Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

HeartEdge: December Mailer

HeartEdge is an international ecumenical movement of churches and other organisations developing mission focused on commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion.

Our monthly Mailer is a "smorgasbord of ideas, inspiration and resource focused around HeartEdge 4 C's."

This month:
  • "If the caf├ęs are open on Christmas Day, then the churches should surely be. And we should not be celebrating a sort of 'Narnia' Christmas, fantasizing about the good old days, whenever they were. We are celebrating Christmas this year in a world at war, full of uncertainty, inequality and injustice." Lucy Winkett on being open for Christmas.
  • Plus - a Christmas group work resource, a look at community meals, and the Library of Things
  • Also - Henri Nouwen, 'Spirit Level' authors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett on social status, Simon Sinek on power dynamics, 2019 trends and Chine McDonald on identity politics.

Gungor feat. All Sons & Daughters - Oh Light.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Community Carols & other Services at St Martin-in-the-Fields

Here are the details of the main services at St Martin-in-the-Fields in the final week of Advent and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:

Community Carols
Tuesday 18 December 2018
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Join us for this joyous celebration of the Christmas season, featuring well-known carols specially chosen by those who work around Trafalgar Square. The service is led by Revd Dr Sam Wells with the Choral Scholars, Occasional Singers and Children’s Voices of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Doors open 5.45pm. All are welcome. No tickets required but come early to be certain of a seat.


The fourth Advent Candle is lit.
Sunday 23 December 2018, 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Crib Family Service

A lively service of readings and carols particularly suitable for younger members of the family and including the Blessing of the Crib.
Monday 24 December 2018, 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Parish Carol Service

A beautiful candlelit celebration of the Christmas story.
Monday 24 December 2018, 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Parish Carol Services

A beautiful candlelit celebration of the Christmas story.
Monday 24 December 2018, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Midnight Mass

The climax of all our Advent preparation and Christmas worship as we light the Christmas candle and welcome the Christ child.
Monday 24 December 2018, 11:00 pm - 11:59 pm

Eucharist Service

Join us as we celebrate Christmas with our combined English and Chinese congregations.
Tuesday 25 December 2018, 10:30 am - 11:30 am

The BBC Radio 4 Christmas Appeal with St Martin-in-the-Fields raises money to transform the lives of homeless and vulnerably housed people across the UK. The St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity directly supports people through The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields and across the UK through the Vicar’s Relief Fund (VRF) and the Frontline Network.

'On Christmas Night' - A Christmas Celebration from St Martin-in-the-Fields, St Martin's Voices - Recorded in St Martin-in-the-Fields 4th - 5th September 2018. This brand new recording from St Martin's Voices, St Martin-in-the-Fields, has just been released. Directed by Andrew Earis, with organist Ben Giddens, this CD is a mix of the traditional with modern arrangements, and is the perfect gift for any music lover.


St Martin's Voices - The Christ Child.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Windows on the world (425)

London 2016


Rumer - Aretha.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Lifelines: Notes on Life & Love, Faith & Doubt

Great to have the launch of Lifelines: Notes on Life & Love, Faith & Doubt by Martin Wroe and Malcolm Doney at St Martin-in-the-Fields this afternoon.

'Life is beautiful . . . and baffling. Any new day may be lit up with beauty and wonder but the next overcast with pain and sadness.

Our time on earth is shot through with questions so vast that we can’t get our minds around them. Humans have always tried to find ways to respond to those questions. It’s usually called ‘wisdom’, and before writing was thought up, it was handed down in stories.

Some of this was bottled in religion and became congealed into creeds and regulations. That’s all right for some, but many of us don’t want to be told what to believe, we’re shy of certainty, suspicious of authority.

We still live with the questions though. Like how the big moments – the birth of a child or the death of a friend – can leave us wondering about how to live in the small moments.

That’s what this book is about. A collection of fieldnotes on how we can live this life, and live it well.

From poets and songwriters, activists and artists, from people with faith, and people without. We’ve nicked their best ideas and added some of our own. Clues and pointers, rather than terms and conditions.'

