Friday, June 5, 2020

Stations of the Spirit 2020

This past month has been a rather extraordinary time, when I seem to have temporarily become a video artist, curator, and project manager. After the success of the Via Luminosa online this year (now taken-down for another-time), and also the "Rumours of Hope" vigil, I started some conversations with the cathedral Precentors' network and agreed to curate something similar for Thy kingdom Come, a series of "Stations of the Spirit". Like "Rumours of Hope" the series would contain readings, prayers and reflections from a number of different cathedrals and guest speakers. Like the Stations of the Cross these "Stations of the Spirit" would form a journey, but instead of being a journey to Calvary, they would give a snapshot of the work of the Holy Spirit from the dawn of creation, all the way  through to Revelation.   I also managed to recruit a number of musicians to help me, as well as using the odd piece of my own (especially the atmospheric Byzantine-tuned harp music which seems to work so well with bible readings). As a basis I used the Stations of the Spirit that I wrote last year (see the post of the 31st May 2019 for a rough idea of the script) but this time I decided to have 9 stations rather than 10, using part of the reading from Revelation in Station 10, and the blessing from that final station. 

The cathedral Precentors were amazingly supportive and some other Canons and also Deans volunteered to give readings. I was also sent some wonderful images, notably the video footage and photographs of the fountain at Chester and the beautiful images of the icon in Bradford Cathedral's chapel of the Holy Spirit.  

Musically I wanted to reflect the beautiful music produced in the cathedrals, but also wanted to reflect the broad nature of the music on offer in various churches, by mixing the old and the new, the choral and the instrumental. The Chapter of Peterborough gave me permission to use the music of Peterborough Cathedral Choir, and the Chapter of Christ Church Oxford gave me permission to use their music too. I was also able to use a piece from St Peter's Singers who provided music for Leeds Minster for major occasions in the life of the church. Dan Sladden, succentor of Ripon Cathedral, gave me some music from the Cambridge Chamber Consort, his choral group of former choral scholars, and Peter Gunstone gave me some music from Accord, who can do wonderful classical pieces, but also do a cappella arrangements of newer songs by Hillsongs and Matt Redman. The newer styles of music were represented by Joel Payne, who writes some lovely and thoughtful new songs, and Metanoia, who run the music for Rock Mass and mix well known worship songs, with guitar riffs from secular artists.

I wanted to include a time of reflection during each station, but the nature of internet videos is that times of "silence" online can seem like the internet has frozen or the technology isn't working. Instead I decided to have a piece of instrumental music and gentle images after each talk to give a chance for people watching the videos to pray and reflect. Those watching could always pause the video for a while if they wished to have some true silence. Once again we had a wonderful variety of musicians helping with this. Tim Parsons, assistant Director of Music at Exeter cathedral,  gave me permission to use the lovely Tomkins piece that he recorded at the beginning of lockdown, just before being furloughed, but I was also given  oboe, cello, flute and piano pieces and two lovely reflective and etherial pieces by Steve Lawson, the electric bassist. Some musicians wrote their pieces especially for the event: Andrew Maries beautiful oboe improvisation matched the wonderful imagery of flying through a nebula very well, Steve Abley created a reflective piece for the station based on the woman at the well, Tim Farnhill wrote a lovely flute improvisation, and Liam Cartwright improvised upon the ancient plainchant melody "Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire." I loved the wonderful variety and beauty of these pieces. 

I was also deeply thrilled by the talent and inspiration of the artists involved in this project. Canon Katie Lawrence, Precentor of Wellington Cathedral, gave me two wonderful dances, one to accompany a song by Lacey Brown (whose liturgically-deep music I encountered whilst on placement in Seattle in 2003), and one to the gut-wrenchingly beautiful "O Magnum Mysterium" by Lauridsen. Ally Barrett volunteered not just to do a talk, but also to provide images for the station on the Baptism of Christ and the Annunciation. Richard Horton from Visions, gave me images of flowers that he had taken since lockdown, which I had originally imagined would be in the creation station, but which instead appeared in Station 2. Nic Walters provided me with a large selection of video footage from different events he has done. He shot some images of bubble blowing specially for me, and also collated together beautiful images of fountains, flames, crowds, doves, water and the "I love you" word sequence that I remember being very moved by when I was still working with the Visions group in York. 

I love the story behind the "I love you" word sequence. A group of artists gave pieces of paper to people in the Glastonbury festival, asking them to write "I love you" on those pieces of paper. They then scattered them around the festival site, and after a day collected the ones that remained back in. They had been torn, rained upon and creased, and yet the words "I love you" were still there and still readable in many of these pieces. I still find that video very powerful to watch. 

