Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Service, not prestige

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

The recent story in the press about Freemasons Lodges in Westminster reflects a continuing concern that we may live in a world where much business is done through exclusive networks; which could involve spheres of influence such as the so-called ‘Old Boy's Networks’ or specific organisations where opportunities may exist to exercise influence or seek favours. As there can be a lack of full transparency about such networks, rumours abound and there is no simple way to verify the facts of the matter.

Our Gospel story (Matthew 20. 17 - 28) suggests that 'in-crowds' and 'favours' were also a part of thinking and practices in Jesus' time. The mother of James and John asked Jesus for a favour, in the way that it is alleged favours can be granted in certain networks today. She wanted her sons to be privileged over and above the others in the group and used a private conversation to make her request.

What James and John were after was another perennial temptation for us as human beings; the desire for prestige, in this case, the request to sit on the right and left of Jesus in glory. Similarly it has been suggested that within networks of influence there may be pathways to prestige which are essentially open on the basis of birth, wealth or power.

Jesus calls this whole approach into question with his response to James and John. Today we would characterise what he says in relation to discussions of rights and responsibilities. Jesus says firstly that places of prestige are not available without sacrifice (i.e. no rights without responsibilities), in other words there is no entitlement because of birth, schooling, friendships, networks. What matters in the kingdom of God is service and sacrifice and these not for the sake of future prestige and glory, but for their own sake and for the love of others.

'Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

Jesus turns the search for prestige on its head. Instead of the prestige of being first being the goal and the reward, those who are great in the kingdom of God are those who make themselves the least; those who are prepared to serve in same way as Jesus, by laying down their life for others.

James and John say they are prepared to do this but it is ultimately about deeds, not words, and their action in asking their mother to ask for a favour on their behalf clearly shows that they hadn't understood his teaching and practice at this stage in their relationship with him.

Where are we in relation to these issues? Are we chasing after worldly rewards and prestige; seeking it through favours or paying for prestige? Maybe, like James and John, we have brought the values of the world into the kingdom of God and are trying to follow Jesus for some form of personal gain?

Lent is an opportunity for self-reflection on these issues and provides us with the possibility of aligning of thinking, values and deeds with those of Jesus as we become the servants or slaves of others; in order that we serve instead of being served and give our lives for the sake of others.


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

HeartEdge Mailer | February 2018

HeartEdge Mailer | February 2018

Each month we sift the web bringing you the best inspiration, ideas and resources for - commercial work, cultural activity, community and congregational development - all about building Kingdom communities!

This month we're jammed-packed!
  • Eve Poole on 'essential nothing', Grayson Perry on your inner-Hobbit.
  • Afua Hirsch on identity, Brene Brown on boundaries, Marion Deuchars on messy desks and drawing badly, Simon Jones on Paul and economics.
  • Mark Yacconelli on encounter, Anthony Wilson on 'being chipper', plus art, architecture... and music from Drake.
  • Also - HeartEdge news and membership update. And lots more.
  • An exclusive snippet from Sam Wells new book 'Incarnational Mission'.

HeartEdge Start:Stop Workshop: Thur 1 March, 2pm - 4pm, St Martin-in-the-Fields, LONDON: Learn about Start:Stop - popular 10-minute work-based reflections for people on their way to work - with Revd Jonathan Evens. Session includes - growing a new congregation; engaging with working people; ministering in the workplace and communicating with busy people. Book via Jonathan Evens here. Free to HeartEdge members.

