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Thoughts on Good Friday

Jesus graffiti, photo by Aaron Phelps
Photo by Aaron Phelps

This year on Good Friday and continuing my tradition, a piece of graffiti artwork to delight the eyes and challenge the heart. Although I don’t know who produced the artwork, the photo was taken in Brighton, England, by Aaron Phelps.

I love this image. To quote St John of Damascus (quoted often in my recent dissertation/book):

‘Visible things are corporeal models which provide a vague understanding of intangible things. Holy Scripture describes God and the angels as having Read more

Thoughts on Good Friday

A photo of a graffiti mural by Nolan Lee

This year on Good Friday, the artwork is a graffiti piece called Good Friday by Nolan Lee. More of Nolan’s work is available at his own website.

One of the reasons why I think graffiti always works around this time of the Christian year is because graffiti is visceral, rough, violent and makeshift artform. Today, of all days, when we remember how the Lord of all the earth was executed, it always seems to me like an excellent way to explore its meaning.

I’ve not found any commentary from the artist but I love the upward gaze… is it Mary? Jesus’ mother? The eyes look older, tired, eyes that have seen too much. The cross firmly fixed in her mind and in her sight. Read more

Christmas greetings

Banksy Crucified Jesus with shopping bags hanging from each arm.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear…”

Trans­. John M. Neale, 1851.

As has been my wont in recent years, a little graffiti artwork for Christmas Day.

Once again, Banksy cuts through all the fluff to get to the heart of the matter and reminds us all that Christmas is not about the presents and all the other modern-day paraphenalia that accompanies this time of year.

As I will say in church this morning, the heart of Christmas is the start of God’s rescue plan. God with us. Christmas is the start and the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday a finish… of sorts. At least until the heavens and the earth are finally renewed at the end of all things.

Thoughts on Good Friday

Graffiti image of the crucixion with a caption 'Strawman'

As has been my wont in recent years, I am posting another piece of graffiti on Good Friday. Thankfully those renegade creative types around the world continue to find the crucifixion a story for inspiration and criticism on our streets.

It’s with the latter in mind, that I post this image from Matthew Gidley on Flickr. It isn’t clear where it is from and who it is by.

This year I have been thinking a great deal about Paul’s words in both 1 Corinthians 1 and 1 Corinthians 15.

In regard to the later chapter, Paul says that if Christ was not raised from the dead, the Christian faith is utterly pointless. Read more

Cross Purposes

Chagall development painting for the Tudeley church window
Painting for the East Window, All Saints' Tudeley, (Chagall)

Having grown up in Paddock Wood, I was for the most part unaware that just up the road at the tiny, rural All Saints’ Church in Tudeley I would have found the only church in the world to have all its twelve windows decorated by the Russian artist Marc Chagall.

When I became a Christian in my late teens, All Saints’ became a regular place for me to pray. It is, quite simply, one of my favourite places to sit and be in the whole wide world.

The windows are just beautiful and deeply enchanting. Commissioned as a memorial tribute to Sarah d’Avigdor-Goldsmid who died aged just 21 in a sailing accident off Rye, the main East window shows Sarah drowning in the sea while Christ crucified looks down. I don’t know much about art (or anything really) but I love the combination of honest brutality in showing Sarah’s plight in the midst of such beautiful stained glass. Sanitised Christianity this is not.

I write about this now because I had a chance this week to visit a special exhibition called Cross Purposes. Much kudos to my old mother church, St. Andrew’s Paddock Wood, who have combined with my old school and their art gallery, Mascalls Gallery, to put on a special exhibition.

In the Gallery, Cross Purposes has brought together powerful images of the crucifixion from some of the most important artists of the 20th and 21st Centuries. I was astounded to see the list of names – Stanley Spencer, Tracey Emin, Eric Gill, Maggi Hambling, Emmanuel Levy and (of course) Marc Chagall.

Shown for the first time in this country, Chagall’s original drawings and paintings for the Tudeley windows are on display. They are fascinating to see the development of Read more

Christmas wishes

Graffiti art from Banksy of the Dove of Peace wearing a bulletproof vest

“Come O Prince of Peace,
refine and purify us.
Help our leaders rule in peace
and grant your favour to us.

Come O Prince of Peace,
exult o’er us with song.
Let your peace guard your children
so that justice rules.

Come O Prince of Peace,
fill the hungry with good things.
Rescue those who are oppressed
save O Lord, save us.”

Come, O Prince of Peace (opens PDF)
© 2009, Asian Planning Group. Some rights reserved.

As the noughties are coming to a close, there are all sorts of ‘best of the decade’ lists starting to emerge. One of the things I’ll remember from the noughties was Read more

Into interregnum

Graffiti that only makes sense at night
Graffiti that only makes sense at night

On Monday evening, my training Incumbent will be licensed to his new parish and thus complete his transition into his new post as Diocesan Director of Ordinands and priest-in-charge of a new parish about 20 minutes away from here. Even though he moved about a month ago and has been off the scene, in terms of ministry, for roughly the same amount of time, Monday marks the official start of ‘The Vacancy’ here since it is the moment he will no longer be Vicar here.

Of course, from my perspective, the last month has been the start of the Vacancy in practice since he’s not been around and I’ve been flying solo, albeit under the auspices and protection of the Churchwardens who, legally speaking, are in charge of the church during this period.

I was reflecting with my good lady wife the other day about how that month has felt. I can’t honestly say that I’ve felt massively busier. In conjunction with the Churchwardens, I’ve had to put some stuff down and be less involved and, in turn, have become more involved in other things that now need covering without the Vicar around.

Things are not busier. They do, however, feel heavier. Read more

What I’ve been reading this weekend

Where does Ridley aim its worship?

A friend sent me yesterday a link to this interesting little article from a Stateside blogger about a session at Seabury, an Episcopal theological college in the US. I’ve not met Bishop Neil Alexander but I know various people in the USA who really rate him very highly and it sounds like a great session as he and faculty and ordained staff at Seabury considered models for worship within a theological college.

I am sure our principal, as a former Liturgical Commission member, shares such a deep concern to shape us as worshippers and to enable us to be future shapers of fellow worshippers in the Church of England. I’ve been kind of wondering about Neil Alexander’s models and which one might apply to Ridley. I don’t think any of them quite describe Ridley’s approach but I think we probably come closest to the ‘creative’ worship approach.

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Thoughts on Good Friday

Spencer Burke Graffiti

I know I’ve been much silent here of late. Those following my Love Life, Live Lent blog will know that I’ve not been entirely quiet in cyberspace as my focus has been just to keep up each day there.

Believe me, I’ve got half-finished drafts for this site on everything from Jeffrey John and penal substitution to radio mics via human rights and the climate crisis. They will all have to wait for publication on another day.

However, I couldn’t let Good Friday pass without comment here on my normal blog.

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