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     BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship from St Martin-in-the-Fields, 26th June 2010

 “Instruments of God’s love” – An exploration of Christian Ministry in the week of
                        ordinations around St Peter’s Day.

CONTINUITY: BBC Radio 4. [Timecheck] Instruments of God‟s Love is the theme of
our Sunday Worship live from St Martin-in-the-Fields Trafalgar Square now. The leader
is the Vicar, The Revd Nicholas Holtam and the service begins as the choir sings an
introit by Durufle – Tu es Petrus – You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.

Choir           Tu es Petrus           Durufle

NH              Welcome to St Martin-in-the-Fields at the start of a week which includes
                St Peter‟s day on Wednesday, a day around which the Church traditionally
                arranges its ordinations of priests and deacons.

                Next Sunday eight priests will be ordained here at St Martin‟s to serve in
                the Central Area of the Diocese of London. It‟s a great calling. At their
                ordination we will pray that they be “Instruments of God‟s love”. In this,
                ordained ministry points to what is true for all Christians.

                The priest and poet George Herbert was born in 1593. He was one of the
                most promising of his generation. Successful in the University of
                Cambridge he accepted his vocation was to be a parish priest. Herbert‟s
                friends were appalled, thinking it beneath his dignity and would not make
                use of his gifts and ability. They said he should do something really useful
                and important, like being a politician or a banker. To them, he replied that

               Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
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          humility is a virtue and being God‟s servant is the highest of callings and
          he wrote what is now a hymn.
                          Teach me, my God and King,
                            In all things thee to see…

                            A servant with this clause
                            Makes drudgerie divine:
                      Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
                         Makes that and th’ action fine.

Hymn 1    Teach me, my God and King,
          in all things thee to see;
          and what I do in anything
          to do it as for thee!

     2    A man that looks on glass,
          on it may stay his eye;
          or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
          and then the heaven espy.

     3    All may of thee partake;
          nothing can be so mean
          which, with this tincture, „for thy sake‟,
          will not grow bright and clean.

     4    A servant with this clause
          makes drudgery divine;
          who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
          makes that and the action fine.

     5    This is the famous stone
          that turneth all to gold;
          for that which God doth touch and own
          cannot for less be told.
                                       George Herbert (1593-1633)
                                       Tune: Sandys

NH        God our Father, Lord of all the world,

          through your Son you have called us to your service;

          hear our prayer for your faithful people

         Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
                               Page 2 of 13
 that in their vocation and ministry each may be

 an instrument of your love,

 and give them the needful gifts of grace;

 through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


 On BBC Radio 4 we‟ve been listening to Neil MacGregor‟s „History of
 the World in 100 Objects‟. The object from St Martin‟s for Sunday
 Worship this week is a very beautiful eighteenth century brass door knob.
 It is oval, and of a size that can be firmly gripped by a large hand and there
 is one on each of the external doors of this church. Some were damaged
 and have been replaced by replicas, as after a door got blown down by the
 force of a bomb dropping nearby in the War. They look rather dull but in
 previous generations you can tell they have been highly polished because
 the image on most of them has worn flat and is now difficult to see. It‟s of
 the best known story about St Martin in which the Roman soldier shared
 his cloak with a beggar. That night the beggar returned to him in a dream
 as Christ. “For as much as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it
 to me.” (Matthew 25.35-40). This is the story of St Martin out of which
 this church lives in welcoming the stranger and caring for those who are

 Like all the best stories you can read it more than one way. It is a
 memorable act of charity, a great saint caring for the poor and outcast, yet
 the greater blessing is from the beggar as Christ to the generous giver. The
 ministry of St Martin‟s is sometimes described as „church of the ever open
 door‟. Here at the door of the church is the essence of Christian ministry, a
 reminder of a saint who was an instrument of God‟s love.

Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
                      Page 3 of 13
 One of my favourite passages in the Gospels is in the last chapter of
 John‟s Gospel when Jesus is gathering the community of the resurrection
 by the Sea of Galilee with echoes of his first calling the disciples to be
 fishers of men. Its pattern seems to cancel the threefold denial of Peter on
 the night before the crucifixion when the cock crew and Peter wept
 because he said, “I do not know the man”.

Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
                      Page 4 of 13
Louise Franklin
When they had finished breakfast by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
"Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you
know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him,
"Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love
you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of
John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love
me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus
said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to
fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will
stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you
where you do not wish to go." (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he
would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."
                                                                                John 21.15-19

NH              In this service we are reflecting on Christian ministry. One of my clergy
                colleagues, Richard Carter, has been thinking about ordained ministry,
                about Peter and Christ‟s calling us to follow him.

Richard Carter
A short time ago I was asked to meet with a young asylum seeker by a counsellor who
was working with her. This girl is only 16 years old and in her home country had been
through the most terrible brutality and abuse, as violence and fear had torn her country
apart. “Tell him what you told me” the counsellor encouraged her. “Every time I go into a
church I just start crying. I feel so guilty of all the things I have done. I feel God will
punish me and I can‟t stop remembering.” This girl was so young and yet had suffered so
much and here she was expressing that religion was increasing her sense of fear and
shame. She began to cry “But you are the church” I found myself saying. We are all part
of this broken body of Christ. This sixteen year old looks up. “I want to use my life to
help other children in need” she says “That‟s what I want to do. I want to give…

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Eric Fromm wrote “we become what we are through giving.” We give that which is alive
in ourselves: we give our joy, our interest, our understanding, our knowledge, we give of
our humour, and of our sadness and pain. To deprive someone of the chance to give is
perhaps the worst form of poverty.

A few weeks ago about 100 of us left the steps of St Martin-in-the Fields on a pilgrimage
to Canterbury Cathedral. It was the twentieth annual pilgrimage aimed at raising money
for the Connection at St Martin‟s and their work with homeless and vulnerable people.
As always the pilgrims are a mixture of people from all walks of life some of whom are
themselves homeless. On the pilgrimage we sleep and eat in churches and church halls
and what is inspiring is the sense of community which emerges for during these four
days. There is a real equality. We are no longer defined by where we live or what work
we do. Goodness is able to come out of hiding when these barriers are broken down and a
new radical generosity of spirit is discovered and reciprocated and so many helpers

As we walk and talk together it is as though our lives are being opened up and walked
into place. When we reach Canterbury I can only describe the other pilgrims as seeming
filled with light. The following night when I return home I know that some will be back
sleeping on the street. If only we look and see and hear with our hearts- again and again
we learn most from those we have previously passed by, or even feared. Together we are
the church. The church‟s real centre is on the edge the place where we all become

This week I will return to Canterbury to lead a retreat for those preparing for ordination. I
know that our faith is not about our own self righteousness or our own power to convert
or persuade like some kind of awful religious imperialism. We seek the answers in one
another and the lives we live out. Real ministry is to be awakened, awakened to the
presence of God in others and that goodness too within our own life as pure gift.

              Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
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Last week I found myself saying to someone who came to see me who was in trouble and
who felt their life was falling apart: “Your guilt is not helping you- you are defeating
yourself- your penance is to love.” This was Peter‟s penance after he had betrayed Jesus.
Three times Jesus asked “Do you love me… Do you really love me… do you really love
me? Then feed my sheep” Your penance is to love. I admire Peter the disciple not
because he is infallible but because the fallible human Peter is able, even after his triple
betrayal, to pick himself up, and have another go and so to be redeemed by love. His
failure is not the end of his discipleship but the door through which Christ calls him into a
deeper conversion. This is the divine reversal- the God who fills the hungry with good
things, who pulls down the proud and lifts up the lowly and whose love is magnified
often when we are least expecting to find it.

