During these last few years political uprisings, poverty, harsh climate change, COVID-19, and endless hate crimes have taken a toll on almost everyone.
Nonetheless, God is with us. And we as Christians can reassure the rest of the world of this in one simple way: In our actions.
We may be called to act in different ways, but for me, I will wave the pride flag in support of the LGBT community and stand against gun violence, unapologetically proclaim Black Lives Matter, raise awareness of the refugee crisis, and water the sunflowers of Ukraine.
So, yes, Emmanuel-God is with us. And he always will be.’
‘Madonna and Child’, Alfredo Roldán 1999
Lady Chapel, St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London EC1
At the end of Advent Word 2022, may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
‘Talking about the #birth of my children, I mostly shared “positive” feelings—hope, excitement, anticipation, joy. Only with close friends and family did I share my fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. In this week’s gospel, we see Joseph wrestle with these same feelings. With only the comfort of an angel’s promise and faith in an unseen God, Joseph answers the call to become Christ’s foster father. Joseph and Mary will celebrate birth at the foot of the manger soon, but for now we wait with them in disquiet. Are we prepared for Christ’s arrival? What do we fear?’ (Lindsay Barrett-Adler)
New Birth Commemoration of John & Charles Wesley, Aldersgate Street, London
‘Restore is a spiritual reality perfect for Advent. God comes to restore us—every moment of our life. In Advent, we are reminded that Jesus restores us by being God with us, God for us, and God in us. Without shaming or blaming us, Advent invites us to the important task of paying attention to the ways in which God seeks to restore us. Advent reminds us that God comes to us and to our world. Advent reminds us that we need to come to God to be restored spiritually, psychologically, culturally, politically. May we deepen our desire to be restored in God. Will you let God restore you?’ (Rev. Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones)
Leadenhall Market area, City of London: restoration, renewal, revitalization at every turn
‘I lived with this word for several days. I began to see the freedom and the responsibility of being able to choose. I can turn away from evil and turn toward good. Turn away from large evils—violence, war —and small evils—hatred, unkind thoughts. Turn toward good, keeping a soft heart for the whole globe. God walks with me. God thunders, “Choose the good!” God pleads, “Choose the good.” God whispers, “Choose the good.” God stands with the poor, the suffering, the hungry, those in pain and weeps, “Choose the good.” With God’s help, I can choose.’ (Ann Case)
Stanfords, Covent Garden, London
‘Stanfords is a specialist bookshop of maps and travel books in London, established in 1853 by Edward Stanford. Its collection of maps, globes, and maritime charts is considered the world’s largest.’
Choose. Choose what kind of world you want. Choose the good.
‘As the eldest child of an eldest child, I find that obedience has always been at the forefront of my life. Over the years, I have enjoyed its sweet freedom. This word might be fraught for some, but for me, it’s a measure of love, devotion, and commitment. It’s doing something that someone asks of you, not because of obligation but out of love. We are called as Christians to be obedient to God. The command can seem heavy, but in it, there is freedom to be who we are as God’s children. God’s expectations of our lives, our love, and our passions give us boundaries that provide a safe and constant place to be formed, nurtured, and cherished.’ (The Ven. Jeffrey Queen)
London Eye & Palace of Westminster
‘Obedience keeps the rules. Love knows when to break them’. (Anthony de Mello)
‘We are surrounded by loud noises and voices, by ringtones and notifications. How many of these are merely “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1)? What messages do we choose to hear?
Luke’s story of Advent is marked by some remarkable voices: Zacharias and Mary see and hear angels. Elizabeth hears two poems of praise and prophecy—one from her cousin Mary and one from her husband Zacharias. Later in the story, shepherds hear angels sing.
