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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Walbrook Art Group Advent Programme

This year's Walbrook Art Group Advent programme at St Stephen Walbrook will be themed on the faith inspired work by the Pre-Raphaelites. There will be lectures on three Wednesday afternoons starting from 13:00pm at St Stephen Walbrook as usual, from 30th November to 21st December 2016.

Dharshan Thenuwara will be giving all three lectures:
·         Wednesday 30th November 2016 - William Morris and his faith inspired art work
·         Wednesday 7th December 2016 - Burne Jones and his religious art
·         Wednesday 21st December 2016 - The Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood religious pictures

Please note that there is no lecture on 14th December 2016. All the above lectures are free but voluntary donations directly to St Stephen’s are welcomed. Please RSVP directly to:


Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Jenny.

Start:Stop - The Messiah who comes in peace

Bible reading

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21. 6 – 11)


Ever since the days of the Early Church, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem has been the reading for the first Sunday in Advent. The Latin word “advent” means “coming” — quite appropriate because at the beginning of each Church Year we await the first coming of the Messiah — as the baby in the manger. That child is the incarnate Son of David, the One who comes in the name of the Lord, the one who rides into Jerusalem on a donkey.

The crowds on Palm Sunday saw Jesus the Messiah humbly riding into the City of David and called out to Him, “Hosanna,” a Hebrew word which means “Save us now!” This indicates that for them thousands of years of waiting were finally over. The Messiah who will save and redeem God’s people had finally arrived. (

The words that the crowds shouted along the way all come from Psalm 118. That psalm belongs to what are called the Hallel Psalms, psalms sung at all the major festivals in Jerusalem. The words would have been well known. The cries included: “Hosanna to the Son of David”; “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD”; and “Hosanna in the highest.”

These cries were addressed to Jesus as “Son of David.” There was no doubt in the minds of the faithful that this Jesus was the Messiah, the heir to the throne of David. This is confirmed by the exclamation, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” In Psalm 118 the sentence was a priestly blessing for the king who led the people in procession to the sanctuary to offer praise to the Lord. But it had come to be a word of praise to God for the coming of Messiah; Jesus, who had been widely recognized by His followers as “the Coming One.” And so when the people repeat their “Hosanna” to God in the highest, they are praising God for sending them the Messiah, the Saviour of Israel. (

The disciples chanted "in heaven peace and glory in the highest." It can be no accident that what they chant in Jerusalem's streets echoes what the angel's sang in the night fields of Bethlehem over 30 years before. Then they sang, "Glory in the highest to God and upon earth peace among men." God's highest glory is to declare that in His Son He is at peace with a world that is at war with Him. (

So, here is the theme of Advent in a nutshell. Jesus comes to His people, even though some do not want him. He comes to the praise of his followers, as well as to the distain of his enemies. And He comes of his own accord and in His own way - seated humbly on a borrowed donkey. He never waits for His people to ask for his coming. So, despite the fact that the Pharisees would just as soon seen him march the other way right out of Israel, Jesus enters into the holiest of cities, and not for glory -although He rightly receives it. He comes to suffer and die on our behalf. He comes to sacrifice his very body on the altar of the cross for our salvation. He comes, his glory 'hidden' under the shame of sin and death. (

The message of Advent is that Christ comes in peace, He comes to serve, and He enters this world to receive our joyful praise. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

In this Advent of expectation draw us together in unity, that our praise and worship might echo in these walls and also through our lives. In this Advent of expectation draw us together in mission, that the hope within might be the song we sing, and the melody of our lives. In this Advent of expectation draw us together in service, that the path we follow might lead us from a stable to a glimpse of eternity. God of hope, who brought peace into this world, be the peace that dwells between us.

You challenge us this Advent time, this season of preparation, to put aside our pride and understand our need for repentance, forgiveness and mercy. Less of self, more of you, preparation for our journey to the stable and beyond. Purify our hearts, sanctify our lives, that we might serve you faithfully this day and all days. God of hope, who brought peace into this world, be the peace that dwells between us.

People of God: awake! The day is coming soon when you shall see God face to face. Remember the ways and the works of God. God calls you out of darkness to walk in the light of his coming. You are God’s children. Lord, make us one as we walk with Christ today and for ever. God of hope, who brought peace into this world, be the peace that dwells between us.

The Blessing

Our Lord says, ‘I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you always. Amen.


The Piano Guys - O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

Monday, 28 November 2016

At the Heart. On the Edge.

Advent Booklet

This year at St Martin-in-the-Fields we've invited our congregation to write pages for our #Advent2016 booklet. Each day a new reading, reflection and prayer on the theme, “At the Heart. On the Edge.”, will be posted on our twitter account and facebook page.

Today read Sam Wells's reflection - "We want to be where God is, and God's on the edge, so we want to be there too."


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Artlyst: The Art of St Martin-in-the-Fields

My latest article for Artlyst features the 15-year programme of commissions and loans at St Martin-in-the-Fields which began as part of the renewal of the church undertaken by Eric Parry Architects.

In the article I note that the Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam, who as Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields began the programme of commissions at St Martin’s, has argued that there has been a renaissance in the relationship between Christianity and the arts; of which these commissions are part. Based on his experience, Holtam suggests that there is an enormous willingness on the part of artists to explore meaning and faith creatively and with imagination. He argues that whilst there might be safety for the Church in accepting only the work of Christian artists, the more important engagement is with good art that respects its Christian context. It makes us bigger people and deepens both our cultural life and the life of faith.

In an earlier article published by Artlyst, I explored the question of whether Caravaggio was a 'good' Christian suggesting that a better question is what makes such a man one of the most significant artists in both art history and Church history.