HeartEdge Churches & Commerce: Wed 7 March, 10am - 3.30pm, St Martin in the Bull Ring, BIRMINGHAM: How to make churches sustainable in mission with people using commercial activities and social enterprises, to improve church finances and wider mission. With: Allyson Hargreaves (Executive Director, St Martin-in-the-Fields), Revd Dr Richard Frazer (Minister, Greyfriars Kirk), Dr Richard Higginson (Director, Faith in Business), Revd Canon Giles Goddard (St John’s Waterloo), plus Anthony Collins Solicitors, Cinnamon Network, Grassmarket Community Project (Scotland Social Enterprise 2018), Jericho Foundation, NexGen Marketing Ltd, Salt Business Network and The Bridge at Waterloo. Includes Christian Entrepreneurs; Entrepreneurial Theology; and Structuring Missional Commerce. Plus entrepreneurs input sessions led by specialists. More here. Book via Jonathan Evens.

For more information on HeartEdge click here.


Sofia Gubaidulina - In Tempus Praesens.

The constantly flowing stream of God's love

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

Our Gospel Reading today (Luke 6. 36 - 38) speaks of how we are to receive from God; a particularly appropriate theme for Lent where we seek to deepen our relationship with God through prayer and meditation over the 40 days of Lent.

The image we are given at the end of this short passage, is that of a constantly flowing stream of water which is being poured into a container (a jug, a cup, a glass). ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’ Because the water is constantly flowing, the container quickly fills and then the water spills over the sides and constantly runs over from the container.

The constantly flowing stream of water is the love and blessing of God which is always being poured out over us. Our lives are the container (the jug, the glass) and to receive from God we need to position ourselves under the ever-flowing stream of his love and blessing and open our lives to that love and blessing.

We could decide that we don’t wish to receive from God either by moving away from the source of blessing or by closing our lives to the flow of God’s love. But the image we are given here is of someone who is completely open to the love of God and who has positioned their life in order to receive as fully as possible from God.

Is that where we are in our relationship with God this Lent? Are there aspects of our lives and experiences that keep us closed off to God or to receiving his love fully? Are there ways in which we are sidestepping coming fully into the steam of God’s love, perhaps because there are unconfessed or unforgiven experiences in our lives? As we confess those things that are blocks to receiving or as we reposition ourselves so we are no longer avoiding God’s love, then we are able to receive from God as fully as possible. Let us aim to do so throughout this Lent and beyond.

When we are fully open to God and positioned to receive fully from him, then the other aspect of this image to note is that the image is not about simply being filled ourselves. Instead, the image is of being so full ourselves that God’s love constantly spills over from us to others. God’s love is not something we can contain or retain simply for ourselves. God’s love is always being poured out for all people everywhere. It is profligate; without limit and without end. We cannot bottle it up, put a lid on it and keep it just for ourselves, because to do so closes us off from receiving in future.

The only way in which we can be filled and blessed by God’s love is if we constantly give it away - 'give, and it will be given to you; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’ We can only go on being filled if we give away what we have received to others.

We often think about Lent in terms of giving up. We give something up in order to focus more on God during Lent. This image suggests, however, that as well as giving up those things that prevent us receiving from God, we should also take something up, as that is about giving away what we have received from God to others as part of the profligate way in which God pours out his love to us. Some Lent programmes or initiatives essentially encourage what are now called random acts of kindness; a different act or action for each day of Lent that blesses someone else and thereby shares the love of God with others.

How will you be a source of blessing and love to others this Lent? Considering that question is primarily about how God’s profligate love is shard abundantly with others, but secondarily, is also a question about our capacity to receive more of God’s profligate love ourselves; as our capacity to receive is actually wholly dependent on our willingness to give.

‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’ Amen.


Julie Miller - River Where Mercy Flows.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Windows on the world (385)

Worth Abbey, 2017


Peter Case - Words In Red.

ArtWay Visual Meditation: Alexander de Cadenet

In my latest Visual Meditation for ArtWay I reflect on Alexander de Cadenet’s sculptures which raise important questions regarding what and how much we consume:

'His Life-Burger sculptures in particular explore the relationship between the spiritual dimension of art and consumerism and investigate what gives life meaning. Los Angeles art critic Peter Frank has stated that, "We're at a moment in modern history where the excess has gotten staggeringly wretched. Oligarchs worldwide shock us and shame themselves with their conspicuous consumption – a consumption that extends to the rest of us, as consumed no less than as consumers. Alexander de Cadenet encapsulates this emerging neo-feudal order in his gilded and multi-decked burgers. For the meta-rich, the world is their fast food joint, and their appetite insatiable."'

