Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Foyer display: Vicky Howard




‘The Shelter Project’ by Vicky Howard (work in progress, four panels of fifteen)

St Martin-in-the-Fields is home to several commissions and permanent installations by contemporary artists.

We also have an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions, as well as a group of artists and craftspeople from the St Martin’s community who show artwork and organise art projects on a temporary basis.

One of the initiatives from this group is a changing display of work by the group members. Each month a different member of the group will show an example of their work, so, if you are able, do return to see the changing display.

This month Vicky Howard is showing work in progress from her series of drawings entitled ‘The Shelter Project’, begun by taking tracings from the walls of the Christmas Shop in St Martin’s. The inspiration for the project is Psalm 27. 5: ‘For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent.’

A display of Vicky’s drawing books can also be found in the cabinet to the right of her drawings.

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

Lone Justice - Shelter.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Windows on the world (368)


London, 2016

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

Sofia Gubaidulina - Fachwerk.

Friday, 27 October 2017

St Martin-in-the-Fields art tour

Last night I gave a group from the Friends of St Martin-in-the-Fields an art tour around the site. I began by putting the artworks and art strategy of St Martin's in the context of modern approaches to commissioning art for churches, concluding that:

"The artworks commissioned for or loaned to St Martin’s have been part of these wider trends and debates. We will see artworks which have come because of connections between the church and the artists involved, as well as commissions from acclaimed contemporary artists. Initially, commissions at St Martin’s were occasional and opportunistic, while from the Renewal Programme onwards they have been intentional and part of our strategic plan. Since the Renewal Programme was completed we have broadened our engagement with the Visual Arts through our programme of temporary exhibitions and by working with artists and craftspeople within the congregation. Our experience, therefore, demonstrates a ‘mixed economy’; sometimes engaging, as Couturier and Hussey did, with artists perceived to be among the best of our time, whilst also working with artists with whom we have connections through our congregation and wider community."

We then viewed work by Mike Chapman, Chaim Stephenson, Shirazeh Houshiary and Pip Horne, Brian Catling, James Butler, Jon Sandford, Donald Jackson, Brad Lochore, Mark Francis, Andrew Motion and Tom Perkins, Eric Parry, Giampaolo Babetto, Gerhard Richter, wood carvings from Driefontein mission and graduate work from Central Saint Martins.

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

Machanic Manyeruke - Mukombe Wapfachuka.

The isolating paralysis of sin

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

A group of people brought a paralyzed man lying on a bed to Jesus and Jesus responded to their faith (Matthew 9. 1 - 8). We often read of Jesus responding to people’s faith when he heals and also of Jesus limiting his healing in places like Nazareth where a lack of faith was shown. A lack of faith would have meant that people simply didn’t ask Jesus to help them. Faith, by contrast, opened up the possibility of change, of something new or different occurring. In Hebrews we read that without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Those who brought this man to Jesus believed and were rewarded but not initially in the way they anticipated. They came to Jesus hoping for healing but Jesus responded by forgiving the man’s sins. At the time illness and sin were often equated those who were ill were accused of being punished by God for their sins. Jesus, however, on another occasion, specifically rejected that argument. As a result, we can be sure that Jesus is not making that connection here.

Instead, he could be saying that, for each of us, addressing our sinfulness is of more importance than any other issue or aspect of lives. Whatever the presenting issue in our lives, even something as significant as total paralysis, each pales into insignificance compared to the issue of sin which ultimately cuts us off from relationship with God. Sin is fundamentally living without God. It is being in that place where we don’t have faith, don’t believe and therefore close off the possibility of relationship. Sin means we cannot be know we are with God, because we don’t believe, and without God we are ultimately cut off from all that is good. Paralysis is an appropriate metaphor for this experience because, when you are paralyzed, you cannot go to be with anyone else. Paralysis is, therefore, an isolating experience unless others come to you or, as in this instance, bring you to others.

