We are recruiting for a new administrator!

Are you looking for a new challenge in 2022? We are recruiting for an Administrator to join us at an exciting phase of our church life as we welcome a new Priest in Charge and make plans for the future.

You’ll be the lynchpin of our newly reorganised team, ensuring that our services and teams of volunteers are running smoothly, our finances and hire agreements are well organised, and that our buildings are being maintained and looked after.

You will be the first point of contact for many people dealing with the Church, so you’ll need a friendly, approachable, professional manner.

Our ideal candidate will demonstrate initiative, in depth experience of office organisation and systems, excellent IT skills and a “can do” attitude, and will thrive working with and contributing to a friendly and supportive team of Clergy and volunteers.

You will be expected to review, develop and implement processes and procedures to ensure smooth, efficient and effective Church office operations

More information can be found on the Job Description

Salary : £26k per annum
Hours: 35 hours per week, occasional evenings required

Closing date: 4th March 2022

Interview date: 14th March 2022

Application – CV and covering letter to helencodling@churchonthecorner.org.uk

Arts on the Corner

It’s the next session of Arts on the Corner this Sunday! Festive printmaking, ceramic decoration, still life inspiration & tea + cake… what could be better on a chilly Sunday? Bring your own creative projects, or try the activities on offer. Book your free place here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/…/arts-on-the-corner…👩‍🎨🌟🍰❄👨‍🎨

Back to Church

We’re delighted that we will be back in church this Sunday 23rd May. Fittingly it is Pentecost, the celebration of the Birth of the Church.
It promises to be a wonderful and joyful evening.

We have yet to confirm whether we are back for good – we may do a blend of virtual and in person services over the summer depending on who is around and what we can sustain in these next weeks. Check back here and on twitter to confirm the plans.

Lent 21 – The Long Wilderness

If there was ever a year to think about Lent differently, this may be it. We have been in a season of Lent for a whole year – this has been our long journey through the wilderness. And Lent is about walking in the footsteps of Jesus in his 40 days in the wilderness. And so it isn’t just about what you give up, but what you learn and who you become through that simplicity and solitude.

And it is possible that this 40 days will be the end of our long wilderness experience. But if that is the case, then in the rush to get back to normality it is important not to forget. So the question is, what have you learned? How has God shaped you over this year, and what are the ways that you have grown. We will be reflecting on this together over this season as we look forward with an anticipation greater than ever before to the end of this longest lent and the majestic new beginning that is Easter. I’d love to hear your reflections on that. mark@churchonthecorner.org.uk

The wilderness has been a formative experience for many, and if you want to read some reflections as you make sense of your own experience of wilderness here is some recommended reading.

Rowan Williams – Silence and Honey Cakes
Alan Fadling – an unhurried life
Stephen Cottrell – Do nothing to change your life
Celebration of Discipline – Richard Foster
The Sabbath – Abraham Joshua Heschel

How do I pray?

How do I prayOne of the unexpected things to come out of lockdown has been the number of people searching the internet for how to pray. Perhaps it is natural when we are afraid and feel out of control, even if we are not sure that we believe in God to want to pray for ourselves and those we love. Prayer is the act of pausing, and turning towards God and acknowledging that we can’t do this by ourselves and we need help. And it works – even if we don’t always understand how or why. And many people have discovered that prayer isn’t just something you do in a crisis, but an investment in a better, more balanced and more peaceful life.

Prayer was so central to Jesus life that people who got to know him said ‘Teach us to pray like you’. And his answer was beautifully simple and has gone down in history.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

We call it the Lord’s prayer. It can be prayed quickly from memory, or slowly one line at a time. It is a prayer we can simply say every day, or use as a model to shape our own words of prayer. And that is it. It is simple enough for a small child to pray, and yet profound enough for us never to grow out of it.

Obviously countless books have been written on this, but here are three observations about why this is an amazing prayer.

  • It is personal. Before this moment no-one had ever dared to call God ‘Father’, but Jesus shows us that God is patient, kind and loves us unconditionally, just like a father should. And as we pray this we find ourselves part of a vast family along across the world and though history who pray this prayer.
  • It reorientates us. It is a prayer that turns us away from ourselves and what we want, and towards God and others. We pray hallowed be your name, not mine, and your will be done, not mine. And in doing so earth becomes a little more like heaven. Like a green plant turning its leaves towards the sun, our turning towards God is life giving and healing.
  • It brings things into focus. It teaches us to live one day at at time, and be grateful for ordinary things – daily bread, forgiveness, safety. But also  teaches us to become part of a much bigger story of forgiveness, opposition to evil, and of seeking heaven on Earth.