My other ArtWay meditations include work by María Inés Aguirre, Giampaolo Babetto, Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, Christopher Clack, Marlene Dumas, Terry Ffyffe, Antoni Gaudi, Maciej Hoffman, Giacomo Manzù, Michael Pendry, Maurice Novarina, Regan O'Callaghan, Ana Maria Pacheco, John Piper, Albert ServaesHenry Shelton and Anna Sikorska.


T Bone Burnett - Hefner And Disney.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Abiding: What we need is here

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

In the film Wings of Desire, Damiel is an angel seeking to strengthen what is spiritual in the minds of the people he supports. He is, however, outside of time, in eternity, and therefore can only observe but not experience human life itself. He decides to become human in order ‘to be able to say “Now and now” and no longer “forever” and “for eternity” … At last to guess, instead of always knowing. To be able to say “ah” and “oh” and “hey” instead of “yes” and “amen.”’

In ‘Abiding’, the book we are studying together in Lent, Ben Quash uses the example of Damiel leaving the certainty and the knowledge of eternity to live in the flux and flow of life, in order to explore the Biblical sense that ‘to abide we must journey; to have truth and life (to have true life) we must be always underway.’ Damiel’s embrace of a world in which we (unlike angels) exclaim “Ah!”, and “Oh!”, and “Hey!” is ‘a delicious reversal of that human instinct to eradicate all uncertainty and know everything fully, clearly and precisely.’

Quash writes that ‘A life of growth and surprise and relationship and invention … is the nature of the Way which is also Home.’ As a result, ‘Christian people have been called … to exchange changeless abiding into changeable abiding …’ We abide, he suggests, by fully living life in all its flux and flow.

As a result, this Lent we may wish to echo the prayer of the poet Wendell Berry, who, ends his poem ‘The Wild Geese’ with these words: ‘we pray, not / for new earth or heaven, but to be / quiet in heart, and in eye / clear. What we need is here.’


Van Morrison - Listen To The Lion.

Requiem for the Emblem of Power

My latest exhibition review for Church Times has been published today - . 

“Requiem for the Emblem of Power” by Paul Wager is at Dadiani Fine Art Gallery (30 Cork Street, London) until 20 March and is an exhibition that commemorates the centenary of the ending of the First World War by reflecting on the futility of war while remembering ‘those brave uniformed men who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries.’

I begin the review by saying: 'PAUL WAGER uses the conventions of propaganda and memorial art to subvert their usual declarative and commemorative content. “Requiem for the Emblem of Power”, an exhibition that commemorates the centenary of the ending of the First World War, exists in the change of national consciousness bookended by Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier” and Wilfred Owen’s “Anthem, For Doomed Youth”.'


Thursday, 22 February 2018

Calling from the Edge presentation

Calling from the Edge was a fringe event held alongside the recent General Synod meeting on 9 February. This was a partnership between St Martin in the Fields and Inclusive Church

The text of one of the presentations that was given by Fiona MacMilllan (a Trustee of Inclusive Church and Chair of the Disability Advisory Group at St Martin in the Fields) can be downloaded from this link -.

Fiona says, "The church of the 21st century often fails disabled people, bringing echoes of an understanding that links sickness with sinfulness, mental health issues with possession, and disability as brokenness in need of cure..."


The Staple Singers - Be What You Are.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Keith New: British Modernist in Stained Glass

Over the past four years Diana Coulter and Robert Smith have been researching the stained glass of Keith New. Not only was New one of the three-man team who designed the nave windows at Coventry Cathedral, he also designed the windows installed in St Stephen Walbrook from c.1962-1978. The striking modernist glass was removed for safety reasons at the time when major underpinning works were carried out in the church. The windows had a chequered fate after their removal, and what is left of them can be seen in Norwich Cathedral.