Luxury - To You Who Gave Me Hope and Were My Light.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Advent, Carol & Christmas Services at St Stephen Walbrook

Here are details of the Advent, Carol & Christmas Services at St Stephen Walbrook:

The Grand Priory of England of the Knights Templar Advent Carol Service - 3 December, 5.00pm

This Service will mix readings and carols under the guidance of their Master of Music, Dr Michael Walsh, and The Reverend Dr Gordon Giles KOTJ, Grand Chaplain-General. All are welcome for a service which gives the opportunity of looking at some themes other than the obvious Christmas stories and where the Knights and Dames provide some extra 'colour' with their robes and banners.

Fight for Sight Christmas Carol Concert – 6 December, 6.30pm

Join Fight for Sight for a celebration of Christmas for all the family featuring popular carols and festive readings. Guest readers include BBC Radio 4 broadcaster Sue MacGregor and presenter and broadcaster Jan Leeming. The concert will also include Imperial College Choir. Tickets £25 (adult) £10 (child) -

Carols by Candlelight – 7th December, 7.30pm

Carols by Candlelight is back for another year of song and Christmassy merriment in aid of Michael Varah Memorial Fund. The stunning Vasari singers, legendary Richard Stilgoe and vast amounts of mince pies will be ready and waiting. Tickets £30 (pew seats) or £20 (bench seats - restricted view) - or email:

Carols for the Animals – 8 December, 6.30pm

Join International Animal Rescue in a celebration for all the animals at Christmas. Traditional carols, music from the fabulous Massive Violins, mulled wine and mince pies plus readings by special guests including actor Peter Egan. Sing your heart out this Christmas whilst raising money for the work of International Animal Rescue which rescues animals from cruelty and suffering around the world. Tickets £25 -

Parish Carols by Candlelight – 14 December, 6.00pm

Arrive early to get a seat for our free, popular Parish Carol Service led by Revds Jonathan Evens and Sally Muggeridge with St Stephen’s Voices and organist Joe Sentance. The service will include ‘Sir Christèmas’ – Mathias, ‘Bethlehem Down’ – Warlock, and ‘Gaudete’ - arr. Jenkins. Join us after the service for mince pies and mulled wine.

Midnight Mass – 24 December, 11.30pm

Join us for the first Communion of Christmas where St Stephen’s Voices and organist Joe Sentance will lead us with ‘Missa Brevis in D, K194’ – Mozart and ‘Sussex Carol’ - arr. Ledger. The service will be followed by mince pies and hot drinks.


Peter Warlock - Bethlehem Down.

Bring #JoyToTheWorld with

Bring #JoyToTheWorld with

This Christmas the Church of England will be launching a new website inviting people across the country to attend local parish services at Christmas.

On the 1st of December will be live for anyone to be able to find the nearest Christmas services to them (or search for services in a particular location), including those at St Stephen Walbrook. It will be able to filter by date, whether there will be carols and accessibility such as wheelchair access, sign language and parking and more. They'll also be able to find which Christmas services are serving mince pies or mulled wine! For smartphones, the website will be able to use geolocation to find where the person is and show which Christmas services are happening nearest to them.

To promote the website and accompanying Christmas social media campaign, there will be four videos on the theme of Christmas Joy. The videos star Gogglebox vicar Kate Bottley, comedian Paul Kerensa, Matt Woodcock and Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons Rose Hudson Wilkin - each talking about a moment of Christmas Joy in their lives.

Commenting on the new plans the Rev Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Archbishops' Council, said: "We think a perfect Christmas includes a Church Christmas. No matter how good the dinner or how expensive the present, a deeper joy is to be found in Church at Christmas. "Whether it's midnight mass, a nativity play, a carol service of the joy of welcoming the Christ child on Christmas day, the best kind of Christmas involves a visit to Church.”


Chris Tomlin - Noel (Live) ft. Lauren Daigle.

Windows on the window (320)

London, 2016


The La's - Timeless Melody.

commission4mission's latest newsletter

Victoria Norton has edited commission4mission's latest newsletter which includes information about:
To read the Christmas newsletter click here.

commission4mission will be exhibiting in The Hostry at Norwich Cathedral from 17 April to 30 May 2017. The exhibition will be entitled ‘The Cross’ and will include work by members of commission4mission whose backgrounds include silversmithing, ceramics, stained glass, textiles, graphics, sculpture and painting.

Harvey Bradley who is curating the exhibition writes: ‘Years ago I studied Silversmithing at Art College and still remember the exciting designs that we students produced – mostly never seen outside the college. Using the skills and inspiration of commission4mission members, many of whom have graduated from Art Colleges, I see an opportunity to challenge them to work on this simple commission with the prospect of a prestigious exhibition in Norwich to showcase their skills, talents and ingenuity. I feel sure that this would interest and inspire general visitors to the cathedral as well, as those involved in Art and Design. As a Christian organization we recognise that the symbol of the cross is accessible to both peoples of faith and of no declared faith. It may be of interest to include historical and cultural references: Greek, Latin, Jerusalem, Coptic, notions of Crucifix and ‘empty’‘ crosses within the display.’The cross as a Christian symbol offers a wide range of visual interpretations with many potential commentaries attached to its use. I anticipate that we will create an exhibition that will demonstrate a high quality of design and craftsmanship and give personal insights into what the cross means to the artists. There will be finished work, design concepts and background ideas.