Choir          Magnificat      Peter Klatzow

NH             The Magnificat set to music by the South African composer Peter
Klatzow, whose country has shown the world something about transformation by justice
and love.
The Magnificat, in which the world is turned upside down and the lowly are raised up
above the mighty, makes Mary a model of Christian ministry. In the New Testament
ministry is never pictured as something done by the strong and perfect but by those
whose self-knowing and weakness make them better able to proclaim not themselves but
Christ. Humility about self makes our dependence on Christ clearer and the weakness and
vulnerability of the wounded healer becomes a strength. From prison St Paul wrote to the
Ephesians about the ministry to which all Christians are called.

Louise Franklin
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which
you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one
another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your
calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and

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through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists,
some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the
body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the
Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
                                                              Ephesians 4.1-7, 11-13

NH      That‟s one of the great passages in the New Testament. There‟s variety,

width and depth to Christian ministry. Today‟s Church often talks about ministry

narrowly as though only evangelism counts, but Paul says only some are called to be

evangelists; others to be apostles, people who are „sent out‟, prophets, pastors and

teachers; and the purpose of ministry is to make us mature human beings in the pattern

and of the stature of Jesus Christ. This is a big ministry and a grand vision of our being

called to be like God in Christ. It is wonderfully expressed in Fr Faber‟s hymn from the

middle of the nineteenth century, “There‟s a wideness in God‟s mercy like the wideness

of the sea.”

Hymn 1          There‟s a wideness in God‟s mercy,
                like the wideness of the sea;
                there‟s a kindness in his justice
                which is more than liberty.
                There is no place where earth‟s sorrows
                are more felt than up in heaven:
                there is no place where earth‟s failings
                have more kindly judgement given

        2       For the love of God is broader
                than the scope of human mind;
                and the heart of the eternal
                is most wonderfully kind.
                But we make his love too narrow

               Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
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                by false limits of our own;
                and we magnify his strictness
                with a zeal he will not own.

        3       There is plentiful redemption
                in the blood that has been shed;
                there is joy for all the members
                in the sorrows of the head.
                There is grace enough for thousands
                of new worlds as great as this;
                there is room for fresh creations
                in that upper home of bliss.

        4       If our love were but more simple,
                we should take him at his word;
                and our lives would be all gladness
                in the joy of Christ our Lord.
                                         F W Faber (1814-63)
                                         Tune: Corvedale

NH              We heard earlier about ordained ministry when the centre of the Church is
at the edge of the institution, about the ways in which ministry magnifies God, and the
inversion of gift and blessing between those who give and receive. Ordained priests are
called to be “Instruments of God‟s love”. In this the priest is pointing to what is true for
all who have been baptised, the ministry of all believers, ordained and lay. Ministry is an
expression God‟s love of us and our love for one another; and the thing about love is that
we do things not because of the guaranteed outcome, though we hope it will be good, but
because we are impelled to give of ourselves, gratuitously, without first working out the
cost. Catherine Duce has had insight to this from her remarkable parents as well as her
from her own experience.

Catherine Duce
     My father was in hospital for an operation. So was my mother.

     I watched as they were both wheeled off on hospital beds down the ward, through the
     double doors and into the operating theatre.

     “This is my body, given for you”.

               Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
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That day back in 2006 my mum donated one of her kidneys to my dad. It was a gift. A
gift of love. A gift of new life; an opportunity to be freed from the bondage of living on
a dialysis machine.

It remains one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen to see that kidney work for
the very first time in my father. Indeed, the beauty of this memory triumphs over the
pain of events that followed – the unrelated infection, the long days in intensive care,
the shock and grief surrounding my father‟s death.

This story goes to the heart of what Christian ministry is all about. My mother was
offering her body in love to be a living sacrifice, just as Christ offered himself to us
on a cross.

It is this mirroring of God that I believe to be the ministry of every baptised Christian.
For as Rowan Williams writes, we are each called to discover our own unique way of
“playing back to God his self-sharing, self-losing care and compassion”.

It‟s this giving up of self, and seeing the face of God reflected in others, that helps us
find our true selves, the people God would have us be. Take for example St Martin, a
Roman soldier who impulsively cut his cloak in half to provide warmth for a beggar he
met on the road; an act of compassion that transformed Martin‟s life.