Of course, as well as collecting together all these contributions, I also did a fair bit of video editing myself. One of the reasons that I decided to make the project aspect ratio 4:3 rather than widescreen is that I have a lot of old footage collected together and edited in the days before mobile phones and widescreen were commonplace which were stored on old DV tapes. Stretching 4:3 is a lot harder than shrinking widescreen, but also I must confess to rather preferring 4:3. It makes composing an image that "works" a little bit easier somehow, although in years to come I may migrate, depending on whether I can replace or re-shoot, or successfully edit some rather precious images from the past.

It was wonderful to dig up images taken in the heart of the Jordanian desert and fountains that I shot in the palace of Versailles. (They only run water through them on Sunday afternoons in the summer holidays as it takes an enormous amount of water to make these fountains work). The flame that became the title sequence image was taken just outside the entrance to the Edicule (the empty-tomb) in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is the Holy-fire, re-lit each year at Easter, and the melting candle which was also used in the titles was taken in the same church, but deep-down in the basement, in the chapel dedicated to St Helen. In contrast the almost single-shot image of floating past greenery came from a punt-ride in la Venise Verte in the Marais Poitevin. I have taken images from a boat a number of times, but never with the smoothness of a punt on a canal on a summers day. One day I would love to return and re-take it in HD but the lighting would need to be just right too.

The Stations of the Spirit are still available for you to view online, and they will remain online for the future. 

Station 1 - Creation. 

With Bishop Graham Cray, prayers from the canons of Peterborough Cathedral, and music from Andrew Maries, and also St Peter's Singers in Leeds. Their album is available here

Station 2 - The Valley of Dry Bones. 

With Revd Jeremy Fletcher, prayers from the canons of St Edmundsbury, and music from the musicians of St Edmundsbury, and also the Reverend Robb Sutherland and Metanoia. 

Station 3 - Water flowing from the Temple.

With Canon Roly Riem, prayers from the Canon pastor of Coventry cathedral, and vicar of Romsey Abbey, cello music from the Revd Thomas Wharton and an anthem by Revd Peter Gunstone and Accord. 

Station 4 - The Annunciation

With the Revd Ally Barrett, prayers from the Canons of Ripon Cathedral and music from Steve Lawson, and the Cambridge Chamber Consort with Dan Sladden, Succentor of Ripon. 

Station 5 - The Baptism of Christ.

With the Reverend Bryony Taylor, prayers from Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, and music from Tim Farnhill, and also Christ Church Cathedral choir. 

Station 6 - The Woman at the well

With the Rt Revd Bev Mason, Bishop of Warrington, prayers from the Canons of Chester Cathedral, and music from Steve Abley, and also Joel Payne, whose worship music is here

Station 7 - Jesus Breathes on the disciples

With a reflection from myself (some technical difficulties meant that Brother Stuart's reflection arrived too late to insert within this station, so instead it was released as a separate item). Also with music from Liam Cartwright and Lacey Brown whose music is available here

Reflection - I am sending you.  

With Brother Stuart Burns, with another piece of music, "To whom should we go" by Lacey Brown. 

Station 8 - The Day of Pentecost. 

With a reflection from Bishop David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke, prayers from the canons of Bradford cathedral, and music from Steve Lawson, and Peterborough Cathedral Choir. 

Station 9 - The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles.

With a reflection from the Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark, prayers from Truro Cathedral, and music from Tim Parsons of Exeter Cathedral, and also Accord. 





Thursday, April 2, 2020

Via Luminosa 2020 - A Passiontide Journey to the Cross

Update: now with features about the "making of" linked to each station. 

A few years ago, when I was still working for "Visions" in York, I planned a virtual "Stations of the Cross in video art, which was projected outside in various locations in the city of York. We called it the "Via Luminosa", and gave out maps and leaflets which described the artwork. Rather than following the traditional Roman Catholic list of stations, we widened the journey, beginning at Palm Sunday and ending with the resurrection  and using only the biblical events, so that those who saw the art would learn more about the events which led up to that first Easter.  This year I picked up the project once more, and in these days of lock-down, it seemed appropriate to re-edit the stations, putting music behind, and using them as a Passiontide journey. Richard McVeigh has kindly given permission to use some of his music and the music of his wonderful consort, SW1, to accompany the visuals. This will be a time-limited project. Every day, between the 30th March and Easter Sunday, the 12th April, a new video will appear at noon (or thereabouts). The exception will be Easter Eve. I will release station 13 early, at 3pm on Good Friday.  The videos will be taken down on the 13th April so watch them while they are still there, use them for your worship and make your own virtual journey to Jerusalem. I will attempt to post links to each video here,  as they appear on a daily basis.You do not need to join Facebook to see them. When it prompts you to log in, click the blue "not now" link and the prompt should disappear. 

Update: I didn't want to do this until after Easter Sunday, as I wanted you to simply experience the stations. But here is some information about each station.

Station 1 - Palm Sunday, 30th March.

