Friday, 20 October 2017

Taking God for a ride

I’ve had a go at one possible way to relate to the Gospel reading set for last Sunday (Matthew 22.1-14) using exactly the same number of words as one of the standard translations uses.

It was if Jesus drove home his point by saying the way God wants things is like a bride’s mother who sent invitation to the bridesmaids, who refused to come.  

She sent people round to point out just how long she had planned, how hard she had worked and how much she spent to create the perfect day.  

They were offhand.  One said she couldn’t swop her shifts to come that day.  Another said her boyfriend had given her a better offer and they were now booked to fly to Ibiza.  

It got nasty: people’s hands were caught in doors being slammed in their faces, others fell off the pavement as they were jostled in the street; someone could have been killed.  

The bride’s mother was livid.  She had paint stripper poured on one of their cars, and that wasn’t the least of it.  

‘Go and find people who have never dreamt of being asked to be a bridesmaid,’ she said; try the women who begs with her child on the High Street, the home for the severely disabled, the women’s refuge’.  

Soon the reception was full.  

But the brides’ mother spotted one bridesmaid who hadn’t put on the dress she had had made and was stuffing herself and slouching around in jeans.  

You must being having a laugh, darling’, she said.  The bridesmaid was stunned.  

‘You can get straight back to the Godforsaken place you’ve come from,’ the bride’s mother said, ‘I’m open to anyone on my daughter’s special day , but don’t try taking me for a ride’.

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables
It was if Jesus drove home his point
by saying
the kingdom of heaven may be compared to
the way God wants things is like
a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son
a bride’s mother.   
he sent his slaves to call those
who had been invited to the wedding banquet
who sent invitation to the bridesmaids
but they would not come. 
who refused to come 
again he sent other slaves, saying,
tell those who have been invited
She sent people round
to point out
I have prepared my dinner
just how long she had planned
my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered
how hard she had worked
and everything is ready
and how much she spent
come to the wedding banquet
to create the perfect day 
but they made light of it
they were offhand. 
and went away, one to his business
one said she couldn’t swop her shifts to come that day
another to his farm
another said her boyfriend had given her a better offer
and they were now booked to fly to Ibiza
while the rest seized his slaves,
it got nasty: people’s hands were caught
in doors being slammed in their faces,
maltreated them,
others fell off the pavement
as they were jostled in the street;
and killed them
someone could have been killed
the king was enraged 
the bride’s mother was livid
he sent his troops, destroyed those murderers
she had paint stripper poured on one of their cars
and burned their city
and that wasn’t the least of it 
then he said to his slaves, the wedding is ready,
but those invited were not worthy
she said
go therefore into the main streets
and invite everyone you find
go and find people
to the wedding banquet
who have never dreamt of being asked to be a bridesmaid
those slaves went out into the streets
try the women who begs with her child on the High Street
and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad
the home for the severely disabled, the women’s refuge
so the wedding hall was filled with guests
soon the reception was full
but when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed
but the brides’ mother spotted
a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe,
one bridesmaid who hadn’t put on the dress she had had made
and was stuffing herself and slouching around in jeans. 
and he said to him,
she said
how did you get in here without a wedding robe, friend?
you must being having a laugh, darling
and he was speechless
the bridesmaid was stunned
then the king said to the attendants,
the bride’s mother said
bind him hand and foot,
you can get straight back
and throw him into the outer darkness
where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth
to the godforsaken place you’ve come from
for many are called
I’m open to anyone on my daughter’s special day
but few are chosen.
but don’t try taking me for a ride.

The pictures are from Hawkhurst church which we also visited as part of our ancestor hunting on our way back from Belgium.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Betherinden Chantry

On our way back from the Channel Tunnel we found the grave slab of Anne Hilder, one of my fourteen great-great-great-grandmothers.  Her grave is in what at the time of her death was still the private chapel of the owners of Sandhurst’s Old Place within the Parish Church.  (This is the Kent village, not the Berkshire town of the same name and military academy.)

The first picture shows that what was a pre-Reformation Chantry Chapel continues to be recognisably distinct part of the building.  The second picture shows the deeply worn path which runs down from the church to what was the medieval manor site and is still Old Place Farm today.

Anne married a cousin and had a daughter who then married a second cousin once removed - by which complicated configuration I end up being descended not only from Anne’s father but also from two of his brothers (that is, from each of three Hilder brothers, who lived ten miles away in Rye in the middle of the eighteenth century).

