Traveling is a great way to open the senses to new thoughts, experiences, and journeys of renewal and healing.
The 2019 Summer Theology Conference in Oxford, England was truly an enlightening experience to share with other clergy and professors.
The history and faithfulness of the city both yesterday and today continue as a shining witness to Christ Jesus. Oxford was the center of the court of Henry the VIII. The Reformation of the Church and the work of the early martyrs including the three Anglican Bishops, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Ridley occurred in this city.
The Protestant Reformation included the development of The Book of Common Prayer written in English.
Sacrificial love was shown as Latimer and Ridley would not renounce the Church of England.
Even though they were afraid of being burned at the stake, the sentiment was expressed that “their deaths would light a candle in England that would never be put out.”
The following year Bishop Cranmer was tried and asked to renounce his
involvement with the Reformation and he also, despite an earlier attempt to save his own life, walked confidently to his death in faithfulness to God and was burned at the stake.
A tall three-sided statute with their images stands as a testimony to their faithfulness in the middle of the city.
The theology conference also had a theme of sacrifice in the writings of C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, showing the influence of their friendship in their work and personal lives.
They had experienced trauma in WWI and then resumed their studies at Oxford. C.S. Lewis gave radio broadcasts during WWII that were then produced as a book called “Mere Christianity.” He focused on Christian beliefs, virtues, and behavior. These talks gave hope to the people of England although Lewis knew there would be a cost. This book was not popular in the academic culture after the war and he lost his Oxford career and was convinced to accept work at Cambridge University by his friend and colleague, Professor Tolkien.
Sacrifice was involved in being faithful to Jesus Christ. Yet, there was great joy in their friendship and they listened and critiqued one another’s writing.
These writings have gone out throughout the world in the Narnia stories and The Lord of the Rings, delighting the hearts of young and old.
Each person who desires to follow Christ in Holy Baptism is asked to renounce the works of the devil and to continue to listen gladly to the preaching of the Holy Word and participate in Holy Communion as a servant of Jesus Christ. We are asked “to present our bodies as living sacrifices which is our reasonable and acceptable service. (Romans 12:1) The love of God becomes our joy and delight. Like the faithful of every time and place, “count it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith leads to patience (or steadfastness).” (James 1:2)