Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Thursday, 31 May 2018

HeartEdge: Heart and voice uniting

Heart and voice uniting, Tuesday 12 June, 2.15 – 7.00pm, Greenbank Parish Church, Braidburn Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 6ES. For free tickets go to

We are excited to present our first HeartEdge music event which will explore the role of music and voice in our churches. The afternoon will also include performances by the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Contributors to the event include:
The event is followed by a free hour-long concert given by the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields at 6.00pm to which all are warmly invited.

HeartEdge is a growing ecumenical network of churches and other organisations throughout the UK and overseas, initiated by St Martin-in-the-Fields. It aims to provide a forum to build relationships, exchange knowledge and learning, and develop resources to share with all those who are involved in shaping the congregational, cultural, commercial and compassionate lives of our churches.

Learn more about HeartEdge


Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields - Nunc Dimittis.

Foyer Display - Sue McKay

‘Intersection’ (52 x 52 cm framed, mixed media - £85) ‘Junction’ (52 x 52 cm framed, mixed media - £85) ‘Feeling’ (52 x 52 cm framed, mixed media - £85) ‘Stitched’ (52 x 52 cm framed, mixed media – Not for sale) by Sue McKay

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 or artists linked to the group. Each month a different artist shows examples of their work, so, if you are able, do return to see the changing display.

Sue McKay has been drawing and painting from an early age. She trained and worked as an architect. In more recent years she has been making textile art. This combines her love of stitch and fabric with texture and colour. She is a member of Thirteen Textile Group which exhibits together annually at the Waterloo Action Centre.

These four pieces are taken from two series based on different themes. ‘Intersection’ and ‘Junction’ are inspired by an aerial photograph of a sweeping motorway intersection. ‘Feeling’ and ‘Stitched’ are a response to the idea that the surface reveals hidden secrets which lie beneath.

Sue is married to Alastair McKay, curate at St Martin-in-the-Fields. They live in north London.

Proceeds of all sales will go in their entirety to support St Martin-in-the-Fields’ HeartEdge network.


The La's - Feelin'.

Monday, 28 May 2018

St Peter's Chapel Bradwell: Summer Sunday Evening Services 2018

Image result for Summer Sunday Evening Services 2018 st peter's bradwell

During July and August, reflective evening services with prayer for healing are held in St Peter's Chapel, at the place where the land meets the sea and the sky comes close. A place where the distance between heaven and earth is tissue thin. Enjoy the deep peace of the running wave, the flowing air and the gentle earth, while worshipping at the oldest church in England, founded by St Cedd in 654. All services start at 6.30 pm.

  • 1st Evening Worship with the parishes of Bradwell; St Lawrence; Tillingham & Dengie and the Ven. Elizabeth Snowden
  • 8th Evensong Led by Camerata. Music by Martin Taylor
  • 15th A feather on the breath of God. Reflections from Hildegard of Bingen
  • 22nd The music of silence
  • 29th The poetry of healing
  • 5th Mindfulness for the soul
  • 12th Music & Healing
  • 19th Healing the land
  • 26th A celebration of Wholeness


Hildegarde of Bingen - A feather on the breath of God.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Windows on the world (398)

Bradwell, 2018


Ry Cooder - The Prodigal Son.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

The most marvellous Pentecost Sunday

Today has been, I think, the most marvellous Pentecost Sunday I can remember experiencing and enjoying.

Feel the Spirit - A Celebration for Pentecost was broadcast live from St Martin-in-the-Fields on BBC1. The preacher was the new bishop of London, the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, and the Mass setting, Will Todd's wonderful Jazz Missa Brevis, was sung by the combined choirs of St Martin's and directed by Andrew Earis. Hymns include the 'Every Time I Feel the Spirit', 'God is Love', 'Let Heaven Adore Him' and 'Come Down, O Love Divine'. The service also included a moving Pentecost drama with members of our congregation as the disciples speaking in their mother tongues, as well as a specially written Affirmation of Faith and intercessions. This was a tremendous celebration of the gift of the Spirit to the church through the wonderful diversity of the St Martin’s community.

Then I went to Regent Hall Salvation Army for the Churches Together in Westminster Pentecost Service with a great variety provided by the Regent Hall Band, Songsters, Worship Group and young people's band and choir. The service was led by Major Richard Mingay and the preacher was Fr Dominic Robinson SJ. We also viewed the video above of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry exploring what we mean when we pray 'Thy Kingdom Come'. I was interviewed about my upbringing, calling to ordained ministry, partnership development role at St Martin's, and my co-authored book 'The Secret Chord'. 

I talked about the Spirit's leading in my call through the thought that I had built up a set of skills and experiences through my work in the Civil Service and lay ministry that would be of use in ordained ministry. As I explored ordination I came to see that it could bring together my interests in partnership work, social action, spirituality and the Arts. I spoke of 'The Secret Chord' as an impassioned study of the role of music in cultural life, written through the prism of Christian belief. By exploring artistic dilemmas from a range of different perspectives the book draws its readers into an appreciation of harmony in performance as revealing the Secret Chord. 

