Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Sunday, 31 March 2013

You can’t have faith if you think you know what’s true

Some very sane views expressed here by Alan Sparhawk of Low:

"Everything should make you feel closer to God, but music tends to be a particularly good conduit."

"Music in general has been the fiber of my faith from the beginning.  Everything I know about God was taught to me in songs & the spiritual milestones of my life have almost always been musical experiences. I think the process of writing songs has helped me learn to listen to the spirit, which then testifies of Christ & His Father."

"Music & art give us license to say, “What if everything you thought was true was actually a lie?!!”  It let’s you dream.  You can’t have faith if you think you know what’s true."

"The world of music, especially rock ‘n’ roll, is filled with religious people - the best kind - the ones who just do good things & don’t fly a flag."

"I think a person can address/express their deepest darkest fears in a way that brings light & redemption. It’s part of telling the truth.  Sometimes a prayer is ugly, but God still wants to hear it."

"I’m not an intentional writer. Ideas come usually in fragments & I’m left to fit them together, sometimes having to consciously fill in empty parts.  I’ve learned to trust what comes to you."


Low - Holy Ghost

Saturday, 30 March 2013

commission4mission's 10th commission

commission4mission reached a significant milestone today with the installation of its 10th completed commission at Christ Church Thames View.
Our 10th commission is an altar frontal by Anne Creasey which has been installed in time for the Easter Day services at Christ Church. This all year round altar frontal features all the colours of the Church calendar and incorporates a central cross in gold surmounted by the sun. The sun's rays also form pentecostal flames while the ball of the sun equates to the host raised above the chalice. Stunning from a distance, the frontal's design also repays closer inspection through the intricate details of Anne's embroidery and appliqué work, particularly on the ball of the sun and its rays. 

Anne Creasey is a long-term member of commission4mission, painter, textile artist and embroiderer working in a variety of styles from traditional to abstract and experimental. Her work includes traditional embroidery, appliqué with painted fabric and includes a large range of materials, from yarns and threads to plastic bags. She says that if it can be sewn down, it can be used! In her experience, embroidery and textiles are natural media for expressing religious ideas and imagery. She has one main criteria and that is to create something of beauty.
commission4mission was formed in 2009 to encourage churches to commission contemporary art. Our 10 completed commissions have involved nine of our artists and have included etched windows, fused glass windows, holy water stoup in oak and brass, mosaics, paintings, textiles and wooden reliefs. All completed, in the words of Henry Shelton a founding artist member of commission4mission, as "quality work and craftsmanship, rather than mass-produced work, to continue the legacy of the Church as a great commissioner of art."
In addition, we have organised more than 14 exhibitions (including shows at Chelmsford Cathedral, St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Strand Gallery, and Westminster Central Hall), two study days, a series of networking and performance events, an art trail for the Barking Episcopal Area, a digital exhibition on Olympic/Pentecost themes and three publications combining images and meditations.
Our plans for 2013 include exhibitions at the Harvey Centre Harlow (as part of the Barking Episcopal Area and Heart 4 Harlow Arts Festivals) and at St Paul's Goodmayes (which has Stations of the Cross commissioned from c4m), as well as the possibility of an interfaith event and exhibition in the autumn on art and conflict.
In under five years commission4mission has built a significant pool of creative artists able to deliver a wide variety of quality work to fit a range of budgets making the commissioning of contemporary art viable for churches of all sizes and contexts. Anne Creasey's altar frontal is a marvellous example, as we reach this milestone of our 10th completed commission, of what can be achieved when artists and churches share a vision for creativity and mission.

Our earlier commissions were:

  • two painted wooden reliefs - heads of Christ and Mary Magdalene - by Peter Webb for Dagenham Park Church of England School
  • a polished brass and oiled oak holy water stoup by Mark Lewis for St Margaret of Antioch Ilford;
  • a second set of etched windows; etched by Richard Paton to designs by Henry Shelton at All Saint's Hutton. The windows feature symbols of the four Evangelists complementing an earlier set of windows in the opposite screen which features symbols of seven Saints; 
  • two mosaics as part of the development of a community garden at St Johns Seven Kings. Envisaged as bold, bright works to catch the eye of passers by and draw them into the green space of the garden, Viki Isherwood Metzler re-created her Graffiti Love design for display on the East wall of the church, while Sergiy Shkanov added a mosaic to the Trinity sculpture in the remembrance area of the garden. 
  • memorial windows designed by Henry Shelton and etched by Richard Paton at All Saints Hutton. The windows are set within a screen and contain iconography representing a different saint, with the seven saints featured being Cecilia, Martin of Tours, Peter, Mary, Paul, James the Great, and Margaret of Antioch. Henry Shelton's designs have an economy of line and gesture which conjure eloquent and elegant meanings from the most minimal of marks.
  • Caroline Richardson was commissioned to create two fused glass windows for St Peters Harold Wood. This commission was for 14 fused glass panels set in steel frames forming two windows; the left window on the theme 'I am the light of the world' and the right on the theme 'I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.' Caroline created a flowing complementary design focusing on light and water for the two windows in the north transept of the church which incorporates in one the text of John 8. 12 and in the other of John 10. 10; 
  • 'The Baptism of Jesus' by Rosalind Hore was donated to St Edmunds Tyseley, through commission4mission, in memory of Revd. Phil Evens, Vicar of Tyseley from 1989 - 1999. This painting sees water, fish, cross, crown, dove, fire and light – all the signs and symbols of his future ministry – swept up together to coalesce around the baptised Jesus. Vigorous movement and vibrant colour combine to depict the glory of the Son who is here commissioned by the Father and empowered by the Spirit; 
  • Henry Shelton was commissioned to create a contemporary set of Stations of the Cross which has become known as the Stations of the Crown of Thorns at St Paul’s Goodmayes.  As part of its semi-abstract imagery, Christ is depicted throughout only by the Crown of Thorns. There are 15 paintings in all, as the scheme includes a resurrection Station depicting Christ present in the Eucharistic elements. A tryptich incorporating Stations XI, XII and XIII forms the central focus of the scheme. This tryptich has inventively incorporated an existing metal crucifix into its design to form Station XII; 'Jesus dies on the cross'. The colour scheme of these 'Stations' harmonizes with the existing stained glass at St Paul’s Goodmayes and the paintings feature the minimal flowing lines that characterise Shelton’s semi-abstract style; and 
  • The St Luke Chapel Queens Hospital Romford has two paintings by Henry Shelton, our first completed commission; a Crucifixion which forms the Chapel's altarpiece and a eucharistic painting entitled Do this in rememberance of me. Through a different commission, the Chapel also features windows by Caroline Richardson

The Relatives - Let Your Light Shine.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday Devotional Service

Jesus dies on the cross

The sun is eclipsed, early nightfall,
darkness covers the surface of the deep,
the Spirit grieves over the waters.
On the formless, empty earth, God is dead.

Through the death of all we hold most dear, may we find life. Amen.

70 people attended our Good Friday Devotional Service at St John's Seven Kings where we used The Passion images, meditations and prayers created by Henry Shelton and myself. These are available to be downloaded from The Seed.


Roots Worship Collective - When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.

Good Friday children's activity morning

30 children had a great time at St John's Seven Kings this morning making Easter crafts (bracelets, visors, cards, cake pops, Easter gardens and much more), going on an Easter Egg hunt and hearing the Easter story through a song, story with actions and a relighting candle.


Delirious? - Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Re-opened toilets in Seven Kings Park

The Seven Kings & Newbury Park Residents’ Association is celebrating following our 18-month fight to re-open the closed toilets in Seven Kings Park.

Through ongoing lobbying of Redbridge Council, SKNPRA managed to secure funding for the reopening of Seven Kings Park toilets on a seasonal basis through contributions from both area five and seven committees, as well as Vision, which manages leisure services in the borough.

Mark Kennedy, membership secretary and press & publicity officer of the residents’ association, said: “It is a great victory to persuade the council to in effect perform a U-turn on policy.

“Many residents that signed our 1,500 petition last year said that we would never win, but we battled on regardless and our hard work has paid off.

We are pleased that the council has listened to the community and this proves that people power collectively under a residents association banner does work.”


Relient K - Must Have Done Something Right.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Relighting candles and the resurrection

I used an Easter presentation from the Collective Worship website today for the Year 5 lessons to which I contributed today at Downshall Primary School. The presentation provides an opportunity for pupils and students to reflect on some of the key Easter events and their meaning.

Following this I used a relighting candle on an Easter cake to illustrate what happened in the crucifixion and resurrection. We had some good fun by inviting the children to join in the attempts to blow out the candle. I talked about Christians seeing Jesus as the light of the world; Jesus "was the source of life, and this life brought light to people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out" (John 1. 4 & 5). 