We anticipate that this exhibition will include work by: Hayley Bowen, Harvey Bradley, Irina Bradley, Christopher Clack, Jonathan Evens, Terry Ffyffe, Rob Floyd, Maurizio Galia, Michael Garaway, John Gentry, Clorinda Goodman, Tim Harrold, Anthony Hodgson, Jean Lamb, Mark Lewis, David Millidge, Victoria Norton, Colin Riches, Henry Shelton and Peter Webb. In addition, a church congregation project is being promoted for members of St Marks Church, Oulton Broad, to contribute individual crosses for a large banner to be displayed at this exhibition as well as in their church.

Mark Lewis has booked dates for a commission4mission Retreat on Monday 24 – Tuesday 25 April at the Othona Community in Bradwell-on-Sea. commission4mission artists, members and others are encouraged to take part in an informal retreat that will include artwork, walks and conversation. Othona Bradwell is a place of welcome to people from all walks of life and all ages. For some it is a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on; to others a place of spiritual exploration (with plenty of beautiful coastline as inspiration); to some a place of peace and for others a vibrant social mixture. If you would like to join us on retreat please contact Mark Lewis for further details at

John Gentry has been busy making and exhibiting this autumn and winter: At the beginning of November John exhibited with the Gainsborough's House Print Work Shop Members at the 'Minories Gallery'; Colchester School of Art.There are 4 etchings of his currently on show in Lisa Anderson's Wellhouse Gallery Herndon on the Hill, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex and he is still engaged on ideas for the Norwich Cross C4M exhibition at Easter.

Hayley Bowen is exhibiting in a show called ‘Bah Humbug’ with the KAOS Artist’s Group, at Cass Art in Kingston from Friday 25th November until December 8th. This is an affordable art exhibition with Christmas in mind. All works are for sale and can be taken away immediately after purchase, for convenience. Hayley has two pieces in the show: ‘The Spirit Of Christmas’ – a 20x20cm acrylic painting depicting the spirit of Christmas, this friendly skull is letting us know that even if we bring along little else to the day, it’s purely the spirit of Christmas, and it’s message, that is important. She is also exhibiting ‘Relic’, a 30x40cm acrylic painting.


Thursday, 24 November 2016

International Animal Rescue - winners of the JustGiving ‘Charity of the Year’ award

Many congratulations to International Animal Rescue who have won the JustGiving ‘Charity of the Year’ award.

You can join International Animal Rescue in a celebration for all the animals at Christmas. Traditional carols, music from the fabulous Massive Violins, mulled wine and mince pies plus readings by special guests including actor Peter Egan - will all make for a wonderful Christmas evening. Set in St Stephen Walbrook, one of Sir Christopher Wren's most stunning churches, the evening is a chance to celebrate Christmas and the animal kingdom. Sing your heart out this Christmas whilst raising money for the work of International Animal Rescue which rescues animals from cruelty and suffering around the world.


How Can Your Faith and Your Business Come Together to Boost the Economy?

How Can Your Faith and Your Business Come Together to Boost the Economy?

Are you a business owner, faith focused or a budding entrepreneur looking to run a socially conscious venture? If you are any of the above or would describe yourself as naturally curious, then you can’t afford to miss “Faith and Business Summit: Harnessing The Social Capital of Our Nation’s Churches."

Taking place on Monday 28th November 2016 at RBS, Bishopsgate, this summit is a must attend event for anyone who is interested in the role that the church and other faiths have in shaping today’s economy through enterprise.

The Faith and Business Summit promises to be a highly informative and interactive afternoon which will be facilitated by Sonia Brown MBE of NBWN and include an exclusive keynote presentation from Rt. Hon. Stephen Timms, MP – Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society

Supporting guest speakers on the day will include:

• Julie Baker – Head of Enterprise, NatWest Business Banking
• Bishop Wilton Powell – Church of God of Prophecy
• Bishop Wayne Malcolm – ICAN Community Church
Rev Sally MuggeridgeSt Stephen Walbrook
• Rev Martin Wheadon – Christian Education Project
• Minister Joyce Fletcher – National Women's Minister Director (COGOP)
• Pastor Nick Chanda – (RCCE)
• Ray Lewis – EYLA

Why attend?

Statistics from the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit (2015) show that the contribution from churches and other faiths make to the local economy is £235 million and the national value from these organisations via social action projects through their communities is estimated at 3billion per year. In light of these figures, the NBWN and NatWest Business Banking are aiming to bring together faith leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs to harness this capital and look at what needs to be done to start and stimulate businesses in the UK.

Among the topics to be covered on the day include an outline of how faith based organisations contribute to society and how the church can help to start, grow and support more businesses within their local and national communities. In addition, there will be an opportunity to look at how the church can encourage international trade through their well established and solid networks.

As well as listening to our exclusive guest speakers you will also have the chance to get involved, have YOUR say and establish and expand your own business networks.

If you would like to get involved or find out more about how our churches can get more involved in the business agenda, then please join us for this free event aimed at bridging the gap between faith and business on Monday 28th November 2016 at RBS, Bishopsgate, London from 12.00 – 4.30pm by visiting: Faith and Business Summit.

Chance the Rapper - Blessings.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Christmas newsletter - St Stephen Walbrook

The latest newsletter from St Stephen Walbrook, including details of Advent and Christmas services can be viewed by clicking here.

Highlights include:
  • #Joytotheworld
  • Discover & explore / Knights Templar Advent Carol Service
  • Carol & Christmas Services
  • Autumn 2016 events
  • Walbrook Art Club / London Ablaze
  • London Internet Church / Using St Stephen Walbrook / Music at St Stephen Walbrook

Fire & Phoenix

"In this captivating drama, playwright Kate Glover has brought back the time and place, capturing not only the immensity of the event, but also the sometimes shocking human dramas it produced ... The company of 8 talented actors essay a total of 18 characters, a complex director’s juggling act, expertly handled ... The sparingly used, but threatening sound of the fire was a leitmotif I found very powerful. Beautifully costumed and lit, and with some lovely artwork by Sharon Lovett Lampi on the backcloth, the company are to be congratulated on this showing. It augurs well for their onward itinerary which includes the ‘fire churches’, surely to be one of the events of the season." (Saul Reichlin)

Fire & Phoenix is at St Stephen Walbrook on Wednesday 23 November, 7.30pm. Tickets £15 (£12 concessions) available on the door.