HeartEdge is a growing ecumenical and international network of churches and other organisations initiated by St Martin’s, and focused around the model of mission with which St Martin’s works – congregation, commerce, culture and compassion. HeartEdge aims to catalyse kingdom communities by building association, learning, development and resource. The Spirit has been active in calling, creativity and the emerging HeartEdge community. I said that ecumenical partnerships and relationships are important because they place us at the heart of Jesus' prayer for unity among his disciples and provide the fullest expression of the Body of Christ.

Finally, the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields gave us the most magnificent Choral Evensong to end  Pentecost Sunday. The service included: Purcell's 'I was glad' as the Introit; Responses by Rose, Canticles from the Evening Service in B flat by Stanford; and Parry's 'Blest pair of sirens' as the anthem.


Regent Hall Band - Expressions.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Windows on the world (297)

Bradwell, 2018


Anthony D'Amato - Back, Back, Back.

Friday, 18 May 2018

HeartEdge and Sheppard Scholars

St Martin-in-the-Fields is looking for our very first Sheppard Scholar.

Sheppard Scholars is a new Pastoral Assistant scheme at HeartEdge hub churches to support new and refreshed mission and ministry projects. Sheppard Scholars is a year long programme of theological study combined with practical pastoral work.

The role offers not only breadth of experience but also a range of responsibilities from participation and involvement to roles of leadership. The aim is to give a wide experience of ministry at the heart of the life of this church and at the same time to draw on the Pastoral Assistant’s own gifts and faith at a time of growth in the life of St Martin’s and HeartEdge. The role will involve liaising with other Sheppard Scholars, HeartEdge hubs and members.

If you are…..

  • Passionate – about creating a welcome and open place 
  • Creative – in finding solutions 
  • Hardworking – who can take the initiative to get things done 
  • Self-starting – excellent at organisation and calm under pressure 
  • Friendly – able to work in a large and varied team 
  • Approachable – the go to person

 …. please apply.

For more detail about HeartEdge please visit our website


St Martin-in-the-Fields - A Hymn For St Cecilia.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

HeartEdge Mailer | May 2018

HeartEdge Mailer | May 2018

HeartEdge is a growing international ecumenical network, passionate about nurturing Kingdom communities via four C’s - congregations, culture, commercial activity and compassion.

Each month we bring you commercial work, cultural activity, community and congregational development. Inspiration, ideas and resource!

This month:
  • Corita Kent on rules, Grime & God, and Childish Gambino.
  • Enterprise tips plus Jane Sandwood on bakery & wellbeing.
  • Poverty & Truth, Beatrice Nyariara on legacy, Sarah Coakley on longing.
  • Robert Gelinas on jazz theology, the 'Outside in' church plus 'Incarnational Mission: Being with the World' by Sam Wells.
HeartEdge: News and Events
  • Book launch: 'Who is my Neighbour? The Global & Personal Challenge', Monday 21 May, 7 – 8.30pm, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London: Sam Wells chairs discussion with Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu, Dr Megan Warner, Revd Richard Carter and Sam Ahmad Ziaee, who will tell the story of his journey aged 16 from Afghanistan to the UK. Join here.
  • Workshop: Start : Stop Mission Model, Thursday 24 May, 2 – 4pm, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London: Learn about Start:Stop (10-minute work-based reflections for people on their way to work). HeartEdge's Jonathan Evens on growing a new congregation; engaging with working people; ministering in the workplace; communicating with busy people. Detail here. HeartEdge members - free, non-members - £10. Join here or call 020 7766 1127. 
  • Heart & Voice Uniting: Tuesday 12 June, 2.15 – 7pm, Greenbank Parish Church, Edinburgh. HeartEdge Church & Culture day with: Sam Wells (St Martin-in-the-Fields), Richard Frazer (Greyfriars Kirk), Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Andrew Earis (Director of Music, St Martin-in-the-Fields) and Martin Ritchie (Greenbank Parish Church). Includes Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields, 'Great Sacred Music’, plus 'Sing Joyfully’ concert. Join here.
  • 'At the Heart. On the Edge', Wednesday 13 June, 10am - 3.30pm, Queen's Cross Parish Church, Aberdeen. A HeartEdge day on developing congregation, commercial, compassion and cultural engagement with practitioners with Scott M. Rennie,(Queen's Cross Parish Church), Sam Wells and the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields performing 'Great Sacred Music'. The day includes theology, ideas, solutions and support with a programme developed jointly by Queen's Cross Parish Church and St Martin’s. Lunch provided - join here.
Save the date: 
  • HeartEdge Annual Conference 12 / 13 September
  • HeartEdge day: 13 November, Ness Bank Church Inverness.
  • Greenbelt 2018: Acts of the Imagination, 24 - 27 August, Boughton House, Leicestershire includes Sam Wells, and HeartEdge associates: Join here.
  • Today’s Church - A Call to Social Action: 22 September, St Martin’s Church, Burton Agnes with Alison White, Bishop of Hull and Jonathan Evens. Detail here. Join here or call 01262 490019.
  • HeartEdge Church & Culture: 27 September, St Luke’s Maidenhead with Jonathan Evens.
  • HeartEdge Session: 3 October, Belle Vue Baptist Southend with Sam Wells 
  • SALT Business Network conference 5 October, Westminster Central Hall includes HeartEdge on Start:Stop.
Join HeartEdge here.