People thought that that light had been snuffed out through the crucifixion only for it to flare into flame again through the resurrection. Now Christians believe that Jesus is still alive in the good we do and experience in our lives: “You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5. 14 - 16).


Philip Bailey - Bring It To Jesus.

St Christopher's Hospice

As part of researching an article on Marian Bohusz-Szyszko I recently visited St Christopher's Hospice.

Founded by Dame Cicely Saunders in 1967 St Christopher’s Hospice was the first modern hospice, now providing the highest quality care to over 2,000 dying individuals each year on their inpatient wards and in people’s own homes. It has been a pioneer in the field of palliative medicine, which is now established worldwide. The ongoing impact of St Christopher’s clinical innovations and their extensive programmes of education and research improve care for dying people well beyond their geographical location and influence standards of healthcare throughout the world. The Education Centre provides a portfolio of palliative care courses, education and training that  improve end of life care in a range of settings.

Dame Cicely‘s vision and work transformed the care of the dying and the practice of medicine. She understood that a dying person is more than a patient with symptoms to be controlled and became convinced of the paramount importance of combining excellent medical and nursing care with “holistic” support that recognised practical, emotional, social, and spiritual need. She saw the dying person and the family as the unit of care and developed bereavement services at St Christopher's Hospice to extend support beyond the death of the patient.

Living life creatively during serious illness can also be important. Patients and carers have said that capturing their life story or gaining new possibilities through the arts can be a rewarding and meaningful experience. Nigel Hartley and Malcolm Payne, who both work at St Christopher's, have edited an excellent book The creative arts in palliative care that explores the use of creative therapies in the hospice. The use of pottery, painting, craft work, digital arts, art therapy and music and music therapy are all explored as are examples of outreach work.

St Christopher’s are currently engaged in a dynamic, annual creative arts partnership with the Royal Academy of Arts. This particular project captures the views of dying people and those who care for them through the creation of a range of artistic self-portraits using various artistic mediums including photography, quilt making, painting, drawing, creative writing and music making.

Dame Cicely‘s vision to establish her own home for the dying was underpinned by her religious faith. She had initially thought of creating an Anglican religious community but broadened her vision so that St Christopher's became a place that welcomed staff and patients of any faith or none. However, her strong Christian faith was a fundamental factor in her commitment to the dying and remained an anchor throughout her life.


Al Green - Take Your Time.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Windows on the world (237)

Saffron Walden, 2012


Daniel Lanois - The Maker.

Joint Palm Sunday service

The inclement weather this weekend meant that the donkey farm were unable to bring their donkey and that the joint Palm Sunday procession from St John's Seven Kings to St Paul's Goodmayes was unable to take place. While it was a disappointment not to be able to hold our Palm Sunday procession this year because of the weather, we nevertheless had an excellent shared service at St John's Seven Kings.


Pierce Pettis - You Did That For Me.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Saved from death (snake bite)

This week at our Lent course we debated, without fully understanding, Nicholas Sagovsky's statement that:

"There is, perhaps, in Jesus's comparison of himself with the ‘brazen serpent' the suggestion of his identification with poisonous evil - precisely for the purpose of healing. Like the brazen serpent, he assumes the form of evil, as a way of embracing the evil itself and bringing healing."

Here is my reflection on the meaning of his words:

Fatal snake bite inflicted in a garden;
serum spreading through the human
body, poison inflaming man
to be a wolf to man - vampiric
predator normalizing evil, unthinkable
terror routinely inflicted by militant
ignorance, the disease of legion.

Brazen serpent on a pole, innocent victim,
scapegoat, a second Adam lifted up. Venom
taken into God initiates immune system response;
antibodies - taken intravenously - bind and
neutralize. The form and flowers of evil
assumed, embraced, transformed
as antivenom, for the purposes of healing.


Ricky Ross - This Is The Life.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Windows on the world (236)

Saffron Walden, 2012


The Byrds - Chimes Of Freedom.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Airbrushed from art history: Bohusz, Falkowski and Sempoliñski

Jan Wiktor Sienkiewicz writes in Wojciech Falkowski: Painting of Falkowski's debt to his teacher Marian Bohusz-Szyszko at the Polish School of Painting. As part of this comparison he discusses their different approaches to depicting the crucifixion:

‘In Marian Bohusz-Szyszko's paintings Christ is always stretched on a leaning cross (along the diagonal line of the painting), hung in a whirling and heavy atmosphere of dark sapphire heaven, often with a bright "window" in the background. For Bohusz each Crucifixion foreshadows Resurrection. In a moment Christ is going to appear among the people!