Martin Wroe studied theology before becoming a staff writer on The Independent and the Observer. He won a Sony Gold Radio Award for the Radio 1 series The Big Holy One, and co-authored, with Malcolm Doney, The Rough Guide to a Better World. The author of several poetry books that no-one has noticed, he also produces collections of stories about people in the north London community where he lives. He is a volunteer vicar in his local parish and a contributor to Thought for the Day on Radio 4. He keeps chickens.

Malcolm Doney trained as a fine artist at what Jarvis Cocker called St Martin’s College - now Central Saint Martin’s UAL - before pursuing a writing career in journalism, advertising and broadcasting. He has written ten books, including, with his wife Meryl, Who Made Me? , a sex guide for seven-year-olds. He is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought, and Radio 4’s Something Understood. He lives in the village of Blythburgh, Suffolk, where he is a volunteer priest in the parish church, sometimes joined by his horse, Neville.


Harry Baker - Paper People.

HeartEdge in the New Year

'At the heart. On the edge.' - Hamilton, Wednesday 6 February 10 am - 3.30 pm

We invite you to 'At the heart. On the edge', a day hosted by Rev Joanne Hood, Minister of St John's Parish Church of Scotland, and Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the- Fields, which includes theology, ideas, solutions and support for re-imagining Church. A programme has been developed jointly by St John's Church and St Martin’s.

Among those contributing are: The Very Rev Ian Barcroft, Rev Ross Blackman, Rev Liz Crumlish, Revd Jonathan Evens, Rev Dr Doug Gay,Kenneth Johnston, The Most Revd Mark Strange, Andy Turner and Rev Dr George Whyte. The event also features Rev Dr Robin Hill on ‘Sing with the Swing Band’.

The day, to be held at St John's Church on Wednesday 6 February 10 am to 3.30 pm, will introduce: HeartEdge, which is a growing ecumenical network of churches and other organisations working across the UK and overseas, initiated by St Martin-in-the-Fields. HeartEdge aims to catalyse Kingdom Communities:
  • For those working at the heart of commerce, culture and community
  • With those at the margins and on the edge
  • Building association, learning, development and resource.
To register for your free ticket click here.

Inspired to Follow Workshop - Thursday 14th February, 2.00pm, St Martin-in-the-Fields

How to explore the Christian faith using a more open-ended approach? How to engage a more visually-focused culture? ‘Inspired to Follow: Art and the Bible Story’ is one resource developed by St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The discipleship course uses fine art paintings from the National Gallery, a Biblical story and a short theological reflection to help people explore the Christian faith today. Learn about the genesis of ‘Inspired to Follow’ and discuss its use with Revd Jonathan Evens, St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Free to HeartEdge members, £10 for others. To register click here.

For more information contact Jonathan, Associate Vicar for Partnership Development, at

Nazareth Community Workshop - Wednesday 27th February, 2.30pm, St Martin-in-the-Fields

The Nazareth Community was established at St Martin-in-the-Fields in March 2018, now with over fifty members, from the congregation and other churches.

The workshop will be led by Revd Richard Carter, and is an opportunity to learn about the life of the community, and to consider how it could be applied in your own contexts. The afternoon will mirror the Saturday morning sharing time, and will begin in the church.

The session will include: Welcome and introduction; Prayer & silence; Talk; Q&A; Refreshments; Small groups; and Close. There is the option to stay on for Bread for the World, at 6.30pm- a key component of the community’s worship.

Tickets are free for HeartEdge members and £10 for others. To register click here.

For more information, contact


Julie Miller - River Where Mercy Flows.

Tearing down, raising up, at the heart, on the edge

Here is my sermon from this morning's Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

Picture a massive road building project cutting through hills and valleys to create a new straight, level road. The vision from Isaiah that John the Baptist quotes in our Gospel reading (Luke 3: 1 – 6) is one that seems to require bulldozers. It reads like the specification for a new motorway or by-pass. “Get the road ready … make a straight path for travel.” “Every valley must be filled up” and “every hill and mountain levelled off.” It doesn’t sound very environmentally friendly but, like the current project on the A14, may result in major archaeological finds.

