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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Start:Stop - Advent waiting

Bible reading

Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning-- lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch." (Mark 13:33-37)


Advent is a time of watching and waiting. Waiting to celebrate the first coming of Christ and reflecting on our wait for his second coming. Waiting is a common experience; one that used to characterise the British as we were known for our ability to wait patiently in queues. Now that would seem to have changed, as adverts claim that impatience is a virtue.

Alan Stewart, a clergy friend, has written a meditation which helps us reflect on our common experiences of waiting. He begins:

Waiting for news / News you long for / News you fear / Waiting for answers
Waiting to rejoice / With tears of laughter / Tears of regret / Waiting to grieve
Waiting to remember / Waiting to forget
Waiting to greet / or to say goodbye / Waiting to embrace / or to push away

He ends: Waiting for God / And in the waiting / God waits / With us.

So, God is with us in our waiting. That is the first thing for us to realise and sense. It is something that we see both in the Christmas story and in the wider story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as I have highlighted in another meditation:

Waiting. / Elizabeth waiting years for the conception of a child.
Waiting. / Mary waiting nine months for the birth of God’s son.
Waiting. / Simeon waiting to see the salvation of Israel.
Waiting. / Eastern visitors following a star, waiting to worship the baby born King of the Jews.
Waiting. / Joseph and Mary living in Egypt waiting for the death of Herod.

So, I conclude: Love waits. / Birth waits. / New life waits. / Revelation waits. / God waits.

Why are we waiting? Why does God wait? The answer that the Bible seems to give is that he is waiting for us to respond to him. W. H. Vanstone wrote: “So it is with the love of God. For the completion of its work, and therefore its own triumph, it must wait upon the understanding of those who receive it. The love of God must wait for the recognition of those who have power to recognise … Recognition of the love of God involves, as it were, the forging of an offering: the offering is the coming-to-be of understanding: only where this understanding has come to be has love conveyed its richest blessing and completed its work in triumph.”

God waits for us; waits for our recognition, understanding and response to his love. So, let us make it our aim and prayer this Advent to see him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly day by day.


Watchful at all times, let us pray for strength to stand with confidence before our Maker and Redeemer. Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

Lord, you wait for us to come and see you. You wait to shine light where there is darkness, to show love where there is hate, to share peace where there is conflict, to give hope where there is despair. Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

Lord, you wait for us to come and see you. Let us gather round the manger to shine your light, to show your love, to share your peace, to give your hope. Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

Let us come, and remember what has been fulfilled. Let us prepare for what must yet be done. Let us come to the One who waits to show us love. Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

(Christine Sine)

Almighty God, as your blessed Son Jesus Christ first came to seek and to save the lost; so may he come again to find in us the completion of his redeeming work. Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.


Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you, scatter the darkness from before your path, and make you ready to meet him when he comes in glory; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.


Steve Bell & Malcolm Guite - Epiphany on the Jordan.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Silks from Imperial China: Ming & Qing dynasty costumes & textiles 1368-1911

Silks from Imperial China: Ming & Qing dynasty costumes & textiles 1368-1911
Monday 15 January 2018 6.30pm - St Martin’s Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin-in-the-Fields, together with the Chinese Speaking Congregations of St Martin's, is organising an occasional series of art talks focusing on aspects of Chinese Art.

The first lecture in this series will be on Chinese Textiles and will be given by Jacqueline Simcox on Monday 15 January 2018. Jacqueline will talk about some of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) textiles and some of the imperial costumes and festivals and show how they changed when the Machu from the north took over the country from 1644-1911 (Qing dynasty).

Jacqueline Simcox has written numerous articles on Chinese textiles, catalogued private collections and contributed essays to museum exhibition catalogues, such as ‘Celestial Silks’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, in 2004. More recently she has co-authored, with John Vollmer, a book on the imperial Chinese textiles in the Mactaggart Art Collection, University of Alberta, in Canada. ‘Emblems of Empire’was published in 2010.

The talk will be held in St Martin's Hall, within the Crypt of St Martin's, and will begin at 6.30pm for one hour. The talk will be followed by a drinks reception in the Bishop Ho Ming Wah Association and Community Centre.