In Wojciech Falkowski's Crucifixions the cross does not emphasize the dynamics of the composition (as in the case of his master's paintings) and it does not divide the surface of the picture into two spheres. In Falkowski's Crucifixions the cross "moves" towards the front of the composition, thus dividing the picture into two halves, and the heavy figure of an already dead Christ hangs inertly by his outstretched arms. From behind long, bloodstained hair covering the whole head we cannot see Christ's face. Brightness of the dead body of the Saviour and "radiating" whiteness of "perizonium" are contrasted with the background which is composed of dark brown and green tones. In the background, on the level of the horizontal beam, there is a spot of blue sky, finding its way with difficulty through the dark, whirling clouds.

In the Crucifixions of the London painter, the Son of God is "freed of the aura of romanticism, which so far influenced presentations of Christ. He is revealed, like in the paintings of German expressionists before, in stark reality, without any adornments, in a caricatural world full of chaos, fear, absurdity and senselessness". In Falkowski's interpretation of crucifixion scenes there is drama - Christ is dead.'

Sienkiewicz then goes on to compare Falkowski with Jacek Sempoliński:

'In an attempt to answer the question why Falkowski throughout his artistic life would return to the theme of crucifixion, it might be helpful to analyze the religious art of another Polish painter, Jacek Sempoliński, with his experience of following religious motifs. He was a student of Eugeniusz Eibisz in the Academy of Art in Warsaw, and he has been working and painting in Poland since the end of WWII.

Almost the same age as Falkowski, born in 1927, Sempoliński decided to "redirect" his painting in the 1970s, after his own experience of (in his own words) "secularized painting" 138. "[At that time] ... almost instinctively I turned towards the image of crucifixion, as the person of Jesus was always central to my faith. The person of Jesus with his dual nature - of God and human. If I feel low, when I go under, the Man nature of Jesus leads me out of it. And his passion. I thought, if I was even to paint religious subjects, I had to take up something that was central to it ... and probably the most difficult: Crucifixion."

The crucifixion fascinates both artists mostly in sphere of spiritual experience and in the context of interpreting passion motifs generally. They share less similarities concerning artistic conventions or the choice and application of technique. Falkowski, like Sempoliński after the time when he most probably felt "low" and when he "went under" in the face of historical and political events in Poland, especially in the 1980s, returned to the theme of Crucifixion after 1989. Of significant importance for the London artist were also his experiences of sufferings connected with his successful convalescence after major heart surgery in 1995.

Even though Falkowski, as opposed to Sempoliński never made any sketches "from nature", as all his work painted in his studio, still, in the moment of deciding to paint a religious scene he does not formulate, as he sees "any concept - neither artistic nor theological". Paint for both artists is undoubtedly a reflection of their "spiritual energy, and so are sacral motifs. Without any preconditions. This is confirmed by Sempoliński: "I cannot make a statement, that avoiding religious subjects would be a sin of neglect because I paint only out of need. I do not know if I give any "testimony" through my paintings. I do not know, if it is a blasphemy or not to deform the figure on the cross in a risky way. A suffering man. Often his divinity is comprised in the title of the picture. Apart from passion motifs I often paint pictures with the motif of the skull. The skull is a metaphor of Golgotha, but it is also a vivid realistic image of a man after death. There is also the Guardian Angel – he is a grown-up man, a man you could talk to ..."

Without having any contact with Sempoliński's artistic studio in Warsaw, the theme of a Worried Guardian Angel appeared also on the canvas of Wojciech Falkowski in 2004, in his London studio. Symbolic, traditional and religious importance of the Guardian Angel, and more of all the belief in his protection, let us speculate that the Polish artist in London will gratify us with further compositions from his palette of musical colours and inter-artistic and religious experience; compositions which, contribute to the history of Polish painting in the century.'