Over The Rhine - All Over Ohio.

Bread for the World: First Impressions - Portraits from Prison

Yesterday's Bread for the World service at St Martin-in-the-Fields reflected on First Impressions - Portraits from Prison and shared information on the Prisons Mission of Churches Together in Westminster. I shared the following reflections: 

Portraits are about people and portraits by prisoners flag up that the importance of people in our lives is perhaps never more significant than when we are cut off from those we love or when we are locked up with those we have not chosen as our companions. As a result, when viewing these portraits, it is helpful to ask yourself why each person depicted is of significance to the artist painting that subject.

‘Wishful Thinking’ is a set of six images inspired by the screen-prints of Andy Warhol. Michael cleverly demonstrates his knowledge of modern art as the background to each image uses a different artistic style. The image of a woman is constant with the same phrase ‘I’ll wait for you my love!’ repeated in different languages. This suggests that all around the world couples are separated through the experience of imprisonment. However, this is then subverted by the title Michael has chosen; ‘Wishful Thinking’ suggests that partners’ willingness to wait may not be as universal as the images themselves suggest. Does this indicate personal experience of disappointment or cynicism about fidelity and perseverance? We don’t know, but we do know that Michael subtly opens up reflections on the tensions placed on relationships by the experience of imprisonment.

Image result for first impressions portraits from prison st james piccadilly

With ‘Shout it out’ Mary has created a simple but arresting image of the need for and necessity of offloading feelings and emotions in order to survive the experience of imprisonment. Who is the woman in the picture offloading to? It is each of us, as we view the image. So, this is perhaps an image highlighting the value of the Prisons Mission and of prison visiting generally, as we can be a neutral person who can listen confidentially.

Finally, ‘A head full of possibilities’ is a beautiful image of a head containing a constellation of stars with the thought that each of us can and should choose to shine brilliantly, however we can. This exhibition, and the stories told by the artists, demonstrate the genuinely restorative ability of art in enabling people to express their innermost emotions and channel these to creative ends.


The Band - I Shall Be Released.

Pilgrimage exhibition, St Saviour’s St Albans


commission4mission’s next exhibition will be at St Saviour’s Church (25 Sandpit Lane, St Albans AL1 4DF) for the Alban Pilgrimage.

Entitled ‘Pilgrimage’, the exhibition, from 23rd – 30th June (9.00am – 5.00), will feature work by: Hayley Bowen; Harvey Bradley; Irina Bradley; Lucy Crabtree; Valerie Dean; MaryJean Donaghey; Jonathan Evens; Terry Ffyffe; Michael Garaway; Clorinda Goodman; Deborah Harrison; Anthony Hodgson; David Millidge; Adeliza Mole; Dorothy Morris; and Victoria Norton.

Michael Garaway has posted about ‘Steperegrin’, the new work he has prepared for this exhibition: ‘Eighty eight hours over six weeks, a step pattern combined with a diagrammatic motif, suggestive of mazes, wandering pathways, maps, circuits, and with hints of landscape, this is “Steperegrin”. It combines three grids at varying angles to form the motif. The title refers to the use of a celtic step pattern, and also to an older term “peregrinate” or “peregrination”, which came to mean journeying abroad, hence the link to ideas of pilgrimage.’

The Alban Pilgrimage takes place annually and is held in honour of the city’s namesake, St Alban, who died on 22nd June over 1700 years ago. Stunning 12-ft tall carnival puppets and a procession of around 300 children, teenagers and adults from the local community dramatize the tale of Alban’s martyrdom, with the final scene taking place at the West End of St Albans Cathedral, the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain.

The Alban Pilgrimage starts at 11.00am at St Peter’s Church, St Albans. After the procession, a range of beautiful services will take place throughout the day. Everyone is welcome; whether to hear the stunning voices of the Cathedral Choirs, experience the peaceful chant of an Orthodox Service for the first time, or simply step into the building to find out more about one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in Britain. This year’s guest preachers, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark Cathedral and Stuart Burns OSB of Mucknell Abbey, recipient of the Dunstan Award for Prayer and Religious Life, join the celebrations on this special day.

There are also concerts at St Saviour’s on Saturday 23rd and 30th June:
  • Saturday 23rd June, 7.30 pm: St Albans Symphony Orchestra, An Evening of Sibelius. More information here.
  • Saturday 30th June, 7.30 pm: St Albans Chamber Choir, Light and Love, Music for Midsummer. More information here.

A. Arutunian - Trumpet Concerto.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Pentecost Services

This year at St Martin-in-the-Fields, we are delighted to host the live BBC One worship broadcast for Pentecost on Sunday 20 May. All are warmly invited to this service as we celebrate the gift of the Spirit to the church through the wonderful diversity of the St Martin’s community. Our preacher will be the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, the new Bishop of London. The service is led by Revd Dr Sam Wells, with the combined choirs of St Martin’s and the Will Todd Ensemble, directed by Andrew Earis. Please be seated in church by 9.30am.

