Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Start:Stop - Dare You To Move


Bible reading
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. (Luke 17. 11 – 14)

Meditation

As human beings we often find security in sameness, in repetition, and in things remaining the same. The result can be that we also remain the same and do not change. Change inevitably involves disruption and movement; something different needs to happen in order that we change. That is what Jesus calls these ten lepers to experience.

They had been ostracised by society because of their condition and had banded together to support each other on the edge of society. In order to make the journey back from the edge of society, in their day, people had to be examined by a priest who could to confirm that their condition had been healed leading to their readmission to society. That is what Jesus told them to go and do but it is significant that they had not been healed at the point that he told them to go. He told them to move, to make a change, but they were not healed until they had begun to make the change and were on their way to see the priest.

Jesus brings the life of God into all that is stagnant in people’s lives. He is the catalyst for change. His arrival on the scene brings the opportunity for hope and faith. Jesus’ arrival and presence are the catalyst and opportunity for change and for the faith that life can be different, can be better than it is now.

As well as being willing to make a move, to change, they have also had to trust in Jesus and in his instructions. It would have been easy for them to say, 'I'm no different, I'm not healed, therefore there's no point in going to see the priest.' They could have stayed where they were in what had become familiar and safe for them. Instead they all set out on what was a risky undertaking where they could have been exposed to ridicule; as, if their healing had not occurred on the way, they could have gone to the priest and been turned away in disgrace as delusional lepers.

There will be points in all our lives where our experience will be similar. We will have been in one place, one job, one role or one way of doing and being for too long and we will be stagnating as a result. Something has to change in order that we grow and develop on new ways and in different aspects of our lives. Sometimes we recognise the situation and choose to change, sometimes the change is forced on us. However it begins and however resentful we might sometimes feel, the only way for us to experience growth and develop in this situation is to make the move and accept the change. While we may not be thankful at the time, often, with hindsight we can see that change was actually good and healing for us.

The rock band Switchfoot put it like this:

“The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
Like today never happened before”

Prayer

Change has come and there are many challenges to be faced and overcome. May we be equal to the task ahead of us, ready to renew ourselves, ready to take on the new, anxious to let go of old ideas that no longer fit, moving with confidence, into the future, your future. Make us strong enough to triumph, flexible enough to grow and change as needed, optimistic enough to see the new opportunities as we move into the changing landscape of our lives. May we accept and welcome the change that has come.

Change has come unbidden, and at times, unwelcome. May we be ready to embrace change and move swiftly forward.

Lord Jesus, you were the catalyst for change and the predictor of change for your first disciples. Help us to see you clearly in the challenges and changes of our times that you might also be our Lord and guide today. Transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory. Calm our concerns, show us new opportunities, and give us the freedom to discover ourselves afresh in serving you. Show us what you have stored up for us, and give us the courage to follow you.

Change has come unbidden, and at times, unwelcome. May we be ready to embrace change and move swiftly forward.

In the tension between who we are and who we could be, between how it is and how it should be; may we here your call daring us to lift ourselves up off the floor and to move like today never happened before.

Change has come unbidden, and at times, unwelcome. May we be ready to embrace change and move swiftly forward.
Blessing

New opportunities, renewal of our lives, flexibility to grow, moving with confidence into the future, God’s heavenly glory made known. May all those blessings of almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Discover & explore: St Alban




Discover & explore: St Alban at St Stephen Walbrook with the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields began in the round. The music sung by ‪the Choral Scholars of St Martin in the Fields included O taste and see – Vaughan Williams, Valiant for Truth – Vaughan Williams, Since by man came death (from ‘Messiah’) – Handel and O Praise God in his holiness – Talbot. We also heard an extract from Bede's account of St Albans' martyrdom.

‪Next Mondays "Discover & Explore" at 1.10pm will explore Constantine as the #Londinium series continues - https://ssw.churchapp.co.uk/events/p8gmbsfw‬.

In my reflection I said:

St Alban’s story and St Alban’s Cathedral, built in his honour, take us back to the beginning of the Christian faith in Britain.