In a note, Sienkiewicz continues:

'Speaking about Polish artists using religious motifs in their works after WWII one has to mention the following artists (in alphabetical order):

Grzegorz Bednarski, Leszek Budasz, Kiejstut Bereźnicki, Jan Berdyszak, Jerzy Beres, Tadeusz Boruta, Adam Brincken, Ewa Cwiertnia, Marian Czapla, Bronislaw Chromy, Janusz Eysymont, Jerzy Fober, Jerzy Kalina, Christos Mandzios, Henryk Musialowicz, Zbylut Grzywacz, Aleksandra Jachtoma, Marek Jaromski, Piotr KmiećStanisław KulonJanusz Marciniak, Mariusz Mikołajek, Eugeniusz Mucha, Jerzy Nowosielski, Janusz Osicki, Irena Maria Polka, Janusz Henryk Raczko, Eugeniusz Repczyński, Stanisław Rodziński, Teresa Rudowicz, Wojciech Sadley, Jacek Sempoliński, Stanisław Słonina, Teresa Stankiewicz, Jerzy Stajuda, Józef Szajna, Jerzy Tchórzewski, Brunon Tode, Jacek Waltoś, Apoloniusz Węgłowski, Tomasz Wiśniewski, Gustaw Zemła, Maciej Zychowicz, Dorota Żarska.’


Gillian Welch - I'll Fly Away.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Passiontide, Holy Week and Eastertide

Our Good Friday Devotional Service will feature use of The Passion: Reflections & Prayers. These are pictures, poems and prayers by Henry Shelton and I which enable us to follow Jesus on his journey to the cross reflecting both on the significance and the pain of that journey.

Christian Art – fallacy or fusion? Eastertide course exploring approaches to and understanding of the relationship between faith and art. Tuesday evenings at St John's Seven Kings on 9th, 23rd & 30th April, 7th & 14th May at 7.30pm. Cost – £15. To book contact Liz Watson on 01245 294449 or


Buddy Miller - All My Tears.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Of park benches and toilets

Seven Kings and Newbury Park Resident's Association features in the Ilford Recorder this week because we have donated a bench to Seven Kings Park. The bench, which has been donated from monies raised by SKNPRA through fundraising events, has been located alongside the path leading from the park to King George Hospital and the A12 alongside Happy Valley. This location was chosen as a useful resting point, alongside Seven Kings Water, on the walk to and from the hospital.

This is the second additional bench which SKNPRA has been able to obtain for the local community. The first is located in Aldborough Road South and was provided by the Council as part of our Living Streets project.

We will be returning to Seven Kings Park tomorrow at 2.30pm for the re-opening of the toilets in the Park. These were closed in 2011 as part of austerity cuts by the Council in the borough. SKNPRA led a campaign against their closure and has since worked with councillors and officials to enable their re-opening. Their reopening has been has been the result of a significant local campaign and much behind the scenes negotiation led by our membership Secretary, Mark Kennedy. We are therefore thrilled that the toilets are to be re-opened.

SKNPRA is organising a Community Information Day to be held on Saturday 18th May between 11.00am and 1.00pm in the community garden at St John's Seven KingsThis event provides an opportunity for community groups and those organisations providing services in the local community to promote their organisation and meet local people.

We will be promoting the event locally and St John's Church will also be holding a Plant & Table-top Sale in the St Johns Centre at the same time. The combination of these two events on a previous occasion - see - proved very successful.


Deacon Blue - Here I Am In London Town.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Windows on the world (235)

Stratford, 2012


This Picture - The Great Tree.

Scriptural Reasoning

Following a very constructive planning meeting last week, I am now looking forward to the start of a local Scriptural Reasoning group after Easter.

Scriptural Reasoning is a practice of inter-faith reading. Small groups of Jews, Christians and Muslims, and sometimes people of other faiths, gather to read and reflect on short passages from their scriptures together.

The next meeting of the East London Three Faiths Forum provides an opportunity to try Scriptural Reasoning through the discussion of texts relating to women and equality.


Pierce Pettis - That Kind Of Love.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Risen! Art of the Crucifixion and Eastertide

From the beginning of Holy Week until well into Eastertide, Monnow Valley Arts with the Trustees of the Methodist Church Collection of Modern Christian Art have organised a series of exhibitions exploring the life of Christ.

The Methodist Modern Art Collection has been described as the most important collection of modern Christian Art outside the Vatican. It was started in the 1960s and continues to grow, now numbering fifty works, almost all of which will be on show, supplemented by work by contemporary artists, at venues in Abergavenny, Hereford, Peterchurch and Walterstone.