The 2018 Churches Together in Westminster Pentecost Service will be held at 3.00pm on Sunday, 20 May, and will kindly be hosted by The Salvation Army, Regent Hall, 275 Oxford St, Mayfair, London W1C 2DJ. Again, all are welcome! The service will be led by Major Richard Mingay, the preacher will be Fr Dominic Robinson SJ and I will be interviewed about my ministry and my partnership development role at St Martin-in-the-Fields.


Faith - An Exhibition

Contemporary art exhibition by Russell Haines of striking portraits and films exploring faith through the eyes of those who have it and those who do not. Celebrating modern society and the synergy between us no matter our faith or belief system. This exhibition will tell the story of 33 individuals from different backgrounds to bring people together.

Monday– Saturday 10am - 4pm, Sundays 1pm - 4pm, All Hallows by the Tower Church, Byward Street, London, EC3R 5BJ - 19th May - June 15th 2018.


The Call - I Still Believe.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

After the Fire

The fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 shocked the nation. A personal tragedy that claimed over 70 lives and affected many more, it exposed inequalities and tensions but also a strong sense of community and resilience and, in particular, a wide range of faith groups that are embedded in the community, and that responded practically, pastorally and professionally in a time of serious need and confusion.

In advance of the one year anniversary of the fire, the parish of St Clement and St James and the religion and society think tank, Theos, will host an evening to reflect on the faith groups’ response.

The evening marks the launch of two publications: After the Fire by Alan Everett, Vicar of St Clement and St James, and After Grenfell: the Faith Groups’ Response by Amy Plender, from Theos. After the Fire is a moving and penetrating account of Alan’s experience at the heart of the mass disaster, while After Grenfell draws on over 30 interviews with faith groups across the community to understand how they were able to respond in the way they did.

In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, the local parish church became a focal point of the relief effort, and a gathering place for a traumatised community. In the months that followed, it worked closely with other community and faith groups to provide a compassionate network of support.

In this bold and prophetic challenge, Alan Everett shows that the church's response was possible only because it had opened its doors long ago, building relationships with the most marginalised in the community. Its effectiveness was born out of a patient, faithful, unheroic ministry that is all too easily underestimated.

Through gripping reportage and searching theological reflection, After the Fire demonstrates how parish ministry can be a living symbol of God's love, and a vital sign of hope.


Petris Vasks - Lord Open Our Eyes.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Inspired to Follow: Pentecostal diversity

‘Inspired to Follow: Art and the Bible Story’ is a free resource to help people explore the Christian faith, using paintings and Biblical story as the starting points. It’s been created by St Martin-in-the-Fields in partnership with the National Gallery.

Here is the latest reflection that I have prepared for the series:
Topic: Pentecost
Text: Acts 2:1-39 (extracts)
Image: ‘Pentecost’, Giotto and Workshop, probably about 1310-18, G5360
Location: National Gallery, Room 51

Giotto was mainly active in Florence, although he may have been trained in Rome. He became known as the chief liberator of Italian painting from the Byzantine style of the early Middle Ages. This was because he drew his figures from life, rather than copying from old well-known pictures in the way that the Byzantine artists like Cimabue and Duccio did. The figures that Giotto painted are solid and three-dimensional. They have anatomy, faces and actions that look very natural, because they have been drawn from looking at real people. This more natural way of showing people was started by Pietro Cavallini, but Giotto took the new ideas much further.

In his paintings each scene looks like a shallow stage with actors on it. There are always some buildings or landscape such as a rocky hill, so that the viewer can see where the action is happening. The figures are carefully arranged so the viewer can imagine that they are right there, taking part in the action. That is what we see in 'Pentecost' which represents the twelve apostles gathered together after Christ's Ascension into Heaven. The Holy Spirit is shown descending on them in the form of a dove and tongues of fire, granting them the power to speak in many languages. In the foreground, men from different nations marvel at hearing the apostles' words in their own language. Giotto depicts real people animated by God’s Spirit and wants everyone to see and experience that for themselves. The painting is organised so we are among those viewing this scene; part of the diverse crowd in Jerusalem.

The Day of Pentecost is the turning point in the history of Christ’s Church. The believers had gone from gathering together in fear of the authorities to gathering together in readiness for the promised gift. They were waiting to be baptised with the Holy Spirit. Jesus had spoken to them about the Kingdom of God and told them that when the Holy Spirit came upon them they would be filled with power and would be witnesses to him in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. That prophecy and promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit enabled the believers to take God’s message to all.

We often think those words meant that the disciples were to start with their own people and gradually move from there to the ends of earth. What we forget is that on the day of Pentecost there were Jews and Gentile converts living in Jerusalem who had come from many different parts of the world: Parthia, Media and Elam; Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia; Pontus and Asia; Phrygia and Pamphylia; Egypt and Libya; Rome, Crete and Arabia. A real diversity of nationalities and ethnicities was right there on the streets in Jerusalem that day.