Coulter and Smith have recently published their monograph Keith New: British Modernist in Stained Glass with Sansom, a Bristol-based publisher specialising art and design of the 20th century onwards. The monograph is split broadly into 40% biography and 60% an illustrated catalogue of New’s known commissions.

Keith New (1926–2012) was a significant pioneering British modernist stained glass artist in the 1950s and 1960s. This is the first monograph devoted to his work. It examines New’s career in the first part, while the second part comprises a comprehensive catalogue of his stained glass.

New’s career was launched with the 1952 Royal College of Art’s commission to design the nave windows for Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral. The three-man team, led by Lawrence Lee, included Geoffrey Clarke, another pioneer in the medium. Each artist designed three windows. The commission brought New to the attention of other prominent architects, including Robert Matthew and Denys Lasdun, as well as artists and critics like John Piper and John Betjeman.

Many commissions were for churches either in post-war rebuilds or in medieval buildings. Alongside these are examples in significant public buildings as well as in schools. Altogether there were 34 executed commissions, five of which have been wholly or partially lost. Through privileged access to the family archive as well as research in record offices, the authors have drawn together a Catalogue Raisonné of his known designs, both executed and unrealised.

New’s short career in stained glass maps onto the excitement generated by the 1951 Festival of Britain. When the post-war rebuilding programme finished in the mid 1960s, the demand for colourful and expensive stained glass also diminished.

Alternative directions led New to lead Foundation Studies at Kingston School of Art and to return to painting, an activity that had always sustained him.


Marvin Gaye - God Is Love.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Windows on the world (384)

Worth Abbey, 2017


The Staple Singers - Be What You Are.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

HeartEdge: Churches & Commerce

Many churches struggle to cover the costs of their buildings and the ministry needed in their area. Finding other sources of income in addition to congregational giving can help significantly and can also extend the church’s engagement in God’s mission.

Organised by HeartEdge, ‘Churches & Commerce’ is a day at St Martin in the Bull Ring (Edgbaston St, Birmingham B5 5BB) on 7 March (10.00am – 3.30pm) for anyone interested in making churches sustainable in their mission. This event enables you to hear from people for whom commercial activities, including social enterprises, are making a real difference, not only to their church finances but also to their wider mission.

Contributors include: 

The programme includes sessions on: Christian Entrepreneurs; Entrepreneurial Theology; and Structuring Missional Commerce. Additionally, there will be a panel discussion with entrepreneurs and small group input sessions led by specialists (on specific aspects of commercial activity e.g. structures, marketing etc or particular commercial opportunities e.g. social enterprise, training programmes etc).

To book contact me on or 020 7766 1127.


The Style Council - Our Favourite Shop.

"Between Friends": ACG art exhibition

The ACG Art Exhibition, February 12-16, 2018
St Stephen Walbrook EC4N 8BN

The history of the relationship between Art and Christianity is a chequered one. From passionate piety to scathing dismissal, these two human dramas have sometimes been strange bedfellows. They have not always seen eye-to-eye.

Welcome to the twenty-first century! The Arts Centre Group, (, with a history of nurturing and supporting both emerging and established artists since the early 1970’s, is hosting its first Art Exhibition for many years. It will showcase the talents of current ACG members, plus those of invited guests from other organisations.

Located at the heart of the City of London, the church of St Stephen Walbrook was designed in1672 by Sir Christopher Wren as a prototype for St Pauls Cathedral. It hosts a variety of cultural, charitable and spiritual events, and we are delighted that "Between Friends" will be one of them.

Selection of works will be by Julia Alvarez of Bearspace Gallery, Deptford, and Alastair Gordon, founder and director of Morphe.

Exhibition opens Tuesday 13th February at 10.00am .
Closes Friday 16th February 16.00.