Below is a beautiful piece of pre-Reformation glass from elsewhere in the church and Bodiam Castle two miles down the road.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Godshuis Belle

These are just some of the details we enjoyed at an Ypres Almshouse.  

'Belle' was the surname of the Thirteenth Century founder.  

'Godshuis' is a reminder that a whole chunk of Flemish and English is the same language give or take some spelling and pronunciation - simply 'God's house' in this case (which I remember appears in the form 'Godess hus' in the opening lines of the Ormulum, written in England at roughly the same time as the Belle Almshouse was founded).   

Monday, 16 October 2017

Menin Gate Lions

The top picture is a relatively recent memorial to 130 000 men from the Indian armed forces who died in France and Flanders during the First World War; it is on the rampart walk close to the Menin Gate.

The bottom picture is one of the lions which stood at the gate destroyed in the First World War and which have since given to Australia to be part of a national War Memorial there; it is on loan back to Ypres for a few months as the time of the Passchendaele centenary.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Gunner A H Woodcraft

I once assembled some information about a few of those commemorated by the Little Coates War Memorials.  The last of those listed was Albert Woodcraft, a fifteen year old Errand Boy from Gilbey Road at the time of the 1911 census.  He signed up in the opening days of the First World War and was dead within less than a year.

I illustrated a sheet about him with an image I had found  of the cemetery in which he was eventually reburied; it shows the layout of the graves before the standard Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone were in use and his grave is almost at the back on the right hand side.

We were in Ypres last week.  We took a mile and a half walk out from the centre into what is almost still the neighbouring village of St Jean to find the cemetery.  A large modern hospital stands in what is otherwise still fields beyond it.  We were glad to have one specific grave to locate among the hundreds of thousands in the Ypres area. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Worth commemorating

I was shown the Cross Road's War Memorial for the first time last week.  It is enclosed in the Park Pavilion which means it is not as accessible as a roadside memorial but also means it is unweathered despite being a hundred years ago.  The  local surnames Ackroyd, Feather, Murgatroyd and Robershaw which I've noted before are among those listed in the middle panel as having been killed.

This week, we have also see the recovery capsule in which Tim Peake returned to earth, which is on display in Bradford at the moment.  It looks more like a piece of early twentieth-century  science fiction than a genuine piece of early twenty-first-century technology.

On Michaelmas Day at the end of September, Friday Church at St James', Cross Roads added this 'Superman' portrait of St Michael to the wall of saints (and now angels) being built up at the back of church...

... and St Francis (whose day it was this week) joined them yesterday.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Sunday School crockery

I once bought a random piece of Sunday School crockery as a curiosity.  It was a side plate, part of a mass produced set of ‘vitrified hotel ware’ manufactured by a firm in the Potteries.  In the same way that any basic cafe, club or train buffet would have had its own badged crockery, so ‘The Good Shepherd Sunday Schools of Leeds Parish Church’ (in this case) had what we would now call its logo on its crockery.

I am newly in what is now the diocese of Leeds and I can begin to see that I was wrong to have been surprised that the pupils in a Sunday School should have warranted distinctive crockery of their own.  Some Sunday Schools round here (and, I assume, elsewhere) turn out not to have been a group of individuals but rather substantial institutions in huge buildings. 

Our new house is a short distance from a Primitive Methodist Chapel disused in the 1960s and the only modern housing development amidst the local terraced houses is one which has been built on the large site of its former Sunday School.  Nearby, the Brontë Parsonage Car Park next to St Michael’s, Haworth also occupies a large cleared site on which the Parish Church’s substantial late-Victorian Sunday School used to stand.

And this all came home to me when I was served refreshments at ‘my’ other Parish Church the other day – on a plate badged for ‘St James’ Sunday School’ with the letters ‘CR’ entwined as a logo to represent the name of the village Cross Roads.  The new housing on the south of the church (on the right in the photograph) was, I’m now told, built on part of the Sunday School site, the sale of which raised a lot of the money needed to build the hall now attached to the church (in the middle of the photograph)  – in which surviving pieces of the Sunday School’s crockery are not treated as curiosities but are still being used to serve refreshments.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Hospitable cultures

It has to be recognised that some cultures are more hospitable to the Gospel than others, that Gospel possibilities spoken into them are more likely to resonate in some than others. 