That diversity meant that a diversity of languages were spoken in Jerusalem and the coming of the Holy Spirit enabled the believers in Jerusalem to engage with the diversity that they found. As they were filled with the Holy Spirit they all began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. Although the believers were mainly Galileans and not known for being multi-lingual, each person heard God’s message in his or her language. The Holy Spirit embraced the diversity of Jerusalem and gave the believers the tools they needed to communicate in and through that diversity.

Those diversities – of nationality and language – aren’t the only diversities mentioned. In explaining what God is doing at that time in Jerusalem, Peter spoke about a diversity of age and gender. He quoted from the Book of Joel, where we find the Holy Spirit being poured out on everyone, young and old, men and women, so that all see visions, dream dreams and proclaim God’s message. God used the diversity of age and gender among the believers in order to speak to the diversity of nations and languages in Jerusalem.

Now think about our situation here in London. Doesn’t it, in some ways, seem similar to the situation in Jerusalem? London has always been one of the world's great cosmopolitan cities. Throughout history, people have come from every continent and corner of the globe to live, to visit, and to mix. Today the city brings together more than 50 ethnic communities of 10,000 or more people. More than 70 different national cuisines are available and a staggering 300 different languages are spoken. The world is right here in London, just as it was in Jerusalem.

Just as, at Pentecost, God poured out his Spirit on old and young, men and women, so a similar diversity can be seen in this city and its churches. That diversity is given to us so that we can proclaim the message of God to people of every ethnicity, age, gender, disability, sexuality and religion. And we need the Holy Spirit’s power, gifts and enabling to make that happen.

We need to remember, too, that as the Early Church grew and as God’s message spread there were people who tried to restrict this wonderful new diversity. Even Peter, who led this move into diversity at Pentecost, on one occasion in Galatia tried to restrict the diversity of what God was doing and had to be rebuked by Paul. In the same way today, there are those both in the Church and in our society who want to place restrictions on diversity.

In the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost God celebrates and engages with the diversity that we find in the world he has created. The Holy Spirit comes on all for all and we must not seek to restrict the Spirit’s coming but must enable all to hear God’s call on their lives and be filled by the Spirit just as occurred on that first Pentecost in Jerusalem when all the world’s diversity was gathered to see the pouring out of God’s Spirit on all and for all. And, as Giotto makes clear, that also includes us.

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people, and kindle in us the fire of your love. Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, ignite in us your holy fire; strengthen your children with the gift of faith, revive your Church with the breath of love, and renew the face of the earth. Amen.


Barratt Band - My Spirit's Free.

Living and loving in truth

Here's the sermon that I preached this morning at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

Yesterday Sarah Mullally was installed at St Paul’s Cathedral as Bishop of London. This history-making service was a wonderful welcome to Bishop Sarah and an opportunity to give thanks for all that she will bring to the Diocese as the person that she is and as the first female Bishop of London. In her sermon, on the theme of ‘being subversive for Christ’, Bishop Sarah also recalled her first calling to follow Christ; to know him and make him known to the world. Earlier in the week Bishop Sarah had shared her vision for vocations at a wonderful Study Day for clergy in the Two Cities organised by Katherine Hedderly.

At this Study Day, I was reminded of my own call to ordination as the telling of our own stories of calling was part of the small group discussions. I was taken back particularly to the beginning of my training for ordination and the circumstances, changes and feelings involved for me and my family in the challenges of that new beginning. For me, my ministerial studies involved exploring my faith more deeply through theological study and responding to the challenge of exploring many different understandings of what ordained ministry would involve. I had fears about the impact that my change of vocation would have on my family, as they began to experience what life as a clergy family was going to involve. I was also unsure about the extent to which I could meet the expectations that others might place on me once I put on ‘the collar’.

Our Gospel reading (John 17. 6-19) takes us into a similar period of change for Jesus’ disciples. Our reading is part of the prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciples on the night before he died and it is a prayer about vocation for those disciples. Chronologically this prayer comes before Jesus’ Ascension, but, in terms of its content, it is a post-Ascension prayer because Jesus’ concern is for his disciples once he has left them. Many of his disciples had been on the road with him for three years and had sat at his feet as disciples listening to his teaching, observing his example and imbibing his spirit. Following his Ascension, he would leave them and they would have the challenge of continuing his ministry without him there. He knew that that experience would be challenging and therefore he prayed for them to be supported and strengthened in the challenges they would face.

I want us to reflect today on three aspects of the section of Jesus’ prayer that we have as today’s Gospel reading. The three aspects are unity, protection and sanctification; but before considering those things, I want us to note that the prayer which Jesus began on earth continues in eternity. In Hebrews 7:25 we read that Jesus ‘always lives to make intercession’ for us and, in Romans 8:34, St Paul writes: ‘Christ Jesus … is at the right hand of God [and] intercedes for us.’ Many of us will have experienced the benefit, particularly in times of stress and trial, of knowing that others are praying for us and that we are, therefore, regularly on their minds and in their hearts. These verses assure us that we are constantly and eternally on the mind and heart of God and Jesus is consistently sending his love to us in the form of his prayers. That reality underpins this prayer and can be a source of strength and comfort to us, particularly when times are tough.