Fire & Phoenix is a new play to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. The play opens in the bakery of Thomas Farynor, King's Baker, just before midnight on 1 September 1666. It's a swelteringly hot night. There has been no rain for months. Thomas assures his daughter that he has checked the fires...

The fire starts within hours; for three days it rages terrifyingly, helped by a ferocious East wind. Lord Mayor Bludworth is useless. Samuel Pepys takes practical measures, and liaises with the King, Charles II. The people lose everything and camp out at Moorfields. Foreigners and 'papists' are blamed for the fire and so are ferociously attacked. People are hysterical. St Paul's burns: a vision of Hell.

A Frenchman is hanged for starting the fire, but was he really guilty? What about Farynor? Pepys has his suspicions...

Despite the toll of 89 churches, 1300 houses and 200,000 people made homeless, Christopher Wren, in a moving final scene with Pepys, has a strong sense of hope, and believes that London, like the Phoenix, will rise from the ashes.

Historia Theatre Company is Registered Charity 1099807, founded in 2003 to put on plays that have their source in or inspiration from history. Previous productions include Evelina (2004), Five Eleven (2005), An African’s Blood (2007-8), Judenfrei: Love and Death in Hitler’s Germany (2010-11), The Sound of Breaking Glass (2012-13), Queen Anne (2014), Magna Carta (2015).


Ralph McTell - Streets of London.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

One Tree Per Child

One Tree Per Child,’ which held a promotional reception at St Stephen Walbrook tonight, wants to have every child planting one tree as part of a primary school activity. If your school or council wants to get involved, this site will show you how.

‘One Tree Per Child’ is being rolled out in two ways:
  • in the first instance they are rolling out the project in partnership with local councils. Councils who sign up agree to approach the primary schools in their local area. They then assist the primary schools to organise tree planting sites where their children can get to plant one tree each. The date of the planting is whatever day best suits the council and the school. This makes it easier for everyone to get involved.
  • where a school approaches them, they work with them to get their local council involved. This is because the council often has easier access to trees, shrubs, land, tools and people who can help to prepare the tree planting site. This makes tree planting a lot easier for the schools.
In addition to working with councils, they also work with local tree planting groups and community organisations. These organisations can provide invaluable help to schools.

The project has been started by Olivia Newton-John and Jon Dee, the original founders of National Tree Day. Their aim is to get millions of children planting millions of trees.


Donna Summer - MacArthur Park.

Exhibition: National Society of Painters, Sculptors & Printmakers

The National Society of Painters, Sculptors & Printmakers was formed in 1930 to meet a growing desire among artists of every creed and outlook for an annual exhibition in London, which would embrace all aspects of art under one roof, without prejudice or favour to anyone. This legacy has continued as a guide and inspiration to creative artists ever since, with only a short break between 1940 - 1945. The freedom to experiment and explore new media or techniques has created a society that is very professional while allowing the individual artists to realise their full potential.

To name only a few who have gained worldwide fame: Mark Gertler • Jack B Yeats • L S Lowry • David Bomberg • W Russell Flint • Henry Moore • Bernard Meninsky • William Nicholson • Graham Sutherland • C R W Nevinson • Frank Dobson • Charles Cundall • Bernard Adams. Some of the above artists' highly acclaimed works were first shown in the National Society's Annual Exhibition, and current members now exhibiting may well gain similar recognition in future years.

The National Society is, therefore, a society that offers a challenge to all creative artists of the highest ability from any school of thought. By its very nature it strives to communicate with the widest possible audience, to excite interest and involve the public by showing a broad spectrum of contemporary and innovative painting, sculpture and printmaking.

The National Society is self-supporting and democratic, with officers and council elected from the membership.

The National Society is holding it's second exhibition at St Stephen Walbrook. The exhibition continues until December 2nd. Open weekdays Mon - Fri, 10 am - 4 pm (Weds 11 am - 3 pm).


Monday, 21 November 2016

Discover & explore: Security

Today's Discover & explore service at St Stephen Walbrook was on the theme of Security and featured music from the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields including: O nata lux - Tallis; Psalm 121 - Rose; The Beatitudes - Pärt; and Ubi Caritas - Duruflé.

In my reflection I said:

‘Are there safe havens in these troubled times?’ ‘Our belief in education must survive these troubled times.’ ‘In troubled times, shopping became the new patriotism.’ ‘In troubled times, Europe needs Nato more than ever.’ ‘EU Labour Migration in Troubled Times.’ ‘Making ends meet in troubled times.’ These are all recent headlines reflecting our current state of insecurity. Where can safety and security be found in these troubled times?

In my last parish we commissioned a mosaic which hung on the outside of the East wall of the church facing the street. The mosaic was simply the word ‘Love’ created in grafitti-style. One Christmas, in high winds, it was blown down from its position on the East wall; quite literally a case of love come down at Christmas. Christina Rossetti’s wonderful carol, from which that phrase comes, reminds us that the incarnation, God become human, is as much a sign of love for us as is Christ’s crucifixion.