For some visitors the exhibitions will offer an opportunity to contemplate Christ’s love for humanity through visual imagery and to give thanks for his sacrifice on Calvary. For others the exhibitions
will prompt questions about faith and doubt as they look at the very varied ways in which a number of remarkable artists have brought their insights to bear on the Christian story.

Included among these exhibitions is The Last Supper, a unique exhibition during Lent in a tiny former shepherds’ church on the Welsh borders (St Michael’s Discoed) which portrays an individual perspective of the scriptural sequence. The artists involved have created a sequence of fourteen subjects centred on the Last Supper. The subjects they have come up with describe things which happened before, during, and after the Last Supper, in a sequence which they hope will invite reflection and meditation.

The central exhibition Risen! is currently at the Piano Nobile Gallery in London until 12th March before moving to Monnow Valley Arts from 23rd March to 21st April. Just around the corner from Piano Nobile is the Temple Gallery which is a centre for the study, restoration and exhibition of ancient icons and sacred art. The Gallery owner, Richard Temple, has written on Icons and the Mystical Origins of Christianity (Luzac Oriental) and ICONS Divine Beauty (Saqi Books), among other publications and catalogues. In conversation he commended Daniel Neculae: Iconographer which opens at the Sacred Space Gallery in St John's Notting Hill on Monday 11th March.


Dissident Prophet - Unconditional Love.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Windows on the world (234)

Stratford, 2012


Good Charlotte - Right Where I Belong.

Come to the feast of life

'The Lord says,
“Come, everyone who is thirsty —
    here is water!
Come, you that have no money —
    buy grain and eat!
Come! Buy wine and milk —
    it will cost you nothing!
Why spend money on what does not satisfy?
    Why spend your wages and still be hungry?
Listen to me and do what I say,                                                                                                        and you will enjoy the best food of all.

“Listen now, my people, and come to me;
    come to me, and you will have life!

(Isaiah 55. 1 - 9)

The Lord says, "Come." No strings attached. No pre-conditions. Just simply, come. Love bids 
us welcome, as the great Anglican poet George Herbert, whose feast day was this past week, 

We see this in the parables Jesus told about banquets. In these stories, invitations to the party 
are sent to all and sundry, including those who never get invited out, those from the wrong side 
of the tracks, the homeless and poor; all are invited and those who don’t come are those who 
choose to exclude themselves by making excuses because the one condition is that you don’t 
everything to come there and then.

George Herbert included some of the excuses we commonly make in his third poem about 
love. We draw back, he suggests, because of our sense of guilt, our sense that we are 
unworthy, unkind and ungrateful, that we have made mistakes with the gifts we have been given, 
and only deserve to serve not to be served.

I identify strongly with this poem because it expresses how I felt as a teenager having come to 
faith but then being very aware of my faults and failings and so feeling like a hypocrite who did 
not deserve God’s love. I had to come to a point of realizing that God loved me regardless of 
whether I was good enough or not and whether I felt good enough or not. The moment of 
realization came for me when a youth leader took the time to listen to me and then showed me 
Romans 5. 6 – 8 which says this:  

"For when we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked at the time that God chose. It is a 
difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might 
dare to die for a good person. But God has shown us how much he loves us — it was while we 
were still sinners that Christ died for us!"

As the old hymn says, "I love Him because He first loved me." He didn’t wait for me to become 
deserving of his love, instead he showed his love for me while I was still far away from him. So, 
there is nothing I have to do to earn or deserve his love.

That’s what he was saying when he spoke about the Galileans that Pilate had killed and the 
people in Siloam who were killed when the tower fell on them. Don’t look at other people and 
think they are worse sinners than you. Instead, look at yourself and acknowledge your failings 
but then recognize that God always gives us a second chance, just like the gardener does with 
the fig tree.

So, Jesus simply says, "come" and all I have to do to enter into his love is simply come. That is 
what George Herbert’s wonderful poem is all about: 

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
                                                            Guilty of dust and sin.
                        But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
                                                            From my first entrance in,
                        Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                                                            If I lacked anything.

                        A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
                                                            Love said, You shall be he.
                        I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                                                            I cannot look on thee.
                        Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                                                            Who made the eyes but I?

                        Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
                                                            Go where it doth deserve.
                        And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
                                                            My dear, then I will serve.
                        You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
                                                            So I did sit and eat.

Whoever comes simply, like a child, accepting God’s invitation as it is, are those who sit and 
eat, who become saints and priests, who become Christ. For "little Christ" is all that ‘Christian’ 
means. The meal, the feast, the banquet, the party to which we are invited is communion; 
sharing in the body and blood of Christ as a precursor to the coming in full of the kingdom of 
God on earth as in heaven. 