So you are invited to pray. You don’t need to do anything special or be anyone special, you can pray this anywhere and whenever you like. But perhaps find a still quiet place day by day and discover what many others have done that prayer can be the thing that makes all the difference.

24th June – Midsummer

st-john-the-baptist-iconToday is the traditional celebration of Midsummer. I often feel a bit anxious at this point that the summer is slipping by. But midsummer is actually rather misnamed – it is really mid year and in astronomical terms it is the start of summer. So many good things lie ahead.

It is also the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, and those two things are connected. John was the cousin of Jesus, born six months before him, and his life of ascetic simplicity in the wilderness was a challenge to the self satisfaction and complacency of his culture, his fearless preaching denounced the powerful and the corrupt, and his baptism was a call to start afresh. And all of that was a way to make straight paths and prepare the way for the Lord.

And if you remember John said of Jesus “He must become greater; I must become less.” And so while Jesus was born at the point of the year when the days start to lengthen, John was born at the turn of the year as the days start to shorten.

So John the Baptist tells us to get ready for what is to come. Many of us have got through lockdown with netflix marathons, too much time staring at screens and on the sofa. And that is all fine, but we have to admit it isn’t really life giving. John would challenge us to get ready for what is next by stripping away the distractions and the obstacles and to finding a new beginning. He calls us to strip away the clutter, to start again and find in a new simplicity a way to see the things that really matter.

And so at this point of new beginning, what does it look like to make straight paths and prepare the way for the Lord? Our Virtual Homegroups will be asking that question, and they meet this evening. For more information or to join one email helencodling@churchonthecorner.org.uk

3rd June – Clearing the clutter


46 ‘Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you? 47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. 48 That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.’
Luke 6:46-49

Lockdown has offered many people the chance for us to have a clear out, and to put some of those Marie Kondo principles into practice and clear the clutter. And as a result, charity shops are braced for a deluge bric-a-brac and old clothes and when they reopen. But perhaps it isn’t just the cupboards that need a clear out.

Our reading is one of those passages that is so familiar that we perhaps never give it a second thought;  the wise man who built his house on the rock. But I’m struck the picture is rather more subtle than I remember. In Sunday school I wouldn’t have known much about architecture but the idea of building on sand was a fairly obvious mistake. But looking more closely, the contrast in Luke 6:46-49 is not between two locations, but on the method of building. It is a the parable about the value of good foundations. The impatient builder just started building upwards, the wise builder digs until he reached the bedrock, before laying foundations, and that makes for a building that will withstand the storm.

But that raises the question about what it mean to dig down in order to lay good foundations? What do I need to clear away in order to build a life that doesn’t come crashing down when the storm hits. Isn’t that an interesting question!

And I’m struck that our lives are often built on some fairly shaky things. If we examine our motives, and what drives us, then we start to find things like pride, ambition, competitiveness, fear of missing out, envy, jealousy and even resentment or  bitterness at play, much of which we are not really very proud of, and certainly don’t bring us joy.

If it is true that we need to dig down in order to build up, and if life post lockdown is to be different – simpler, calmer and set on firmer foundations, then what is the baggage that you would need to leave outside the heavenly charity shop. What would it look like to have a clear out of your heart? We need to tread carefully with this – often going through old things brings up mixed emotions, but there is no doubt that there is freedom to be found letting go of baggage that we may have held on to for many years.

22nd April – The long road

The Long Road

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be healthy and safe will by now be facing the frustration of lockdown, the feeling of being limited and hemmed in, perhaps losing focus and lacking motivation. This is not over yet and often these days I find myself daydreaming about new adventures. However if you have ever been on a long journey you might recall that the romance of travel only goes so far. Of course there is the anticipation of a voyage and the excitement of getting up early, the exhilaration of railways stations and airport terminals, the joy of travelling hopefully and the freedom of the road. But there is also the anxiety about tickets and passports, the stress of packing enough but not too much, the difficulty of simple things like eating and sleeping. And once the initial excitement wears off, the hours and start to drag and tedium creeps in. And if things start to go wrong with missed connections or delays the experience can become a purgatory and you start to dream of the very home comforts you are escaping from.