The Palm Sunday station was originally projected onto a window which had been covered in tracing paper. The donkey footage came from Petra. Malcolm did the "donkey cam" image of his ears whilst actually riding the donkey. He is better at holding on than I am!  The image of Christ used as the title on each station came from an old performance of the mystery plays in York. it underwent a fair bit of "photoshopping" (actually I use the open source Gnu Image Manipulation Program to do that...its free!). The icon of Christ on the cross normally hangs on our staircase, although it has industrial velcro on its reverse face so that we can mount it as a processional cross.  As the days of Passiontide and Holy Week went on I found it hard to distinguish the opening frames of each station, so started to change the opening titles whist keeping this image as a repeating motif. The introductory bible texts are shown over footage of the streets of the old city of Jerusalem. We have always been fascinated by these tiny narrow passages lined with shops, and often return simply to wander the streets, explore the avenues, film people and places and soak up the atmosphere. The globe is, of course, from NASA. My budget didn't stretch to going into space, but thankfully NASA stuff is free to use. 

Station 2 - Betrayal, 31st March.

For the introduction of this station, I used Keynote to animate the crucifix icon. I used to use Adobe After Effects for this kind of thing, but find I get better results in Keynote these days (using the "magic move" transition). I used to use animation of falling notes which I made in After Effects but I was unhappy with the results, so this is stock footage from Videoblocks (who are excellent)  The rotating coins and "kisses" are also animated in Keynote and I bought my replica Roman coin in the Yorkshire Museum shop in York. 

Station 3 - The Last Supper1st April.

The globe behind the cross icon in the introduction to this station was very painstakingly animated in GIMP (see above) around twenty years ago. It is a collage of many holiday snaps. The foot washing footage was shot for the precentor of Peterborough this year, and underwent a little bit of processing in iMovie and Filmora. The new version of iMovie really annoys me. I think they are deliberately making it clunky and annoying so folks upgrade to Final Cut Pro,  so I have now swapped to Filmora, which I love as it has lots of quirky effects and photoshop style filters. Most of the last Supper footage itself was shot a very long time ago in my house in York, and I have recycled it for this project. The overflowing wine glass was originally shot by a curate on placement with me for a setting of psalm 23, but it is such a powerful image that we use it a lot for communion. 

Station 4 - Agony in the Garden, 2nd April.

I did the introduction to this station and the footage behind the bible verses was shot at the top of the mount of olives, in the convent garden of the Pater Noster chapel; a lovely unspoilt place that feels like a time-machine. Nic Walters shot the main part of this station for the original Via Luminosa project in York where we projected the stations outside around the city. it was originally on a number of stacked TVs inside the window of the Oxfam shop. I think it is tremendously powerful, especially when the hammer comes down and smashes the teacup. I believe Nic did the writing by actually projecting onto the cup, rather than post-processing. 

Station 5 - Arrest , 3rd April.

The crown of thorns behind the titles was bought in Jerusalem, and animated using a cake turntable which is why it is a little clunky (annoyingly). The turntable couldn't cope with having so much red fabric over it, and I didn't want to cut the fabric because it is such a lovely colour. If I see a smaller version of the same stuff I will buy a little bit and re-shoot this! The olive tree background is. a heavily processed version of the garden of Gethsemanae olives and all the rest of the figures and items come from the Yorkshire Museum in York. The original station was projected onto a cube standing in the garden of this museum and was viewed through bars. 

Station 6 - A Crown of Thorns, 4th April.

The animation behind the crucifix in the opening titles is the  angel Gabriel taken from a picture of the annunciation in the Louvre, and animated in After Effects to circle a globe (which cannot be seen because it is behind Jesus). I have added a little post-processing in Filmora to give it the motion blur. The pillars behind the bible text are actually from Constantine's water cistern in Istanbul. The thorns are the ones I bought and put on a turntable, and the rest of the footage was filmed in our back yard a very long time ago. The scourging at the end comes from a very ancient life of Christ film that is now public domain because it is so old. 

Station 7 - Pilate Washes his Hands, 5th April.

This station uses quite a bit of ancient public domain footage from the Prelinger Archive. I was trying to give an impression of the environmental and human disasters that we can be tempted to wash our hands of. The central image of pilate washing his hands was shot from beneath a glass table.

Station 8 - Jesus Carries his Cross , 6th April.

The introductory footage behind the prayer was shot in Belfast on the M3. Malcolm was driving. I was pointing a camera through the window. For the footage of the carrying of the cross, Andy "Starbuck" and I got up at a ridiculously early hour to film in the high street in York (Coney Street). At the time empty shopping streets were an eery and unusual sight (not any more!). I didn't have any expensive tripod equipment, so strapped the camera to my bicycle and wheeled it down the street, following Andy.

Station 9 - Simon Lends a hand , 7th April.