Alban is believed to have been a Romano-British citizen of the third century in the Roman city of Verulamium (now St Albans), in the valley below the present St Alban’s Cathedral. He was a pagan soldier in the Roman Army stationed in Britain. His exact background is unknown, but popular tradition declares him a native Briton. Bede says he lived during the religious persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian (c.AD 304), though modern historians have argued for similar circumstances which arose some years earlier, during the reigns of Decius (c.254) or Septimus Severus (c.209).

During these dangerous times, Alban received into his house and sheltered a Christian priest, originally un-named but later called Amphibalus in the re-telling of the story, and was so struck by the devotion to God and blameless life of this man whom he protected, that he placed himself under his instruction and became a Christian. A rumour having reached the governor of Verulamium, that the priest was hiding in the house of Alban, he sent soldiers to search it. Alban, seeing them arrive, hastily threw the long cloak of the priest over his own head and shoulders and presented himself to the soldiers as the man whom they sought. He was immediately bound and brought before the governor who, at that moment, was standing at one of the civic altars, offering up a sacrifice. When the cloak, which had concealed Alban's face, was removed, it was immediately revealed that he was not the priest whose arrest the governor had ordered. The latter's anger flamed hot and he ordered Alban, immediately, to sacrifice to the gods or to suffer death.

St. Alban steadfastly refused to offer to idols. Then the magistrate asked, "Of what family and race are you?"

"How can it concern thee to know of what stock I am?" answered Alban. "If thou desirest to know what is my religion, I will tell thee - I am a Christian and am bound by Christian obligations."

"I ask thy name, tell it me immediately."

"I am called Albanus by my parents," he replied, "and I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things." Then the governor said,

"If thou wilt enjoy eternal life, delay not to sacrifice to the great gods." Alban rejoined,

"These sacrifices which are offered to devils are to no avail. Hell is the reward of those who offer them." The governor ordered St. Alban to be scourged, hoping to shake his constancy by pain. But the martyr bore the stripes patiently and even joyously, for our Lord's sake.

When the judge saw that he could not prevail, he ordered Alban to be put to death. On his way to execution, on 20th June, the martyr had to cross a river. "There," says Bede, "he saw a multitude of both sexes, and of every age and rank, assembled to attend the blessed confessor and martyr; and these so crowded the bridge, that he could not pass over that evening. Then St. Alban, urged by an ardent desire to accomplish his martyrdom, drew near to the stream, and the channel was dried up, making a way for him to pass over."

Then the martyr and his escort, followed by an innumerable company of spectators, ascended the hill above Verulamium, now occupied by the abbey church bearing his name. It was then a green hill covered with flowers, sloping gently down into the pleasant plain. However, the executioner refused to perform his office and, throwing down his sword, confessed himself a Christian also. Another man was detailed to deal the blow and both Alban and the executioner, who had refused to strike, were decapitated together. Despite escaping, Amphibalus too was later arrested and martyred at Redbourn, a few miles away.

As with all good stories the legend grew with time and Bede, in particular, elaborated the story. It was he who added that the river miraculously divided to let Alban pass and a spring of water appeared to provide a drink for the saint. He also adds that the executioner's eyes dropped out as he beheaded the saint, a detail that has often been depicted with relish since.

Alban was probably buried in the Roman cemetery now located by modern archaeological digs to the south of the present Cathedral. When Christianity was legalized by the Emperor Constantine the Great, not long afterwards, he was well remembered by the local community who erected a martyrium above his grave. This almost certainly became a place of pilgrimage, even in Roman times. The first churches in St Albans were probably simple structures over Alban’s grave, making this the oldest continuous site of Christian worship in Great Britain. Recent finds suggest an early basilica over the spot and in 429 St Germanus recorded his visit to this church. Bede described ‘a beautiful church, worthy of his martyrdom’. He described the hill as "adorned with wild flowers of every kind" and as a spot "whose natural beauty had long fitted it as a place to be hallowed by the blood of a blessed martyr". The small church survived the pagan Saxon expansion until the present abbey church was founded on the site, by King Offa of Mercia, in AD 793. Matthew Paris, the celebrated medieval historian and most famous of the Abbey’s monks, produced a beautifully illustrated Life of St Alban in the 13th century. This is now at Trinity College in Dublin. Alban's relics were revered by the devout for centuries, before they eventually disappeared during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Tradition has it that they were smuggled away to join previously exchanged relics at St. Pantaleon's Church in Cologne.

