Midweek Reflection and Prayer: The Oxford Bloggers
The Oxford Bloggers – Probably an unlikely choice for a Mid week time of reflection, a bit heavy and cerebral. Let me explain, the title comes from a group of Oxford of high church clergy, who between 1833 and 1841 wrote a number of tracts hence the title Tractarians and the Oxford Movement. Today they probably would post blogs, do podcasts or ZOOM.
Charles Fuge Lowder.
Edward Bouverie Pusey
Two significant characters associated with the Oxford Movement were; Edward Bouverie Pusey 1800-1882, an Oxford professor in Hebrew and Canon of Christ Church Oxford and Charles Fuge Lowder, 1820-1880, curate of St Barnabas, Pimlico in London’s East Endand a founding member of the Society of the Holy Cross.
We commemorate them during September.
The Oxford Movement or Tractarians were successful in reviving a greater focus on the sacramental and liturgical practices within Anglican worship. They were however less successful in reviving any movement toward what they saw as orthodox Catholicism. The Movement did, however, have a divisive side illustrated by an incident involving Charles Fuge Lowder. There was a conflict between a candidate for church warden, Mr Westerton and Revd. Lowder over what was seen as the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. What happened next could have be seen as a case of shoulder bags/hand bags at dawn, but, of course, it was serious disagreement. Mr Westerton hired someone wearing an ‘A’ board with the words Vote Westerton to which Revd Lowder responded by paying choir boys to pelt the ‘A’ board carrier with eggs. He later described his reaction as a moment of madness. This moment of madness landed Revd Lowder in court and a fine of £2. (equivalent in purchasing power to about £270, €300 in 2020) It also meant Revd Lowder was suspended for six weeks by his bishop.
It was a period in the life of the Church of England where it was hardly seen at its best. The dissension did bring the church into disrepute, however it also left us with things to celebrate.
The Oxford movement brought to us an appreciation of the beauty that can enrich us through our liturgy.
Imagine you are sat in a church surrounded by the sense of sacredness, allowing the worship to wash over us and and for us to experience the ‘otherness’, the presence of God in our midst.
It also brought a witness and a ministry that was an embodiment of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35-36:
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
Often when viewing the legacy of the Oxford Movement too little attention is given to their work amongst the poor and disadvantaged with too much focus is given to ‘the smells and bells’ of their worship.
When Charles Lowder died in 1880, the police were needed to hold back the crowds of weeping mourners. That was the level of love people had for the life and ministry of Charles Lowder.
Now let us relax and reflect:
I invite you to sit and reflect on those moments when you have sat in the stillness of a church and admired its beauty, whether that beauty be in its extravagance or its simplicity. Hold on to those moments where you sensed the sacredness of the space.
Remember those moments where worship lifted you, touched you, those moments where spiritually and emotionally you felt in a good place.
Give thanks to God for those experiences.
Give thanks for the men and women who inspire and lead our worship.
Give thanks for the architects and those who had the vision to build places of beauty, that became sacred places and solid ground on which to rest.
Give thanks for those who by faithful witness lived out the words of Jesus in Matthew 25.
The Lords Prayer – Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
Good Jesus, Fountain of Love,
Fill us with your love.
Absorb us into your love;
Surround us with your love,
That we may see all things in the light of your love,
Receive all things as the token of your love,
Speak of all things in words breathing of your love,
Win through your love others for your love,
Be kindled day by day with a new glow of your love,
Until we are ready to enter into your everlasting love,
To adore your love and love to adore you, our God and all.
Even so come, O Lord Jesus. Amen
— Edward Bouverie Pusey
Father, In the awareness of Your presence
Beneath the shadow of Your wings,
In the closeness of Your love, may we abide.
Jesus, In the fellowship of Your saints,
In the communion of Your faithful,
In the church called to mission, may we abide
Spirit, In the power of Your love,
In the fullness of Your gifts,
In the guidance of Your wisdom, may we abide. Amen
May God grant to the world justice, truth and peace. Amen