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Friday, 9 December 2016

Update: Sophia Hub Redbridge

Ros Southern writes:

'Coming up this week
  • Tomorrow Saturday 10th - Ilford Green Pop Up Christmas market 11-3 with stalls, activities and a lovely cafe info here
  • Tomorrow Saturday 10th - launch of Ilford independent Street food market- only halal one in UK, start-up pitches Info here
  • Tuesday 13th Entrepreneurs' club 1-2.30 at Enterprise Desk - Amal Simothy with an accountant's business tips. info here
  • Tuesday 13th evening. Redbridge Chamber Christmas bash. Info here
The following week/s
  • Thurs 15 December - building a stronger Redbridge economy run by FPComms. Info here
  • Timebank Christmas Spirit Skills Swap - an event for residents, businesses and community groups to give and take. Monday 19th December 6-9.30, Ilford info here.
Other great news
Some of our social media posts this week
And thanks so much to Jay Bhatt for a really helpful entrepreneurs' club this week on financial and wealth management and how his start-up is doing.

Have a great weekend,

Best wishes,

Ros Southern
Coordinator, Sophia Hubs'


King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Rest in the law of love

Here is my sermon (based on Matthew 11. 28 – 30) from today's lunchtime Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plough or cart that they are to pull. It doesn’t sound like something which is light or easy to wear, so in what sense might Jesus be using this farming image to talk about rest for those who come to him?

Jesus would have been very familiar with ploughs and yokes as both are implements made by carpenters. Two animals, usually either oxen or donkeys, would wear the yoke and pull the plough guided from behind by the farmer. Their task was to break up the ground for sowing.

Jesus was speaking in a context where the Pharisees took the 613 commandments in the Torah – the Law of Moses – which were to do with all aspects of life - shaving, tattoos, clothing, work, food and drink, farming, money and so on – and multiplied these commandments by creating detailed instructions about the ways in which each of these commandments was to be kept. Keeping all of these additional rules was indeed a heavy burden for all who tried to do so.

Jesus, by contrast, taught that love was the fulfilling of the Law. Instead of keeping the endless detail of the regulations created by the Pharisees, Jesus said that we should simply love God, ourselves and our neighbours and that all the Law of Moses is actually designed to that end. This was liberating teaching which brought rest for those weighed down by the burden of trying to keep hundreds of commandments and thousands of additional regulations. On the basis of Jesus’ liberating teaching, St Augustine was able to write: ‘Love, and do what you will’ because when the ‘root of love be within’ there is nothing that can spring from that root, but that which is good.

I wonder whether you are ready to leave behind the heavy burden of rules and regulations in order to be accepted or justified and instead open your life to the liberating and restful law of love.

The oxen or donkeys undertaking the ploughing were guided by the farmer using the yoke. As they followed that guidance the yoke sat lightly on their shoulders and the ploughing proceeded apace. If they ignored the guidance of the farmer and pulled in different directions then the yoke would feel heavy and would chafe the neck causing sores or other injuries.

By using this image Jesus is arguing that we have choices about the way in which we live life. We can go off in our own direction pulling away from other people and from God but, when we do so, we are pulling against the way of life for which we have been designed and created. It is when we submit to God’s way of life – the law of love - that we find rest through being in the right place at the right time and living in the right way. When this happens we have a sense of everything coming together and fitting into place which is both profoundly satisfying and restful.

I wonder whether you are prepared to surrender control of your life to the one who created you in all your uniqueness and explore instead how to live in the way for which human beings were created; to live according to the law of love.

Finally, there is the task to which we are called. This image of pairs of oxen ploughing with the use of a yoke fits closely with the task Jesus gave to his disciples when he sent them out in pairs to go to villages and towns ahead of him in order to prepare people for his arrival when he would sow among them the seed of the Word of God.

He said, therefore, that this task - the role of a disciple – although it seems challenging to take up, is actually hugely rewarding as well as being restful in the sense that we are doing God’s will and it is God who does the work, not us. We read in Luke 10, for example, that the seventy disciples Jesus sent out in pairs returned from their mission with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”

I wonder whether you are prepared to undertake the challenging, yet strangely restful, task of a disciple of Jesus; that of preparing the ground by sharing the message of love, so that others might receive the Word of God? Jesus said: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Windows on the world (321)

London, 2016


Over The Rhine - Here It Is.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Update: Sophia Hubs Redbridge

Ros Southern writes:

Coming up this week
  • Saturday - event for small business saturday on Women and Brexit with Nnenna Anyanwu info here
  • Sophia Hubs entrepreneurs' club with Jay Bhatt on why you absolutely must do some financial and wealth management. Tuesday 6.30 at Redbridge Institute. Info here.
  • Find out about World Pay with Amanda of Amazingly Simple. Weds 5-7. Info here
  • Ilford Pop Up Green Christmas market -Saturday 10th, 11-3pm Some free stalls left! Info here
  • And thanks so much to Ahmed Abdulazeem for a really helpful entrepreneurs' club this week on income projection in your business
Apologies it is brief this week!

Have a great weekend,

Best wishes,

Ros Southern
Coordinator, Sophia Hubs


The Children - Crystal Palace.