Jesus’ whole life is geared around reversing sin and the isolation it causes. Through his incarnation and nativity he became one of us, moving into our neighbourhood to be Emmanuel, ‘God with us.’ As Sam Wells has stated, “Jesus gives everything that he is for the cause of being with us, for the cause of embracing us within the essence of God’s being.” Ultimately, on the cross, he takes our sin and isolation onto himself to the extent that he loses his own being with God the Father. When he cries out on the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,’ Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, was choosing between being with the Father or being with us. Here is astonishing good news; at the central moment in history, Jesus chose us. “That is the epicentre of the Christian faith and our very definition of love.”

As a result, Jesus can forgive and overcome sin and isolation for each one of us. He can restore us to relationship with God, because he has broken down every barrier that stood between ourselves and God. His incarnation, death and resurrection give him authority to restore relationship with God for all who are separated from God. That is what he offers to the paralyzed man, that is what he debates with the scribes, and that is what he demonstrates by returning to the paralyzed man the ability to overcome isolation by proactively going to be with others.

“If the fundamental human problem is isolation,” Sam Wells argues, “then the solutions we are looking for do not lie in the laboratory or the hospital or the frontiers of human knowledge or experience. Instead the solutions lie in things we already have — most of all, in one another.” Instead of needing others to be with him, the previously paralyzed man can now: be “with” people in poverty and distress even when there is nothing he can do “for” them; be “with” people in grief and sadness and loss even when there is nothing to say; be “with” and listen to and walk with those he finds most difficult rather than trying to fob them off with a gift or a face-saving gesture.

In other words he can bring the kingdom of heaven to others. That is a heaven which is worth aspiring to, “as it is a rejoining of relationship, of community, of partnership, a sense of being in the presence of another in which there is neither a folding of identities that loses their difference nor a sharpening of difference that leads to hostility, but an enjoyment of the other that evokes cherishing and relishing.” “The theological word for this is communion.” That is what the previously paralyzed man has been enabled to achieve.

To what extent, I wonder, is that something to which we aspire or seek? Does sin paralyze and isolate us or are we freed up to be with others in relationship?

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

Mark Heard - Rise From The Ruins.

Art awakening humanity





Art awakening humanity was an afternoon of short talks and meditations organised by St Stephen Walbrook in partnership with Awakened Artists and Watkins Mind Body Spirit Magazine. The event included contributions from artists, collectors & spiritual teachers centered around the relationship between art and the spiritual dimension. Inspired by a recent interview with Eckhart Tolle in Mind Body Spirit Magazine, the afternoon offered a wide range of perspectives on our theme of art awakening humanity. Participants described the event as: "Wonderful, inspirational" and "Spiritually uplifting conference."

I began the afternoon with a brief outline overview of Modern Art & Spirituality. We then heard from Roseline de Thélin speaking on the theme of Art: language of the soul, with a key focus on art and wonder. De Thélin is an interdisciplinary visual artist as well as a creative coach and art therapist. The subject of Light has been central in her artistic and philosophical inquiry. Combining a diversity of digital and hands on media she produces pieces that play with illusion and perceptions. She is known for the unique work she developed with fiber optic, symbol of the endless possibilities carried by photons. Roseline facilitates Art Retreats that foster creative investigation, discovery, innovation and self-awareness.

Art historian Edward Lucie-Smith gave his Agnostic’s view of art and spirituality. Edward Lucie-Smith is an internationally known art critic and historian, who is also a published poet and a practicing photographer. He has published nearly two hundred books in all. He is generally regarded as the most prolific and the most widely published writer on contemporary art. A number of his art books are used as standard texts throughout the world. He has organised exhibitions in a number of galleries worldwide. He has also served on juries of the Cairo, Alexandria and Sharjah Biennials.

David Neita and Theresa Roberts discussed aspects of the Jamaican Spiritual which Theresa curated for St Stephen Walbrook in July. Theresa Roberts is an art collector specializing and promoting Jamaican Art and artists. She has held Jamaican Art exhibitions at various important venues in the UK including The House of Lords, Europe House, Cambridge University and this year St Stephen Walbrook. During the London Olympics Theresa held a combined Art and Fashion show at Jamaica House as part of the Independence Day celebrations. She showcases her collection of Jamaican art at her home of Hanover Grange in Montego Bay in Jamaica.