Opening hours are Tuesday 13, Thursday 15, Friday 16 February 10.00-16.00. Wednesday 14 February 11.00-15.00.'


Randy Newman - You've Got A Friend In Me.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Windows on the world (383)

Worth Abbey, 2017


Elvis Costello - Brilliant Mistake. 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Calling from the Edge


'Calling from the Edge' marks 5 years of conferences on Disability and Church, a partnership between St Martin-in-the-Fields and Inclusive Church. As part of our commitment to share the learning and experience we have taken the booklet to General Synod this week where it is the focus of a stall in the marketplace. 

We also opened the ideas to a wider audience with a lunchtime pop-up event today at Central Hall Westminster, when several of our conference speakers brought the booklet to life. The chair was The Very Revd Dianna Gwilliams, Chair of Inclusive Church, and the speakers included: Emily Richardson, Ann Memmott, Fiona MacMillan and Revd Tim Goode.

Fiona MacMillan said, 'We are all a combination of needs and gifts. When our needs are met, our gifts can flourish.' Emily Richardson told us how twitter has helped her find her voice; finding new and creative ways to communicate can be the role of prophets calling from the edge. For Emily, “Being a Twitter prophet means 'making every character matter'.” 

Tim Goode told us that God has a plan for all human flourishing. The disability conference, he thought, enables the Church to hear prophetic voices that haven't been heard in 2,000 years. Ann Memmott told us about her varied experience of being autistic in churches; sadly she has sometimes experienced ignorance, myth, praying away the autism etc. She has 'tried to respond with love,' but it is hard.


The Connection at St Martin's: Winter Exhibition

8th - 28th February
The Crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields
Free Admission

The Winter Exhibition is a striking collection of colourful artworks by people who attend the art room at The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The exhibition will give you the chance to learn more about the artists, and the inspiration behind their work. Plus, some of the artworks are for sale, so you can buy original pieces which will also support the people involved!

As part of the collection there is a large painting on display, in the renaissance style, which was kindly donated by artist Rosa Branson. The detailed painting depicts homelessness and some of the ways The Connection helps people recover. You can also buy tea-towels and jigsaws with Rosa’s artwork here!


Deacon Blue - Bethlehem Begins.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Christ of Revolution and of Poetry

'Not from a monstrance silver-wrought
But from the tree of human pain
Redeem our sterile misery,
Christ of Revolution and of Poetry,
That man’s long journey
May not have been in vain.'

David Gascoyne

'The Spirit is flesh, I tell you
and God himself is eau de vie,
he who has joined him knows this,
he who has sipped is drunk of it.'

Benjamin Fondane

'Despair has wings
Love has despair
For shimmering wing
Societies can change'

Pierre Jean Jouve

“ The poet's job is to go on holding on to something like faith, through the darkness of total lack of faith ... the eclipse of God. - David Gascoyne ”

Gascoyne's biographer Richard Fraser writes that 'Nominally he remained an Anglican, but he had read and suffered his own way to religious understanding through an encounter with Christian Existentialism in the persons of Fondane and Chestov, and the pervasive influences of Kierkegaard and Heidegger.' Poems 1937-42, marked a shift in Gascoyne's work towards a more explicitly religious sensibility and Fraser suggests that 'The religious verse will probably outlast the earlier stuff because it addresses permanent questions.'

Niall McDevitt writes that 'Gascoyne’s Christianity is that of Blake, of Coppe, of the millenarians and Gnostics. ‘Christ of Revolution and of Poetry’ is the startling refrain. One really doesn’t get better crucifixion poems than this [Ecce Homo from the sequence Miserere]; it is the equal of a painting by an Old Master, yet it is updated to the Fascist era. The whole sequence Miserere is evidence of his religious existentialist quest, via friends such as Pierre Jean Jouve and Benjamin Fondane, as well as
the posthumously influential Kierkegaard.'