What Jesus prays in today’s Gospel reading, he continues to pray in eternity, so let’s think now about the first aspect of Jesus’ prayer for us, which is unity. Jesus prays that his disciples may be one, as he is one with God the Father and God the Spirit. In other words, we have to understand the unity that is the Godhead, before we can understand the unity that Jesus wants for his disciples. As God is one and also three persons at one and the same time, there is a community at the heart of God with a constant exchange of love between the Father, the Son and the Spirit. That exchange is the very heartbeat of God and is the reason we are able to say that God is love. Everything that God is and does and says is the overflow of the exchange of love that is at the heart of the Godhead. Jesus invites us to enter into that relationship of love and to experience it for ourselves. That is his prayer, his teaching and also the purpose of his incarnation, death and resurrection.

As Katherine shared last week, Jesus gave the command that we should love one another as we have been loved by God. It is in the sharing of love with each other that we experience unity and experience God. Unity, then, does not come from beliefs or propositions. It is not to do with statements or articles of faith. It does not involve us thinking or believing the same thing. Instead, unity is found in relationship, in the constant, continuing exchange of love with others within community; meaning that unity is actually found in diversity. Jesus prays that we will have that experience firstly by coming into relationship with a relational God and secondly by allowing the love that is at the heart of the Godhead to fill us and overflow from us to others, whilst also receiving the overflow of that love from others.

The second aspect of Jesus’ prayer is his prayer for our protection. Our need for protection is often physical and immediate. That is certainly the case for those featured in this year’s Christian Aid Week campaign whose homes have been destroyed by storms. Their need to be protected is one that can be met by aid and home building, underpinned by prayer. Similarly, our community here can provide tangible protection. Just this week a guest of our Sunday International Group said that this church has been a ‘shelter from the stormy blast’ for him. In his prayer Jesus asks that we will be protected in a different way, by being protected in God’s name. Jesus said that God’s name had been given to him and that he had then given that name to his disciples.

In our day, we have lost much of the depth and richness that names held in more ancient cultures. Names in Jesus’ culture and earlier were signs or indicators of the essence of the thing named. When we read the story of Adam naming the animals in the Book of Genesis that is what was going on; Adam was identifying the distinctive essence of each creature brought before him and seeking a word to capture and articulate that essential characteristic. It is also why the name of God is so special in Judaism – so special that it cannot be spoken – as the name of God discloses God’s essence or core or the very heart of his being. Jesus prayed that we might be put in touch with, in contact with, in relationship with, the very essence of God’s being by knowing his name. That contact is what will protect us. If we are in contact with the essential love and goodness that is at the very heart of God then that will fill our hearts, our emotions, our words, our actions enabling us to live in love with others, instead of living selfishly in opposition to others. Jesus prays that the essential love which is at the heart of God will transform us in our essence, meaning that we are then protected from evil by being filled with love.

The third aspect of Jesus’ prayer is to do with sanctification. Sanctification is the process of becoming holy. Jesus prays that we will be sanctified in truth, with the truth being the word of God. The Prologue to John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus himself is the Word of God. Therefore Jesus’ prays for us to become holy in Him. It is as we live in relationship to him, following in the Way that he has established, that we are sanctified. That is what it means for us to know Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is vital that we note that we are not sanctified by the Truth, meaning that sanctification is not about knowing and accepting truths that we are to believe. Instead, we are sanctified in the Truth, meaning that we are made holy as we inhabit, experience, practice and live out the Truth; with that truth being Jesus.

Knowing God is, therefore, like diving ever deeper into a bottomless ocean where there is always more to see and encounter. We are within that ocean – the truth of relationship with Jesus – and can always see and uncover and discover more of the love of God because the reality of God is of an infinite depth of love. God created all things and therefore all things exist in him and he is more than the sum of all things, so it is impossible for us with our finite minds to ever fully know or understand his love. However profound our experience of God has been, there is always more for us to discover because we live in and are surrounded by infinitude of love. St Augustine is reported to have described this reality in terms of God being a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

It was in my ordination training that I discovered and experienced the reality of these things in a new way for myself. Through debate and discussion with others on my course I was able to re-examine my faith while also being held by the sense of unity that we quickly developed despite our differences. Those relationships have proved extremely strong and necessary as our ordained ministries have later been lived out. My fears about my personal inadequacy and the pressures there would be for my family were eased through a sense that we were on an unfolding journey of discovering God’s love which protects and sanctifies.

I moved from an understanding of God as being there for us – the one who fixes us and who fixes the world for us – to an understanding that we are in God – that in him we live and move and have our being. Because we are with God and in God and God in us, we can and will act in ways that are God-like and Godly. That happens not because we hold a particular set of beliefs or follow a particular set of rules, instead it happens because we are so immersed in God and in his love that his love necessarily overflows from us in ways that we cannot always anticipate or control. Essentially, we learn to improvise as Jesus did, because we are immersed in his ways and his love. Jesus prays constantly for a continual and continuing immersion in relationship with Him so that we will experience unity by sharing love, protection by experiencing the essence of God and holiness through living in Him.