Alban is honoured as the first British martyr, and the shrine of St Alban can still be seen in St Alban’s Cathedral. Its Purbeck marble base of 1308 supports a modern red and gold canopy under which rests a shoulder-blade said to come from the original relics of the saint’s body. The canopy is embroidered with English wildflowers, commemorating Bede’s description of Alban as ascending a hill "adorned with wild flowers of every kind." The red rose, in particular has come to be a special symbol of the saint reflecting the words of an ancient prayer: ‘Among the roses of the martyrs, brightly shines Saint Alban.’ In art, St. Alban is represented, sometimes in civil and sometimes in military dress, bearing the palm of martyrdom and a sword, or a cross and a sword. For over 1700 years, pilgrims have prayed on the hillside in St Albans where he was martyred, many on or near St Alban’s Day, 22 June, when his story is celebrated and re-enacted.

Alban is a saint of the undivided church, a saint for all Christians. His welcome to a persecuted stranger was a powerful example of courage, compassion and hospitality. St Alban is still with us in the Communion of Saints, and in this sacred place we worship God with him and ask his prayers.

https://www.stalbanscathedral.org/history/story-of-st-alban

http://www.stalbansearsdon.co.uk/who-was-st-alban/

http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/alban.html

Prayers

Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Alban Triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant to us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Eternal Father, when the gospel of Christ first came to our land you gloriously confirmed the faith of Alban by making him the first to win a martyr's crown: grant that, following his example, in the fellowship of the saints we may worship you, the living God, and give true witness to Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God our Redeemer, whose Church was strengthened by the blood of your martyr Alban: so bind us, in life and death, to Christ's sacrifice that our lives, broken and offered with his, may carry his death and proclaim his resurrection in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Alban Prayer: Among the roses of the martyrs brightly shines Saint Alban. Almighty God, We thank you for St Alban’s Cathedral built to your glory and in memory of Alban, our first martyr. Following his example in the fellowship of the saints, may we worship and adore the true and living God, and be faithful witnesses to the Christ, who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Pray for us Alban, pray for us all Saints of God that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Blessing

May God, who kindled the fire of his love in the hearts of the saints, pour upon you the riches of his grace. May he give you joy in their fellowship and a share in their praises. May he strengthen you to follow them in the way of holiness and to come to the full radiance of glory. And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ralph Vaughan Williams - Valiant For Truth.

Private View: central saint martin in the fields





The Private View for central saint martins in the fields, an exhibition of work by recent art and design graduates from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, was held tonight at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

We heard from Sam Wells, Jeremy Till, Head of Central Saint Martins, Angela Sanchez del Campo, who curated the exhibition with Mark Dunhill, and Mark Dean who, as UAL Chaplain, helped organise the show.

In an article for ArtlystCentral St Martins in the Fields Design Then And Now, I noted that:

"Throughout its history, St Martin-in-the-Fields has looked beyond its own doors and played an active role in wider social, humanitarian and international issues. In this way, it has helped to form the world around it. This legacy includes involvement in the founding of many charitable and cultural organisations, including Amnesty InternationalShelterThe Big IssueThe Academy of St Martins in the Fields and Central Saint Martins. Of these, the involvement of St Martin’s in the formation of Central Saint Martins is the least known, although the earliest instance of involvement in initiating these significant institutions."

St Martin’s School of Art was established in 1854 by St Martin-in-the-Fields. The Revd Henry Mackenzie and others were concerned that art and design training should be developed alongside the religious and general education already provided by Church schools, to ‘extend the influence of science and art upon productive industry’ following the Great Exhibition of 1851.

The art school soon became independent, and over a century later in 1986 merged with Central School of Art and Design to become Central Saint Martins. Today, the College is an internationally recognised centre for art and design education and research, based in King’s Cross.

For this exhibition Central Saint Martins returns to one of its roots, St Martin-in-the-Fields. Over 150 years later, our connection remains the belief in the power of creativity as a catalyst for change in both individuals and the wider community.

Exhibition opening times –

Monday: 8.00am – 8.00pm
Tuesday: 8.00am – 8.00pm
Wednesday: 8.00am – 10.30pm
Thursday: 8.00am – 9.00pm
Friday: 8.00am – 9.00pm
Saturday: 9.00am – 9.00pm
Sunday: 11.00am – 6.00pm

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Arcade Fire featuring Mavis Staples - I Give You Power.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Windows on the world (366)


London, 2016

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Led Zepplin - Kashmir.