The image behind Christ in the opening title shot comes from Petra. I mirrored it in Filmora and placed it behind Jesus. The fountain was taken in Strasburg and processed heavily. Behind the bible texts we have more wonderful shots of those tiny streets in Jerusalem. The hearts and hands images were various people in the Visions community, and if you look carefully in the centre from time to time, two sets of hands appear carrying the cross-bar. One of those is Malcolm, the other is Christian Salvaratnam. I can't remember which program I used to stack all the images up, but it was either  After Effects or Keynote. (It is surprising what you can do with presentation software!)


Station 10 - Weeping Women, 8th April

The footage behind "we adore you" was taken on the Nile at sunset. The other footage was taken in Jerusalem, and I experimented with morphing software, creating transitions between the ancient weeping women and the people who weep in Jerusalem today. The footage of feet and steps was taken just outside the Damascus Gate. Muslims, Jews, Christians, and those of other faiths, and from many nations all went through that gate. You could sometimes tell who they were by their clothes, but never by their shoes. Their feet all looked the same, a reminder of our common humanity, beneath all the prejudice and angst.

Station 11 - Jesus is Stripped , 9th April. 

The footage under the prayer was animated in After Effects, using space footage from NASA and solar flare effects. The stripping footage was taken in our back yard in York. it was Malcolm's idea to show each section twice (once positive, and once negative) and to add many extra layers of clothes to make the sequence longer and more dramatic. For the final shot I wrote "Naked indignity, dressed in red scars, by his stripes we are healed" on Malcolms back in lipstick. We felt that this would be more powerful than trying to fake scars that might look fake afterwards. (This is because we've had problems faking them before. But I'll tell you about that later!)

Station 12 - Nailed to the Cross, 9AM, Good Friday

The opening titles were displayed over NASA footage here. Nic Walters gave me the footage of Jesus and the nails, which was originally used in Vision services, before the "Via" project was ever conceived. The cross image at the end was also from an old set of York mystery plays, a number of stills were simply lined up as a slide presentation and exported as a movie before being processed. When I shot the slides I never considered that they would work this well when stuck together. 

Station 13 - Jesus dies on the Cross, 3PM, Good Friday

Malcolm was a star to let me shoot this footage. It is quite old, and was originally conceived as a loop for communion services. We discovered so much by shooting this! Firstly, I almost dislocated Malcolms shoulder fixing him to the cross. (thankfully I didn't, but it made me realise, when I read that the Turin shroud body showed evidence of a dislocated shoulder, that this was a point in favour of it possibly being genuine rather than a fake). The cross itself was the one St Michael le Beflrey normally use for their Good Friday services. It is actual size which is great. And we put a black curtain behind it for a backdrop. We stuck short nails on Malcolm's arms with blue tac but the blue tac melted under the spotlight and the nails fell off. There is some "out-take"footage of them falling on the ground! For the crown of thorns (this was before I ever visited Israel), I made a crown from Berberis thorn and then snipped the inside thorns off with pliers. And now we come to the story of the scars. I got into a bit of trouble about this! I decided that Marmite would be a good substitute for dried blood, and it did look good when we applied it, what I didn't realise was that it would then not come off again, and removing it afterwards was a bit like waxing legs. After that I was banned from ever using Marmite again for a photo shoot! The final section was edited this year . I took the icon of Jesus used in the opening titles and "photoshopped" it using GIMP, changing each figure ever so slightly so that they were unique, and placing them over a cross that I had drawn. I saved them as png images (as png can cope with transparency) which meant I could overlay them on stock footage of lightning which I then slowed down to be more dramatic. 

new - extra mini station "...and so we wait"

This station was made using Keynote. Once again the two images were taken from mystery plays. 

Station14 - Resurrection. Happy Easter!

This station involved a lot of editing this year, as I wasn't happy with the original version (but I feel it was worth it). I used footage we shot whilst on a punt in Venice Verte in France, added motion blur, and put it behind the words to the first prayer. The empty tomb is in Jerusalem, in the garden of Mary and Martha's house, and the footage of Jesus spinning was filmed at the same time as the baptism footage, a very very long time ago, so actually Malcolm is a bit younger in the resurrection than in the crucifixion. The butterflies were taken in tropical world in Leeds, and mirrored because the camera wasn't steady (in days before stabilisation software). The egg was made in GIMP and originally used as part of an Easter art installation which was originally projected in St Martins in Coney street.  The funny thing about that particular projection was that the DVD player that we were using to send the image to the projector threw a wobbly one night and projected the Tesco logo all night on the wall. Drunken passers by probably thought the church had got a sponsorship deal! The dog running down the beach in Ireland was my first dog, Dougal, who has now gone. He simply loved playing fetch! The olives were taken halfway up the Mount of Olives on a windy day in 2016. There is also footage of a large plant (or small tree) placed in front of a window. This tree is a seedling from the Hiroshima peace tree. It was at the centre of the blast and looked utterly dead just afterwards, but the fact that it came back to life was a symbol of hope and peace to those whose lives had been shattered and those who had lost loved ones. It still fills me with hope now. Happy Easter everyone!


