Tuesday 27 February 2018

From his passion our happiness flows

A researcher into church pewter recently contacted us about permission to view and photograph a mid-eighteenth century flagon held on behalf of Haworth church at York Minster’s Treasury.  It is a pair to one which the church retains, and local historian Steven Wood was able quickly to provide me with the photograph from 1920s reproduced above which shows the two together. 

We went over to York yesterday to view the flagon (and the silver communion beaker in the photograph – but that demands a separate post of its own). 

Each flagon has an inscription on the front which includes the date 1750 and this date is repeated on the base of each with the names W. Grimshaw, Minister, W. Sharp, B. Hey, Ch. Wardens.

William Grimshaw became Perpetual Curate of Haworth in  1742, soon after a converting experience similar to that which had inspired John Wesley (who was six years his senior) four years earlier.  In the same way that Wesley then travelled the whole country preaching the Methodist revival, Grimshaw came to travel an extensive local area doing something similar, and the two men were close collaborators.

In Haworth itself, Grimshaw revived what was an ill attended church, so that, for example, Wesley’s Journal records a visit on Sunday 22nd May 1757 when I suppose there were nearly a thousand communicants, and scarcely a trifler among them. 

This is where the flagons come in.  Clearly a good supply of wine was needed to keep topping up the chalices and the pair of new large flagons would have been used for this purpose.  The inscriptions on the front of each fits with this.  In both cases it is a verse from a Communion hymn.

The verse on the flagon in York is from a hymn by Isaac Watts, who had died two years earlier, first published in 1707 (Far from my thoughts vain world be gone):

Blest Jesus, what delicious Fare!
How sweet thine entertainments are!
Never did Angels taste above,
Redeeming grace or dying love.

The verse on the one which the church retains is from a hymn by John or Charles Wesley published just five years before the flagon was inscribed:

In Jesus we live, in Jesus we rest,
And thankful receive His dying bequest,
The Cup of Salvation His mercy bestows,
And all from His passion our Happiness flows.

Hymns on the Lord’s Supper (1745) is prefaced by John Wesley’s abridgment of a work of Daniel Brevint The Christian Sacrament and Sacrifice (1673).  The Wesley hymns are then intended to teach this theology and embed it in the worshipper’s use and memory. 

One section of the work is headed Concerning the Sacrament as it is a pledge of future glory and the section of the hymnbook which contains this hymn reflects this by being headed The Sacrament, a pledge of heaven.  Wesley includes Brevint’s prayer feed me with the living bread which [these mysteries] present and sanctify me in both body and spirit for that eternal happiness which they promise, so the word ‘happiness’ in the verse is not incidental.

(I’m enjoying the link back to Brevint because he succeeded Michael Honeywood who was made as Dean of Lincoln at the Restoration in 1660; like Honeywood he was deprived of office under the Commonwaelth and like him he was in due course buried in Lincoln Cathedral.)

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Bethlehem aquaduct

From Roman times, Jerusalem’s water supply has been piped to it from south of Bethlehem.  Solomon’s Pools [1] (the association with Solomon is a pious fabrication) is the main collecting point, at a higher elevation than the Temple mount in Jerusalem.  Until 1967, water travelled along a near by valley where the nineteenth century Hortus Conclusus Convent [2] is situated and greenhouses still appear well watered.  Individual sections of Roman pipework [3] can be found displayed and one section of the aqueduct is exposed in the newish Bethlehem Museum [4] and another off a side road near the separation wall [5].

Sunday 18 February 2018

Nativity Church again

And, to add to the pictures posted on 10th February, here are three more from the Church of the Nativity.  It is St Matthew in the middle.  The mosaic is a striking portion of the Byzantine floor of the church (which can be viewed through large tap doors in the present higher floor).

Saturday 17 February 2018

BFTA again

I put up three photos on 8th February when, on our first full day back in Bethlehem, we had been to meet staff at the Bethlehem Free Trade Artisans (from whom we've imported in the past) at its new headquarters and developing 'craft village' at Beit Sahour (which neighbours Bethlehem and is the home to 'the Shepherd's Fields', hence the subject of the sculpture in one of those photos).

So here is another photo from one of the workshops which they took us to see, and a quite different subject at another centre to which they took us (clicking on the photo to enlarge it will help).  The third new photo links to the second, although taken later in the week from the top of the new building being developed for the Alrowwad Centre in the Aida Camp in Bethlehem, because of the greenhouse on the roof in the centre of the picture (rather than because of the separation wall in the half distance).

Friday 16 February 2018

Back in Bethlehem again

I put up three photos when we arrived on 6th February, so here are three more now that we are back. 

The first was taken on a walk out to the village of Artas and manages to show both ancient terracing and a modern Israeli settlement.  

The second was taken on Sunday morning at the Orthodox Church in Beit Jala (where we had worshipped often before); a new priest is being ordained.  

Neither is a very good picture, but I'm glad to have caught the sites.  

The third is (as it was on 6th February) almond blossom (the almond trees were obviously not in blossom in autumn 2013) - this time with a remaining unharvested almond visible.

Wednesday 14 February 2018

St Valentine and an April Fool

Ash Wednesday falls on St Valentine’s Day today and Easter will fall on April Fools’ Day, so our journey from the beginning of Lent to the feast of the Resurrection is yoked in this particular year to a secular journey from celebrating human romance to exploiting human gullibility.

I had thought that there might be creative links for preaching here, but I haven’t yet found them. 

I suspect that the reason I haven’t found the links is that human love and human intelligence are much less clear guides to God than we might think.

There is a strong temptation to think we know what ‘love’ means and therefore ‘the love of God’ must be this simply scaled up a lot.  There is an equal temptation to think that we know what is ‘wise’ and therefore what ‘the wisdom of God’ would mean as if it were merely to know everything.

Instead, perhaps the task for this particular Lent is to seek to be open to any hints we might detect of the unimaginable love of God so that they might change our understanding of what human love could be, to be open to the wisdom of God which seems like foolishness so that it might subvert our understanding of human wisdom.

At least, this is what I tried to say to our Ash Wednesday congregation this morning: our Lenten task is probably not to make super-human effort to be better at Christian practice for a short while but to seek ways to be more open to the life and understanding of God which might then grace us more.

Meanwhile, the lemon tree was photographed in Bethlehem on Monday morning and the view on to our back lawn was taken just now.

Saturday 10 February 2018

Thursday 8 February 2018

Tuesday 6 February 2018