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Sunday, 31 July 2016

Autumn exhibitions at St Stephen Walbrook

Classical, modern and contemporary art and architecture beautifully combine in exhibitions at St Stephen Walbrook. The reordering of the church undertaken in the 1980s sensitively introduced significant examples of modern art (travertine marble altar by Henry Moore and dazzling kneelers by Patrick Heron) within Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, which also contains significant woodwork and carving by William Newman. Newman’s dark wood panelling provides a dramatic backdrop to the regular programme of contemporary art exhibitions that the church hosts. This marvellous blend of old and new provides a richly contemplative space in which to display and view art.



London Ablaze: the Glass Sellers' Great Fire Schools Project exhibition, Thursday 1st & Friday 2nd September, 10.00am – 4.00pm

As part of celebrations to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire, the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London, a City Livery Company, has chosen 10 London secondary schools each to design a piece of glass artwork on the theme of the Great Fire, in collaboration with a leading contemporary glass artist.

The resulting works from these collaborations will be on display at an exhibition, London Ablaze, at the church of St Stephen Walbrook, next to the Mansion House, at the heart of the City on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd September (10am-4pm). The Friday is the 350th anniversary of the day the Great Fire started.

Early in 2016 the Glass Sellers’ Company selected ten artists and ten schools, allocating an artist to each school.  Up to 15 students in Year 8 or 9 (age range 13-15) were chosen by each school to work with the artist. The process started by pupils learning about what happened during the Great Fire. They then worked with the artist for at least a day to design a work that interpreted the pupils’ vision of the Great Fire. The artists have then produced the works in their studios.

The ten works are also being judged, with the winning school, teacher, pupils and artist receiving a glass work made especially by Andreya Bennett. The winner will be announced at a reception in the Church on the evening of Thursday 1st September.


commission4mission, Reflection, Monday 6th – 16th September, Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm

commission4mission encourages churches to commission contemporary art. This will be the group’s fourth exhibition in the setting of St Stephen Walbrook.

The theme of the show will be ‘Reflection’ and, as in previous years, will feature a wide variety of work from longstanding and new members. ‘Reflection’ is intended as a broad theme open to wider interpretation. Their artists will showcase their individual engagements with this theme and we hope that the range and variety of work, both in terms of content and media, will give pleasure and prompt reflection.

Reflection: consideration; contemplation; idea; impression; meditation; observation; opinion; rumination; view; absorption; cerebration; cogitation; deliberation; imagination; musing; pensiveness; speculation; study; brainwork; pondering.

commission4mission’s Chair, Peter Webb, says: “We are very fortunate to be able to exhibit regularly at St Stephen Walbrook. The exhibition always attracts a great deal of attention in the City. As before, interpretation of the theme is up to individual artists, and no doubt we will have the usual amazing variety and originality in the work submitted.” 



The Shadow of Angels - Kim Poor, 3rd – 29th October, Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm

Brazilian artist Kim Poor will exhibit a series of paintings in various mediums, including her unique technique of glass fused on steel plate, baptised ‘Diaphanism’ by Salvador Dali. She is based in London and Rio de Janeiro and her work has been exhibited worldwide, most recently in Brazil, Belgium & Greece, with successful solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio and in São Paulo.

The theme of the exhibition, which is curated by Edward Lucie-Smith, is the universal appeal of angels and their presence and significance in our lives. Their iconography has been a unifying force throughout time and appears in all religions and cultures. Especially in these troubled times angels represent our need for reassurance in a very unstable world. They are our protectors, guides and spiritual messengers; a bridge between us and the Divine.

National Society of Painters, Sculptors & Printmakers, Monday 21st November – Friday 2nd December, Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm

The second group show by National Society artists to be held at St Stephen Walbrook. The National Society was formed in 1930 to meet a growing desire among artists of every creed and outlook for an annual exhibition in London, which would embrace all aspects of art under one roof, without prejudice or favour to anyone. Its members have included: Mark Gertler, Jack B Yeats, L S Lowry, David Bomberg, W Russell Flint, Henry Moore, Bernard Meninsky, William Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, C R W Nevinson, Frank Dobson and Bernard Adams among others.

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Corinne Bailey-Rae - Stop Where You Are.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Windows on the world (403)


Ronchamp, 2014

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Violent Femmes - Holy Ghost.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

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

Often working people (usually rightly) say that work barely gets a mention in Church but that is actually surprising because, when you look at the stories Jesus told, large numbers of them are to do with work. This is one of those stories and it may well be the one that it is most difficult to understand (Luke 16. 1 - 13). The story and the teaching based on it seem contradictory and it doesn’t seem to fit with other things that Jesus said and taught.

A manager is wasting his employer’s money. He is found out and fired. The beginning of the story makes sense to us. It’s what happens next that causes a problem. The manager then reduces the debts that various people owe to his employer in order to get on good terms with them before he leaves his master’s employment. Although he is again wasting his master’s money, this time the master praises what he has done.

Jesus goes on to say that we should use our money to make friends and that this will help us to be welcomed into eternity. That seems almost the reverse of his saying to store up treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth. Then to compound all the complications he commends faithfulness after having told a story in which the dishonest manager is praised for his dishonesty.

How can we find a way in to a set of teaching that seems contradictory and confused? It may be that the key is Jesus’ statement that we should make friends for ourselves. Although the dishonest manager remains dishonest there is a change that occurs in the story. And we can see that change most clearly if we think about the manager’s work-life balance.

At the beginning of the story, friendships and responsibility seem low on his list of priorities. He is managing his employer’s property but wasting his employer’s money. It is likely then that his life is focused around work and money. However, when his job comes under threat, he suddenly realises that relationships – friendships – are actually more important than work and money and figures out a quick way of building friendships. At the end of the story, if we return to his work-life balance, work will have decreased in importance to him while friendship and responsibility for his own future will have increased.

The teaching that follows the story makes it clear that Jesus does not condone dishonesty; if this manager is dishonest in small matters then he will also be dishonest in large ones. The manager’s fundamental dishonesty does not change but the priority he places on relationships does. In other teaching Jesus sometimes uses the formula; if someone who is bad can do X then how much more should you or how much more will God do X. He uses it, for example, when he talks about God giving the Holy Spirit: if father’s who are bad, he says, know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.