It is something I remember talking about at my interview for coming here. 

The example was late Victorian and early twentieth century Anglo-Catholic mission in parts of the Pacific and in Japan (the latter including service by one of my father’s aunts, but that isn’t relevant). 
The personnel, churchmanship and approach was roughly the same.  But in one place the queues of those coming for Baptism sometimes spread towards the river down the whole side of a valley.  In the other the impact was comparatively negligible. 

And a (possibly superficial) explanation is that the communal assumptions of one culture and the ‘honour’ culture of the other was the most significant factor in the different levels of engagement and impact.

It seemed relevant at interview because it is worth exploring at least the possibilty that post-war cultural shifts in England are one factor in the decline of mainstream Christianity; we would simply expect the church to be smaller in the culture which has emerged.  If so, some far from superficial analysis of this is urgently needed.

I’ve thought of all this again this month because of one hint given on the ‘faithful neighbours’ training all clergy new to the diocese of Leeds are asked to undertake to equip them for appropriate ministry in what are often multi-faith settings. 

The hint was that conversion to Christianity from Shia Islam is a greater possibility than from Sunni Islam.  It is certainly true that there are Anglican churches which find they need to read the Gospel in Farsi at services (that is, churches which have a significant number of members who originate in Iran), including one down the road from us in Keighley.   

The tentative suggestion was that minority and frequently persecuted Shia may know more within themselves about ‘passion’, while the majority dominant  Sunni may be more habituated to a triumphalist religious experience; in certain contexts the first might encounter the Gospel as speaking into their situation while the other might be much more likely to find it alien.

Meanwhile, a little ahead of myself, I’ve been looking for illustrations for Advent orders of service and have been touched by the grasped hand and held gaze in this encounter between young Mary pregnant with Jesus and her cousin older Elizabeth pregnant with John the Baptist (perhaps the moment John leapt in her womb at hearing Mary’s news) in a window at St Michael’s, Haworth.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Ten lepers

Updated 22nd September

I’ve been exploring the 132 words (in one translation) of Luke 17.11-19 with eight members of a long established but lapsed Bible Study Group from St Michael’s, Haworth.  It is the Gospel reading which we’ll be using at Harvest services in our three churches early next month.

We used a simple technique I’d picked up from Christian Aid last year designed to make sure we pay real attention to every detail.  This involves writing out as much of the story as people could remember before looking at the passage.  What impression had many past readings, studies and sermons left?  What details had we got wrong or had missed, and what are the particular significances of these?

Between us, we remembered that a journey had been taking place when ten lepers living in isolation from their communities asked Jesus for healing and were granted it.  Jesus told them to show themselves to the religious authorities to demonstrate that they were healed and could be reintegrated into society.  Only one of the ten came back praising God and saying ‘thank you’.  (One person had a feeling that a cave had something to do with it, which isn’t in the Bible passage but which is here.)

So what did we then really notice when we read the passage?  There were three things in particular.

One was how noisy it was.  The lepers lifted up their voices from a distance to call for Jesus’ mercy.  The one leper who returned used a great voice to praise. 

So, if Jesus intended passing as unnoticed as possible through potentially hostile territory towards a dangerous destination (which is what we shall notice in a moment) then this noisy attention would not have helped much.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we’d totally forgotten that a Samaritan was involved.  Jesus was journeying to Jerusalem and along the edge of Samaritan territory (both of which indicated the risks alluded to in the previous paragraph).  The one who came back to give thanks was a Samaritan, and Jesus’ comment was that it was only ‘this foreigner’ (I’ve now looked it up – allo-genes which is literally ‘other-bred’ and may be somewhere between ‘mis-begotten’ and ‘people not like us’) who did so. 

So, the impression left by the way we’d been told the story so often was simply the pious message that we should remember to be thankful, but we’d not been marked by the real bite of the passage at this point that is the despised other who did so.

Finally, and most movingly for some, we noticed that they found that were cleansed in going on their way.  It wasn’t that they were cleansed and then sent to the priests.  It was in going to the priests that they found themselves cleansed. 

So, Jesus’ final words to the one who came back was ‘your faith has healed you’ (I’ve now looked it up and it is ‘you’ in the singular) and it felt to us that it was the act of calling out to Jesus’ as master and trusting him to go straight away to do as he said which is where he found healing.