Jonathan Kearney showed examples of a wide range of digital art in discussing Art, Theology and The Digital. Kearney has extensive experience of exhibiting his work worldwide, with recent exhibitions having been seen in China, Brazil and London. For nine years, Kearney has pioneered the opportunity to study a Fine Art masters course online. This innovative approach to learning is backed by his research and experimentation, which shows how digital tools can enhance both learning and art practice. Jonathan is fascinated by the intersection of art, theology and the digital.

Mark Dean told his personal story of partial salvation through art before discussing The Esoteric In Art. Dean says, “As an artist I do not seek to make images of God but rather the representation of personhood; that is, the experience of being a person in a world where there is a God. This world is not easy, and there are experiences of trauma and isolation; but God (and thus the created world) is good, and so there is beauty and the hope of redemption.”

Jonathan Koestlé-Cate specifically probed the conference title for understanding in his presentation, utilising works by Bruce Nauman, Alice Neel, Jonathan Monk and Alejandro Tobon Rojas, in doing so. Koestlé-Cate says, “I have followed closely the church’s increasing willingness to work with contemporary artists and to deploy modern media within its spaces. I have since become a regular contributor to debates on the relationship of Christianity and the visual arts, taking a particular interest in the role of modern and contemporary art in ecclesiastical spaces, but also the wider presence of themes of religion, spirituality and the sacred within the art world more generally”.

Alexander de Cadenet shared an extract of his interview with Eckhart Tolle and spoke about the Awakened Artists Group before ending with a singing bowl meditation. De Cadenet says, "For me, art is way of exploring what gives life a deeper meaning and evolves in relation to my own life journey. Being an artist is about having a voice in the world, a pure and authentic voice in a challenging world. It is a way of sharing personal insights and encounters with the world, of exploring the mysteries of our existence and our place in the grand scheme. Art is the intersection between the formless dimension and the world of form, it embodies our connection to nature or the
intelligence that is responsible for our existences."

Exploring art and spirituality broadly is one of many ways in which St Stephen Walbrook, and the Church more widely, seek to support and strengthen the real relationship that exists between art and the spiritual.

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

Glenn Hansard - Time Will Be The Healer.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

HeartEdge: West Midlands event & October Mailer












At HeartEdge our passion is growing Kingdom communities - via four C’s - congregations, culture, commercial activity and acts of compassion. This month resources, ideas and theology featured in our Mailer include:
  • Partnerships, community meals, Housing Sunday, hospitality and everything 'volunteers'.
  • Plus #whoismycleaner campaign and social enterprise
  • And Lucy Winkett on the 'need for speed' and living by the hour-hand.
Since February we've been visiting churches to find out about their work and share information, ideas and contacts. Everything from whole-site re-development, to church websites, inclusive liturgy and work with vulnerable people. We've also hosted visits to St Martin in the Fields to explore new ways of working. Contact HeartEdge to host a workshop, sharing session or consultancy day. Call me on 020 7766 1127 or email HeartEdge here.

'With Vulnerable People' (HeartEdge Resource - Ideas and Experience 1) is a new resource full of stories and ideas for churches and projects working with vulnerable people produced by practitioners - including workers with an evening centre for homeless people, an International Group and Soup Kitchen. If you're a HeartEdge member you can receive this by emailing me here.