David Gascoyne - Prelude to a New Fin-de-Siècle.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Windows on the world (382)

Worth Abbey, 2017


Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy.

Lent Course: Abiding

Lent Course 2018Abiding
Wednesdays in Lent 6.30pm-8.45pm
21, 28 February, 7, 14, 21, 28 March

“Abide in me as I abide in you… As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love”

For this year’s Lent Course at St Martin-in-the-Fields we will be using Ben Quash’s book Abiding as a resource for our study, prayer and reflection. Ben Quash is Professor of Christianity and the Arts at Kings College London. His book Abiding was chosen by Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book in 2013. Ben Quash will be joining us for one of these sessions to introduce his theme and to answer our questions.

‘Abiding’ is not a word we use much in ordinary conversation. But it is also difficult to find a good substitute. It means staying with, it implies commitment, solidarity, presence and perseverance. Drawing on the wisdom and imagery of modern fiction, art and film, as well as key figures in the classical Christian and spiritual tradition, Quash skilfully and creatively explores the implications that ‘abiding in God’s love’ has for our bodies, our minds, our relationships and communities, our own spiritual lives, and our world.

Rowan Williams writes ‘Ben Quash has succeeded in holding together the uneasy and often bewildering plurality of the modern heart or mind with the depths of the tradition he inherits, both the Anglican inheritance and the wider legacy of early and medieval Christian thought and prayer’. It is a book which will lead to deep reflection about how we embody those traditions within our own faith and search for a deeper sense of our own centredness in God’s love. This wise and valuable book ill form the basis of our study.

Our Lent Study will begin on Wednesday 21 February, join us at 6.30pm in church for the informal Eucharist, followed by a simple Lenten supper and then our study groups.

The cost of the course is £15 which includes a copy of Ben Quash’s book (or £8 if you already have the book).


Emeli Sandé - Abide With Me.

Exhibitions update

“Between Friends” is an art exhibition organised by the Arts Centre Group (ACG) at St Stephen Walbrook. “Between Friends” will feature works from over thirty ACG members and friends in the fantastic surroundings of a 17th Century Wren church in the City of London. The exhibition will be open daily from Tuesday 13 to Friday 16 February. About one third of the works on show are from ACG’s friends at Morphe Arts, an organisation for post graduates who are at the start of their professional journey as Christians working in the Arts. The exhibition promises to be exciting and stimulating, with work from well established artists who have been practising for many years, alongside work produced by emerging artists not long out of art college. The exhibition is curated by Julia Alvarez, director of Bearspace art gallery in Deptford and Ally Gordon, director of Morphe Arts. Preview evening 12 February. There will also be a chance to see works featured in the Exhibition on a special Facebook page later in the month.

Christopher Clack is one of over 120 artists who will be showing sculptures, installations, site-specific interventions, videos and performances when the entire West End is pedestrianised for Chinese New Year. ‘Embracing the Underdog’ is an exhibition by The London Group that will take place right at the very centre of the celebrations for the Year of the Dog, in Chinatown (Q-Park Chinatown, 20 Newport Place, Gerrard Street, WC2H 7PR). The exhibition will feature a surprising diversity of works with contrasting scales and materials with many stretching creative experimentation to the limit. ‘Embracing the Underdog’ aspires to be supportive of the underdog in numerous ways. In this compelling, large-scale exhibition the artists will be coming together to exhibit with a real sense of solidarity and a belief in the enduring power of art in these confusing times.