Meanwhile, the picture is simply a face I’ve enjoyed finding carved into the choir stalls at St James’, Cross Roads.

Paragraphs added 22nd September:

This whole process is potentially a really significant help in developing an indigenous preaching ministry: knowing how a representative sample of the congregation relate to a biblical passage before preaching about it.  If so, I should be engaging in it much more often.

My prompted sermon-preparation reflection so far this time is that the ‘remember to be thankful’ use of the passage has been either preached or heard so well because it ties in with Victorian and twentieth century middle class culture: people like me and respectable church-goers more generally resonate with this message.

But there is clearly another message Luke has for us which is something like ‘those whose religion we are tempted to despise (whose versions of Christianity are least attractive to us, or those who are ‘other-bred’ culturally or literally) can be where we find both examples of trust in God and some specific human qualities which we sometime lack ourselves’. 

And (although, of course, there are plenty of Christian people who embrace this second message without flinching) this has either not been preached or not been heard so well because it sits less easily alongside the habitual Victorian and twentieth century middle class instincts of many people like me in the culture from which respectable church-goers are largely drawn?

Thursday, 14 September 2017

From Haworth Church Tower

My first trip up.  Almost all of Cross Roads village appears in the penultimate picture.  The Bronte Parsonage, albeit next door to the church, wasn't visible through the trees; I look forward to going up again in the winter.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Marks of the Cross

An ecumenical neighbour has been in touch about exploring the Anglican Communion’s ‘Five Marks of Mission’. 

I suppose, at its best, these would be intended as the equivalent of a ‘Bird Spotter's Guide’: if you see a church with these markings then you can be sure the species you are observing is a missional one.

Here is the official list:
to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;
to teach, baptise and nurture new believers;
to respond to human need by loving service;
to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation;
to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

All mainstream and worthy, although getting a bit clunky and a bit more like a Committee product as one works through the list.

I’ve always assumed that the structure of the five ‘translates’ something like
we want to attract more people to God's ways
and we want Christians to grow
so that they make a difference to their neighbours,
to society,
and to the world.

I’m certainly less fond of the official habit of summarising the ‘Five Marks’ as
because ‘tell’ and ‘teach’ as isolated words seem pretty instructional compared with discovering and being enthused by Good News and by the Kingdom possibilities, ‘tend’ doesn’t sound sacrificial enough, ‘transform’ on its own has a touch of hubris, and ‘treasure’ on its own a touch of self satisfaction.

Attention to what the New Testament encourages might instead mean pulling out from the ‘Five Marks’ something more like:
seek Kingdom,
grow disciples,
love neighbour,
pursue justice,
protect creation.

1.  Seek Kingdom
Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; tell the stories which so enrapture us we are impelled to go on searching them out; we want other people to be as attracted to God's ways.

2.  Grow disciples
Teach, baptise and nurture believers; teach the ways to which God beckons us; we want to grow alongside all Christian people.

3.  Love neighbour
Respond to human need by loving service; tend the hurts all around us; we want to make a difference to our neighbours.

4.  Pursue justice
To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation; change the places where we live; we want to make a difference to society.

5.  Protect creation
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth; treasure the spoilt environment which God entrusts to us; we want to make a difference to our world.

But even a summary like that doesn’t do proper justice to the Gospel passage we read on Sunday:
take up your cross every day.  It would be striking if a church ever adopted that as its public 'mission statement'.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Master Gardener

There was a striking moment at a recent London Livery Company event when ‘the Master Carpenter’ was called forward - striking at least for those familiar with and fond of the prayer (either produced by or at least popularised by the Iona Community):

O Christ, the Master Carpenter,
who at the last, through wood and nails,
purchased our whole salvation;
wield well your tools in the workshop of your world,
so that we, who come rough-hewn to your bench,
may here be fashioned to a truer beauty of your hand.

We thought of it again the other day when a visitor mentioned the theme of her church’s summer Holiday Club as being ‘the Master Gardener’, so I had a first go at rewriting the prayer for my own benefit:

Risen Christ, first taken for a gardener,
who had by then, through tears and sweat,
tilled our whole salvation;
wield well your tools in the wastes of your world,
so that we, who are sown in rough ground,
may here be nurtured to a fruitful beauty by your hand.

So much depends on context.