But how does this work? A prayer by David Adam provides an answer:

Escalator prayer

As I ascend this stair
I pray for all who are in despair
All who have been betrayed
All who are dismayed
All who are distressed
All who feel depressed
All ill and in pain
All who are driven insane
All whose hope has flown
All who are alone
All homeless on the street
All who with danger meet

Lord, who came down to share our plight
Lift them into your love and light

(David Adam, PowerLines: Celtic Prayers about Work, Triangle, 1992)

This prayer uses the imagery of descending and ascending an escalator to pray that those at the bottom of the descent will be understood and ministered to before being then raised up themselves. The prayer is based on the understanding that, through his incarnation and nativity, Christ comes into the messiness of human life, as a human being, to experience, for himself, all that we experience. The betrayals, dismay, distress, depression, illness, pain, insanity, loss of hope, loneliness, homelessness, danger and despair that many of us experience at periods in our lives and which some experience as their everyday life. Christ comes to understand all this and to bear it on his shoulders to God, through his death on the cross, in order that, like him, we too can rise to new life and ascend to the life of God himself. “Lord, who came down to share our plight / Lift them into your love and light.” This is the hope held out to us through the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem; that he was born into poverty, exile, danger, stigma for our sake, in order to be one with us in our lives.

Jesus was born to be Emmanuel – God with us. That is what the incarnation, “the union of the human and the divine in the life of a humble Jewish carpenter,” is all about. As John 1. 14 says, in the contemporary translation of the Bible called The Message: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.” This is what Rossetti means by that marvellous phrase “Love came down at Christmas”.

Because God, through Christ’s birth, has entered our world and moved into our neighbourhood, he has identified himself with us. He became a human being experiencing the whole trajectory of human existence from conception through birth, puberty, adulthood to death including all that we experience along the way in terms of relationships, experiences, emotions and temptations. He has been made like us, his brothers and sisters, in every way, tempted in every way just as we are and able to sympathize with our weaknesses. As Hebrews 4. 16 say: “He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all — all but the sin.”

This means that we never walk alone. As we have heard, in Isaiah, God promises that:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.”

As a result, we have a reason to sing:

“Walk on, through the wind
Walk on, through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone”

God is with us in all of our experiences. He leads us beside the still waters and walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. He can do this because in Jesus he has experienced human life for himself. God understands and will be alongside us in all our experiences. By being with us he is able to lead us through times of darkness until we come to live with him in the light forever. God’s promise is that he will be with us as we walk the path of life and that is where true security is to be found.

The next series of Discover & explore services of musical discovery will explore significant figures in the history of St Stephen Walbrook. Services will be led by the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields with input from Revds Jonathan Evens, Alastair McKay and Sally Muggeridge.

All Discover & explore services begin at 1.10pm:

· 9 January – John Dunstable (Music)
· 16 January - Sir Christopher Wren (Architecture)
· 23 January – Thomas Watson (Preaching)
· 30 January – Sir John Vanbrugh (Drama)
· 6 February - Thomas Wilson (Patronage)
· 13 February – Half Term break
· 20 February – George Croly (Poetry)
· 27 February – George Griffin Stonestreet (Insurance)
· 6 March – Robert S. de Courcey Laffan (Sport)
· 13 March – Chad Varah (Charity)
· 20 March – Henry Moore (Sculpture)
· 27 March – Lanning Roper (Gardening)
· 3 April - Patrick Heron (Art)
· 10 April – Peter Delaney (Internet)

Discover & explore services have been described as “perfect services of peace in our busy lives” and explore their themes through a thoughtful mix of music, prayers, readings and reflections.

Discover & explore service series are supported by The Worshipful Company of Grocers, for whose generous support we are most grateful.


John Dunstable - Veni Creator Spiritus.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Windows on the world (319)

London, 2016


Update: Sophia Hub Redbridge

Ros Southern writes:

Coming up this week
  • Sophia Hubs entrepreneurs' club - Weds 23 Nov 6pm - using the business model canvas to test and grow your start-up with Nnenna Anyanwu. Info and booking here
  • Sophia Hubs Sophia course- Saturday 26 Nov 9.30-1.30 -bring an idea and work on it to see if it has legs info here
  • Google Digital Garage - help for your business or charity - Saturday26 Nov 10am - Enterprise Desk,info here
  • Enterprise Desk weekly business advice - need to book, info here
The following week
  • Chamber networking breakfast - Tues 29 Nov - speaker Mike Gapes. Info here
  • Sophia Hubs entrepreneurs' club. Friday 2nd December 2.30 Dates until Christmas here
  • Open source IT workshop - Friday 4th - 1-3 - held in Ilford library monthly info here
  • Sophia Hubs Sophia course- Saturday 3 Dec 9.30-1.30 - bring an idea and work on it to see if it has legs. info here
Other great news
Have a great weekend,

Best wishes,

Ros Southern
Coordinator, Sophia Hubs


Lifehouse - From Where You Are.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

The State We're In - Faith and Politics post-Brexit and the US Election

The State We're In - Faith and Politics post-Brexit and the US Election

Leadership Breakfast with Michael Wear (Faith Advisor to Barack Obama) by The Good Faith Partnership Fri 2 December 2016 09:00 – 10:30 GMT at St Stephen Walbrook, 39 Walbrook, London

Join us for a special breakfast for Christian leaders with guest speaker Michael Wear, Faith Advisor to President Obama. Michael will share insights from the White House and reflections on the changing role of faith in public life.

Organised by the Good Faith Partnership, in conjunction with Home for Good, Premier Radio and the Heart Edge Network.


Take 6 - If We Ever Needed the Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now).

Friday, 18 November 2016

Discover & explore, Fire & Phoenix, St Stephen's Serenades

We have another significant week in the life of St Stephen Walbrook with the final service in our current series of Discover & explore services, a performance of Fire & Phoenix, a new play about the Great Fire of London, and the first in a new series of monthly recitals entitled St Stephen's Serenades and featuring at 5.30pm the music of Michael Butten.