Sponsored by Bonhams Chinese Department.

All are very welcome – register on Eventbrite or contact Jonathan Evens – t: 020 7766 1127, e:


Joshua Band - Oceans (Where Feet May Fail).

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Windows on the world (374)

Walsingham, 2014


Friday, 8 December 2017

The ending and beginning of all our journeying

Here is my reflection from last night's Carol Service for Gallagher at St Stephen Walbrook:

Journeys feature heavily in the Christmas story. There are the physical, geographical journeys of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register in the census, the rather shorter journey of the Shepherd from the hills surrounding Bethlehem to the manger itself, the lengthy journey of the Magi following the star via Herod’s palace to the home of Jesus, and the journey of Mary, Joseph and Jesus to Egypt following the Magi’s visit.

Then there are the emotional and life journeys that the characters in the story make. For Mary the journey of pregnancy and birth following her submission to God’s will at the Annunciation; the journey of carrying God himself in her womb for nine months while enduring the disapproval of her community. For Joseph, there is the journey from what was considered right in the community of his day – a quiet divorce – to the realisation that to do God’s will meant standing by Mary despite the local disgrace and scandal.

All these journey’s, and others, bring us to the birth of Jesus; the birth of the new thing that God was doing in the life of our world and the new thing that he was doing in the lives of these people. What can we learn from their journeys that will help us in our own life journeys?

None of their journeys were easy. Even those with shortest journey, such as the Shepherds, risked disapprobation and even the loss of their livelihood, for leaving their sheep to worship Jesus. The Magi, no doubt, had a lengthy and uncomfortable journey not knowing exactly where they were going and nearly being seduced by Herod into contributing to the death of the child they sought. But for Mary and Joseph their journey was most difficult; the worries of carrying a full-term baby in the full glare of public disapprobation, an uncomfortable journey just prior to birth, and the pain of birth in an unsuitable and uncomfortable environment far from home.

God does not promise us that the experience of being part of the new thing that he is doing is ever easy but imagine the joy and wonder of the moment that Jesus is born, when Mary holds this precious, promised child for the first time, when the Shepherds come bursting in with their tales of Angels singing glory to God and the Magi come bearing their gifts, and all who come, come to worship the child that she holds. No wonder the story tells us that she pondered or treasured these things in her heart. This child, both God and human being, was born to save humanity for our sins. God’s new act to rescue a fallen humanity; God doing a new thing in our world to demonstrate his love for each one of us.

Your journey tonight, like that of the Shepherds has been very short, but the life journeys that have brought us here tonight could well have been lengthy and hard. Like Mary and Joseph, those journeys might have involved disapprobation or scandal, the worry and pain of birthing and caring for children, like the Shepherds our life journey may have risked our livelihoods or like the Magi have involved a lengthy search for truth that has included looking in and leaving the wrong places.

However we have come tonight, the possibility remains for us to experience the new thing that God has done in our world through the birth of his son, Jesus. The good news about which the Angels sang on that first Christmas night was peace on earth, goodwill among human beings; a peace that comes as human beings receive forgiveness from God for all the wrong and torturous journeys we have had, the actions and decisions that have hurt us and hurt others. We know now that we can be forgiven because God has come, as a human being, to be with us, to experience all that human life involves and, ultimately to die to save us from our sins.

This is the new thing that God has done in our world. It is this that came to birth at Bethlehem. It is this to which all our journeys lead. Will we, with Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and the Magi, this Christmas kneel and worship this child, Jesus, God with us, the Saviour of our world, the ending and beginning of all our journeying?


Peter Warlock - Bethlehem Down.

Parish Carols, Midnight Mass & New Beginnings

Carol Service and Blessing of the Crib

Our Parish Carol Service at St Stephen Walbrook will take place next Wednesday 13th December at 6.00pm. It will have well-known carols to sing, traditional readings, the Blessing of the Christmas Crib and St Stephen’s Voices will be accompanied by the renowned Willis organ. The service will last under an hour, be led by myself, with the Christmas message being given by Revd Sally Muggeridge. It will be followed by mince pies and mulled wine and you are all most welcome to this very popular service, but please arrive in good time if you want a seat with a view.