Bruce Cockburn - Strong Hand Of Love.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Windows on the world (396)

London, 2017


Henryk Gorecki - Amen.

Icons: The Symphony of Divine Light

commission4mission member Irina Bradley is exhibiting at Christ Church Cathedral Oxford until 28 May 2018. The exhibition is entitled ‘Icons: The Symphony of Divine Light’.

Irina will also teach an Icon Painting Course during this time period. This course will introduce students to fluid egg tempera techniques with the aim of finishing a small icon depicting St Frideswide of Oxford in Russo-Byzantine style to take home. The course is organised in conjunction with the exhibition 'Icons: The Symphony of Divine Light' which features icons ‘written’ by course leader, Dr Irina Bradley.

Dr Irina Bradley is a visiting tutor for icon painting at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London, where she teaches at MA level. Her work is on display in churches, places of private worship and collections worldwide. See

Cost: £400 per participant, payable in advance. For more information, contact or 01865 286003.


John Tavener - Ikon Of Light.

Christian Aid Week: Together we're stronger than storms

At this week’s Bread for the World Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields, the International Committee shared resources and themes for Christian Aid Week including the story of Marcelin, who lost his home in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti. Marcelin and his three teenage daughters are now living in a 2x2m block of concrete.

As part of considering how we respond in Christian Aid Week, we wrote prayers during the service which included the following:

  • May God’s love surround and protect you. May you receive help from unexpected people and places. The love God will never leave you.
  • Where there is life, there is always hope, so never give up on hope. The cross becomes a fruit-bearing tree for the whole human family.
  • Your courage is amazing. May you know God’s love from the work of your brothers and sisters both near and far. We are all part of one body and we all need each other.
  • Life is unfair; Jesus did not deserve to suffer. Neither do you! We can’t help everybody, but that is no reason not to help anybody.
  • May you find safety, shelter and succour so that you can live your life in peace and thanksgiving.

For more than 70 years, with the help of their amazing supporters and partners, Christian Aid has been helping change the lives of people, of all faiths and none, living in poverty around the world. They tackle the root causes of poverty so that women, men and children the world over are strengthened against future knocks. And if disasters, like storms and hurricanes, happen, they get people the help they want straight away. This Christian Aid Week, they want to build homes that will last and help families, like those in Haiti facing regular hurricanes, to weather future storms.


Nanci Griffith & Eric Taylor - Storms.

HeartEdge in Scotland

Heart & Voice Uniting, Tuesday 12 June, 2.15 – 7.00pm, Greenbank Parish Church, Braidburn Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 6ES. 

A HeartEdge Churches & Culture event with contributions from: Sam Wells (Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields), Richard Frazer (Minister, Greyfriars Kirk), Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Andrew Earis (Director of Music, St Martin-in-the-Fields) and Martin Ritchie (Minister, Greenbank Parish Church). 

The Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields will perform 'Great Sacred Music’, a 35-minute lunchtime sequence speaking to heart, head, and soul that explores through song and readings the great classical music of our religious heritage. Following this performance will be input on and discussion of approaches to using music in mission, including attractional worship. The event will end with 'Sing Joyfully’, a concert at 6.00pm with the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields. 

'At the Heart. On the Edge', Wednesday 13 June, 10.00am - 3.30pm, Queen's Cross Parish Church, Albyn Place, Aberdeen AB10 IYN. 

A day hosted by Revd Scott M. Rennie, Minister of Queen's Cross Parish Church and Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, which features the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields performing Great Sacred Music. The day includes theology, ideas, solutions and support with a programme developed jointly by Queen's Cross Parish Church and St Martin’s.

The day will explore mission and ministry in relation to: Congregation - Liturgy and worship for day-to-day communal life – gathered and local; Commerce – Starting and sustaining distinctive enterprise to generate finance for your church; Compassion – Growing participation and volunteering to address social need locally; and Culture – Using art, music and performance to reimagine the Christian narrative in your context. The day includes refreshments and lunch. 


Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields - Nunc Dimittis.

Friday, 11 May 2018


Saturday, 22nd September 2018
9.30am to 4.00pm

If you feel called to respond in any way to these words of Jesus then come and join us!

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Matthew 25:35-36

We shall have with us the Revd Jonathan Evens, Associate vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields London
& Project Coordinator for HeartEdge, and the Rt. Revd Alison White, Bishop of Hull.

Please bring any food you may need. To book your place email or call 01262 490019 by 15th September 2018.


Michael Kiwanuka - Tell Me A Tale.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Private View: First Impressions - Portraits from Prison

Yesterday we hosted the Private View of First Impressions - Portraits from Prison at St Martin-in-the-Fields. I welcomed guests with the following:

This exhibition has been curated by the Koestler Trust at the invitation of the Prisons Mission of Churches Together in Westminster. The exhibition has been at St James Piccadilly and Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church prior to coming here and we are all thrilled to have the opportunity to show artworks by prisoners that demonstrate both the remarkable capabilities of the artists and the restorative power of art.