The Iona Community began in the 1930s with trainee Scots Presbyterian Ministers working alongside unemployed Glasgow craftsmen, just as Anglican Industrial Mission began in the 1940s in Sheffield factories from which the Church of England felt fatally disconnected, and the Catholic Church established a feast of Joseph the Worker in the 1950s (on May Day, which was being widely celebrated as International Workers’ Day).  So the fresh and pressing images included God as craftman, Christ as master carpenter, the world as a workshop, and our Christian living as being forged.

Meanwhile, most of a century later, it is ‘master gardener’ which caught our attention; my wife recalled a recent radio item which suggested precisely that that the job of parents is more like being a gardener than a carpenter, and I recalled a recent article suggesting that images for training wild horses has shifted from those involving things like ‘breaking in’ to those involving things like ‘horse whispering’.  Our sympathy moves towards images of nurture and fostering growth.  We know the biblical image of God as potter re-shaping at will, but we prefer the more common New Testament image of God as sower and patient farmer.

The pictures are the details from my new favourite window which I’ve used on a recent service sheet (which is why they are in black and white).

Added 3rd September:

I’ve now seen reviews of Alison Gopnik’s The Gardener and the Carpenter which is clearly what was being discussed on the radio recently.

A better written version of this post might well have had the same title.

It would have highlighted her plea that bringing up children should be a form of love rather than a form of work, a form of care rather than a form of goal-orientated labour.

It would have been clearer that this seems to be closer to how God works with us (and might have gone on to suggest that church ‘mission statements’ and ‘growth strategies’ ought to be closer to this too).

It would have been clearer that there is an vital and separate point about the way the cultural assumptions around us seduce us (the dominance of narrow targets is one side of this coin, and the possibility that future generations will see an emphasis on growth through playful exploration and messy results as being equally cultural conditioned might be the other side of the same coin).

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Faithful possibilities

Another picture in what I suppose is an occasional series about 'what I've seen on my way back from Matins'.  It is part of the work on the grounds of the bungalow immediately above Haworth Station, work which has already resulted in the creation of new ground before this clearance of space next to it.

Meanwhile, on about half of my first Sundays here, I've been listening to three of my new priest and Reader colleagues preach; I look forward to hearing the other two, but there doesn't yet seem to be early opportunities to do so.

With the 'wheat and tares', not so much 'what do we make of the good and bad around us?' as if this was a finely balanced discussion, but 'given that before all else God is overwhelmingly the source of all good, what do we make of the bad which we find?'.

With the mustard seed and the yeast, the invasive nature of God's kingdom.

With Jesus walking on water, no so much Peter's 'little faith' as 'Peter stepped out in faith'.

So the focus is on God, good, kingdom and faith - fundamental, overwhelming, invasive and bringing out the first instincts and steps of a human response however much it may then falter.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Road to royd

Moving seventy-five miles west has taken me to a new pool of distinctive surnames and place names.

It is a number of years since I posted about surnames with clear origins and frequency in Lincolnshire.  The particular examples then were Blades, Capes and Leggett, along with Motley and Riggall.  Examples I’ve noted since include Jacklin, Haith, Hannath and Mumby.  Each time I suspected a new one, I was able to test it on a website which gives the distribution of the surname in the 1881 census arranged by modern postcode areas (the link then no longer works, but this one does); one knows the surname is local where it shows a high frequency in one area, a lower frequency in some mainly neighbouring areas, and an almost nil frequency in the rest of the country.

So far I’ve stumbled on Emmott, Jowett, Tempest, Toothill and Robertshaw  as surnames with an apparent West Yorkshire origin, each with a much higher frequency in the modern BD (Bradford) postcode area or, for Robertshaw,just a touch further south with the greatest frequency in the HX (Halifax) postcode area.

Meanwhile, local place names also have a different character.  The Old English elements of names for a people (-ing-) and for clearings and enclosures (-ley and its variations, -burgh and its variations and – worth) remain: I’ve moved to near Keigh-ley from near Brad-ley, to near Stan-bury from near Stall-ing-borough, and now travel to the local Cathedral through Cull-ing-worth rather than through Fald-ing-worth (although the very immediate dominance of –worth endings may relate to being in the valley of the River Worth).

But the frequency of the Old English –den ending (for hill – there are more of them here than on the North Sea coast) is striking.  And the almost  total loss of the standard Old Norse settlement endings  –thorpe and –by (Sowerby is the only local occurrence) seems to indicate that later Scandinavian invaders either did not penetrate to the Pennine spine of the country or found little newly claimable (and thus newly nameable) productive land when they did so.