Monday's Discover & explore service at St Stephen Walbrook, 1.10 - 1.50pm, will be on the theme of Security and will include a reflection from myself. Featured music from the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields will include: O nata lux - Tallis; Psalm 121 - Rose; The Beatitudes - Pärt; and Ubi Caritas - Duruflé.

Fire & Phoenix is a new play to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. The play opens in the bakery of Thomas Farynor, King's Baker, just before midnight on 1 September 1666. It's a swelteringly hot night. There has been no rain for months. Thomas assures his daughter that he has checked the fires...

The fire starts within hours; for three days it rages terrifyingly, helped by a ferocious East wind. Lord Mayor Bludworth is useless. Samuel Pepys takes practical measures, and liaises with the King, Charles II. The people lose everything and camp out at Moorfields. Foreigners and 'papists' are blamed for the fire and so are ferociously attacked. People are hysterical. St Paul's burns: a vision of Hell.

A Frenchman is hanged for starting the fire, but was he really guilty? What about Farynor? Pepys has his suspicions...

Despite the toll of 89 churches, 1300 houses and 200,000 people made homeless, Christopher Wren, in a moving final scene with Pepys, has a strong sense of hope, and believes that London, like the Phoenix, will rise from the ashes.

Historia Theatre Company is Registered Charity 1099807, founded in 2003 to put on plays that have their source in or inspiration from history. Previous productions include Evelina (2004), Five Eleven (2005), An African’s Blood (2007-8), Judenfrei: Love and Death in Hitler’s Germany (2010-11), The Sound of Breaking Glass (2012-13), Queen Anne (2014), Magna Carta (2015).

Fire & Phoenix is at St Stephen Walbrook on Wednesday 23 November, 7.30pm. Tickets £15 (£12 concessions) available on the door. To reserve places, email


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Hidden St Martin's

Artists and craftspeople from the congregation at St Martin-in-the-Fields speak about their 'Hidden St Martin's' exhibition for the 2016 Patronal Festival. The exhibition reflects on the theme from a variety of different perspectives using ceramics, drawings, films, paintings, photographs, text and textiles. The exhibition ends on Sunday 27 November 2016.
We have been inspired by:
  • St Martin, who noticed the destitute man at the gate of the city of Amiens.
  • Jesus suggests that giving and praying can be done in secret away from the public gaze (Matt 6). Many of the images of the kingdom use seemingly insignificant and often unnoticed things such as a mustard seed (Mark 4) and yeast (Luke 13) and yet both eventually have dramatic effects. 
  • The Celtic idea of a thin place, a place where the veil between heaven and earth is thin so what is hidden becomes seen.
  • Artists “notice things that other people don’t notice.” (Grayson Perry)
Ali Lyon reclaims hidden aspects of St Martin's recent past with a lectern fall and a photograph of an altar cloth from the period during the Renewal Project when St Martin's was 'on tour'. The fall uses material left after the ‘living stones’ which cover the altar cloth have been cut from the cloth. The fall gathers up the leftovers that would have been thrown away. In God's economy nothing is too hidden or insignificant to find its place and to be of use.

Photographs of St Martin's taken by Jonathan Evens hint at a hidden beyond, by using an object in the foreground to frame a background image. Black and white matt bowls by Alice Bree highlight overlooked or under-appreciated objects through their depiction of stones from a Cornish beach. Vicky Howard’s drawings in lined notebooks or on pamphlets derive from a similar impetus. Vicky uses the lines or text as a guide to the patterns that she makes. Through the organic, shifting, ever-changing structures of her drawings she is searching for the form of the shelter in which God will hide us (Psalm 27).

Jon Sandford depicts the divine or heavenly as being hidden at St Martin's in the form of our East Window. The message of Jon's image is hidden in its symbolism, waiting to be decoded. Brian Mears’ explores the invisible qualities of eternal power and divine nature in his painting entitled ‘The Fourth Day’. In Rosalind Beeton’s paintings light, as flecks and dashes of colour, veils the subjects and objects bathing all in divine light. The veil that once hid the divine has been removed and all that was once independent and distinct is now embraced by divinity. Her poetry also explores mystery as in 'The Gatherer', written this year on Patmos, the island of revelation.

St Martin’s has an ongoing ministry of supporting homeless and vulnerably housed peopleacross the UK. Zi Ling’s painting ‘Hope’ from her homelessness series brings to our view people who are often overlooked on our streets. Lightspirit has contributed a poem from the streets, while the ‘Palm Tree’ painted by Rosida Simrick is a reminder of the hidden home that she can no longer see. Our inspiration for this ministry with those who are homeless is the story of St Martin. Jonathan Evens’ collage with a torn meditation on St Martin is a visual reminder of the cloak which St Martin tore to give half to the man at the gate of Amiens.


Van Morrison - The Beauty Of Days Gone By.

Crossing boundaries

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

Jesus was amazed or surprised. This is worthy of note because the Gospels only record that Jesus was surprised twice. He was firstly amazed that his own, hometown people rejected him, and secondly that this gentile officer accepted him (Matthew 8. 1 - 13).

There is much about this story and this officer that is surprising. We see his humility in that, although he is the local official of the ruling power, he says he is not worthy to have Jesus, an itinerant Jewish preacher, in his home. When the same story is told in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 7. 1 - 10), we find that the local Jewish elders testify to the officer’s love of the Jewish people, to the extent that he himself had built a synagogue for the locals in Capernaum. As a result, the Jewish elders are prepared to advocate on his behalf. Then we read that slave is ‘very dear’ to him. There is much about this man that is at odds with the general practice of those who have positions of power, particularly when the position of power held is that of an oppressive ruling elite.

