throughout the month until October 4th. Then on 8th October begins Climate Week – a ‘week of action’ initiated by the Climate Coalition which includes over 100 organisations, from Christian Aid to WWF ( Continue reading For the love of … God’s creation