The last two weeks of Lent are called ‘Passiontide’ and if you visit us, you will notice that all the statues and crucifixes in St Giles’ have been veiled in purple, almost separating us from the ‘familiar’. Our Gospel reading today mentioned Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume and wiping them with her hair – almost a scandalous activity according to some – and presenting an easy target for Judas mock concern for the poor. Next Sunday, Palm Sunday, we will figuratively follow Jesus to the gates of Jerusalem before the climatic events of Holy Week. A period of passion and high drama indeed!
We hope that you will join us at some point on the journey – and share the great themes of redemption which are included in it: incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection, glorification.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of the living God,
set your passion, cross and death
between your judgement and our souls,
now and in the hour of our death.
Grant mercy and grace to the living,
rest to the departed,
to your Church peace and concord
and to us sinners forgiveness,
and everlasting life and glory;
for, with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
you are alive and reign,
God, now and for ever.
You may have read that John Ruskin was born 200 years ago this week. Ruskin was educated in Camberwell and moved opposite to what is now Ruskin Park in 1843. There are also local schools and streets named after the great man – and we have a very special connection to him here at St Giles’ too…
As well as being the most influential art critic of the Victorian era (Ruskin almost singlehandedly turned around the legacy of the artist J. M. W. Turner) he was a draughtsman, art patron and water-colourist. He was a prolific writer and wrote on subjects such as geology, ornithology, education, botany, myths, architecture and political economy. He even found time to write travel guides.
Ruskin was appalled about the way the industrial revolution was dehumanising workers and was concerned about the effect industrialisation was having on the environment. Using lectures and magazine articles, he encouraged workers to improve their lives through self-education. He believed that everyone was capable of developing their own creativity and founded a drawing school in Oxford, now known as The Ruskin School of Art.
It’s appropriate that Camberwell is now home to UAL: Camberwell College of Arts and that Camberwell Arts Festival has been flourishing since 1994. And at St Giles’, our beautiful stained glass East window was designed by John Ruskin in 1844 and continues to be enjoyed to this day.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Best wishes to you from all of us at St Giles’.