Over Easter we have been reading the Exodus story of the rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and their journey through the wilderness to the promised land. And one of the recurring themes is the grumbling of the people of God. And their ability to miss the point is sobering. Their response to the hardship they face is to assume that God doesn’t care about them. And they become nostalgic for how great things used to be in Egypt. And of course that is simply not true – they were slaves and terribly mistreated and the point of this journey is to set them free. So they hark back to something that never was, or at best an idealised version of history, and misunderstand the present; this journey is not the destination, of course the way through the wilderness is hard, bit it is unavoidable, and this is the road to freedom and a new beginning. 

And of course the Exodus story is the primary metaphor in the New Testament for the life of faith. We too are rescued from slavery through sacrifice, we too are travelling to the promised land by way of the wilderness, and we like them are sustained with daily bread, and led by a new law giver.

And so that brings us back to the grumbling of the Israelites. They frustrate Moses time and again and it feels quite uncomfortable to read their short sightedness and ungratefulness. But my concern is that we may not be so different. Do we idealise the past and convince ourselves that things used to be so much better than they were? Do we find ourselves discouraged by the hardships of the present, and found ourselves doubting God’s care for us as a result? Do we struggle to live on God’s daily provision for us and get greedy for more comfort and security? And do we forget that this long road is not the destination but the essential and unavoidable road home?

Of course there are wonders to be found on this journey, profound things to be learned, amazing people to meet and peace and freedom to be discovered in this adventure of faith. Patience, and attention to the seemingly insignificant are really important. But never forget that we are only ever on the way, and if the road seems very hard right now, or the landscape flat and drab, or if we struggle to find motivation or joy and it just feels like a hard slog then learn from those who have walked this road before us. They say if you are going through it, for goodness sake keep going. Don’t stop. And the secret is not to be nostalgic for an idealised past or disillusioned by the difficult present. The secret is to set our hearts and minds on the goal, on the destination and remember that this is our Exodus, and we too are pilgrims on the road to freedom and a new beginning. Set your sights to the horizon, and even in the darkness reach out your hand to discover that you never walk alone.

Blessed are you, Lord God of our salvation,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As once you ransomed your people from Egypt
and led them to freedom in the promised land,
so now you have delivered us from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your risen Son.
May we, the first fruits of your new creation,
rejoice in this new day you have made,
and praise you for your mighty acts.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If you would like to reflect further on this theme and walk the long road with otheres, we’d love you to join one of our virtual homegroups from 7pm this evening. Email helencodling@churchonthecorner.org.uk for more information

6th May – Groundhog Day

Groundhog dayThe classic 1993 movie Groundhog Day remains brilliant all these years later. If you haven’t seen it you have a treat in store, if you have it certainly bears rewatching at a time like this. It imagines Bill Murray as a weatherman trapped living a single day over and over again and asks the question “What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was the same, and nothing you did mattered?”

44 days into lockdown and for many of us it has started to feel like Groundhog day. Yes, we should count ourselves very lucky if we are healthy and the crisis has not affected us directly, but the sense of being stuck is not insignificant, it can leave us feeling low and without purpose, and for some lead to despair.

The reading in evening prayer asks a very interesting question. It is from Deuteronomy – and Moses speaking to the Israelites on the threshold of their new life in the promised land.

“So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you?” It is a great question for those of us who have grown driven by the expectation or pressure of others, or believing that the thing that matters is what we want. In lockdown we might have discovered that without that external pressure subtly or explicitly imposed on, we feel stuck, and like nothing matters.  But what if what matters isn’t so much what we want or others demand of us, but what God wants? There is a little insight in the sayings of the Desert Fathers, where a brother speaks of feeling overcome by apathy and overwhelmed by the repetitiveness of what needs to be done. And the Abbot’s gentle response is ‘Just do a little every day, and in time you will have cleared the whole lot ’.

I find that immensely comforting when I feel overwhelmed or uninspired. God is not like the hard taskmaster, but like the gentle abbot. What difference can I make in a world of need? God does not require me to change the world – he already has that in hand –  simply to faithfully do my small part  “Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart”.

Now being careful of giving away spoilers, the weatherman in Groundhog day does learn a profound lesson, first that he is not in control, but second that by doing a little good every day can make a real difference. In lockdown we might be need int to learn a better rhythm, letting go of the desire to be in control and instead hearing the gentle call of God over of the endless and incessant demands of our world, to do the simple things faithfully and wholeheartedly and find worth in the simple that that little by little that makes an eternal difference.