Cigarette Break

As a shortlisted artist for the Royal Arts Prize Zi Ling has work in the V. Edition of the Royal Arts Prize Exhibition at La Galleria Pall Mall from 26th February - 9th March 2018. Opening Times - Monday - Friday: 10.30am - 6.00pm, Saturday - Sunday: 12.00pm - 4.00pm. Preview Evening: Monday 26th February, 6.00pm - 8.30pm. The aim of the Royal Arts Prize Exhibition and Award is to search out for and showcase artworks by artists that have embraced their individual exegesis in art, artworks that are a product of an inner balance in a world full of diversity and often chaos. The prize will be awarded to artists that present works that are the product of this emotional connection between dream and reality; we welcome contemporary art that shows the force driving individuals to express and affirm their personality and ego, through today’s modern art landscape. ​This exhibition presents the shortlisted artists for the Royal Arts Prize 2018, one artist will win a two week solo exhibition in one of our galleries in 2019.

'From February-May Southwell Minster will be host to an inspiring major art exhibition which will encourage visitors to explore, through art, two key Christian themes: crucifixion and resurrection. Crossings: Art and Christianity Now is a two-part exhibition which will fill the Minster with 100 new works of art by 36 significant artists, twice! 

The first half of the exhibition, Crucifixion Now, will be on show during Lent from 9th Feb-21st March, and the second part, Resurrection Now, during Easter from 1st April-10th May, Ascension Day. There will also be education work tied-in to the exhibition with school visits and a full programme of supporting events for all to enjoy. Crossings is unique to Southwell and will not be seen anywhere else.

The artists will each present two new works made especially for Crossings, one for each half of the exhibition, and part of the artists’ brief was to explore the two themes in a new way, refreshing visually our engagement with suffering in our world today (crucifixion) and the hope of new life in the world today (Resurrection).

Crossings is free for all visitors to see, and is generously supported by a full-colour publication which all visitors are encouraged to buy (£5), this 52 page Exhibition Guide includes all of the artworks on show in both halves of the exhibition, as well as information about the artworks and artists to help visitors get the most out of viewing Crossings, and also presents a special exhibition essay written for us by Dr Alison Milbank, our Canon Theologian at Southwell Minster.

The 36 artists involved have been hugely supportive of this project and it is with thanks for their contributions and excellence that Crossings enables the Minster to present an exhibition of both National and International significance. Artists include: Sophie Hacker, Nicholas Mynheer, Mark Cazalet, Iain McKillop, Susie Hamilton, Chris Gollon, Biggs and Collings, Tai-Shan Schierenberg, Paul Benney, Kaori Homma, Siku, Ian Adams, Jean Lamb, Enzo Marra, Matthew Krishanu, John Newling, Lee Maelzer, Jennifer Bell, Derek Sprawson, Sarah Shaw, Ray Richardson, and many others.

As part of Crossings artist John Newling will be installing a series of works on paper within the 36 niches of the Chapter House, showing examples of his Nymans Language (an alphabetic font with each letter being shown as a plant or a leaf). This will fill the Chapter House with a significant modern work which will respond and set in dialogue a direct conversation with our famous medieval leaf carvings. It’s a rare moment, and it is worthy of special mention as we move forward with our HLF project to preserve and interpret our ‘Leaves of Southwell’ for the next generations. Do take some time to explore these works in this unique meeting of images over many centuries.

It is our hope that visitors to this exhibition will be enabled, and inspired, to take the opportunity to encounter not only world-class art but also to reflect anew on the Christian themes of suffering and new life for our lives today; on how these open-up for us through art the possibility of a fresh encounter with God, who is life, and enable us to find healing through the love and care that has gone into the making and offering of these artworks.'


The Rembrandts - I'll Be There For You.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Through long years of watching, waiting

Here is my reflection from today's Eucharist for Candlemas at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

The majority of Americans say they would not wait in line longer than 15 minutes. 50% of mobile users abandon a page if it doesn't load in 10 seconds. 3 out of 5 won't return to that site. 1 in 4 people abandon a web page that takes more than 4 seconds to load. T-shirt slogans say, “I want instant gratification and I want it now” and “Instant gratification takes too long.” The advertising slogan once used by the credit card Access – "take the waiting out of wanting" – illustrates how many people want to possess things the minute they decide they want them, whereas waiting is seen as passive and boring.