Whose voices are you hoping to hear this Advent? How can you create the quiet in which they can be heard?’ (Hugo Olaiz)
The National Windrush Monument, Waterloo Station, London
‘… Unveiled in June 2022 , the bronze sculpture by Basil Watson memorialises the British West Indian immigrants who came to the United Kingdom on board HMT Empire Windrush in 1948, who subsequently became known as the Windrush generation. The inscription accompanying the monument lists the members of the Windrush Committee who commissioned the sculpture and a poem “You Called..and we came” written by Professor Laura Serrant OBE, Queen’s Nurse’….
‘Human values needed to truly lead change…and add value.
‘When I worked at a library, I helped design and update the wayfinding signs around the building. That job taught me that a thoughtful sign is an act of welcome. The best signs point the way for longtime community members and new visitors alike. Signs can show you how to find what you need before you ask. They may even show you something you didn’t know you needed.
God’s signs are rarely so color-coded and clear. But if we pay attention, they still point us to a kingdom coming near—a kingdom where our needs are met in God’s abundant love.’ (Margaret Ellsworth)
‘Mind the Gap’: London Underground’s iconic sign, in use since 1968.
‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel’. Isaiah 7:14
‘This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’. Luke 2:12.
Emmanuel, ‘God with us’, the birth of the Christ child: God bridging the gap between us and Him.
‘“Purify our conscience almighty God, by your daily visitation….”.
So begins the collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2022. We are exhorted to open up space in our hearts, minds, and souls for God’s grace, that we may find the strength and courage to become cleansed crystal clear in God’s sight. How can we manage to do this? Through self-control, prayer, repentance, wholehearted devotion to the ways of Jesus in our daily lives. In return, God sees our potential, continually renewing us with the living water of the Spirit, continually freeing us from guilt and shame. In the imitation of the purity of Mary and Jesus, we are purified so we can nurture our gifts to grow in the Christian life.’ (Elizabeth T. Massey)
Newly-opened & redeveloped Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms, London – containing shops, offices (incl. new Apple campus) and apartments. Opened October 2022.
‘From the 1930s to 1980s, Battersea Power Station was a working coal-fired Power Station. At its peak, it was producing a fifth of London’s power, supplying electricity to some of London’s most recognisable landmarks, such as the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace’.
London was once famous for its smog, the ‘pea-soupers’ of the 50s and 60s. The Great Smog of Dec. 1952 is thought to be the worst air pollution event in UK history and led to several changes in practices and regulations, including the Clean Air Act 1956. Increased concerns about public health, air quality and pollution resulted in the eventual closure and decommissioning of Battersea Power Station.
‘Redwood forests. Hummingbird in flight. Keeping vigil at the bedside. The lion and the lamb. Snow-capped mountains. The path cleared. Queen Anne’s lace. The servant of the Lord. Pounding water on the shore. The blind see. The deaf hear. The path leveled. Hands are strengthened. A butterfly lighting. The crocus blooms. Water in the desert. The people singing. Knees are made firm. The hungry are fed. Justice for the oppressed. The proud are scattered. The lowly are lifted up. The farmer reaps. The prophet appears. The messenger is sent. The kin-dom of heaven. Majesty.’ (The Rev. Sharon Core)
‘Power’ by Morag Myerscough at the new Battersea Power Station redevelopment, Nine Elms, Battersea, London
‘A landmark installation for Battersea Power Station, that standouts from the surrounding urban architecture, a celebration of times gone by and to mark the beginning of a new era.’
‘People of faith are travelers, from trudging through deserts of antiquity to present-day pilgrims sauntering along the Camino de Santiago. I have taken youth to walk the Camino in Spain. It was my first international trip. I was excited about receiving a passport stamp. A passport full of stamps has long been proof of a well-lived life for travelers.
Each of us is a traveler according to God’s itinerary or our own. No matter what we choose, God places stamps upon our souls. What story do those stamps tell? What stamps will mark your soul this Advent and this new church year?’
Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1
‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.’ Samuel Johnson
‘A person who is tired of London is not necessarily tired of life; it might be that he just can’t find a parking place.’ Paul Theroux