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), 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.