What Jesus does in this story is similar. He is saying that if shrewd, worldly people, like the dishonest manager, can come to see the importance of relationships, then how much more should we do the same. Not following the example of the manager in using dishonesty to build relationships but following his example of learning to prioritise relationships in life and in work.

The Relationships Foundation sounds like it is likely to be a dating agency but is actually an organisation founded and run by Christians that believes that a good society is built on good relationships, from family and community to public service and business. They study the effect that culture, business and government have on relationships, create new ideas for strengthening social connections, campaign on issues where relationships are being undermined and train and equip people to think relationally for themselves. They are one example of an organisation that is seeking to prioritise relationships in life and in work as Jesus encouraged us to do.

Why is this so important? Jesus throws out a hint when he says “make friends for yourself … so that … you will be welcomed in the eternal home.” Jesus seems to be hinting that the relationships we form now in some way continue into eternity. Paul says something similar in 1 Corinthians 13 when he writes that faith, hope and love remain using a word for ‘remain’ which suggests that acts of faith, hope and love continue into eternity. Building relationships Jesus and Paul suggest may not just be good for the here and now but may also have eternal implications. All the more reason then for us to learn from this story and, whether we are at home, at work, or in our community, to prioritise the building of good relationships with those around us.

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Blessid Union of Souls - My Friend.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Start:Stop - Sowing and growing seeds


Bible reading

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 13. 3 – 9)

Meditation

Business life and practice is structured to be as efficient as possible. Clear goals based on market research, structures which are fit for purpose, processes which effectively deliver high quality products or services to customers in a timely fashion. We all know the reality doesn’t always live up to the ideal, but this is essentially what businesses strive to achieve.

Our passage today is very different. I wonder whether you have noticed the strange thing about the Parable of the Sower which does not make sense from the point of view of an efficient farmer. What I am thinking of is the indiscriminate nature of the way the sower sows the seed. The sower scatters the seed on the path, on the rocky ground and among the thorn bushes, as well as in the good soil. Any farmer would know that the seed falling on the path, on the rocky ground and among the thorn bushes is going to be wasted because it is not going to grow well and yet the sower goes ahead regardless. What sort of farmer wastes two-thirds of the seed like that?

The actions of the sower tell us something significant about the nature of God. The seed was sown indiscriminately, even recklessly. Those places that were known to be poor places for seed to grow were nevertheless given the opportunity for seeds to take root and this suggests the indiscriminate and reckless nature of God’s love for all. The seed is the Word of the Kingdom and the Word, John’s Gospel tells us, is Jesus himself. So Jesus himself, this parable, seems to suggest is being scattered throughout the world (perhaps in and through the Body of Christ, the Church).

Some parts of the Body of Christ find themselves in areas like the path where the seed seems to be snatched away almost as soon as it is sown. That may seem a little like our experience in a culture where people seem resistant towards Christian faith and the media revel in sensationalising the debates that go on within the Church. Other parts of the Body of Christ are in areas like the rocky ground where it is hard for the seed to take root and grow. We might think about situations around the world where Christians experience persecution or where the sharing of Christian faith is illegal. Other parts of the Body of Christ are amongst the thorn bushes where the worries of this life and the love of riches choke the seed. Again, we might think about our situation and the way in which our relatively wealthy, consumerist society makes people apathetic towards Christian faith.

Finally, there is the good soil where the seed grows well and the yield can be as much as a hundred fold. Again, there are parts of the Body of Christ who find themselves in good soil. At present, there is “explosive growth in the global south. Only in Europe and North America is Christianity growing at a less than one percent rate. In Africa and Asia, the rate is currently more than double and will continue to climb.”

We can rejoice in that growth, although it is not an experience we currently share in the UK, and can support its continued growth through our mission giving and partnerships. We should not be discouraged because that kind of growth is not our current experience in the UK. Growth does still occur even when we are on the path or the rocky ground or among the thorn bushes. This happens because God’s love is indiscriminate wanting all to have the opportunity to receive the seed of his Word. In this country we need to pray that our culture, which currently feels like the path or the thorn bushes will in time also become good soil once again, and, in the meantime, celebrate that growth that does occur on the path and among the thorn bushes.

Prayer

God of mission, who alone brings growth to your Church, send your Holy Spirit to bring vision to our planning, wisdom to our actions, faith to our lives, hope to our communities, and love to our hearts.

Make me a part of the indiscriminate sharing of your love to all people everywhere.

God of mission, renew your Church and begin with me. Heal our land, tend our wounds, make us one and use us in your service; for Jesus Christ’s sake. Lord of the Church, make us the Church of the Lord.

Make me a part of the indiscriminate sharing of your love to all people everywhere.

God of mission, come by your Spirit and change us, let your church reflect the beauty, diversity and
hospitality that we see in you, lead us to a place of graceful concord: a self-forgetful love, a turning back to Christ: for with your grace to help we can be one, and in your strength can strive to serve and bless, and by your will can see your kingdom come. Use us to the full; and when we are empty, fill us afresh. We know you love your church, help us to love each other. Unite us in the effervescent joy of your declaring, but not just us – we ask it so that, in these days of uncertainty, the world may believe.

Make me a part of the indiscriminate sharing of your love to all people everywhere.

Blessing

Vision to our planning, wisdom to our actions, faith to our lives, hope to our communities, and love to our hearts. May all those blessings of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

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African Children's Choir - Seed To Sow.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Tasos Leivaditis: The Blind Man with the Lamp

'Tasos Leivaditis (1922–1988) is one of the unacknowledged greats of Modern Greek literature. Not only is he unacknowledged in the English-speaking world, largely because nearly all of his writing remains untranslated, but he also has limited recognition within modern Greek literary circles, where he is often overshadowed by twentieth-century giants such as Cavafy, Seferis, Elytis, Ritsos and Kazantzakis, who have become established names in the literary world at large.'

'His literary output is usually divided into three periods. In his first period (1946–56), Leivaditis develops a ‘poetry of the battlefield’ informed by his commitment to the Leftist struggle during WWII and after. In the tradition of social realism, he evokes the horrors of war but also retains an optimism regarding the future. He paid a high price for these ideals: along with many other leftist writers and intellectuals (including Yannis Ritsos), he was exiled to various camps in Greece, though he continued to write poetry ...