What would a better rhythm of life look like for you? Our Virtual Homegroups will be looking at that theme, and they meet this evening. For more information or to join one email helencodling@churchonthecorner.org.uk

The greatest show on earth.

If there is a blessing to be found in these difficult times, perhaps it is that at long last the rain which made this winter rather gloomy has been replaced by glorious sunshine. Spring has burst forth. Most years we find ourselves too busy to really notice it, this year we can actually pay attention to this gentle transformation of the world from bleak to heartbreakingly beautiful. There is nothing so wonderful as these first days of spring, and their invitation to find joy in the simple things of creation.

Jesus is remarkable in the fact that though his work was of the utmost importance he was never rushed, always had time for people, and regularly retreated into wild places to pray. And he says to his his disciples “Come away to a quiet place”, come out to the wild places and find rest for your souls.

And it is a delightful thing that at the heart of the gospel is and invitation to rest and re-creation. By contrast to the striving and ambition that defines much of our world with its stress and burnout, your value and dignity in Christ are not something that you need to prove or earn. Are you anxious and heavy laden? Jesus says come to me and I will give you rest.

Just like the spring time which arrives all by itself, real life is found in not our works, but in the generous gift of God – that thing which we call grace. And just as God himself rested on the seventh day, so we are called to rest in his goodness and boundless love. 

There is a delightful story in the sayings of the Desert Fathers about some monks who go to the Abbot to complain about a brother who keeps falling asleep in sacred worship. The abbot replied “For my part, when I see a brother falling asleep, I put something comfortable under his head to let him rest more comfortably”. Or as the scriptures put is “”In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength”.

One of the great privileges of ministry is that there is an expectation that once a year we will take three or four days retreat, to have space to rest, to meet with God in a quiet place surrounded by nature. It is always a struggle to carve the time out, and to be disciplined enough to put aside other demands, but those retreats are always milestones in the years, and times to be restored and to recalibrate. And this year that invitation is there for all of us. To come and rest, with the warm sun on our face, and the gentle music of birdsong around us we are reminded that this life is a gift, to be received with joy.

[Pray] A prayer of St Benedict

O gracious and holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
and a life to proclaim you,
through the power of the spirit
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

[Read] Wind in the Willows – One of my favourite reflections on the joys of spring. Available free here.

Thomas Cranmer

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5v3-5

In a matter of days the city has gone from its incessant noise and bustle to near silence. The streets are empty, and for once the sound of the church bells can be heard. But the sudden gear change is hard. This is a tough time, and it will be for some time to come. That is true of all those who are working day and night to serve others – from the heroic efforts of medical professionals to supermarket staff. But these events will made serious demands on us as individuals too and will test our character. 

Now while there is often an immediate benefit to prayer, in the sense of peace and perspective that it brings, the real benefit is long term – in the way that prayer shapes and forms our character. Prayer is far more than just asking for things; it is spending time consciously in the presence of God, our Father and our friend. And that persistent, diligent prayer shapes us. We learn to trust, to be thankful, to hope and to be patient. To bear our struggles and to be joyful even in the midst of hardship. And that is one of the motivations to pray even when it is a struggle. If we are convinced something does us good, even if it is hard, we will do it when we don’t want to. In fact perhaps that is the mark of disciplined prayer is praying when you don’t feel like it.  And that is the great benefit of some pattern of structured or liturgical prayer. Just as Jesus gave use a pattern to pray in the form of the Lords Prayer.

Today is the memorial of the death of the architect of the Church of England Thomas Cranmer in 1556, – you can find the spot where he was martyred marked by a cross on the road in Broad Street, Oxford. He lived in remarkable and dangerous times, and navigated a volatile political and religious climate in order to reform a church, until events finally overtook him. But his enduring legacy is the Book of Common Prayer – the words of which have had a greater influence on the English language than even Shakespeare. And in that he essentially reframed the sevenfold daily prayer of the monastic life into a simple form of Morning and Evening prayer for everyone to pray. 

And that pattern of prayer that continues to this day – you can find Anglican Morning and Evening prayer here. https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer

The benefit of this rich blend of worship and prayer with the cycle of Psalms and Bible readings is serious work – it is meat not . But is it rich and character forming, and roots our days in the rhythm of the church year and the grand narrative of scripture. It does not come easily – every young candidate for the ministry rails against the demands of this (I certainly did). But then over time, and as we need to find a pattern of prayer that will sustain and nourish us for the long haul, the wisdom of this pattern of prayer becomes clear. To sit quietly at the beginning of the day with words that lead me into the presence of God, and lift my eyes beyond the immediate to the eternal, well that is the only thing I know that can sustain me in all this. 