Take also the example of Mary whose confusion at the initial news that she was to be
Mother of God, gave way to praise as she reflected in herself the nature of God in the

We are all on a journey of transformation that for me began at baptism and ebbs and
flows as I grow in faith, and seek daily to answer “Yes” to God‟s unique call within
me. This hunger to engage with a deeper reality is, for me, discerned through the
„attentive listening‟ of the heart in Christian meditation. Bit by bit my proud

          Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
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      ambitions are being scattered by an irrepressible desire to be an instrument of God‟s
      love. As I learn to embrace my own vulnerability and brokenness to live in solidarity
      with a suffering world.

      If as members of the Body of Christ we „live up to our calling‟, as St Paul commands,
      we will discover, as did St Martin and Mary and my mother, that God will bless our
      self-offering with unimaginable riches.

Choir            Let all the world in every corner sing         Leighton

NH               George Herbert‟s irrepressible cry in response to the love of God, “Let all
                 the world in every corner sing, My God and king”, to music by Kenneth

                 Let us pray as Christ taught us,

All              Our Father, who art in heaven,
                 hallowed be thy name;
                 thy kingdom come;
                 thy will be done;
                 on earth as it is in heaven.
                 Give us this day our daily bread.
                 And forgive us our trespasses,
                 as we forgive those who trespass against us.
                 And lead us not into temptation;
                 but deliver us from evil.
                 For thine is the kingdom,
                 the power and the glory,
                 For ever and ever. Amen.

                Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
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           Lord we give thanks for the ministry of your Church and pray especially
           for those preparing to be ordained in the coming week. We pray for the
           ministry of all baptised people reflecting your self-giving love in mercy
           and peace that we may grow into mature human beings of the stature of
All        Lord, make us instruments of your love

           We hold before you those people we carry in our hearts and minds, our
           families, friends and all our neighbours. We pray for the lonely, poor, sick
           and bereaved. In this week of the budget we pray for those who are
           anxious about their jobs, homes and futures.
All        Lord, make us instruments of your love

           We pray for the peace of the world, each of us holding in our mind‟s
           eye before God one of the places of conflict and violence, asking that the
           peacemakers may be blessed. Yesterday was Armed Forces Day so we
           pray for our armed forces and for all those who have been killed in
All        Lord, make us instruments of your love

NH         The choir ends our prayers with this lovely setting of A Prayer from South
           Africa by James Whitbourn, „Lord help me to give‟.

Choir      A Prayer from South Africa James Whitbourn

NH         This service has been reflecting on ministry and our final hymn uses
           words from the first letter of Peter addressed to the newly baptised. It calls
           them and us to live up to our calling and be God‟s people, „Ye that know
           the Lord is gracious‟.

Hymn 1.    Ye that know the Lord is gracious,
                                    C A Alington (1872-1955)

          Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
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                                       Tune: Blaenwern

NH     Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is
good; render to no-one evil for evil; strengthen the faint hearted; support the weak; help
the afflicted; honour all people; love and serve the lord, rejoicing in the power of the
Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be
upon you and remain with you forever. Amen

Organ voluntary        Scherzo (from Sonata in E flat) Edward Bairstow

Sunday Worship came live from St Martin-in-the-Fields. The leader was the Vicar The
Revd Nicholas Holtam, with The Revd Richard Carter and Catherine Duce. The reader
was Louise Franklin. The choir was directed by Andrew Earis and the Assistant Organist
was Martin Ford. The producer was Philip Billson.

And you can see a photo of one of the eighteenth century brass doorknobs of St Martins
on the History of the World website. And if you own an object which has been part of
your family history, or has a particular religious or spiritual story associated with it, and
would like to share it with Radio 4 listeners then go to the Radio 4 website and click on
“A History of the World” where you can find details of how to add a picture of an object
you own to our growing collection.

Next week‟s service comes from Newcastle Presbyterian Church in County Down.

              Sunday Worship from St-Martin-in-the-Fields – Philip Billson
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