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Sunday, 23 July 2017

Latest ArtWay Visual Meditation: 'Les Colombes' by Michael Pendry

In my latest Visual Meditation for ArtWay I reflect on Les Colombes, Michael Pendry's multi-media installation which was recently at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

"The flock of doves headed from the entrance of the church towards the sanctuary, where lies the answer to all the questions of our spiritual potential – who am I, where do I come from, where am I going? In answer to these questions, the descent of the Spirit in the bodily form of a dove tells us that we are the beloved sons and daughters of our Father God and that we are here to use our God-given abilities to do work for him that only we can do. Sam Wells says that: “When at his baptism the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove, Jesus wasn’t blown away – he was touched more deeply than words can say or eyes can perceive. That’s what this exhibition is about – and what’s more, it affirms that the Holy Spirit works through the humble hands of you and me."

My other ArtWay meditations include work by María Inés Aguirre, Giampaolo Babetto, Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, Christopher Clack, Marlene Dumas, Terry Ffyffe, Antoni Gaudi, Maciej Hoffman, Giacomo Manzù, Maurice NovarinaRegan O'CallaghanAna Maria Pacheco, John Piper, Albert Servaes and Henry Shelton.


Valerie June - Long, Lonely Road.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Londinium and Discover & explore

From gladiator games to Boudica’s revenge, the Romans return to the City of London this summer with the Londinium season of events. Choose from family activities, themed performances, guided tours of Roman London and many more things to do during Londinium.

The autumn Discover & explore series at St Stephen Walbrook will be part of the ‘Londinium’ programme organised by the City of London and will explore Rome, London & Christianity through music, prayers, readings and reflections. 

Highlights include St Paul in Rome, Constantine, and The Temple of Mithras & St Stephen Walbrook:
  • 25th September - St Paul in Rome
  • 2 October - St Peter in Rome
  • 9 October - The Early Church in Rome
  • 16 October – St Alban
  • 23 October – Constantine
  • 30 October – Christianity in Roman London
  • 6 November – The Temple of Mithras & St Stephen Walbrook
  • 13 November – St Augustine
  • 20 November – St Mellitus
  • 27 November – St Erkenwald & St Ethelburga
Discover & explore has been described as "A really wonderful series of services; intelligent, thought provoking and hopeful - the perfect way to start your working week!"


Christopher Walker - Mass of St Paul.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Windows on the world (354)

Brussels, 2016


Noel Paul Stookey - Hymn.

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!

My latest exhibition review for Church Times is of Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! at the Serpentine Gallery. In the review I argue that Perry:

'may be the perfect artist for our troubled times, because he absorbs into himself and his creations a multiplicity of references, which he mirrors back to our culture, but refracted through the perspective of his dual identities.

This makes his work prophetic as it re-presents ourselves and our culture, but in ways that playfully challenge and criticise our notions of identity and the basis for these notions.'


Peter, Paul & Mary - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.


Thursday 14 September, 6.00pm
St Stephen Walbrook (39 Walbrook, London EC4N 8BN).

Peter Sheppard Skærved begins his exploration of the 17th Century violin, inspired by the astonishing churches of the Square Mile. This series of salons will explores the dialogue between the great architecture of Wren, Hawksmoor and Hooke, and the work of the violin makers and composers whose instruments and music flooded in the London in the years after the Restoration.

St Stephen Walbrook is one of the most unashamedly Italianate of Wren’s astonishing City churches. It is the perfect space to hear one of the great early 17th Century Cremonese violins, by Girolamo Amati, in a salon programme focussing on the Northern Italian violin style of the 1600s.

Works for solo violin including.

Heinrich Biber – Passacaglia (Mystery Sonata XVI) ‘Guardian Angel, companion of Mankind’ and others by Tomasso Vitali, Giuseppe Torelli, Nicola Matteis, Biagio Marini. Played on a violin by Girolamo Amati (1628)

Plus world premiere: Peter Sheppard Skærved – ‘voil qe’m digaz cals mais vos plaz’ (Lombarda of Toulouse).

Tickets (limited number) available on Eventbrite and on the door, or reservations from .

Next concert in the Series: Preludes & Vollenteries 2: St Margaret Lothbury, 29th September 2017 6pm.


Peter Sheppard Skærved - B-Minor Fantasie.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Economies of scarcity and abundance

Here is my sermon from today's Eucharist at St Stephen Walbrook:

The disciples were in a place of scarcity – ‘we have worked all night long but have caught nothing.’ Jesus says that the place of scarcity can be the place to find abundance – ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch’ (Luke 5. 1 - 11). When the disciples do as Jesus requests, they receive abundance – ‘they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break.’ In order to receive God’s abundance, they have to utilize their abilities, skills or gifts as fishermen by sailing out into the deep water and putting down their nets.