Simeon had been waiting throughout his life to see Lord’s promised Messiah, as the Holy Spirit had assured him that he would not die before the promised event occurred. His wait had been and it must have felt to him like a long time. He was tired from waiting and so ready for death that, as soon as he had seen Jesus, he prayed, “Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace.”

Why, I wonder, should we wait? As we have just seen, often we don’t like it and we can’t see the point. And yet the Bible is full of waiting. Abraham is promised that he will be the father of a great nation and that promise is fulfilled but only many years after Abraham himself has died. The children of Israel spend 40 years waiting and wandering in the wilderness before they enter the Promised Land. Later they spend 70 years in exile in Babylon waiting to return to Jerusalem. There were approximately 400 years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New, with the birth of Jesus. Why so much waiting?

One reason is that waiting can lead to revelation. Anna was in the Temple every day looking and listening for all that God would reveal to her. Simeon, too, was alert to the prompting of the Holy Spirit who led him into the Temple to see Jesus. As we wait for God, are we looking and listening for all that God wants us to see and hear while we wait?

W. H. Vanstone wrote a wonderful book called The Stature of Waiting in which he argued that it is only to human beings as we wait that “the world discloses its power of meaning” and we become “the sharer with God of a secret – the secret of the world’s power of meaning.” For many of us because we don’t stop and reflect the world exists for us simply as a “mere succession of images recorded and registered in the brain” but when we do stop, wait, look and listen then we “no longer merely exist” but understand, appreciate, welcome, fear and feel.

Waiting can also grow the virtue of patience in us as to wait is a test of our patience and an opportunity to build patience. We would like God to solve all our problems right now, but our patience and perseverance is often tested before we find answers to our prayers. How would we actually practice patience if there were not times when we were called to wait upon the Lord?

We all know the saying that good things come to those who wait. Waiting can sharpen our sense of anticipation and also our sense of relief and appreciation when we receive that for which we have been waiting. We can sense something of this in Simeon’s prayer: “Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: A light to reveal your will to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel.”

When the Bible mentions waiting, patience, perseverance or longsuffering, it is often in connection with trusting in God, as in Isaiah 40. 31: "those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Waiting reinforces for us that what is achieved is achieved through God and not primarily through our own ability. As a result, we learn to trust fully in him. If we will not wait, we will inevitably trust in someone or something other than God - usually our own abilities or righteousness. We see this in Simeon’s emphasis on the work of God in and through the life and ministry of Jesus: “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God …” Ultimately, all that Jesus is and does is the work of God.

I imagine all these to be thoughts and insights which became part of Simeon’s experience, as they can also be for us. I also imagine him finally saying something like this:

I have passed my days in expectation,
anticipation of a time which has not come.
Not yet come. Through long years of watching,
waiting, I have questioned my vocation,
understanding, calling, yet patience has formed
itself in me a virtue and I have been sustained.
And now in wintertime when the seed of life itself
seemed buried, my feet standing in my grave,
at the last moment, when hope had faded,
then you come; a new born life as mine is failing -
now, Lord, let your servant depart in peace.
Hope, when hope was dashed. Wonder, where
cynicism reigned. Spring buds in winter snow.
Patience rewarded. Divine trust renewed.



Foyer display: Jonathan Kearney

‘The promise of the morning sky’ by Jonathan Kearney (PVA glue, acrylic, wood)

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

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

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

Jonathan Kearney is an artist and teacher. He runs the Fine Art Masters course at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London and is Postgraduate Programme Director. For many years he has used PVA glue and acrylic paint, exploring movement, patterns, trace and colour.

There are many times we fear that hope has gone missing, a just and loving reign is despairingly distant, the long promised Kingdom of God has never arrived. Yet every day the early morning light hints at the coming sun. Long before the sun is visible its light warms the darkness and bathes the mist into brightness. Our dreams are energised by the promise of the morning sky.


Bruce Cockburn - Hills Of Morning.