“In the midst of life we are in death, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection.” Thomas Cranmer

[Pray] We most humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.

Intercessions from the Book of Common Prayer https://churchonthecorner.org.uk/resources/serviceleaders/1662-prayer-book-intercessions/


Yesterday in London we came close to lockdown. In the end the government stopped short of forcing people to stay in their homes, but for much of the day we faced the possibility of 12 weeks of confinement. And essential though social distancing measures are, after the long weeks of winter that feeling of being trapped is difficult to bear.

But there are those who have learned to see solitude as something rich and healing. Just off the windswept coast of Northumbria lies a low and rocky island. These days it is home to an automatic lighthouse, a colony of seals and a multitude of seabirds. But it is famous as the retreat of one of the great British saints. Today is the commemoration of St Cuthbert, born in the 7th Century, he trained as a monk at Melrose Abbey, and was loved for his eloquence and compassion. He traveled amongst the often dangerous tribes of the North East and preached the Gospel. He was present at the Synod of Whitby, and perhaps reluctantly accepted the Romanisation of British Christianity. He was trusted by kings and common people alike, but what is most enduring about him is his commitment to the life of prayer. He was made a bishop and refused it. He chose instead to retreat to pray looking out to sea, surrounded by sea otters, seals and sea birds. Eventually under some duress he became Bishop of Lindesfarne, and returned to preaching, but then with his health failing returned to solitary prayer. I’m struck by his choices.  We live these complicated lives, our desire to be useful gets mixed up with a desire to be significant. But “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

Who knows how all this will all work out, but for all the anxiety and unknown, we are offered an opportunity to explore the thing which our ordinary live often denies us. And that is the simple privilege of time alone with God. We may not be able to have an island to ourself, but I’ve seen some lovely images of the spaces that people have created for themselves to be alone and pray. A chair, a candle, a Bible, perhaps and Icon or a photograph, or perhaps a warm coat and a sheltered spot outside. God is always with us, and we can pray anywhere, but it is the wisdom of the ages that a place to pray helps in the spiritual discipline of daily time with God.

[Share] Send a picture of your prayer spot
[Listen] Miserere mei, Deus (Psalm 51) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3v9unphfi0

[Pray] Collect for the Third Sunday of Lent

Eternal God,
give us insight
to discern your will for us,
to give up what harms us,
and to seek the perfection we are promised
in Jesus Christ our Lord.


In the midst of this city with its constant busyness and noise and demands, it is hard to listen to the other gentle rhythms of life. But they are there none the less. And in these strange silent days perhaps one of the small blessings is the possibility of tuning in to those. 

The tree outside my window is crowded with blossoms, hopeful and lovely, promising spring and fruitfulness. It is fighting against a cold and blustery day but is doing so valiantly.

The ecclesiastical calendar rolls on quietly but steadily too, and these days of Lent turn towards Easter. In fact today is a slightly unusual Feast day – the Feast of St Joseph, guardian of the infant Jesus, and first model of Fatherhood to him. (I just learned that Joseph is Patron Saint of Sicily – which must be why Saint Joseph is often evoked in films about the Mafia).

And as a result the prayers and readings from Morning Prayer step away from the often slightly bleak Lenten outlook, and speak of the incarnation “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and the spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding… his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” And the thing which always gives me great delight is the recollection that it is not just humanity which Christ redeems, but the whole of creation. As John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world”, and that word for world is Cosmos

And so that constant, hopeful rhythm of creation and the church year reflects something more real, and more connected to eternity. And we should do the same. We are not justified by our works, we do not find our value in our productivity. “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength”. In the silence of this day, perhaps take a little more time to stop and listen to the quiet rhythms, to look more closely at creation, and in doing so listen more carefully to the gentle rhythm of Heaven, and know the constancy of the love of God.

[Sing] In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAx8gjQrsOY

[Pray] God our Father, by whose mercy
the world turns safely into darkness and returns again to light:
we place in your hands our unfinished tasks,
our unsolved problems, and our unfulfilled hopes,
knowing that only what you bless will prosper.
To your love and protection
we commit each other and all those we love,
knowing that you alone are our sure defender,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

from the Church of South India

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