One feature of this lack of productive land turns out to be the frequency of the word royd, most often as a field name (or a consequential road name) than the name of a settlement as such.  The first local history talk we went to included a demonstration of the tools needed for the painstaking work of making a small section of moor into a cultivatable field.  Royd turns out to be the local word for such a clearing.

So I explored this with a visitor with both a West Yorkshire name and a royd address and he made the suggestion that I test on the website surnames ending in –royd.  And there they all are: Ackroyd (and Acroyd and Ackroyde), Boothroyd (but not Boothroyde), Holroyd (and Holdroyd and Holdroyde), Murgatroyd and Oldroyd all show up with 1881 occurrences tightly packed into West Yorkshire and all were largely unknown elsewhere at that time; evidence of the backbreaking pioneering work of an ancestor being carried around in a surname today.

The picture is taken above the West End Quarry on Penistone Hill, where we explored yesterday for the first time despite it being only twenty minutes walk from Haworth church.  You can see in the distance how far up the sides of a valley the cultivable fields have been established and then straight line boundaries with the unproductive moor.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Preaching Transfiguration

It has never stuck me so forcefully before that the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration is a story about his approaching death.

It isn’t that I hadn’t recognised the clues before, hadn’t heard the points made year by year.
The version of Luke read as the Gospel yesterday (when the feast of the Transfiguration fell on a Sunday) began ‘about a week after this’, and ‘this’ included Jesus’ teaching ‘the Son of Man has to endure great sufferings and... be put to death...; anyone who wants to be a follower of mine must renounce self; day after day he must take up his cross’.

And, in the encounter with Moses and Elijah on the mountain of Transfiguration, the conversation is explicitly ‘of his departure [literally, his ‘exodus’], the destiny he was to fulfil in Jerusalem’.

So Peter’s babbling on the mountain (‘”Here shall we not make three shelters?”... but he spoke not knowing what he was saying’) feels almost like an attempt to preserve the Transfiguration moment and thus avoid the implications of the going down and facing all this.

And so it struck me particularly this year that a narrative of being found by Jesus and then going deeper into encountering his glory (and our promised glory) will always be in danger of being derailed by the next tragedy to the extent that we might then even say ‘this now disturbs or destroys my faith’, the memory of the Transfiguration feeling like some sort of mirage which has disappeared as we near a reality from which we had hoped Christianity would protect us.

But a narrative of being found by Jesus and then going deeper into encountering his suffering (and our promised suffering) will always open up the possibilities of being refined by the next tragedy to the extent that we might then even say ‘this is what my faith has prepared me to face’, the memory of the Transfiguration feeling like an insight albeit now no longer visible as we near a reality for which Christian hope has readied us.

Here is the view of St Michael’s, Haworth taken from our bedroom window last week.  A peculiar part of the responsibility of being here which also impressed itself on me yesterday is that almost half the congregation I preached to were visitors (including those from America, Austria, Italy and Germany), a congregation which included an English Anglican priest and a German Lutheran Pastor, both on holiday, among those who said they were glad to have this attended to. 

Monday, 31 July 2017

New favourite windows

This newish window in St James’, Cross Roads gives me pleasure each time I go in, but all the more so yesterday when the light was streaming through it.

Meanwhile, at St Michael’s, Haworth, I’ve been doing some amateur work (substantially helped, and at a couple of points just slightly hindered, by a brilliant set of notes made for the church’s tour guides) on the East Window of 1880.  Here is just one panel, including two of twenty-six occurrences in the window of the shout of praise Te deum laudamus.

On the left, apparently not identified recently, is clearly John Keble.  He is carrying his then very popular volume of poems The Christian Year (the fact that it appears to read Christian Near may not have helped recent identification).  The hymn New every morning is the love is almost all that survives of The Christian Year in regular use today.  

Keble only died in 1866 so it is striking that he is being represented in stained glass just fourteen years later (mind you, an entire Oxford college had been opened in his memory in less than half that time).  His presence is a clear indication of the then parish priest's Anglo-Catholic leanings.

On the right is John Milton, easily identified, and portrayed as already having gone blind, with his great work Paradise Lost at his feet.

Friday, 28 July 2017


We are five minutes walk from a station on a heritage railway, and having an overnight visitor yesterday means we have now travelled the length of it for the first time.