So there is much about this man to which Jesus would respond. The officer cares about others and he does so regardless of nationality, religion and class. His love of others enables him to cross boundaries between people. There is even the possibility (in the Greek word used of the slave) of a same-sex relationship existing between the officer and his servant! The officer is an intercessor. He speaks on behalf of his servant and sends other intercessors (the Jewish elders) in his name who speak on his behalf. As a result, nothing is mentioned in the story about the servant who was healed having faith. It is the officer who had faith and stood in the gap for the servant by interceding for him.

His faith was seen in that he believed that Jesus would help his servant and in his realisation that Jesus didn’t need to come his home in order to do so. The Jewish elders didn’t think Jesus would help a gentile soldier unless they had proved that he was good to the Jews. Yet, in order to receive help from Jesus no good works are required. The Jewish elders wanted to prove to Jesus that the officer was worthy of Jesus’ help and yet the officer himself stated that he was not worthy. His faith was seen in his trust that Jesus was someone who would act with compassion and love, not that he saw himself as good enough to earn that love. Jesus showed in this story that the only thing he assesses is whether or not we have that kind of faith.

The officer understood Jesus’ ability to heal in terms of his being part of a chain of command in which he was able to issue orders and where what he ordered occurs. The fact that Jesus commended the officer’s faith doesn’t mean that we then have to accept that the officer was right about Jesus being part of this chain of command. The story can be understood in that way and often has been, but what Jesus commended was the officer’s faith, not the means or logic by which he arrived at that faith.

Jesus continually taught that true leadership is shown through service. He reversed our common expectations about the way in which power should be held and exercised. The Roman officer, by caring about others and doing so regardless of nationality, religion and class, was actually living out in practice what Jesus was teaching to others. As faith without deeds is dead, it may actually be the officer’s practice of servant leadership to which Jesus was referring when he said, “I tell you, I have never found faith like this, not even in Israel!”

Like Jesus then, if we allow ourselves, we will be surprised by this story. In it, the gentile, the pagan, the one who did not believe in the God of Israel, the one who was the representative of the oppressive ruling power, the enemy, was the one who crossed boundaries of race, religion, class (and possibly also sexuality), to show real faith in practice. Despite the differences between them, this man and Jesus recognized a commonality of practice in each other. The officer said to Jesus you seem to be my real commanding officer and Jesus said to the officer I see real faith lived out in practice in you. In the synergy that existed between them the servant recovered and was found to be well once again.

In a world where racist xenopobia is on the rise, we will do well to pay attention to the lessons of today’s Gospel reading. During Interfaith Week, it is vital to state that: “Alongside all of good will, we will work to tackle with renewed determination the challenges of poverty, ignorance, injustice, crime and violence, and social fragmentation and to help shape a society where all feel at home; all are valued and justly treated; and all have a chance to thrive.”


Anthony - If It Be Your Will.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Leonard Cohen on spirituality and faith

"Cohen's music has repeatedly returned to various themes – his relationships with women, power, politics and intimacy. Yet his most recurrent theme is religious faith.

Cohen is Jewish and has often used biblical imagery as well as references to Jesus throughout his 13 albums. For long periods he has been associated with Buddhism, but recent albums have contained more even more biblical allusions. You Want It Darker is a fascinating rumination on God – containing the Hebrew word "Hineni" which means "Here I am" and is said by Abraham and other Old Testament figures.

Quite apart from his commitment to one faith tradition, Cohen's music has a deep spiritual thread running through it and people of many backgrounds have found it challenging and inspiring." (Andy Walton)

For more on Leonard Cohen, see my co-authored book The Secret Chord; an impassioned study of the role of music in cultural life, written through the prism of Christian belief. Is there really a ‘Secret Chord’ that would both please the LORD and nearly everybody else, as described in Leonard Cohen’s popular song ‘Hallelujah’? And are there some people who just don’t get music, as in the next line in Cohen’s lyric?


Leonard Cohen - Amen.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Start:Stop - prayer and religion rank high among the best stress busters

Bible reading

… while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it … a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labours as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs. (Hebrews 4. 1, 9 – 11)


There is a growing body of research which suggests that prayer and religion rank high among the best stress busters. Use of a prayer/quiet room for meditation, reflection or prayer on a regular basis can assist greatly in the management of stress. “It is now widely accepted that those organisations which have a ‘spiritually-friendly’ culture, show universally lower than average rates of absenteeism, workplace stress and staff turnover” (Source: Spiritual Care Matters NHS Scotland, 2009).

This is significant because workers in the UK took an average of 5.3 days off work in 2012, according to the 2013 CBI/Pfizer Fit for Purpose survey, with stress, anxiety and depression given as the main causes of absence. Research undertaken by Roffey Park in the past, has indicated that nearly three-quarters of workers are interested in "learning to live the spiritual side of their values" and 53% are experiencing tensions between "the spiritual side of their values and their work".

By running Start:Stop once a week we are seeking to suggest that even a little rest or short breaks on a regular basis can be a life-saver in a frantic world where our endless tasks can easily consume us 24-7. Those of you who start your day by stopping for ten minutes of quiet reflection once a week tell us that these brief moments of reflection at the beginning of the day set you up for the busyness and business of the rest of your day. We all urgently need to learn to slow down and stop … and breathe. As Isaiah 30:15 says, ‘In return and rest you shall be saved.’ When we do slow down, stop and breathe for a moment, we are practising the fourth commandment in our contemporary age.