John the Baptist uses this image to describe his role in preparing for the coming of Jesus. His aim is for the whole human race to see God’s coming salvation. The idea is that everything that would obscure or obstruct sight of God’s salvation would be torn down or raised up so that throughout the entire world there would be no obstacle able to prevent people from seeing God’s salvation. Everyone should be able to see Jesus because there would be nothing impeding our view; no mountains blocking our vision and no valleys from within which we would be unable to look out. The purpose of John the Baptist’s ministry was that everyone should clearly see who God is and what God does. Picture a vast flat expanse across which the light of Christ can be seen from wherever you stand and you will get the intended idea.

By quoting from Isaiah, John is making clear that he is recovering the original vision for God’s people to be a light to the nations. When Abraham was called by God he was told that he would become a great and mighty nation and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed in him. The nation founded through his obedience to God’s call was to be a blessing to all nations. The people of Israel were reminded periodically of this call, as in Isaiah 49:6 where we read:

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

The prophecies collected together in Isaiah also show the kind of place that Jerusalem was intended to become; a place to which all nations could come to hear from God:

“Many nations will come streaming to it, and their people will say,
‘Let us go to up the hill of the Lord, to the Temple of Israel’s God.
He will teach us what he wants us to do;
we will walk in the paths he has chosen.
For the Lord’s teaching comes from Jerusalem;
from Zion he speaks to his people.” (Isaiah 2. 2b & 3a)

Instead of that vision coming to pass, by the time of Jesus, the Temple had become a symbol of Jewish identity with all sorts of people excluded from worship unless they conformed to the detailed requirements of the Mosaic Law. The Temple and the worship in it prevented the free access to God that God wished to see for people of all nations.

In Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion and post-resurrection commission to his disciples, we see him tearing down barriers that prevented sight of God and raising up those whose position in society excluded them from worship. In his ministry Jesus expressly went to those who were excluded from Temple worship, including them both by accepting them (and teaching that they will enter the kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders) and by healing them so they could actively return to the Temple worship. When he died the curtain separating people from the most holy place in the Temple was torn in two, showing that access to God was now open to all. Jesus also prophesied that the Temple itself would be destroyed and that when this happened his disciples should take his message of love to all nations.

As an Iona Community liturgy puts it, Jesus was ‘Lover of the unlovable, toucher of the untouchable, forgiver of the unforgivable, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, writing heaven’s pardon over earth’s mistakes. The Word became flesh. He lived among us, He was one of us.’ As Christ’s followers today, we inherit the task of putting into practice what Jesus has achieved through his life, death and resurrection. We are the people today who are called to work towards that Isaianic vision of nations streaming to learn what Israel’s God wants them to do, settling disputes among the great nations, hammering swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks, and never again preparing to go to war. To do that we follow the up and down vision of Isaiah and John the Baptist; taking down barriers and raising up those who have been brought low.

As was the case for Jesus hearing John the Baptist quote the vision of Isaiah, we too stand at a point in history when the need of a broad and challenging vision for change is placed before us. Our Vicar Sam Wells has suggested that we live in a world that is pervaded by beauty, goodness, energy, creativity, trust, gentleness, joy and love but which is poisoned by violence, hatred, cruelty and fear. What our world needs most of all are communities of trust and support and love that show the kind of life that is possible when we believe that God is with us and rest in the hope that God’s ways will finally prevail.

We don’t have to invent these communities because God has already done so – in the call of Abraham and Jacob to be God’s people Israel, and when the Holy Spirit was sent on the dispirited apostles on the day of Pentecost. We’ve been given thousands of them all round the country and millions all round the world. We’ve been given the church. Yet we also live at a time and in a society where the church is getting smaller; and the church is getting narrower. Those who regularly attend worship are much fewer; and the church’s reputation and energy are becoming associated with initiatives that are introverted and often lack the full breadth of the gospel.