Friday, 2 December 2016

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

A large group of Christian leaders came to St Stephen Walbrook today for a special breakfast with guest speaker Michael Wear, Faith Advisor to President Obama. Michael, who has been in the UK this week to talk about his book Reclaiming Hope which can be preordered here, shared insights from the White House and reflections on the changing role of faith in public life. The event was organised by the Good Faith Partnership, in conjunction with Home for Good, Premier Radio and HeartEdge.

St Martin's Voices sang to open the proceedings before Michael spoke about faith, politics, adoption and hope in US politics noting that the next four years will mark a pivotal time for the church in the Western World. He was encouraged by the elevation of women's voices in American Christianity and mentioned Tish H. Warren and the testimony of Nicole Cliffe, in this respect:
  • "Hope is about God coming and crashing into the here and now,"
  • "If you really care about your neighbour you'll love God."
  • "Christian knowledge is for all of life and can be applied to politics."
  • "Christians will be swept aside unless we grapple with the issues that people in general are talking about."
  • "I am convinced that politics is damaging our spiritual lives."
In my welcome to the breakfast, I said the following:

Welcome to St Stephen Walbrook. For those who haven’t been here before this building is one of Christopher Wren’s masterpieces which was built after the Great Fire of London and is the Parish Church for Mansion House, the home of the Lord Mayor of London. In the 1950s, under Chad Varah, this church was the place where Samaritans began and from which it operated in the early part of its existence. That major social outreach programme led to the understanding that when God’s people to gather they should be in community. That understanding led to the reordering of the church so that its people could gather round a circular altar carved by Henry Moore where God would be found at the very centre of the community. Most recently, the church has developed a partnership with St Martin-in-the-Fields which had led to new mission initiatives including early morning reflections for people on their way to work and which has also revitalised the cultural offer (music and visual arts) of the church.

The partnership which St Martin’s has formed with St Stephen’s provides a model for future partnerships which St Martin’s intends to form as a way of building association, learning, development and resource together with other churches. As part of developing its support of partnership working St Martin’s is initiating and incubating a new network of churches called HeartEdge, about which you have been given an information pack among the papers you have been received this morning.

HeartEdge supports churches in blending their mission around four key areas:
  1. Congregation – Inclusive approaches to liturgy, worship and day-to-day community life.
  2. Community – sharing models of outreach which serve local need and address social justice. 
  3. Culture – art, music and ideas to re-imagine the Christian narrative for the present moment.
  4. Commerce – Commercial activities that generate finance but which also creatively extend and enhance mission and ministry through social enterprise.
So, HeartEdge intends to create opportunities for churches to:
  • Learn from each other – building a community of practice.
  • Celebrate achievement – validating a range of activities.
  • Look to the future – evolving new forms of cultural, commercial and community-based work.
Why should you join? We can do unbelievable things together as churches if we start with one another’s assets not our deficits. In a community of fear we begin with our hurts and our stereotypes, and find a hundred reasons why we can’t do things or why certain kinds of people don’t belong. But if we take off our labels (like disabled or wealthy or migrant or evangelical or single) and instead see qualities like passion or commitment or generosity or enthusiasm or humility then there’s no limit to what a community of hope like HeartEdge can do.

By listening to and learning from each other we can build a community of practice able to evolve new forms of cultural, commercial and community based mission and ministry and find our way to becoming abundant communities that open space for generosity and cooperation.

HeartEdge will be launched here on 8 February (please come along) and will provide mentoring, workshops, conferences, mission models and project opportunities to its members as it develops. You don’t need to wait until 8 February, however, to sign up as initial members. We are beginning to get this Membership Pack out to interested churches and to sign up initial members from today’s event onwards. For more information please contact me on


Thursday, 1 December 2016


Today the Church of England launches its #JoyToTheWorld Christmas campaign with and four special videos.

Over 27,000 services and events, ranging from the contemporary to traditional carols and nativity stories, have been added to a new website that enables the public to enter their postcode and find Christmas services and events happening near them.

Smartphone users will also be able to geo-locate the nearest services and add a reminder to their calendar. So far more than 2,300 congregations are providing mulled wine and 3,500 sharing mince pies after services.

In addition to the website, there are four videos being released throughout December, each one sharing a moment of true Christmas joy. The short films star Gogglebox vicar Revd Kate Bottley, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Becoming Revered author Revd Matt Woodcock and comedian Paul Kerensa.

Underpinning the launch of the campaign will be a targeted nationwide social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter to encourage the public to share Christmas #JoyToTheWorld.

Speaking about her moment of Christmas joy from her former church in East London, Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin said:

"Mine has got to be at the very end of the Midnight Mass then we hear the words 'Yea, Lord we greet thee' - our first acknowledgment that Christmas has now arrived.

"Most Sundays people rush home to their rice and peas and dinner but we mingle, we stop and we greet each other and it's a wonderful moment. The Christmas Mass has got people attending who you wouldn't normally see and we get to pass on this Christmas joy."

Watch Rose's film here:

Commenting on the launch of the new website, Revd Arun Arora, Director of Communications at the Church of England, 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."

Visit to find out more.

Church of England parishes across the country can get still involved by uploading their services to and also by sharing their moments of joy on social media using the hashtag #JoyToTheWorld.


Pentatonix - Joy To The World.

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.