In his second period (1957–66), after the defeat of the Left in the civil war, existentialist concerns begin to surface and his work takes on a bleaker, more introspective and even more religious tone. This religious element becomes most intense during his third period (1972–87), where much of his work is concerned with the question of God and has an almost prayerful and hymn-like quality. Perhaps the best example is his masterly collection, The Blind Man with the Lamp (1983), which includes a ‘Credo’ that has a similar form to the traditional Christian Credo, but is now suffused with highly expressive and surrealistic imagery. The same collection also includes twelve ‘Conversations’, which are actually heartfelt pleadings from the poet addressed to Christ, such as the following:

Lord, we both live in the dark, the one cannot see the other. But stretch out your hand, and I will find it. Let me talk to you, and you will hear me. Only give to my words something of that great ineffability which reduces you to silence.

Leivaditis had an extraordinary ability to capture the depth of things, small and great. In ‘Lighted Window’, for example, he talks of ‘silent moments in which all words weep’, and writes that ‘alone a lighted window at night renders the world more profound’. And in ‘Aesthetics’, he writes: ‘As to that story there are numerous versions. / The best one though is always the one where you cry.’'

'The Blind Man with the Lamp, originally published in Greek in 1983, is the first English translation of a complete collection of poetry by Leivaditis. A pioneering book of prose-poems, Leivaditis here gives powerful voice to a post-war generation divested of ideologies and illusions, imbued with the pain of loss and mourning, while endlessly questing for something wholly other, indeed for the holy Other.'

Conversations: 5

LORD, what would I do without you? I am the vacant room and you are the great guest who has deigned to visit it. Lord, what would you do without me? You are the great silent harp and I am the ephemeral hand which awakens your melodies.

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Nikos Kazantzakis - Askitiki.

ArtWay meditation & Sabbatical Art Pilgrimage photographs - Audincourt

The latest ArtWay meditation provides an introduction to the Sacré-Coeur in Audincourt, in the north east of France, that was built in 1949-1951. In the 1930’s the French Dominican friar and Catholic priest Marie-Alain Couturier was enabled by his order to devote himself to new art in the Catholic church. His approach was to summon well-known artists and architects to participate in the building of new churches and to also involve the local community. At Audincourt he attracted artists like Fernand Léger and Jean Bazaine to ecclesiastical art.

I visited Audincourt as part of my sabbatical art pilgrimage but have not yet had the opportunity to write up my visit. However, I can post some of the photographs I took on that visit to add to those which illustrate Albert Hengelaar's ArtWay meditation.















The baptistry at Audincourt is an early example of the move from storytelling in stained glass by means of narrative figuration (e.g. Marc Chagall's stained glass) to the creation of spiritual space using abstract colour (as pioneered by Jean Bazaine and Alfred Manessier) has occurred, primarily in France. The concept of stained glass architecture - of a light-filled architectural unit – that we find here or, for example, at the Chapelle Sainte-Thérèse-de-l'Enfant-Jésus et de la Sainte-Face in Hem is an attempt to create spiritual space - a sense of prayer and a glimpse of heaven – through the play of light and colour within the building. In the past churches were centres for the drama of the visual - the drama and spectacle of the liturgy combined with the visual narrative of scripture in stained glass. Now people find their visual stimulation elsewhere - through the media primarily – and, as a result, churches have become centres for the opposite of visual stimulation e.g. centres of visual contemplation, where narrative is less essential than ambience and atmosphere.

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Van Morrison - Into The Mystic.

St Stephen Walbrook - family-friendly visits

At St Stephen Walbrook today we held the first of an occasional series of family-friendly visits to the church designed to enable church members with young families to have an opportunity to come to the church together, which, as our ministry is primarily weekday, is generally impossible for them to do.

We began with a Treasure Hunt ... various clues led each family to different parts of the church ...


... before the treasure was found.


The treasure included the wonderful Step Outside Guide - London's Splendid Square Mile.


Then we made sheep at the craft table just using cups, cotton wool and pipe cleaners. This was followed with a game herding sheep balloons into the sheep pen.


We enjoyed a welcome break for snacks ...


... and then finished the session with the story of the Lost Sheep, the Butterfly song ...


... and prayers thanking God for his love.


A good time was had by all and our next such visit will be organised prior to Christmas.

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The Butterfly Song.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Windows on the world (402)


London, 2016

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Ben Harper - Gold To Me.

Light in Clay Jars

Here is my reflection for this week's Parish newsletter at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

The marvellous Parish Away Day, that many of us enjoyed recently, provided an opportunity to make porcelain lanterns as a meditative art activity. Our hope is that, at a later stage, these lanterns will be lit as part of an art installation providing an image of church as God intends it to be.

Porcelain, like all clay, is malleable when wet and able to be moulded and shaped but, once formed and fired, is firm but fragile at one and the same time. Porcelain, however, unlike most other clays, is also translucent meaning that light can be seen through it. All these aspects of porcelain are factors in verses found in 2 Corinthians 4 which says that ‘God … has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ and that ‘we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.’

These verses picture us as fragile clay or porcelain containers. We all, as individuals, have the light of Christ within which can be seen by others as a result of our fragile nature; either the lines of stress in our lives or the thinness of our skin. When we come together as fragile individuals glowing with the light of Christ in and through our fallibilities, we are the Church as it is intended to be.

It is our hope that we can at some time sign this to others by exhibiting our porcelain lanterns on a linked basis, with the links being a network of lights inside the lanterns. Thank you for helping begin to make that vision a reality and for reflecting on this church as a mixture of fragile clay and divine light.

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Michael Kiwanuka - One More Night.

Evensong & Garden Party for the Feast of the Transfiguration

We're delighted to invite you to our annual Evensong and Garden Party at St Stephen Walbrook which this year takes place on

MONDAY 8th AUGUST at 6.00pm.

The Garden Party takes place on the Feast of the Transfiguration, beginning with Choral Evensong at 6.00pm. The service will last about 50 minutes and be led by Revd. Jonathan Evens. The music, sung by the St Stephen Walbrook Choir, is Howells in G, the anthem will be Edgar Bainton's 'And I Saw a New Heaven' and the organist will be Joe Sentance.