This table, the table of Jesus is our place of gathering: here you are welcomed, wanted, loved, 
here there is a place set for you; come, come to the feast of life. This is the table, not of the 
Church, but of the Lord. It is made ready for those who love him and who want to love him more. 
So come, you who have much faith and you who have a little, you who have been here often and 
you who have not been for a long time, you who have tried to follow and you who have failed. 
Come, not because I invite you: it is our Lord, it is his will that those who want him should meet 
him here.

Come. Come to the feast of life that the Lord Almighty prepares for all peoples. A feast of rich 
food, the best of meats, the finest of aged wines, and water from the spring of life itself. A 
banquet at which tears are wiped away, disgrace removed, where death, grief, crying and pain 
are no more as God himself sits down to eat with his people.

Come, all you who thirst;
come, all you who are weary;
come, all you who are poor;
come, all you who are bitter;
come, all you who grieve;
come, all you who are sinners;
come, all you who are oppressed;
come, all you who are traitors;
come, all you who are sick;
come, all you who are lost.

Why spend money on what does not satisfy? Why spend your wages and still be hungry? Listen 
to me and do what I say, and you will enjoy the best food of all. Listen now, my people, and 
come to me; come to me, and you will have life!

Come to be saints;
come to be priests;
come to be Christians;
to be "little Christs."
Come to sit and eat
at the feast of life.


The Staple Singers - If You're Ready (Come Go With Me).

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Ross Ashmore: Cataloguing the mundane

Ross Ashmore has embarked on an ambitious task of painting all the London Transport Underground Stations- of which there are 267. “I realise for me this has to do with my commercial past. I was always under pressure to deliver on time, except this time I had created my own brief and deadline.” To coincide with this year's 150th Anniversary of London Underground, he will finally complete all the paintings, of all the stations, this summer. “I love the Underground. I love the concept of going below ground and resurfacing somewhere else."

“I believe that art is a powerful form of expression. That an artist should be honest, passionate and have conviction about his work – much at odds with the commercial world I had come from and today's obsession with perfection. I didn't want to be chocolate box. The gesture of painting, the process, is just as important to me as the image. Every painting is an action – making the mark in paint creates energy and conveys emotion – it creates the mood – it begins to take on a life of it's own. I love the physicality of painting. Many artists today are so obsessed with perfection and technique they don't look like paintings at all.”

“The mass produced commercial world is so concerned with perfection – 'everything was airbrushed out!' In contrast I began to appreciate being different, embracing individuality – freedom of expression. This view is what drives and inspires me today. It's the ordinary things in life, the mundane that I want to catalogue in my work. With all the relentless change, very soon, we may forget the way things were.”

Ross Ashmore: Going Underground is at SPACE art gallery (141 High St, Southgate N14 6BP) until 5 April. Open: Mon-Fri 17:30-19:30, Sat and Sun 12:00-16:00.


Friday, 1 March 2013

Quiet Day: Daily Divine

I'm at the Diocesan House of Retreat in Pleshey tomorrow leading a Quiet Day for a group from St Nicholas Great Wakering with St Mary's Church Foulness and All Saints Barling with St Mary's Little Wakering.

During this Quiet Day, which I have called 'Daily Divine', we will be exploring our experience of God in the events and emotions of the everyday or, as the poet George Herbert put it, ‘Heaven in ordinaire’. During the day thoughts will be shared on the idea and reality of having an ongoing conversation with God in which we pray through our emotions and our everyday encounters.


George Herbert - 'The Collar'.

Review: Bridge to Wonder

My latest book review for the Journal of Theological Studies has recently been published online. The review is:

Bridge to Wonder: Art as a Gospel of Beauty. By CECILIA GONZALEZ-ANDRIEU. Jonathan Evens The Journal of Theological Studies 2013; doi: 10.1093/jts/flt004

Bridge to Wonder is described by its publisher as proposing "a method of theological aesthetics allowing readers to mine the depths of creative beauty to discover variegated theological truths that enable greater communion with each other and the One source of all that is beautiful."

Cecilia González-Andrieu is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University and has been described as a promising young Catholic theologian.

My earlier book reviews for the Journal of Theological Studies can also be found by clicking here and here.


Arlo Guthrie - Amazing Grace.