The vision that John the Baptist shared with Jesus in his time was an up and down vision of tearing down and raising up. That vision was necessary preparation for seeing Jesus but when we see Jesus we gain a different vision; an in and out vision, a vision of centre and circumference, of being at the heart and on the edge. By being in the godhead, Jesus was in the heart of God but chose to be on the edge by becoming a human being. Although he remained in the centre of God’s will by being the embodiment of the very heart of God, that led him to place himself on the edge as he took onto his shoulders the weight of the world’s sorrows and found himself temporarily separated from God. Jesus gives us a vision of being both at the heart and on the edge.

We have claimed that vision for ourselves here at St Martin’s seeing ourselves as being at the heart of London, the nation, and the church, while also seeing our calling as to be alongside those on the edge through being excluded, ignored or oppressed by society or church. We have then created in HeartEdge, our ecumenical network of churches, a means of sharing that vision more widely by fostering, catalysing and facilitating renewal on a national scale.

HeartEdge seeks to catalyse kingdom communities – i.e. it aims to foster, not to impose; it sees the kingdom as God’s gift to renew the church, rather than as a mission-field to be conformed to the church’s image; and it sees churches as lively and dynamic communities, rather than defensive and narrow congregations. At over 50 churches, HeartEdge is already big enough for communities to mentor one another, to offer consultancy days to one another, and for larger gatherings to offer an exchange of ideas, encouragement and challenge. We aspire for it not to create clones of St Martin’s, but to become the national embodiment of those committed to the vision to be ‘At the heart. On the edge.’

HeartEdge seeks to share the vision that the heart of the gospel is that God is most often made known among those on the edge and that the church is at its best when it speaks to the heart but takes risks on the edge. This vision not only renews the church but, through that renewal, speaks into the ways in which our world is poisoned by violence, hatred, cruelty and fear offering renewal of society more widely.

The visions of taking down and raising up and of being at the heart and on the edge are Advent visions; visions that that enable us to see Christ’s coming. Isaiah and John the Baptist tell us that God is seen when barriers that exclude are taken down and those who have been brought low are raised up. Jesus’ revelation of God shows that those at the centre can be alongside those on the edge and will be changed as a result.

So, God is seen through an up and down vision that has a vertical axis and also an in and out vision which has a horizontal axis. Pushing these analogies as far as possible the vertical axis equates to the north-south axis on a compass while the horizontal axis equates to the east-west axis, meaning that all the points on the compass are encompassed by these visions. As Isaiah prophesised, all people will see God’s salvation, or, as John Oxenham has it, ‘In Christ there is no east or west, / in him no south or north; / but one great fellowship of love / throughout the whole wide world.’ May that vision become reality for us. Amen.


Christ's Hospital Choir - How Shall I Sing That Majesty.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Encounter Series Videos

Encounter Series

The Autumn Lecture Series at St Martin-in-the-Fields featured lectures which focused on the theme of encounter. How are we changed by the people, events or objects we encounter when we meet them face-to-face? How do prejudices shift? How are new insights born? What inspires us to new ways of being and relating to God and to others? How do we become who we truly are through those we meet? How do we encounter God in our lives? In each of these lectures prominent and inspirational leaders, thinkers and practitioners speak from a personal but also public perspective about the way such encounters have changed the course of their lives.

This year, for the first time, we recorded the Autumn Lecture Series. Videos of Encounter 2018 are now available through our website. A study guide produced for churches wishing to use the videos with their congregations is available from

To watch Sam Wells introducing the Series click here

To watch Richard Carter introducing the speakers click here

To watch Rowan Williams Encountering the Other click here

To watch Christianity Encountering Islam (filmed at Baitul Futuh Mosque) click here

To Watch Encountering London click here

To watch Encountering Jesus of Nazareth
click here

To watch Encountering the Sacred click here

To watch Encountering God click here
The Encounters exhibition by Nicola Green which was shown at St Martin's during the Autumn Lecture Series is accompanied by a book published by Brepols publishers titled Encounters: The Art of Interfaith Dialogue.