This will be followed by the Garden Party at which drinks and snacks will be served and you are encouraged to bring guests with you. There is no charge for the event but, for purposes of catering, we do need to know if you are coming so please let us know in one of the following ways:

By email: Send an email to office@ststephenwalbrook.net
By telephone: 020 7626 9000
By post: The Administrator, St Stephen's Church, 39 Walbrook, London EC4N 8BN.

And further ahead:

Thursday 1st and Friday, 2nd September 10.00am - 4.00pm AN EXHIBITION OF GLASS

This free exhibition of glass artwork is organised in conjunction with the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers and is a project for the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of London.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

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Bruce Springsteen - Fire.gre

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The indiscriminate and reckless nature of God’s love for all

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

I wonder whether you have noticed the strange thing about the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13. 1 - 17); something that does not make sense from the point of view of an efficient farmer. Jesus says that the parables, the stories he tells, are not easy to understand and there is an aspect of this parable that doesn’t seem to make sense from a farming point of view.

What I am thinking of is the indiscriminate nature of the way the sower sows the seed. The sower scatters the seed on the path, on the rocky ground and among the thorn bushes, as well as in the good soil. Any farmer would know that the seed falling on the path, on the rocky ground and among the thorn bushes is going to be wasted because it is not going to grow well and yet the sower goes ahead regardless. What sort of farmer wastes two-thirds of the seed like that?

Was it because the sower was uninformed about the principles of farming or unconcerned about the harvest? Perhaps, instead, the actions of the sower are telling us something significant about the nature of God. The seed was sown indiscriminately, even recklessly. Those places that were known to be poor places for seed to grow were nevertheless given the opportunity for seeds to take root. Doesn’t this suggest to us the indiscriminate and reckless nature of God’s love for all?

The seed is the Word of the Kingdom and the Word, John’s Gospel tells us is Jesus himself. So Jesus himself, this parable, seems to suggest is being scattered throughout the world (perhaps in and through the Body of Christ, the Church).

Some parts of the Body of Christ find themselves in areas like the path where the seed seems to be snatched away almost as soon as it is sown. That may seem a little like our experience in a culture where people seem resistant towards Christian faith and the media revel in sensationalising the debates that go on within the Church.

Other parts of the Body of Christ are in areas like the rocky ground where it is hard for the seed to take root and grow. We might think about situations around the world where Christians experience persecution or where the sharing of Christian faith is illegal.

Other parts of the Body of Christ are amongst the thorn bushes where the worries of this life and the love of riches choke the seed. Again, we might think about our situation and the way in which our relatively wealthy, consumerist society makes people apathetic towards Christian faith.

Finally, there is the good soil where the seed grows well and the yield can be as much as a hundred fold. Again, there are parts of the Body of Christ who find themselves in good soil. “Currently, there are more than 2.3 billion affiliated Christians (church members) worldwide. That number is expected to climb to more than 2.6 billion by 2025 and cross 3.3 billion by 2050. But it’s not just numerical growth, Christianity is growing in comparison to overall population. More than one-third (33.4 percent) of the 7.3 billion people on Earth are Christians. That’s up from 32.4 percent in 2000. By 2050, when the world population is expected to top 9.5 billion people, 36 percent will be Christians. Those positive numbers are due to explosive growth in the global south. Only in Europe and North America is Christianity growing at a less than one percent rate. In Africa and Asia, the rate is currently more than double and will continue to climb.”

We can rejoice in that growth, although it is not an experience we currently share in the UK, and can support its continued growth through our mission giving and partnerships. We should not be discouraged because that kind of growth is not our current experience in the UK. Growth does still occur even when we are on the path or the rocky ground or among the thorn bushes.

For example, in our most recent Annual Report, we said that “St Martin-in-the-Fields is a thriving community. Its congregation is lively, engaged, inclusive and vibrant. Its commercial activities are healthy, popular and profitable. Its cultural life is dynamic and overflowing. Its relationship to destitute people and those on whom society has turned its back is as strong as ever. It reaches millions through its broadcasts and new audiences through its emerging digital ministry.” Seeds have taken root even in the hard ground that is our current experience overall here in the UK.

This happens because God’s love is indiscriminate wanting all to have the opportunity to receive the seed of his Word. He sows Jesus, the Body of Christ, into the poor soil as well as the good soil knowing that some seed will not grow or be as fruitful but wanting all to have the opportunity to receive the seed of his Word. He knows too that ground which at one time was perhaps rocky ground can become good soil in which spectacular growth can occur. In this country we need to pray that our culture which currently feels like the path or the thorn bushes will in time also become good soil once again and, in the meantime, celebrate that growth that does occur on the path and among the thorn bushes.

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Michael W. Smith & The African Children's Choir - Seed To Sow.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Start:Stop - celebrating and encouraging greater diversity


Bible reading

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10. 38 – 42)

Meditation

Martha opened her home to Jesus and his disciples. Providing hospitality and welcome to strangers was of vital importance within Judaism and in Middle Eastern culture generally. The rabbis taught that Abraham left off a discussion with God and went to greet guests when they arrived at his camp. He ran to greet them during the hottest day on record and served them the best food he could put together. Based on that example, the rabbis said that taking care of guests is greater than receiving the divine presence.

When Jesus sent out his disciples to prepare the way for him to come to towns and villages on the way to Jerusalem, he told them to look out for and stay with those, like Martha, who would welcome them (Luke 10). So, Jesus’ words to Martha, while they can appear critical, were not intended as a denigration of the role she was fulfilling, which, as we have thought, has a vital place in Middle Eastern culture. Jesus had already affirmed Martha's hospitality by welcoming and receiving all she offered. However, he also wanted to affirm Mary’s action as well because Mary's action points to an alternative role for women which could only begin to be realised as a result of his affirmation.

Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to what he said. That was the usual posture of a disciple of any teacher in the ancient world. But disciples were usually male, so Mary would have been quietly breaking the rule that reserved study for males, not females. Martha was possibly not merely asking for help but demanding that Mary keep to the traditional way of behaving. Jesus, though, affirmed Mary in the place and role of a disciple: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Jesus refused to be sidetracked by issues of gender when faced with women in any kind of need and consistently put people before dogma. Luke’s Gospel not only reports that Jesus had female disciples, but specifically names them in Luke 8. 1-3. Throughout his Gospel, Luke pays particular and positive attention to the role of women; presenting women, not only as witnesses to the events surrounding the birth and resurrection of Jesus, but also as active participants in God's Messianic purposes. This counter-balance to the patriarchy of the time was necessary in order to signal the value of both women and men in God's plan of salvation and their equal importance in the new community that was the Church. Ultimately, this has led to the point that we have reached relatively recently in the Church of England of ordaining women as priests and bishops.