Our next HeartEdge events are:
  • 8 November Bristol St Michaels Centre: HeartEdge Day Gathering - 10am - 3pm - with Sam Wells and guests - click here to book in
  • 21 November Edinburgh - Greyfriars Kirk: HeartEdge Day Gathering - 10am - 3pm - with Sam Wells and guests - click here to book in.
  • 5 February 2018, St Martin-in-the-Fields: Inspired to Follow: Art and the Bible Story, 2.30pm - 4.30pm. How to explore the Christian faith using a 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. Workshop and input from myself and course designer, Alastair McKay to register for the ‘Inspired to Follow’ session contact me on 020 7766 1127 or email HeartEdge here
Our West Midlands HeartEdge day happened earlier in October at St Martin in the Bullring
  • “Each element gave me food for thought and made me reflect and inspired.” 
  • “A thought provoking, inspiring day.” 
  • “Very well paced, well structured.”
Here is some of the twitter comment on the day to give a flavour of the event and those aspects to which people immediately responded:
  • Sam Wells on Stewardship model of Church - “the mission of the #church shrinks to the imagination of a few.” Time for a change? #HeartEdge
  • Sam Wells on the Benefactor model of Church... “Funded by a handful of powerful people... in the grip of a limited imagination.” #HeartEdge
  • Sam Wells on the Enterprise model - “The Church is the Jewish Head Chef and the Muslim Head of Finance... Being the Church.”
  • Asset approach “We combine & organise our assets. Approach the world not with need but green shoots of what we have. Our assets.” #HeartEdge
  • #HeartEdge. What to do when the congregation is on its knees? Go where the energy is. Find where it’s released - in quite humble things.
  • “Are you winning awards and succeeding in a cause that will finally fail? Or failing in a cause that will finally succeed?” #HeartEdge
  • What was it like for Jesus taking on a congregation that no one else applied for?” Occupation, cuts, betrayal... #HeartEdge
  • We must remember “we are the early church.” We reinvent church, as have every generation before. Reimagine, reinvent not decline.#HeartEdge
  • David Alcock of @ACSLLP introducing the panel session of @HeartEdge_ W. Mids event hearing stories of what works
  • More Enterprise Initiatives projects people? “Most important thing is finding your call. What God wants you to be doing.” @lloyd_cooke #HeartEdge
  • I’m inspired by #HeartEdge - but my congregation are on their knees... what do I do? Where do I start?”
  • Yvonne Gordon @springfield_p on adversity. “Keep your eye on God who is working at every step.” Encouragement #solidarity support #HeartEdge
  • “We saw an opportunity...” Bryan Scott on acquiring a building from the council. @springfield_p “The Council always come to us..” #HeartEdge
  • “In the church we have isolated ourselves.. Who wouldn’t we partner with? Gently & wisely exploring opportunities..” #Partnership #HeartEdge
  • @heartedge_ version of speed dating in W. Mids event @inthebullring - building relationship + sharing experience
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Innocence Mission - Glow.

plus+ presentations: Women on Company Boards


As part of further developing the relationships St Stephen Walbrook has with the business community in the City of London, we have begun a new series of events to explore the place of faith in the world of business. This new ongoing series of events is entitled ‘plus+ presentations’, as the series is one part of the way in which St Stephen seeks to add value to the City.

The format for ‘plus+ presentations’ is:

  • 6.15pm: Evening Prayer (optional)
  • 6.30pm: plus+ presentation
  • 7.00pm: Drinks reception & networking
  • 7.30pm: Close

As part of her talk on campaigns to see more women on company boards, Sally Muggeridge highlighted the examples of two remarkable woman. The first was Revd Paula Vennells. Sally said that "Paula happens to be Chief Executive of the Post Office and is an ordained self-supporting minister like myself. Prior to her present role Paula, like myself, had had a long business career, starting with Unilever in 1981. I listened to Paula speak last week as to how she manages to work at the heart of two national institutions that shape and support us in our communities all over the UK. Paula also has three Parishes in Bedford!"

The other example she quoted was that of Liza Strong, the group head of organisational talent and diversity at Royal Mail saying that: "Liza had put a whole new meaning into diversity when she asked a transgender champion to speak on a panel at an event for female employees, alongside the business’s CEO and a range of distinguished authors and experts. Liza said that she wondered if the organisation was ready, but she told me people loved it and Liza was the one who got all the questions afterwards. Other key signals were Royal Mail taking part in the Pride Festival in London for the first time, together with a Post Box at Mount Pleasant sorting office in the Capital being painted in rainbow colours."