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Death and hope (Advent thoughts about Stonehenge)

Because our life has been a somewhat unsettled one this year (due to mum's dementia) we never got around to taking two weeks block holiday in the Summer, so Malcolm has booked these two weeks off work and we are visiting local places of interest. Yesterday M really wanted to go to Stonehenge which rather surprised me. "Aren't you bored of it?" I asked. "You can't actually go up to the stones anymore." Then it turned out that every other time I had visited the stones themselves M hadn't actually been with me, although we had visited the visitors centre together. 

So, wrapped up in many layers against the distinctly chilly 3 degrees we set off. This time we got the audioguide (which was excellent) and took the free tourist bus to the stones with the intention of walking back, which was actually quite nice!

There have recently been two excellent broadcasts about the stones on TV and radio, which I think was what prompted our interest. The "You're Dead to me" podcast from BBC sounds https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07qrwq7 and a Timewatch guide https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06z59g7 which was fascinating because it showed archive footage of previous theories about the stones, and was as revealing about modern history and techniques as it was of ancient history.

Me and this ancient monument have an interesting history. When I was a child I was fascinated by it; excitedly peering through the car window whilst we drove past on our way to Cornwall (we never paid English Heritage entry fees to actually go in anywhere!). But then, as I got older I became rather bored by this structure that seemed rather overrated to me. It was just a few stones, you couldn't actually go in, at least with woodhenge you could walk inside it- and not nearly as spectacular as the stones of Carnac or the Great Pyramid!

But now I have changed my mind. I never realised that the reason it was unique was because it was the only stone circle to have mortice and tenon joints and lintels resting on top, and actually that's really clever!  

I was also intrigued by the fact that the bluestones inside were thought to have healing powers and one theory is that pilgrims came to the henge as a kind of healing shrine. It turns out that they think that there were never pagan sacrifices there, because there is no evidence for them; no bones or bits left behind. What there is evidence for though, is lots of burials; ashes buried around the circle, and lots of burial mounds around the outside. 

One theory now is that it was actually the midwinter solstice that was more important than the midsummer one for these ancient people, and this totally makes sense to me. 

Imagine for an instant, that you are one of those ancient farmers. You have lost someone you love to this mysterious force of death, and life appears random and terrifying. The winter is dark and cold and you wonder if light or happiness will ever return to your world. 

And then you visit this ancient circle, and you see structure and order, and you see light return to this dark world again and again and again, structured and predictable,  and what it does is give you hope that the person whose ashes you buried might also have life once again. It gave you hope in the face of death and light in the face of emotional darkness. 

And so it seems to me, writing from a Christian point of view, that this watching for the return of the sun is itself prophesy: A prophesy from two thousand years before Jesus was born that a different Sun/Son, the Son of God eternal, would return from death and would break the power of death forever for us, which is one of the main themes of this Advent season. 

As it says in some of the Advent Antiphons, texts which were addressed to Christ and traditionally sung in the Evenings leading up to Christmas:

O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!







Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Rhythmic Psalms - The words Edition is here


The Rhythmic Psalter (words edition) is now available to buy from Amazon here 

The journey which began this collection of 150 short psalms started in 2010 when I first moved to Leeds Minster. In my time they had a service of short morning prayer in the church every day at 9.45, which often used a short psalm. However, there weren’t many of these psalms and I made a resolution to edit a few more to use in this service.

In my psalm edits I tried to get a sense of the whole journey of the psalm within ten brief verses, but I put down the task after a few months and let it lie to one side. It sat there for rather a long time... Eventually I picked up the text in 2019 because I was concerned that the psalms were not being used enough in public worship, which diminishes both our biblical knowledge and our vocabulary in prayer. I wanted to help churches to learn different and creative ways of using these wonderful texts which encompass the whole spectrum of human emotion. 

This was when I realised that what was actually needed was a more rhythmic psalter that could be used in churches where bands, drum circles and percussion are used to accompany the worship.This is why the rhythms are very tight in this collection. I also hope that the strong rhythms within these psalms will help those who read them to memorise some of the texts so that they can carry them with them throughout their daily lives. I have given the “music” to the rhythms of the psalms as a guideline, however, many of these psalms will work to different rhythmic patterns, so do not feel “bound” by these suggestions. Some words can be said to different rhythmic patterns. (eg. heaven, violence or glorious); in these cases I have used dashes to indicate how to split the word, and an apostrophe above a word if it is to be said on one syllable.

I must also give a confession in this introduction. I am not a Hebrew Scholar, but I did study translations of the psalms which stick very closely to the Hebrew whilst writing this book. However, due to the rhythmic constraints of my task, some of these psalm verses have had to be paraphrases. I have used the Anglican numbering of the psalms and the verse numbers within this book so that clergy (if they wish) can look up the more “traditional” version within the Common Worship psalter which is freely available online here . I cannot aim to properly do justice to every psalm within a mere ten verses, and in the case of psalm 78 I really felt that I had to write another ten verses. Psalm 119, however, despite it’s length, is consistent in its theme declaring the blessings of God’s law.