The disciples found that the place of scarcity is the place where abundance can be found and this is also the witness of scripture. Sam Wells, the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, has said that ‘the Old Testament was written because God’s people in exile found it not a time of despair but one of renewal, not a time simply of losing the land but more wonderfully of gaining a new and deeper relationship with God.’ ‘The New Testament was written because the early Christians found that the execution of their Lord and Saviour was not the end of the story but the beginning, that his agony was the foretaste of glory, that his killers meant it for evil but God meant it for good.’

The key for the disciples in moving from scarcity to abundance was the use of their skills and abilities – their God-given gifts. John McKnight and Peter Block are pioneers of asset-based community development. In their book ‘The Abundant Community’ they talk about our consumer society as an economy of scarcity because it ‘constantly tells us that we are insufficient and that we must purchase what we need from specialists and systems outside of our immediate community.’ Instead, they argue that ‘we can do unbelievable things by starting with our assets, not our deficits. We all have gifts to offer, even the most seemingly marginal among us. Using our particular assets (our skills, experience, insights and ideas) we have the God-given power to create a hope-filled life and can be the architects of the future where we want to live.’

This is true too for churches, which thrive when the gifts of all their members are released and they build on one another’s assets. The currency of the kingdom of God is of things that never run out. ‘The secret of happiness is learning to love the things God gives us in plenty. There’s no global shortage of friendship, kindness, generosity, sympathy, creativity, faithfulness, laughter, love. These are the currency of abundance.

The Church of today needs to rediscover his teaching because God gives us the abundance of the kingdom to renew the poverty of the church. In our generation God has given his Church a financial crisis, and this can only be for one reason: to teach us that abundance does not lie in financial security, and to show us that only in relationships of mutual interdependence, relationships that money obscures as often as it enables, does abundant life lie.

We are part of HeartEdge, a growing ecumenical network of churches and other organisations working across the UK and overseas, initiated by St Martin-in-the-Fields and launched here, at St Stephen Walbrook, in February, which is seeking to do just that; to support the Church through rediscovery of this teaching.

The challenge for us as a church and as individuals is this, Are we going to live in the economy of scarcity, ‘the economy that is fine as far as it goes, but turns out not to go very far – the economy that only includes certain people, only buys certain things, only lasts a limited length of time – the economy of anxiety and scarcity?’ Or are we going to live in the economy of abundance, ‘the economy where the only use of wealth is to make friends and set people free, the economy in which you are never homeless and you cannot be destitute because you have spent your time and money making friends who will always welcome you into their homes – the economy of abundance, where generosity is the best investment? Which is it to be?’ If we live in the economy of scarcity we will spend our lives fearing for our jobs, our livelihoods, our reputations, our health, our families, our lives themselves. If we live in the economy of abundance we won’t fear anything. We’ll have the things that money can’t buy and we’ll know the things that hardship and even death can’t take away from us. We’ll have learned to love the things God gives us in plenty. We will be living truly abundant life.


Simon Lole - The Father's Love.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Start:Stop - Doing our common business for the love of God

Bible reading

‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)


Brother Lawrence was a member of the Carmelite Order in France during the 17th Century. He spent most of his life in the kitchen or mending shoes, but became a great spiritual guide. He saw God in the mundane tasks he carried out in the priory kitchen. Daily life for him was an ongoing conversation with God. He wrote: 'we need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him every moment.'

Brother Lawrence said:

‘Men invent means and methods of coming at God's love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God's presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?’

‘The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquillity as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.’

‘Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.’

'We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.'

George Herbert’s poem ‘The Elixir’ (also sung as the hymn ‘Teach me my God and king in all things thee to see’) that, with these attitudes, drudgery is made divine. A servant who sweeps a room for love of God ‘makes that and the action fine.’ He claims that this attitude and approach:

‘is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold:
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.’


Lord God, steer us away from means, methods, rules and devices for reminding us of Your love and presence with us. Instead, give us a simple desire to do our common business wholly for love of You.
Bring us into a consciousness of Your presence, as we do our common business wholly for the love of You.

May we see that times of business need not differ from times of prayer, as we need only to recognize God intimately present with us to address ourselves to Him every moment. Bring us into a consciousness of Your presence, as we do our common business wholly for the love of You.

May we not become weary of doing little things for the love of You, recognizing that You regard not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed. Bring us into a consciousness of Your presence, as we do our common business wholly for the love of You.

Teach us to see You in all things, give thanks in all circumstances and rejoice at all times, as we pray constantly through the actions our common business. Bring us into a consciousness of Your presence, as we do our common business wholly for the love of You.


Rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances. Doing little things and our common business for love of God. Recognising God in every moment and seeing Him in all things. May those blessings of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon us and remain with us always. Amen.


George Herbert - Teach Me, My God And King..