Sally noted that Royal Mail has also pioneered balanced shortlisting, where any shortlist for frontline roles must have an equal gender split. To some, she said, these might seem small changes but from little actions, larger ones emerge, and it helps change the ethos of the workplace. 

The overall message has been that ‘Our CEO believes that employing more women will change the culture.’

The programme of plus+ presentations going forward is as follows:
Each plus+ presentation is preceded by Evening Prayer at 6.15pm.

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

Karen Peris - First Days In The City.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Windows on the world (367)


London, 2016

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

Victoria Williams - When We Sing Together.

Discover & explore: Constantine





Discover & explore: Constantine at St Stephen Walbrook with the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields featured music sung by ‪the Choral Scholars of St Martin in the Fields including: O come ye servants of the Lord – Tye; Psalm 20; Be thou my vision – Chilcott and Most glorious Lord of Lyfe – Harris.

‪Next Mondays "Discover & Explore" at 1.10pm will explore Christianity in Roman London as the #Londinium series continues - https://ssw.churchsuite.co.uk/events/q20myjzs‬.

In my reflection I said:

Throughout its first three centuries, the church went through unimaginable persecution from the Roman Empire, though all the time growing and spreading. It began with a small group from the backwaters of the Roman Empire and after two to three centuries go by, that same group and its descendants have somehow taken over the Roman Empire and become the official religion, in fact the only tolerated religion, of the Roman Empire by the end of the 4th century. The key event, an extraordinary turn of events, was when the Roman Emperor himself became a Christian.

Constantine was a successful general, the son of a successful general (who had been a Christian). In 312, there were two claimants to the imperial throne. Maxentius held the capital city, Rome, and most of Italy, but Constantine held most of the Western empire, had the support of most of the army and had marched on Rome. In October 312, he was camped north of the city preparing for what would be the show-down with his rival, but worried because he did not have the resources to sustain a long siege.In this struggle, Constantine was convinced that he needed more powerful aid than his military forces could give him, so he sought the help of the God in whom his father had believed.

Constantine called on God with earnest prayer to reveal to him who he was, and stretch forth his right hand to help him in his present difficulties. And while he was thus praying with fervent entreaty, a most extraordinary sign appeared to him from heaven – about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the sign of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, “By this symbol you will conquer.” He was struck with amazement by the sight, and his whole army witnessed the miracle.

He said that he was unsure what this apparition could mean, but that while he continued to ponder, night suddenly came on. In his sleep, the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies. At the break of day he rose and told his friends about the marvel. Then he called together the workers in gold and precious stones, sat in the midst of them, and described to them the sign he had seen, telling them to represent it in gold and precious stones.

It was made in the following manner. A long spear overlaid with gold with a transverse bar laid over it formed the figure of the cross. A wreath of gold and precious stones was fixed to the top with the symbol of the Saviour’s name with in it – the first two [Greek] letters of Christ’s name, the rho being intersected by chi in its centre. [These two letters look like X and P.] Shortly after this, to everyone's surprise, Maxentius decided to risk a battle outside the city walls and Constantine's army won a decisive victory, forcing their opponents back across the Milvian Bridge into the city. Constantine took the city and became emperor, apparently convinced that the God of the Christians had given him victory. As emperor he constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his armies. With this standard leading the way, he consolidated his power by conquering, eventually, not only the West, but also the Greek East where there were many more Christians. Within one person’s lifetime, the Empire went from the most savage of its several persecutions of Christians to embracing Christianity.

His new faith was reflected in his imperial policy; he outlawed infanticide, the abuse of slaves and peasants, and crucifixion and he made Sunday a day of rest. He rebuilt Jerusalem and helped the bishops of the Church to iron out a unitary policy of what a true Christian believes. In 314 three bishops from Britain – London, York and Lincoln – attended the first Council of Arles, one of several synods convened by Constantine. There was much that was positive, therefore, about Constantine’s vision and conversion, not least, the spread of Christianity across the Roman Empire. However, we must also recognise that his actions and understanding changed Christianity irrevocably. Christianity moved from being a marginalized, subversive, and persecuted movement secretly gathering in houses and catacombs to being the favoured religion in the empire. Christianity moved from being a dynamic, revolutionary, social, and spiritual movement to being a religious institution with its attendant structures, priesthood, and sacraments.