The texts within the book come with full permission to photocopy, project or disseminate the texts within an act of divine worship. and permission for musicians to create their own tunes to the texts if they feel inspired to do so.

Psalm 11

I I hide and take refuge in my God;
how then can you say before my face,
‘Go fly like a bird, and seek the hills.’

2 Now see how the wicked bend their bows.
They fit their sharp arrows to the string,
to hide and shoot at the true of heart. 

3  When all the foundations are destroyed,
what can those who love God’s justice do? 

4  The Lord in his holy temple dwells;
God has made the hea-vens as his throne.

5 His eyes look down and behold the world, 
his gaze probes through every human heart.

6 God judges the just with wicked ones, 
yet those who love vi-o-lence he hates.

7 He sends burning sulphur on the vile;
he punishes them with scorching wind.

8 For our God is just and loves just deeds;
and those who are upright see his face.

Psalm 69

1 Please save me, O God, for the waters reach my neck. 
2 I swim in the swamp where there is no foothold.

I come to deep waters and the flood swallows me. 
3 I’m weary with crying; my throat skinned and raw;

Now my eyes are failing from searching for my God. 
10 I love your Great House, scorning you insults me. 

11/12 I fasted in sackcloth, they turned and taunted me.  
22 Their taunts broke my heart; I am filled with sadness.

22 I looked for some comfort,  but no-one pitied me. 
23 They gave gall to eat, vinegar for my drink.

28 They persecute the one that you have stricken down,

and increase the sorrows of him that you pierced. 

24 Make their meals a trap, and their sacred feasts a snare. 
30 Blot them from your book, don’t list them as righteous. 

32 I praise God in song, and proclaim in gratitude. 
34 The humble are glad, seek God, and your heart lives. 

37 For God will save Zi’on and rebuild all Judah’s towns
38 and God’s loving children, they will live in them.










Friday, May 31, 2019

Stations of the Holy Spirit

As we begin "Thy Kingdom Come" it seems an appropriate time to post this set of Stations of the Holy Spirit. Like the Stations of the Cross they can be used liturgically, as a series of prayer stations to be visited in your own time, or for private prayer. Please feel free to use or adapt as you need.



Station 1 - The Holy Spirit at the Dawn of Creation. 



Suggestions for artwork

An Orthodox icon of the creation
Images from NASA
A globe, a flower arrangement, plant or images of the natural world

Greeting 

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.

Reading

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. 
Genesis 1:1-3 (NIV)

Reflection 

The Holy Spirit was present at the very dawn of creation. Some bible translations describe the Holy Spirit as a wind from God, sweeping over the waters, but other translations mirror the original Hebrew which gives a sense of the Holy Spirit brooding over the waters. This picture of brooding is a maternal caring image, of One who brings life to birth and watches carefully over it as a mother hen watches over her chicks, watching because she knows there is life and potential within these small, fragile eggs. Let us pray that the Spirit of God will hover upon us too, fanning our talents and our potential into life, giving birth to new things and protecting us from those who could wound or harm us. Let us pray now for all God’s people to sense the Holy Spirit’s tender and loving care. 

Silence is kept

Prayer 

Let us pray: 
Gracious Holy Spirit, 
You prefer those good and upright hearts
before the temples of the world. 
From the first moment you were present
and with your wings outstretched
Dove-like, you brooded on darkness
and made it pregnant with life. 
Instruct us Lord and guide us. 
Illuminate the darkness of our lives
What is low in us support, 
that to the very heights of heaven 
we may proclaim your providence and love. 
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen. 
                                            S Wallace - inspired by John Milton

Response

As we long for our refreshing,
make us ready for your coming Spirit. 
As we long for our renewing, 
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As as long for your empowering,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.


Station 2 - The Valley of Dry Bones


Suggestions for artwork

A plastic skeleton
A collection of bones lying in the sand
An artwork depicting the valley of dry bones
Pictures of crowds

Greeting 

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.

Reading

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life.  I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’  Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them
Ezekiel 37:1-14 (NIV)

Reflection

The Nicene Creed, which is used in many churches on a Sunday morning, proclaims “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.” The passage from Ezekiel is written from the perspective of a nation where all hope has died. The breath of the Spirit gave life and hope to those in desperate need of good news. What situations do you know which seem utterly lifeless and impossible? Let us pray for those people and places now, that God’s Spirit would bring life, even in the face of hopelessness. 

silence is kept

Prayer 

Let us pray: 
Gracious Holy Spirit, 
Hovering over the bones of our ambitions 
and the rubble of our dreams.
We confess to you our failures, 
and reveal to you our wounds.
Breathe life into our bones, and gather us together 
from our sinfulness and selfishness 
into a mighty army bringing life and hope to all.
In Christ’s holy name we pray. Amen. 
S.Wallace
Response

As we long for our refreshing,
make us ready for your coming Spirit. 
As we long for our renewing, 
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As as long for your empowering,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.


