Sunday, 15 April 2018

Three views

An emergency shelter erected in St Michael's, Haworth  by the local Rotarians on the platform on which our forward altar normally stands, all part of an awareness raising day; I was almost sad it was taken down before Sunday and I couldn't celebrate Communion from within it.

Things beginning to happen in our garden; I like the images in the water droplets in particular.

And also in the boot of your car as we unloaded our shopping - this particular incursion is a minor feature of the problem of our neighbour's chickens ranging freely.

Monday, 9 April 2018

On Brow Moor

St Michael's, Haworth is easy to spot...

... but St James', Cross Roads (in the centre of this picture) isn't.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Preachers to avoid

Anne Brontë and her father Patrick shared the same aversion to a particular form of self-regarding preacher - an aversion which, I guess, he would have inculcated in her during her childhood and early adulthood.

My low grade programme of Brontë awareness has now gradually taken me not only through both her novels but also into the first volume of poems which he published before she was born, and I greatly enjoyed spotting both this shared view and the witty literary treatment both give it thirty-six years apart.

One of the Cottage Poems (1811) is Patrick’s To the Rev J Gilpin on his improved edition of Pilgrim’s Progress.  The late Victorian editor of Patrick’s collected works helpfully places a footnote that Joshua Gilpin ‘was Rector of Wrockwardine and his re-dressing of ‘Pilgrim’ met with the failure it deserved’.  Wrockwardine was very close to Wellington where Patrick had recently been Curate and the two were among a mutually supportive group of like-minded evangelical clergy.

Patrick’s praise of his friend’s work comes later in the poem but it begins with the fear he had before reading it that anyone so presumptuous as to attempt this ‘re-dressing’ would mean John Bunyan

Would take him for some Bond-street beau,
Or, for that thing – it wants a name –
Devoid of truth, of sense, and shame,
Which smooths its chin, and licks its lip,
And mounts the pulpit with a skip;
Then turning round, its pretty face,
To smite each fair one, in the place,
Relaxes half to vacant smile,
And aims with trope, and polished style,
And lisp affected, to pourtray [sic]
Its silly self, in colours gay:
Its fusty moral stuff t’unload,
And preach itself and not its God.

The theme is picked up by his daughter in Agnes Grey (1847) where Agnes dislikes both a former Curate’s sermons and the

still less edifying harangues of the rector.  Mr. Hatfield would come sailing up the aisle, or rather sweeping along like a whirlwind, with his rich silk gown flying behind him and rustling against the pew doors, mount the pulpit like a conqueror ascending his triumphal car; then, sinking on the velvet cushion in an attitude of studied grace, remain in silent prostration for a certain time; then mutter over a Collect, and gabble through the Lord’s Prayer, rise, draw off one bright lavender glove, to give the congregation the benefit of his sparkling rings, lightly pass his fingers through his well-curled hair, flourish a cambric handkerchief, recite a very short passage, or, perhaps, a mere phrase of Scripture, as a head-piece to his discourse, and, finally, deliver a composition which, as a composition, might be considered good, though far too studied and too artificial to be
pleasing to me.

The picture was taken in our garden.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Lamb and Flag

I've noted before the Lamb and Flag as a badge of Jesus' death and resurrection, one of a number of religious symbols which came to badge medieval hostelries and thus become a pub sign of today.  This example is at the top of the Jonah window in St James', Cross Roads.  There is another at the very top of the East Window in St Michael's, Haworth which I've failed to capture. 

'Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed for us' (1 Corinthians 5.7) we shall sing on Easter Day, but Matins this morning brought us to Jeremiah's non-passover awareness that he himself 'was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter not knowing it was against me they devised schemes' (Jeremiah 11.19) which pre-echoes our Good Friday service's 'like a lamb led to the slaughter, and like a sheep before its shearers, is silent, so he did not open his mouth' (Isaiah 53.7).

I think I'd negligently always thought the 'servant songs' of this part of Isaiah were a unique development, so I'm weighing up what I should never have missed which is that this similar concept is in his contemporary Jeremiah.  Jeremiah's human predicament is universalised by Isaiah before it feeds Jesus' self-identity (Maundy Thursday is in the mix now) and is taken by the first Christians to reveal things to us about Christ?

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Our three churches

A new boiler is being installed in the vestry at St James', Cross Roads so a new flue was needed; we look forward to the additional work to improve and add to the radiators in due course.  We are grateful to those who fund-raised and permission-raised for all this.

The plaster (damaged by water ingress before the recent roof renewal) has been stripped away from two walls in St Gabriel's, Stanbury; we don't know when the stonework was last exposed and look forward to the replastering and repainting in the next few weeks.  We are grateful for those who have steered this project thus far and those who cleaned the dust-laden church which resulted from this stage of the work.

And this is what it looked like when we opened up for the service at St Michael's, Haworth this morning.  We have water coming through the (newly restored) north aisle roof here at the moment as well, so all three churches are having building-work attention at the moment.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The same indulgent grace

I talked at St James’ on Sunday about the bronze serpent raised up on a pole by Moses to be (exactly how it is difficult to fathom from this distance) the source of healing for God’s rebellious people (Numbers 21.4-9).

One member of the congregation said she’d never heard the story before.  She was surprised – she had been sure that her long ago Sunday School days had equipped her with the key Old Testament stories, but here now was one mentioned by Jesus (John 3.14) which was new to her.

Perhaps it never gets read aloud in church.  It isn’t set for Communion, Matins or Evensong on a Sunday in the Book of Common Prayer.  It wasn’t set for Communion on a Sunday in the Alternative Service Book 1980.  And, although it could have come up seven times as a reading set for the Principal Service on the Fourth Sunday in Lent in the cycle of  Sunday readings we’ve mainly used since the late 1990s, each time it may well have been replaced by alternative readings for Mothering Sunday.

Anyway, having recently delved briefly into a verse of a long forgotten early Issac Watts hymn, I did find another totally eclipsed eighteenth century hymn (which appears to be an expansion of a Watts hymn) which seemed to do the job for the Sunday quite thoroughly, so, to everyone’s greater surprise, we sang it.

With fiery serpents greatly pained,
when Israel's mourning tribes complained
and sighed to be relieved;
a serpent straight the prophet made
of molten brass, to view displayed:
the patient looked and lived.

But O what healing to the heart
doth Jesu's greater cross impart
to those that seek a cure?
Israel of old, and we no less,
the same indulgent grace confess,
while life and breath endure.

To reason's view this strange effect
self righteous souls will still reject,
and perish in their pride,
but those who sin and break the law
do all their rich salvation draw
from Jesu's bleeding side.

May we then view the matchless cross,
all other objects count but loss;
no other gain desire:
here still be fixed our feasting eyes,
weeping with tears of glad surprise;
and thankfully admire.

Hail, great Emmanuel (balmy name!),
thy praise the ransomed will proclaim;
thee we “Physician” call:
we own no other cure but thine,
thou, the deliverer divine,
our health, our life, our all.

Meanwhile, I love the patterns made by the windblown snow in this recent picture taken from near St Gabriel’s, Stanbury looking across the valley to Oldfield Primary School.