As a member of Churches Together in Westminster and as supporters of the Prison Mission we are, therefore, very pleased to host this exhibition and contribute to its awareness raising role - awareness of the organisations involved and the significant work they do plus awareness of the experiences of those in prison and of issues faced within our prisons. The speeches we will hear shortly will assist in furthering our awareness of these issues.

‘First Impressions’ features a range of portraits using diverse approaches to portraiture and showing viewers the potential of those in the criminal justice system. Most of the portraits have been created in prisons, with some created in other settings, such as secure forensic hospitals and by people on probation.

Here at St Martin's we often ask ourselves wondering questions and I suggest that asking such questions of this exhibition will be of real help in responding to it, particularly to ask, ‘I wonder why that person is of significance or importance to that artist?’ It is a truism, but portraits flag up to us the importance of people and that importance is perhaps never more significant than when we are cut off from those we love or when we are locked up with those we have not chosen as our companions.

These portraits are not academic exercises in life drawing. Instead, these are portraits which are alive with meaning and significance because of the connection which the artist senses with their subject. I encourage you to reflect on the significance of those relationships as you view this exhibition, to allow this exhibition to simply remind you of the significant people in your own life, as well as the vital importance of connecting with those in confinement so they do not lose touch with our wider society and have the relationships they need to integrate back into society once their sentence has been served. Prisoners are out of sight. They must not also be out of mind.

The Private View included talks from prisons experts and audience questions to the panel. Juliet Lyon CBE, Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody, addressed the question 'Can Prisons Work - for offenders, for victims, for taxpayers?', alongside Professor Nick Hardwick (former Chief Inspector of Prisons and former Chair of the Parole Board), and Dame Anne Owers (former Chief Inspector of Prisons and Chair of Trustees for the Koestler Trust).

Among many helpful and striking comments were the following:

  • We are asking too much of prisons. 
  • We should be promoting any other way of serving time, so that Prisons can be the institution of last resort. 
  • Prisons can scarcely function as overcrowded, neglected, least visible institutions. 
  • Prison takes away agency, we have to change the narrative.
  • "an unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man.” - quote from Winston Churchill
  • Chaplaincies have been a bright spark in every prison visited.
  • Great examples exist of churches involved in resettlement.
  • Many reformers are people of faith.

The Rt. Rev. Richard Moth, Bishop of Arundel & Brighton and Liaison Bishop for Prisons sent a message saying: 'The medium of Art often provides a most effective expression for the deepest of human thought and emotion. For many, it is a means to a renewed sense of value and self-worth and a significant step on the journey of life. The Koestler Trust and Churches Together in Westminster, merit congratulations on this high-profile exhibition. I am sure it will do much to bring raise awareness of the needs of all in prison and those who work with them.'


Wings - Band On The Run.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Artlyst: Bill Viola, Corita Kent & Katrina Moss

I have had three pieces published by Artlyst today. The first piece concerns St Cuthbert’s Church in Edinburgh (Kirk of the Castle Rock and Princes St Gardens) which is currently home to an outstanding video art installation by the internationally respected American artist Bill Viola.

'Located at the corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road under the watchful gaze of Edinburgh Castle, the silent, shadowy calm of this church provides an evocative location for work by an artist who consistently explores such universal human experiences as spirituality, birth, and death.'

The second piece previews the marvellous Corita Kent: Get With The Action exhibition at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft:

'In the sometimes fraught and fractious relationship between the Church and visual art, the story of Sister Corita Kent is one of the most inspiring, surprising and unusual.

In 1936 the eighteen-year-old Frances Kent entered the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary order of Catholic nuns in Hollywood. She became Sister Mary Corita, IHM, and revelled in the changing urban environment of post-World War II Los Angeles finding inspiration in signs and advertising for her vibrant screen-printed banners and posters. As early as 1952 her printmaking was recognised as best in show by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, but it was a visit in 1962 to the Ferus Gallery in LA to see Andy Warhol’s breakthrough exhibition of Campbell’s Soup Cans that transformed her practice. ‘Coming home,’ she said, ‘you saw everything like Andy Warhol’.

From that point on, she drew playfully on pop and modern consumer cultures in a unique calligraphic style that incorporated advertising images and slogans, popular song lyrics, biblical verses, and literature and addressed contemporary issues of poverty, racism and war by asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’'

The third piece is my latest interview for Artlyst, with Katrina Moss, founder of Chaiya Art Awards:

'I think spirituality is very important to many people, and there didn’t seem to be any major platforms where artists could explore this in their work and for that work to be seen in a high profile gallery. One artist emailed me saying “I have struggled to find people in the visual arts today who are interested in the subject of God. So as a young artist who has chosen to explore faith in my work, being a part of this has provided me with a great sense of hope and encouragement.”'

My other Artlyst articles and interviews are:

Hothouse Flowers - Thing Of Beauty.