Artlyst article & review

In my latest piece for Artlyst, Central St Martins in the Fields Design Then And Now, I note that:

"Throughout its history, St Martin-in-the-Fields has looked beyond its own doors and played an active role in wider social, humanitarian and international issues. In this way, it has helped to form the world around it. This legacy includes involvement in the founding of many charitable and cultural organisations, including Amnesty International, Shelter, The Big Issue, The Academy of St Martins in the Fields and Central Saint Martins. Of these, the involvement of St Martin’s in the formation of Central Saint Martins is the least known, although the earliest instance of involvement in initiating these significant institutions."

Artlyst have also reviewed 'Creations' by Alexander de Cadenet at St Stephen Walbrook. The review suggests that:

"Priest Revd Jonathan Evens of St Stephens Walbrook, who is taking his spiritual role as a curator of contemporary art and architecture, in the City of London, is bringing a refreshing light of hope for the complications that the City of London holds.

Placing the bronze apple, ‘Creations’ referencing the apple of creation, in the church, Alexander and the Reverand are making a very bold statement with respect to our relationship to those whom we hold dear, allowing a confrontation with the process of God in how we are relating spiritually to the ‘apple of desire’, rebellion, the sanctity of marriage, temptation, demonisation and the universal knowledge that comes from ingesting the journey in to enlightenment and the expansive understanding of the Creator and Creation ...

The safety of the church enables a release from egoic and corrupting forces ...

This is an experience that can be enjoyed and endured in spiritual release while meditating on the bronze apple, the power of the architecture, on the story of Adam and Eve, the apple of creation and understanding the intentions of the church."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Robert Plant - Bones Of Saints.

Just As I Am












Just As I Am was a weekend of events at St Martin-in-the-Fields marking our 6th annual conference on Disability & Church, in partnership with Inclusive Church. The programme had been planned by a group led by Fiona MacMillan.

Saturday's conference Just As I Am – Living Theology explored the questions - What does it mean to be disabled, and what might that say about God? Do our stories tell us something of God’s story? Are we living theology?

The speakers included Helen Tyers, Darius Traves, Ali Lyon and Sam Wells, who led a workshop on understanding and models of theology. Working in small groups, with a marketplace and silent space, we shared ideas arising from our experience and considered how we can resource each other and the church.

Conference delegate Philip Dawson tweeted the following reflections:
  • Heard an "alternative" interpretation of the life of Charlotte Elliot author of "Just As I Am". She wasn't a weak invalid but a strong woman.
  • Should grief or sickness waste away My life in premature decay, My Father, still I strive to say, "Thy will be done."
  • A key passage which spoke to Charlotte as a disabled woman was 2 Corinthians 3.18. If we look in a mirror the reflection we see is Christ.
  • Helen Tyers suggested many churches still run by those with mindset of Victorian hymnwriters i.e. that disabled are invalids who need to be cured.
  • We heard from Sam Wells who drew on his Christian Ethics book & asked us to imagine "church" as a triangle which we were somewhere inside
  • The three sides represent the "established" "universal" church, the individual "subversive" church and the broad "ecclesial" church.
  • In groups we were asked to think about how the lengths of each side of the triangle has changed over time and where we sit within it.
  • Sam Wells suggested "subversive" church could get so caught up challenging the "universal" church that it lacks message of its own.
  • Suggested "subversive" trying to bang on door of "universal" to be let in implied we all wanted to be "in" with the universal.
  • Perhaps in a post-colonial world where one cannot take Christian theology for granted, we all need to adopt a more "ecclesial" approach.
  • Before I had to leave I heard Darius Traves speak about his work with "Just As I Am" in Yorkshire. An inspiring man!
The day ended with a Eucharist in which we prayed: Loving God. We thank you for feeding us with your bread and wine. We thank you for all we have shared and learnt today. We thank you for our similarities and differences. We thank you for our thoughts, ideas and our truths. Send us out into the world to serve you, knowing that you accept us ... Just as we are.

Our Sunday morning service was a special Eucharist and Healing Service liturgy for St Luke’s Day, written by members of our Disability Advisory Group & Healing Team under the guidance of Sam Wells.