While there is much talk of victory in both the New Testament and the Early Church, the victory being spoken of is that of Christ, in his death and resurrection, over the hostile powers that hold humanity in subjection, those powers being variously understood as the devil, sin, the law, and death. This is a victory over spiritual powers which hold sway over all people. Christ died for all human beings, without exception, and taught that we should love our enemies and repay evil with good. Constantine’s vision, dream and standard are, therefore, a complete reversal of Christ’s teachings and actions.

Constantine began the establishment of Christendom by showering Christian ministers with every possible honour, treating them favourably as people who were consecrated to the service of his God, having them accompany him on his travels, believing that the God they served would help him as a result. Instead of renouncing wealth and power, Christian ministers were gaining it. Constantine also gave vast amounts of money from his own personal treasury to the churches of God, for the enlarging and heightening of their sacred buildings and for decorating the sanctuaries of the church. The Church was now able to have bibles copied at public expense. It was finally able to have public Christian architecture and big basilicas. So, a comfortable symbiotic relationship between the empire and the Church developed; a relationship which came to define the cultural powerhouse of Europe and the West. It came about, however, through a reversal of Christ’s teaching about power and wealth.

The dilemmas caused by these changes are captured well in Patti Smith’s song entitled ‘Constantine’s Dream’, of which we have heard an extract read. In the complete song we encounter St Francis and Columbus as well as Constantine and Piero della Francesca. Constantine’s Dream, the song suggests, led to the art of della Francesca and the discoveries of Columbus, but conflicted with the simplicity of Francis’ lifestyle that was close to that of Christ and the harmony of his relationship with the natural world around him. In the New World Columbus encountered the same kind of unspoilt beauty that St Francis enjoyed, yet his arrival led to the destruction of that unspoilt beauty in the name of Empire. The song ends with the 21st century advancing like the angel that had come to Constantine, and Columbus sees all of nature aflame in the apocalyptic night and the dream of the troubled king Constantine dissolved into light. In this way it poses the very valid question as whether the power and wealth that the Church gained because of Constantine’s dream was actually blessing or curse.

https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/constantine/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/why/legitimization.html

http://veritas.community/veritas-community/2014/05/19/constantine-is-the-emperor-of-our-imagination-and-he-is-naked-missional-church-planting-in-the-midst-of-post-christendom

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/aprilweb-only/christusvicarious.html

http://missionalchurchnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/christendom-murray.pdf

Prayers

Lord God, you rule over every principality and power, every human and every spirit, every tribe and every tongue. You have charged us to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them obey all your commands. Enable us, as your servants, to speak your word with great boldness. May the word of God spread. Rapidly increase the number of disciples here in the City of London. Teach us the ways of your kingdom. Teach us the ways of your Gospel that comes with the power of humility, love and self-sacrifice. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to yourself: We praise and bless you for those whom you have sent in the power of the Spirit to preach the Gospel to all nations. We thank you that in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labours, and that in every place your servants call upon your Name; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours for ever. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant, and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation: give us the courage to follow you and to proclaim you as Lord and King, by practising your love, humility and self-sacrifice and by rejecting the temptations of power, prestige, status and wealth. Draw your Church together, O God, into one great company of disciples, together following our Lord Jesus Christ into every walk of life, together serving him in his mission to the world, and together witnessing to his love on every continent and island. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Blessing

May God, who gives patience and encouragement, give you a spirit of unity to live in harmony as you follow Jesus Christ, so that with one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you now and always. Amen.

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

Patti Smith - Constantine's Dream.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Law and love

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

There are 613 commandments in the Torah, which divide up into 248 positive commandments (Thou shalt's) and 365 negative commandments (Thou shalt not's). Jesus says that all these hang on the two commandments to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves.