Station 3 - Water flowing from the Temple. 


Suggestions for artwork

A swathe of blue fabric with small
“creatures” pictures or toys of fish and other animals. 
A painting of the vision or an image of a waterfall or deep river. 

Greeting 

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.


Reading

I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar.  He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.
 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits[a] and then led me through water that was ankle-deep.  He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist.  He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross.  He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”
Then he led me back to the bank of the river.  When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river.  He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.
Ezekiel 47:1-9
Reflection

In this vision of the prophet Ezekiel, the water from the sanctuary of God is spreading life far beyond the walls of the temple, and the effects of that life-giving water are increased and multiplied as it goes out into the world. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, we too can be a source of life and hope to others, as the Holy Spirit multiplies our gifts and brings life into unexpected places. Think of some barren and lifeless places near the places where you worship (your “temples”). Who do you know who needs the refreshment of the Water of Life? Pray for those people and places now. 

silence is kept

Prayer 

Let us pray: 
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,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Response

As we long for our refreshing,
make us ready for your coming Spirit. 
As we long for our renewing, 
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As as long for your empowering,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.


Station 4 - The Annunciation 


Suggestions for artwork

An icon or picture of the annunciation
A nativity set
An angel picture or statue
Feathers, baby props.

Greeting 

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.

Reading

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Reflection

Through the power of the Holy Spirit the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived and gave birth to a son, Jesus. God did something that was previously considered impossible, So impossible that Mary herself asked “How will this be?” , yet she was willing to allow God to work in and through her. There are many times when God calls us to difficult tasks which can seem impossible, and yet the power of the Holy Spirit can bring these things to pass. 
Pray for those people who are facing seemingly impossible tasks today, or those who are being called to a new and daunting role. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to bring comfort and peace and strength. Pray that those people, like Mary, would have the strength to say “May it be done unto me according to your word.”

silence is kept 

Prayer 

Let us pray:
Heavenly Father,
who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of the promised saviour:
fill us your servants with your grace,
that in all things we may embrace your holy will
and with her rejoice in your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
The post-communion prayer of Advent 4 

Response

As we long for our refreshing,
make us ready for your coming Spirit. 
As we long for our renewing, 
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As as long for your empowering,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.


Station 5 - The Baptism of Christ


Suggestions for artwork

An icon of the baptism of Christ. 
A font (with a light shining upon it)
A swathe of blue fabric, a shell and a towel


Greeting 

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.

Reading

 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:4-11 
Reflection

As Jesus was baptised, the power of the Holy Spirit came upon him in the form of a dove, and he heard the voice of his Father, a voice of love and affirmation. There are many voices in this world which do not give either love or affirmation; voices of judgement and hatred, unkind and bullying voices. Yet the voice of God is not like that. Through Christ you too are God’s beloved son or daughter and he is pleased with you too. Pray for those who are struggling with low self-worth and a distorted image of their own self. Pray that they too would hear the voice of God saying “You are my beloved daughter. You are my beloved son. I am so pleased with you.” 

silence is kept

Prayer 

Let us pray:
Lord of all time and eternity,
you opened the heavens and revealed yourself as Father
in the baptism of Jesus your beloved Son:
by the power of your Spirit
complete the heavenly work of our rebirth
through the waters of the new creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
Post Communion Prayer of Baptism of Christ

Response

As we long for our refreshing,
make us ready for your coming Spirit. 
As we long for our renewing, 
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As as long for your empowering,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.


Station 6 - The Woman at the well 


Suggestions for artwork

An icon or painting of the woman at the well
A “well” made of a tidy-box or bucket surrounded by bricks
An indoor portable fountain

Greeting

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.

Reading

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
John 4:7-15 

Reflection

The power of the Holy Spirit brings people together who have previously been separated by language or culture. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit broke the language barriers between people and enabled them to speak with one another. At the well Jesus promised living water to someone who was not one of the Jewish in-crowd, but who was a woman of a race they hated, and who had a lifestyle which the teachers of the law would not have approved of. Who do you know who is spiritually thirsty? Who do you know who is excluded or ignored? Pray for these people now.

silence is kept

Prayer 

Let us pray: 
Faithful God,
who fulfilled the promises of Easter
by sending us your Holy Spirit
and opening to every race and nation
the way of life eternal:
open our lips by your Spirit,
that every tongue may tell of your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Response

As we long for our refreshing,
make us ready for your coming Spirit. 
As we long for our renewing, 
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As as long for your empowering,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.



Station 7 - Jesus breathes on the disciples


Suggestions for artwork

A fan or source of wind
A picture of the risen Christ and the disciples
locks and keys and feathers

Greeting

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.