We know that within the Church and wider society, including the City of London, gender equality and full equality across the diversity agenda is still to be fully realised. Here at St Stephen Walbrook we have held two events recently regarding gender diversity; a meeting of Women and the Church regarding the ongoing campaign for gender justice in the Church of England and ‘Women in the City’ an event which highlighted women’s involvement in the civic, cultural, charitable and social opportunities in the City of London and argued that gender balance on boards encourages better leadership and governance. At St Stephen Walbrook, we wish to work more fully with a range of organisations in the City to celebrate and encourage greater diversity.

In Christ’s Church and kingdom there should be no gender divide in how we serve and follow him. So, like Martha, each of us (male and female) can practice and value the ministries of welcome, hospitality and service of all and, like Mary, each of us (female and male) can practice and value making Jesus the central focus of our lives and learning as his disciples.

Prayer

Fathering and mothering God, you have given all peoples one common origin. It is your will that they be gathered together as one family in yourself. Fill the hearts of humankind with the fire of your love and with the desire to ensure justice for all. By sharing the good things you give us, may we secure an equality for all our brothers and sisters throughout the world. May there be an end to division, strife and war. May there be a dawning of a truly human society built on love and peace.

May we choose the better part and sit at your feet as your disciple.

Loving God, you hold us in your hands for we are all made in your image. Help us to celebrate our differences. Help us to use our diversity to share with each other the richness of our many cultures, languages and backgrounds. Challenge us again lest we wither and perish, by holding to the familiar when it has lost its savour. Help us to dissolve the barriers of difference and work for a just society in which none are despised and discriminated against on the basis of false divisions and in which each is valued for their true humanity.

May we choose the better part and sit at your feet as your disciple.

Living God, we pray for your holy people and for the Church. We ask that every member may be freed to serve you in truth and grace. You have visited us through women who have been filled with your Spirit. You have blessed us all with dreams for a common future and gifts for a common life, in all things keep us faithful to the message of your gospel, that as women and men we may together bear witness to your love in Christ Jesus. As your daughters and sons, may we be brought nearer to a new vision of your love.

May we choose the better part and sit at your feet as your disciple.

Blessing

Sharing the good things you give us, dissolving barriers of difference, securing equality, working for a just society, serving you in truth and grace, sitting at your feet as your disciple. May all those blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

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Eric Whitacre - Five Hebrew Love Songs.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Church: unlikely people living, serving and leading in counter-cultural ways

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This morning I preached at St John the Divine in Richmond, an Early Gothic Revival church with a marvellous early twentieth century Arts & Crafts reordering.

In 1905, Arthur Grove extended the church by adding the sanctuary and Lady Chapel. Together with friends from the Arts and Crafts Movement (including Eric Gill and N.H.J. Westlake) he created an harmonious extension. In 1921, a large blue and gold cross, carved by a nun from one of the London convents, was hung and in the 1960s the Stations of the Cross were carved by Freda Skinner, a pupil of Henry Moore, based on the Stations by Eric Gill in Westminster Cathedral. Eric Gill’s own work in the church can be seen in the stone carving over the sacristy door and on the triptych. The triptych behind the altar was completed in 1908 by N.H.J. Westlake who also painted the sanctuary ceiling which illustrates passages from the Book of the Revelation, chapter 14.

The sermon I preached was as follows:

Maude Royden, Elsie Chamberlain, Isabella Gilmore, Betty Ridley, Una Kroll, Christian Howard, Monica Furlong, Joyce Bennett, Florence Li Tim-Oi, Constance Coltman, Margaret Webster.

I wonder how of these names you recognise? I originally found out about these women through the website of Women and the Church (or WATCH) who point out that, though they were all icons in the campaign to get women ordained, as with many women’s lives, they are in the ‘hidden gallery’ of history.

To give you a very brief flavour of some of their stories: Elsie Chamberlain was the first female full chaplain in the RAF; Una Kroll famously shouted, ‘We asked for bread and you gave us a stone’ (a reference to Matthew 7:7-11) when in 1978 the General Synod refused to allow women to be ordained, creating the momentum for the Movement for the Ordination of Women to be formed; and Florence Li Tim-Oi was the first female Anglican priest, ordained during the war to serve behind Japanese lines in China. Since beginning my ministry at St Martin-in-the-Fields, I have discovered more about the ministries of Joyce Bennett and Florence Li-Tim-Oi, in particular, because of their connections with that church.

WATCH argue that, although women have been a majority in the church, their ministries have mostly been hidden in the background, carrying out children’s work, making tea, cleaning, in the office, caring for neighbours, letting the vicar know when someone needs a visit. In other words, fulfilling the sort of role that Martha seems to have played in the Gospel reading (Luke 10. 38 – end) we have heard today.

Martha opened her home to Jesus and his disciples. Providing hospitality and welcome to strangers was of vital importance within Judaism and in Middle Eastern culture generally. The rabbis taught that Abraham left off a discussion with God and went to greet guests when they arrived at his camp in today’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis 18.1-10a). He ran to greet them during the hottest day on record and served them the best food he could put together. Based on this example, the rabbis say that taking care of guests is greater than receiving the divine presence.

When Jesus sent out his disciples to prepare the way for him to come to towns and villages on the way to Jerusalem, he told them to look out for and stay with those, like Martha, who would welcome them (Luke 10). So, Jesus’ words to Martha are not intended as a denigration of the role she is fulfilling, which has a vital place in Middle Eastern culture, but point instead to an alternative role which has eventually led to the point that we have reached relatively recently in the Church of England of ordaining women as priests and bishops.

Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to what he said. That was the usual posture of a disciple of any teacher in the ancient world. But disciples were usually male, so Mary would have been quietly breaking the rule that reserved study for males, not females. Martha was possibly not merely asking for help but demanding that Mary keep to the traditional way of behaving. Jesus, though, affirmed Mary in the place and role of a disciple: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Jesus refused to be sidetracked by issues of gender when faced with women in any kind of need and consistently put people before dogma. Luke’s Gospel not only reports that Jesus had female disciples, but specifically names them in Luke 8. 1-3. Throughout his Gospel, Luke pays particular and positive attention to the role of women; presenting women, not only as witnesses to the events surrounding the birth and resurrection of Jesus, but also as active participants in God's Messianic purposes.

This counter-balance to the patriarchy of the time was necessary in order to signal the value of both women and men in God's plan of salvation and their equal importance in the new community that was the Church. The Epistle (Colossians 1. 15-28) also emphasizes this for us through its claim that all things in heaven and on earth were created through Jesus and for Jesus and that, as he is the head of the body, the church, in him all things hold together. All things means all of us; whatever our differences of gender, race, disability, sexuality or religion. Christ holds all together in his body, the Church; meaning that, while we all have a different parts to play, we are all equally valued and necessary if Christ’s body, the Church, is to function as he intends and reveal him as he really is.

The Church of England has made significant recent progress in this respect in relation to gender equality, with women now increasingly taking their place alongside men as bishops and at every level in the Church of England. Those women named on the WATCH website played key roles in the early stages of the journey that has led to this point. This was recently reinforced for me, as I had the opportunity to attend with others from the congregation at St Martin’s, the consecration at Canterbury Cathedral of Jo Bailey-Wells as Bishop of Dorking and then, that same evening, host at St Stephen Walbrook an ‘At Home’ for WATCH during which our curate, Sally Muggeridge, celebrated her first Eucharist while also becoming the first woman to celebrate the Eucharist in that church.

While the Church of England has made significant recent progress in relation to gender equality, there is much further to go in relation to other aspects of diversity as the conversations at General Synod this week regarding sexuality and disability indicate.

In a debate at Synod on Nurturing Senior Leaders in the Church of England, Revd Zoe Heming spoke about the Church as the bride of Christ. She spoke of Christ as “the one who rode into Jerusalem on a ridiculous, baby donkey, yet eclipsed the Roman horses and chariots and their victory parades.” By contrast, though, she expressed immense frustration that the Church, Christ’s Bride, continues to look so very different to her Groom, when it comes to nurturing the vocations of disabled people.

“The essential characteristic of our church,” she said, “must be of unlikely people living, serving and leading in counter-cultural ways, where the weakest are not tolerated, pitied or accommodated but prized, cherished & followed. This needs to be deliberate and visible for all to see - and maybe even mock, as some undoubtedly will have done, that day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on his donkey.”

Whether we use the metaphor of the Church as the bride of Christ or as the body of Christ, we are called to model our lives and actions on Christ. In our Gospel reading, we see Jesus holding together sisters who have become frustrated with each other’s choices. He affirms the different ministries which both have as, although his response to Martha can appear critical, he has already received and welcomed her ministry but wants to also affirm that of Mary as well. Similarly, we, like Martha, can practice and value the ministries of welcome, hospitality and service of all and, like Mary, can practice and value making Jesus the central focus of our lives and learning. While our focus today has been on the ministry of women, this is as inspiration to us all to work towards and work within the full equality of all within the body of Christ, the Church.

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Jonathan Dove - The Three Kings.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Friedhelm Mennekes, Dom Sylvester Houédard, Mark Dean & Sister Corita Kent

Andy Crouch executive editor of CT, has written recently on the church's relationship to the arts claiming that faith and the Arts represents a fragile friendship: "Even as churches are more willing to engage the arts, artists who work at the highest levels of craft are engaging the church less readily."

My view is, increasingly, that that only seems to be the case because of a conspiracy of silence on both sides; a Church focused on contemporary engagement with the Arts either does not know, does not acknowledge or does not wish to learn from its recent history of engagement, while the contemporary art world maintains the outdated view that the Church, when acting as patron or curator, will inevitably seek to exercise the same level of control that was shown when it held the principal powers of patronage in the Western world.

Despite having for many years been fascinated by and having documented the relationship between faith and the Arts (see Airbrushed from Art History, Sabbatical Art Pilgrimage and Christianity and literature, for example), I am continually uncovering new (to me) examples of modern or contemporary engagements between the Arts and faith.

Jonathan Koestlé-Cate's book Art and the Church: A Fractious Embrace - Ecclesiastical Encounters with Contemporary Art provided the example of Friedhelm Mennekes, a Jesuit who, for over 30 years, has been involved with exhibitions at the crossroads between art and religion: 

"... he introduces works of art of our time into old and new churches – a gesture that elicits broad discussion. From one side he is praised and from another blamed, yet he steadfastly goes his way.

Mennekes has been engaged in many discussions with artists through exhibitions and lectures that address this vital relationship of creative expression and experienced religion, such as Donald Baechler, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, James Brown, James Lee Byars, Francis Bacon, Eduardo Chillida, Marlene Dumas, Jenny Holzer, Anish Kapoor, Barbara Kruger, Arnulf Rainer, David Salle, Cindy Sherman, Andreas Slominski, Antoni Tàpies, Rosemarie Trockel, and Bill Viola among others. Mennekes poses systematic questions, adressing individual works and also their vital relationship to the broader world of contemporary culture. He seeks structural correspondences and parallels that address our experience of a faith and doubts in organized religion as well as the secular worlds."

Similarly, work by the artist and arts chaplain, Mark Dean, has highlighted work by the late Benedictine priest, theologian and Concrete poet Dom Sylvester Houédard (aka dsh). Lucy Newman Cleeve writes:

"dsh understood his visual poems and ‘typestracts’ as “icons depicting sacred questions,” and Dean’s video works, which have been described by David Curtis as “votive offerings”, also function in the interrogative mode. In each case, there is a tacit acceptance that answers will not be forthcoming. For dsh, questions are met with mysteries, “to which the appropriate response can never be an ‘answer’ but has to be a growth of awareness and awe – gratitude, depth and pleasure.” This attitude of praise defines the creative act, but cannot necessarily be conveyed to the viewer who joins with the artist in constructing the meaning of the work …

dsh frequently affirmed the Dadaist principle that “the logos and the ikon are one.” Elsewhere, he wrote, “it is possible to think in images alone – in diagrams, models, gestures and muscular movements – as well as in words alone.” This recognition of the primacy of visual/tactile forms of language is also central to Dean’s work, in which the categories should also be extended to include music. In Dean’s work, the logos functions as a vessel or carrier of meaning, in much the same way as the ikon, whilst the juxtaposition of logos and ikon exponentially increase the possibilities of interpretation.