Christmas Eve Mass

On Christmas Eve at 11.30pm, we will be celebrating the arrival of Christmas with a sung Eucharist, celebrated by Revd Sally Muggeridge and the preacher will be myself. St Stephen’s Voices will lead the music and the organist will be Dr Andrew Earis. The service, to which all are welcome, will be followed by mince pies and hot drinks.

Fresh challenges

These two Christmas services will also mark the moving on to different pastures of both myself and Revd Sally Muggeridge.

Sally completes two years of her curacy this Christmas and will be moving from the Diocese of London to her home Diocese of Canterbury to, in time, be licensed in the parish where she lives. We have been very fortunate to have enjoyed Sally’s assistance and ministry at St Stephen Walbrook during this time and can be particularly grateful for the links she has established with the City and with businesses locally. I have greatly appreciated having her here as a colleague and I am sure we will all wish her well for the future.

In relation to my own situation, as Associate Vicar at St Martin-in-the-Fields, our partner church, I have been instrumental in creating and establishing HeartEdge, a new network of churches for those working at the heart of culture, community and commerce and with those at the margins and on the edge. In 2018 I will be developing this and other partnerships further and so will be moving full-time to St Martin-in-the-Fields to focus on this important work.

The Archdeacon for the Two Cities, in writing to the PCC with news of this development, noted that the three years I have been at St Stephen Walbrook have seen ‘significant change and growth’ including Start:Stop, our popular ten-minute Tuesday morning reflections, being just one among several examples of a key initiative that has created ‘a new pattern of missional engagement at Walbrook.’ Others include the uplifting ‘Discover and Explore’ series of services on Mondays, which have featured different themes accompanied by the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Archdeacon Rosemary also stated that the partnership with St Martin-in-the-Fields ‘remains strong and will continue to grow’ and the fact ‘that Walbrook can look confidently to the future is a sign of all that has been achieved.’

Our Christmas services will therefore provide an opportunity for both Sally and I to say goodbye to you all before moving on to these fresh challenges. Both Sally and I wish you all a Peaceful and Joyous Christmas.


The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford - Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Barbed wire, a mother and child, and a refugee camp

I was glad to attend the Private View this evening for Gilly Szego: A Retrospective which is hosted by Protein Studios in Shoreditch. The exhibition is the largest curation of Szego's work to date and showcases pieces from over seven decades, from early watercolours, through to the portraits for which she is best known. At 85 years old, Szego is still producing artwork and this exhibition also includes her show from last year, Opposites: Conflict and the Human Mind.

Gilly Szego: A Retrospective also includes photographs and works by other artists that tell the story of her career as a painter, including a portrait by Feliks Topolski. With over 50 pieces, spanning seven decades, the exhibition includes privately-owned works that have never been exhibited before.

I was particularly interested to see Mother and Child a painting shown in the St Martin-in-the-Fields refugee action programme in 1972, as part of efforts to raise awareness of the plight of Ugandan refugees. This canvas surrounded by barbed wire depicts a mother and child scene in a refugee camp, but set in such a way that people would mistake it for the Madonna and Child. Szego said at the time that 'if Jesus Christ had been born in 1972, it would have most likely been in a refugee camp.' She couldn't have known when she painted it in 1972 that 45 years later it would still look as if it was painted last week. 

Venue: Protein Studios, 31 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EY
Dates: 7th - 12th December 2017

Opening Times:
Thu 7 Dec: 10am til 4pm (Open to Public)
Thu 7 Dec: 6.30pm til 10pm (Private View, by invitation only)
Fri 8 Dec: 10am til 6pm
Sat 9 Dec: 11am til 7pm
Sun 10 Dec: 11am til 6pm
Mon 11 Dec: 10am til 6pm
Tue 12 Dec: 10am til 4pm


Paul Simon - Homeless.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Windows on the world (373)

Walsingham, 2014


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Question Of Faith.