So, here, at St Stephen Walbrook, we want to take our experience of providing Start:Stop out of this church building and into the City’s workplaces to make a difference to the way people work here in the City by offering Start:Stop and other provision to businesses locally. For example, we recently hosted ‘Women in the City,’ an event which highlighted women’s involvement in the civic, cultural, charitable and social opportunities in the City of London and argued that gender balance on boards encourages better leadership and governance. We wish to work more fully with a range of organisations in the City to celebrate and encourage greater diversity. We wish to offer the best from our heritage of wisdom and spirituality in a way which can impact businesses through cultural understanding, diversity and openness, workplace spirituality, pastoral care and stress management. The leaflet entitled plus+ that we have given you today explains what we are offering and we would be grateful if you could consider whether it is something that could be shared with your organisation.

Roffey Park’s research indicated that 70% of managers are looking for more meaning in their work. Our lives are not simply about having enough to survive; the meeting of our basic needs. God wants us to see a deeper level of meaning, significance, shape and purpose to our lives. That includes sufficient rest and return. As the letter to the Hebrews reminds us, the promise of entering God’s rest is still open - a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God – so let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest.


Lord God, we ask you to be our Pace Setter, enabling us not to rush. Make us stop and rest for quiet intervals and provide us with images of stillness which restore our serenity. Lead us in ways of efficiency, through calmness of mind; for your guidance is peace. Even though we have a great many things to accomplish each day, enable us not to fret for your presence is with us; your timelessness and all-importance will keep us in balance.

O Lord, you know how busy I must be this day. If I forget you, do not forget me.

Prepare refreshment and renewal in the midst of our activity, by anointing our heads with your oils of tranquillity. May our cup of joyous energy overflow, as harmony and effectiveness become the fruit of our hours, as we walk in the pace of our Lord and dwell in your house for ever.

O Lord, you know how busy I must be this day. If I forget you, do not forget me.

Reveal and bring meaning, purpose, shape and significance to our lives. Keep us alert to this deeper level of life and not solely focused on the meeting of our basic needs. Ensure that a focus of getting will not prevent us from seeing and receiving what you are already giving to us. Inspire us to seek meaning and shape within our lives. Help us recognise the significance and purpose that you bring.

O Lord, you know how busy I must be this day. If I forget you, do not forget me.


The Spirit of truth lead you into all truth, give you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and strengthen you to proclaim the word and works of God; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.


Riyad Nicolas - Paganini-Liszt Etude No. 6.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Patronal Festival & Hidden St Martin's

This evening at St Martin-in-the-Fields we celebrated our Patronal Festival, The Art of Being Church, and marked the 1700th anniversary of the birth of St Martin of Tours, 800 years of there being a church of St Martin’s on our site, and the climax of our 15-year programme of art commissions.

Vivien Lovell spoke about The Art of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Katherine Hedderly led the service and Sam Wells preached. Music was led by the Choir, Occasional Singers and Children's Voices of St Martin-in-the-Fields and included Apolytikion of St Martin by John Tavener. The prayers were led by our artists and craftspeople's group, who also organised the Hidden St Martin's exhibition which began today in the Foyer of the Crypt. A new booklet entitled 'The Art of St Martins' has been published (available from our shop) with contributions from Neil McGregor, Sam Wells, Vivien Lovell and Sir Nicholas Goodison. The booklet tells the story of our Arts programme and reflects on the commissioned artworks themselves.

The service included the dedication of the metalwork commissions of the last four years - Candleholders and a Paschal Candlestand by Brian Catling for the sanctuary and Candleholders, Chalice and Paten by Giampaolo Babetto for the Dick Sheppard Chapel. Richard Carter spoke about the Babetto pieces and I spoke about the Catling Candleholders and Paschal Candlestand saying:

Brian Catling has described himself as being ‘obsessively engaged in the collision of separate activities that sometimes fuse together in a hybrid event.’ His artistic practice, which is a form of metamorphosis, begins by putting things next to each other so that they become something different.

With his candleholders and paschal candlestand, he has worked a similar transformation as with his earlier Processional Cross, which they reference. That is to take ordinary materials – wood in the case of the cross and cloth in the case of the candleholders and paschal candlestand – and through the processes of shaping, casting and gilding to give them new meaning.

There is a direct resonance with the candleholders and paschal candlestand to the way the cross was made, as the three works share the same gestures of process while remaining individual objects in themselves. The use of Moon Gold as gilding also provides a likeness to other elements of decoration in the church, as it is the same bright lustre that covers other architectural details in the chancel.

As well as the process of their creation, the three pieces are linked by the use of cloth. In the processional cross, the third piece of wood hanging from the centre provides an allusion to St Martin tearing his cloak in two and giving half to a beggar, while cloth, saturated in a resin based plaster, has been shaped and modelled then cast in aluminium and gilded to form the candleholders and paschal candlestand.

In the story of St Martin, the overlooked beggar was seen to be Christ. In the Eucharist, the basic staples of bread and wine are re-membered as the body and blood of Christ. By casting and gilding wood and cloth, Brian Catling retains the simplicity and poverty of his sources – wood and cloth, St Martin and Christ - whilst also revealing the glory which comes through redemption in Christ’s final overcoming of suffering and death.

Brian Catling has spoken of how it is essential that he has both a hands-on and mindful relationship with the sculptural identity of his works. ‘Design is not enough,’ he has said, ‘I need the struggle and tension that only ever comes through deep feeling, prolonged thought, and the work of the hands.’ This, too, accords with our belief in the paradigm of crucifixion and resurrection that leads to a place where we understand that transformation and glory are only ever achieved as we journey through suffering and struggle.


John Tavener - Apolytikion for St Nicholas.