Dean’s work relies heavily upon the appropriation of, often iconic, film and video footage and music. It introduces visual and aural puns that behave as the generators and interrogators of meaning within the work, setting up a series of disputations between the different elements being sampled. Although the work is always carefully constructed, the reverberations and analogies created by placing potent symbols side by side are myriad. The screen becomes a crucible in which layers of meaning are compounded, burnt and refined."

The Henningham Family Press introduced me, some years ago, to the work of Sister Corita Kent (1918 – 1986), an activist nun who ran the art department at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles for over 20 years. Hazel Saunderson writes:

"... Sister Corita Kent's striking prints commanded me to revel both in the layered beauty of the printed word, and the direct messages they conveyed in pieces such as Life is Difficult (1965) and People Like Us Yes (1965).

So it was surprising to discover that although Sister Corita Kent was recognised by revolutionary design thinkers such as Buckminster Fuller, Charles and Ray Eames and Saul Bass, she was largely neglected by the art establishment at the time. However, this quirky 1960s pop artist’s list of admirers has continued to grow in time and the work crafted by the five contemporary artists (Ruth Ewan, Peter Davies, Ciara Phillips, Emily Floyd and Scott Myles) confirm that Kent’s lasting impression on art has remained, whilst the medium of printmaking has gained fresh appreciation in contemporary art."

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Mark Dean - Scorpio Rising 2.

Artists of the last century artistically wrestling with the Crucifixion

The latest ArtWay meditation is by Sandra Bowden who has organised an exhibition centred on the work she explores in her meditation, Modern Crucifixion by Frederick Wright.

She write: "For centuries artists have imagined the crucifixion not only as a biblical narrative, but also as an event happening in their own historical context. This strategy of depicting the crucifixion in contemporary terms, both makes Christ more directly present in the time and place of the contemporary viewer and employs the crucifixion as a point of reference for critically understanding modern life. Working in the early 1930s, Frederick Wight imagined the crucifixion as happening in Chatham, MA, USA with the sea-faring folk of the town that he knew."

In the exhibition Bowden explores other modern crucifixions noting that:

"By the end of the 19th century, artists viewed the Crucifixion through the lens of the Academy and many of the works had become banal, lacking the intensity that it merited. Thomas EakinsCrucifixion, painted in 1880, was seen by many as an academic exercise to portray Christ as realistically as possible, but with little religious feeling. Also in the late 19th century, Gauguin’s Yellow Crucifixion places the event in the countryside of Brittany. Three women near the cross are wearing the typical peasant dress and the entire scene, including the body of Christ, are cast in yellow tones of the season’s harvest. Time and again artists have placed the crucifixion and those present at the event against a local background and dressed in the apparel of the day.

The Crucifixion continues to appear as a theme during the 20th century, but with a renewed perspective. German Expressionist artist Emil Nolde was fascinated by the expressive intensity of the Isenheim Altarpiece and created his own version with a stylistic fusion of primitive forms and the exaggerated colors of the Fauves. Salvador Dali famously painted his Crucifixion representing the cross as a hypercube. Marc Chagall, a Jewish artist, broke with his religious tradition to paint several crucifixions, one of which is in this exhibition. Stanley Spencer, an English painter, set his biblical stories in his home village with local people filling the scene much like Frederick Wight has done in his Modern Crucifixion." 

This exhibition has similarities to the Cross Purposes exhibition organised by Mascalls Gallery and Ben Uri Gallery which included Santiago Bell, Susan Shaw, Maggie Hambling and Craigie Aitchison. Centering on Chagall's drawings for the windows of Tudeley Parish Church, this exhibition explored the uses of the crucifixion by a broad range of artists featuring the work of many artists including Stanley Spencer, Graham Sutherland, and Eric Gill. The exhibition addressed both meditative religious works as well as more horrific secular works and thereby demonstrated the breadth of modern treatments of the crucifixion.

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James Macmillan - Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.

Remembering the Great Fire


On Friday 2nd September 2016 from 1-2pm the Deanery of the City of London will be commemorating the start of the Great Fire of London in a special service.

Starting at the church of St Mary-at-Hill on Lovat Lane, EC3R 8EE - in whose parish the fire started - a short service will remember those who lost their lives and the destruction of 89 churches. The congregation will walk up onto Eastcheap and down Pudding Lane to the site of Fariner's Bakery - the origin of the fire - for readings, prayers and a hymn. We will then move on to the Monument for another reading, prayers and hymn. Finally we will walk to the church of St Magnus the Martyr - one of the first to be destroyed - where there will be a short service giving thanks for the reconstruction of the City and its Churches.

Do join us for this public act of witness and commemoration, which is being promoted as part of Visit London and the City of London Corporation's 'Great Fire 350' programme, more details of which can be found here.

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U2 - The Unforgettable Fire.

How beautiful and simple God's plan for humankind is

"How beautiful and simple God's plan for humankind is! ... Friends, who love, who suffer, who search, who see God's joy, who live in the glory of God; and all around them, the world which does not understand that it too is Proverb, which does not find the Lord's joy, which seems to seek to self-destruct, which despairs of rising above material things. That wants to destroy itself in the fire, despairing that it can soar above material things."

Thomas Merton, writing to Jacques Maritain about Raïssa's Journal (The Courage for Truth: Letters to Writers)

Windows on the world (401)


London, 2016

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Franz Liszt - Csardas Macabre 2.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Statement from West End Church Leaders



As leaders of churches in the West End of London, we are disturbed at reports of the rise in incidents of hate speech and racist acts. We commit ourselves to resisting such attitudes. We invite our congregations to continue our traditions of welcome and hospitality, and to look for active ways of celebrating diversity and exploring ways of living with difference.