Tom Wright, the former Bishop of Durham, has a helpful illustration for the way in these negative commandments work. He says, “The illustration I sometimes use is that when you learn to drive a car, the idea is that you will quickly come to do most of the things “automatically”, changing gear, using the brakes, etc., and that you will develop the “virtues” of a good driver, looking out for other road users, not allowing yourself to be distracted, etc.; but that the highways agencies construct crash barriers and so on so that even if you don’t drive appropriately damage is limited; and also those “rumble strips”, as we call them in the UK, which make a loud noise on the tire if you even drift to the edge of the roadway. “Rules” and “the Moral Law” are like those crash barriers and rumble strips. Ideally you won’t need them because you will have learned the character-strengths and will drive down the moral highway appropriately. But the rules are there so that when you start to drift, you are at once alerted and can take appropriate action – particularly figuring out what strengths need more work to stop it happening again.”

The other side of the equation are the positive commandments; the virtues in life which we are intended to quickly learn to do automatically. This is where we begin to engage with love and see that love and law can work together. Tom Wright has said that “the point about “vice”, the opposite of “virtue”, is that, whereas virtue requires moral effort, all that has to happen for vice to take hold is for people to coast along in neutral: moral laziness leads directly to moral deformation. The thing about virtue is that it requires Thought and Effort . . .”

So change begins with a conscious decision, not a magical or instant makeover. Tom Wright says, “The point about the word “virtue” – if we can recapture it in its strong sense – is that it refers, not so much to “doing the right things”, but to the forming of habits and hence of moral character ... All behaviour is habit-forming … we [can] use the word “virtue” and “virtuous” simply to mean “behaviour we have had to work at which has formed our character so that at last it becomes natural and spontaneous to live like that.”

Let’s use an illustration to consider how this works, that of parents teaching their children the rules of the road. To begin with, when children are very young, the rules of the road are very restrictive i.e. the child must never cross a road without a parent and must always cross at a crossing with the parent and while holding the parents hand. As the child grows, they are taught new rules for crossing the road; for me, that was the Green Cross Code - stop, look and listen. Now, the aim is that the child learns to judge for him or herself when it is safe to cross the road. Eventually, the rules with which we began – don’t cross on your own, don’t cross unless you are at a crossing – are left behind because the child has learnt how to cross the road safely using their own initiative. Elbert Hubbard has said, “Initiative is doing the right things without being told.” We are able to use initiative because we have not only learnt the rules but have learnt to apply in our lives and situations. At this point, we are no longer restricted just to crossing the road at specific crossing places but can cross wherever we judge it to be safe to do so. So, we have gone beyond the rules by learning and applying the rules. In other words, we have found the true purpose of those rules which our parents enforced when we were young; which is that we learn to cross the road safely by ourselves wherever we are.

Jesus is essentially saying the same thing when he speaks about the Law. The Law starts by keeping us safe – do not murder, do not steal. If we all abide by the Law then we do not harm each other. That is good, but it is not enough. We also need to learn to love one another. That means doing more than the Law requires but to do that is also the fulfilling of the Law. If the Law is about maintaining good relations between us, then love is the fulfilment of the Law’s intent, and that is why Jesus said the heart of the Law is found in these words: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

In order to fulfil the Law and these teachings we are to love as Jesus loved; with a love that is patient and kind, which does not envy or boast, is not proud. does not dishonour others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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

Dominique Lawalree - Minimum II.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Start:Stop - Dare You To Move


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

Meditation

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

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

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

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

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

The rock band Switchfoot put it like this:

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

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

Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discover & explore: St Alban




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

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

In my reflection I said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers

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

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

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

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

Blessing

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

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

Ralph Vaughan Williams - Valiant For Truth.

Private View: central saint martin in the fields





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exhibition opening times –

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

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

Arcade Fire featuring Mavis Staples - I Give You Power.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Windows on the world (366)


London, 2016

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

Led Zepplin - Kashmir.

Artlyst article & review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Plant - Bones Of Saints.

Just As I Am












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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer In The Forest.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Prophetic voices calling from the edge


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Martin's Voices - Gloria.