Reading

 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
John 20:19-22 

Reflection

The disciples had locked their doors. They were afraid for their lives, afraid of being dragged away and stoned by an angry mob, afraid of being arrested and crucified by Roman soldiers, afraid of those in authority who had treated their master so cruelly. 
Yet locked doors are no longer a barrier to Jesus who can come beyond their locks and chains and bring them freedom, peace, and the most precious gift of forgiveness. Think and pray for those situations today when people are living in fear, those Christians who worship in secret, behind locked doors, and also for those trapped by their own wrongdoing and addiction who desperately need the release of God’s forgiveness.

silence is kept

Prayer 

Let us pray: 
Risen, ascended Lord,
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen. 
Additional Collect of Easter 3



Response

As we long for our refreshing,
make us ready for your coming Spirit. 
As we long for our renewing, 
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As as long for your empowering,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.


Station 8 - The day of Pentecost


Suggestions for artwork

An icon of Pentecost
A set of real or artificial candles (be aware of fire safety and do not leave unattended)
Red fabric and “flames” cut out of different shades of red and orange paper

Greeting

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.

Reading

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken... Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.  These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Acts 2: 1-6, 14-17 (change to NIV)

Reflection

As the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost God broke down the traditional barriers between the nations, but he also broke down the barriers between men and women and between the young and the old. God promised his Holy Spirit as a gift to all people and that everyone would receive gifts and be able to use them. Pray for the visionaries, the dreamers and the prophets and for all whose gifts have been ignored or underused. 

Prayer 

Let us pray: 
O Comforting Fire of the Spirit
Life of the life of all creation. 
Holy are you, giving life to every form.
Holy are you—anointing the dangerously
broken.
Holy are you, cleansing
the weeping wounds.
O Purest Fountain,
in which we see God
gathering the outcast
and looking for the lost.
You are ever teaching the learned,
made joyful by the breath of Wisdom’s inspiration.
And so may you be praised, who are the Sound of Praise,
the Joy of Life, the Hope and Strongest Honour,
the Giver of the gift of light. Amen. 
Hildegard of Bingen
Response

As we long for our refreshing,
make us ready for your coming Spirit. 
As we long for our renewing, 
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As as long for your empowering,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.



 Station 9 - The Holy Spirit falls upon the Gentiles


Suggestions for artwork

A painting of Peter and Cornelius
Pictures of people from many different cultures and nations

Greeting

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.

Reading

 Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.  He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.  So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me  and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.... Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism  but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right... While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.  The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.  For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said,  “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”  So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. 
Acts 10:27-29,30-32, 34-35, 44-48


Reflection

This moment is a very special moment within the history of the Church because it is the time when the Holy Spirit fell upon Gentiles who had not converted to the Jewish faith. This is the time when God’s Holy Spirit showed Peter that his vision was not nearly big enough and that God’s plans were far more wide-reaching than he had ever previously considered. By showing the power of the Spirit God overruled Peter’s prejudices and opened his heart to preach the good news to those from many different nations. Pray now for our hearts, that they too would be opened, that our vision too would be widened and that the barriers between ourselves and those of other cultures would be taken down. 

silence is kept

Prayer 

Let us pray:
Almighty God,
who on the day of Pentecost
sent your Holy Spirit to the apostles
with the wind from heaven and in tongues of flame,
filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel:
by the power of the same Spirit
strengthen us to witness to your truth
and to draw everyone to the fire of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
Post-communion of the apostles

Response

As we long for our refreshing,
make us ready for your coming Spirit. 
As we long for our renewing, 
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.
As as long for your empowering,
make us ready for your coming Spirit.



 Station 10 - The Spirit and the Bride say “Come!”


Suggestions for artwork

A painting of the “New Jerusalem”
An icon of Christ as King
A tree (eg an olive tree) placed beside a fabric “river” 

Greeting 

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your people. 
And kindle in us in the fire of your love.

Reading

 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
Revelation 22:12-17

Reflection

God is calling us. “Come!” The water of the Holy Spirit is freely available to us, and we simply have to ask for the Spirit’s power and receive it. We began our reflections by thinking of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of time, and the Holy Spirit is also here beyond the end of time, offering us eternal life and eternal happiness. Are you thirsty? What are you thirsty for? Ask for the refreshment and cleansing of the Holy Spirit to renew and empower you. 

silence is kept

God of grace and life,
in your love you have given us
a place among your people;
keep us faithful to our baptism,
and prepare us for that glorious day
when the whole creation will be made perfect
in your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. 
From the Common Worship Baptism liturgy.  


Blessing 

May the Spirit,
who hovered over the waters when the world was created, 
breathe into you the life he gives. 
Amen. 

May the Spirit,
who overshadowed theVirgin when the eternal Son came among us, make you joyful in the service of the Lord. 
Amen. 

May the Spirit,
who set the Church on fire upon the Day of Pentecost, bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ. Amen.  

And the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always.  Amen.  


from Times and Seasons Easter

or 

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore.
Amen.