We are working for a community where all are welcome and can feel safe.
  • Revd Sue Keegan von Allmen, West London Mission Superintendent Minister.
  • Fr Pascal Boidin, Rector – Notre Dame de France
  • Rev Alan Carr, Rector, St Giles in the Fields
  • Fr Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ, Parish Priest, Church of the Immaculate Conception Farm Street
  • Revd Richard Carter, St Martin-in-the-Fields. 
  • The Revd Philip Chester, Vicar of St Matthew, Westminster; Parish Priest of St Mary le Strand; Area Dean of Westminster (St Margaret)
  • Stephane Desmarais, French Protestant Church of London
  • Revd Jonathan Evens, Associate Vicar, Partnership Development, St Martin-in-the-Fields
  • Rev’d Simon Grigg, St Paul’s Church Covent Garden.
  • Rev Dr Ruth Gouldbourne, Co-Minister, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church
  • Rev Katherine Hedderly, St Martin-in-the-Fields
  • The Red Dr Ivan Khovacs, St James’ Piccadilly
  • Rev Philip Majcher , Minister, Crown Court Church of Scotland
  • Rev Lindsay Meader, St James’ Piccadilly
  • Fr. Kevin Mowbray sm, Notre Dame de France
  • The Revd David Peebles, Rector, St Georges Bloomsbury
  • Revd Val Reid, Minister of Hinde Street Methodist Church
  • Dominic Robinson SJ, Superior, Farm Street Jesuit Community
  • Joost Röselaers, Minister of the Dutch Church in London
  • Rev Dawn Savidge-Cole, Communities’ Minister, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church
  • The Revd Hugh Valentine, St James’ Piccadilly
  • The Revd Dr Sam Wells;Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields
  • The Revd Lucy Winkett, St James’ Piccadilly
  • Revd Dr Simon Woodman, Co-Minister Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church
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John Rutter - The Peace Of God.

The Great City Photography Project



To commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, there is an open invitation to take part in an exciting public photography project for everyone who works or lives in the City of London.

The City of London looks very different now from even, say, 40 years ago. The scale of new building calls to mind another time of rapid rebuilding: after the Great Fire of 1666, when a 'more beautiful City' of brick and stone replaced the medieval wooden houses that were destroyed. To commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire in September 2016, those who live or work in the 'square mile' of the City are invited to contribute to a public photography project, art installation and exhibition.

The project wants you to take digital photos - with your mobile or a camera - of the 'new' City of London as it forms part of your daily life. You could take a picture from your office or shop window, or a glimpse of one of the new buildings that now tower over the City, or a detail of a side street, or an interior shot of your workplace. The project hopes you'll send pictures taken from building sites, rooftops or the river, pictures at street level or below ground - anywhere in the City, in fact, that you find visually interesting as part of the built environment. They're looking for quirky details, interesting angles and juxtapositions of older and new buildings as well as stunning views and broad cityscapes, and for contributors from all walks of life. This is a project not aimed at professional photographers, but at the whole City of London community.

​Send your pictures by uploading them to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts or email them (see below for contact details) and, if you like, add your name and a caption, or write a few words about why you took the picture. The photographs will be printed and displayed in an exhibition at All Hallows by the Tower Church, Byward Street, London EC3R 5BJ from 1st September-30th October 2016, and will also be used in an art installation in the church by artist Victoria Burgher, so come and see your work on show!

Email: rebuildingthecity@ahbtt.org.uk

http://www.facebook.com/greatcityphotoproject

@rebuildingcity

tag the project @rebuildingthecity and add #greatcityphotoproject

This project is kindly supported by Reignwood and Ardmore Construction.

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Ed Sheeran - I See Fire.

Seeing more clearly with the eyes of love


As part of the 400th year celebration of William Shakespeare the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture will be leading an act of worship at St Martin-in-the-Fields on Wednesday 3 August at 7.00pm entitled: “Seeing more clearly with the eyes of love.” 

The liturgy will weave together excerpts from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with traditional liturgy and contemporary poetry. It promises to be a very creative and illuminating reflection on the nature of love. This service is open to all and no ticket is required. There will be a retiring collection. All are welcome.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream contains two significant references to the New Testament: Bottom’s misquoting of St Paul (‘The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen…’) and Bottom’s declaration taken from the Letter to the Ephesians (‘I assure you: the wall is down that parted their fathers’). In this ‘Liturgy for Voices’ these references are woven together with other excerpts from the play, words from the biblical poem ‘Song of Songs’, and elements from the traditional Christian liturgy to enable those present to explore Shakespeare’s own theme of clarifying the vision which belongs to love. The liturgy also includes five newly commissioned pieces from contemporary poets based on characters in the play – Laurence Sail (Titania), Michael Symmons Roberts (Demetrius), Sinead Morrissey (Puck), Micheal O’ Siadhail (Helena) and Jenny Lewis (Bottom) – and the whole is intended to present an aspect of ‘Civic Shakespeare’, reflecting on the potentially transforming effect of love in civil society.

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Michael Symmons Roberts - Pelt.

Update: Sophia Hub Redbridge

Ros Southern writes:

Entrepreneur's club and start-up things this week:
  • On Tuesday it's the start-your-business introductory workshop at Enterprise Desk 10-1 run by the London Small Business Centre. Info here
  • On Thursday we have a fabulous call-out for Redbridge creatives! Our speaker is fashion designer Isatu Harrison and this is also a meet-up for creative start-ups, businesses and amateurs. 5.30 at Enterprise Desk. Info here.
  • Redbridge Timebank event on Saturday - cutting edge! Its the Timebank live trading floor Saturday 16th July from 1-3pm in Ilford library. A rich, fun, unexpected Saturday afternoon. Info here
Business help for community groups this week:
  • On Tuesday there's a crowdfunding seminar at Redbridge CVS - an important tool for raising funds with local community involvement. info here.
  • Our fourth and final Enterprising Redbridge seminar on Tuesday 5.30-8pm at Welcome Centre. 'Love Your Numbers!' Info here.
Other information:
  • Update on Ilford green pop up market, Repair cafe, Fauja Singh's celebrity visit and how the free stalls are going. Info here
  • Information from Redbridge start up on EU funding after the Referendumclick here
  • Next Chamber breakfast - summer special in Valentines Mansion Tues 26 July . Info here
We try to keep our 'Help and Support' page up to date with information.

Have a great weekend. Hope to see you next week,

Best wishes,

Ros Southern
Coordinator, Sophia Hubs Redbridge
07707 460309

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