In the service we prayed: Creating God, from of old your plans for your people have been faithful and sure. You provide refuge to all and invite each of us, just as we are, to share in your feast of creation’s wonder. In Christ you extended the invitation to your feast to all peoples; you came to human beings and humanity came to you.

Our preacher was Tim Goode, the Disability Adviser for Southwark Diocese and a trustee of Inclusive Church, who is a member of the conference planning team. Tim said:

"I want to take a moment to paint a picture of a mythical nation. If it were possible to gather together all the disabled people in the world into one nation, that nation would number approximately 650 million. That’s more than ten times the population of the United Kingdom. In fact the nation would be the third largest in the world after China and India.

I would like to now share some of the unique characteristics of this mythical nation. It would have the least access to education. It would have the lowest proportion of its population in employment in the world. It would be the poorest nation on earth. It would have the least access to transport and it would be the least evangelised nation with the lowest proportion involved in a church. It would also be the least listened to. It is also true that everyone of that 650 million is being invited this morning to the wedding banquet.

This is why the Disability Conference being held at St Martin’s this weekend is so important. The inhabitants of this mystical country are speaking up and we are speaking out because we belong to each and every country. We are sharing our lived experience because we have important stories to tell. We are not separated from the king’s invitation for we, like everyone in Trafalgar Square and on the Godstone Road, like everyone anywhere, are made in the image and likeness of God and are loved by God beyond all measure."

The service included the laying on of hands and anointing with oil, accompanied by prayers for healing – for individuals, someone else known to them, or the wider world.

Following the service we launched ‘Calling from the Edge’, a beautifully produced booklet celebrating the first five disability conferences that have been held as a partnership between St Martin-in-the-Fields and Inclusive Church. In the booklet you will find stories and reflections that tell the story that underlies this significant series of conferences. The prophetic voices we hear emanating from the conference and booklet are, rightly, challenging for the Church but, as Sam Wells says in his Foreword to the booklet, we need to recognise the sin of how much we have rejected in the past, and celebrate the grace that God gives us back what we once rejected to become the cornerstone of our lives. That’s what prophetic ministry means.

Finally, we enjoyed a special screening of Summer in the Forest, the new feature-length documentary film about the L'Arche community. It follows the life of the original community in Trosly, France, and explores what it means to be human. We were joined by the director Randall Wright for a discussion after the film led by Katherine Hedderly before ending with the chance to meet and talk over tea in the Lightwell.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Summer In The Forest.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Prophetic voices calling from the edge


Vox pop interviews given by participants at Prophets & Seers: Calling from the Edge, the 2016 conference on Disability and Church, organised in partnership between St Martin-in-the-Fields and Inclusive Church. Participants shared their message to the Church.

Here is my Thought for the Week for the Parish Newsletter at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

“My weakness and my weariness can be something like a gift.”

“It is really important to have a chance to tell our stories, hear them underpinned by theology and find out how they can – or should – influence wider public policy.”

“We need to move on from welcoming disabled people as an act of grace and see them as whole people with as much right to be there as anyone else.”

“Disabled people are not so much a pastoral problem as a prophetic potential. We need to ask not how the church can care for disabled people but to ask what is the prophetic message of the church in our culture and how disabled people can make a unique contribution to that renewal.”

“Our disabilities don’t necessarily detract from how whole we are, please don’t presume we need to be healed or that we have nothing to contribute – everyone has gifts to give.”

These quotes come from ‘Calling from the Edge’, a beautifully produced booklet celebrating the first five disability conferences that have been held as a partnership between St Martin-in-the-Fields and Inclusive Church. In the booklet you will find stories and reflections that tell the story that underlies this significant series of conferences. We are launching this booklet during a weekend of events that includes the sixth conference in the series, in which we are exploring what being disabled says about God and what the stories of disabled people tell us about God’s story.

All this is predicated on the basis that nothing should be said about us without us and, as a result, that the conference is organised by and for disabled people. The prophetic voices we hear emanating from the conference and booklet are, rightly, challenging for the Church but, as Sam Wells says in his Foreword to the booklet, we need to recognise the sin of how much we have rejected in the past, and celebrate the grace that God gives us back what we once rejected to become the cornerstone of our lives. That’s what prophetic ministry means.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

St Martin's Voices - Gloria.