I’m put in mind of the classic Milton Bradley/Hasbro electrical game Operation; we have the Final Honour School examinations running here at Oxford, and this afternoon I catch a train to Edinburgh here I’m serving as external examiner for their biblical classes. If I am not voluble on this site, please take these circumstances into account.
This morning it was my great privilege, and a significant honour, to preach at High Mass at Pusey House. Father George, the Principal, has talked with me before about his work on Pusey’s lectures on typology (awaiting publication from Fr George’s transcription), and just the other morning at breakfast one of our ordinands asked me for more teaching on typology — so all of this was a red rag to the hyperactive bull of my imagination, and when Fr George noted that the readings for the morning would include the passage from 2 Kings (or 4 Kingdoms, or just plain “Kings” if you want) in which Elijah ascends to heaven in a chariot of fire, I knew right away what my topic would be. I append the sermon in a downloadable PDF in the “Continue Reading” link below.)
I worked hard to make the sermon more of a sermon and less of a lecture, and from what people said afterward I think I succeeded. (I should give a shout-out to the Logos Bible Software’s Anglican Gold package of texts and software, which I’m currently in the process of reviewing; searching for references to Elijah’s chariot in sermons from the medieval, post-Reformation, and Oxford Movement periods was made vastly more simple when I figured out how to operate the functions of the Logos package.) In the preaching of it, and in the conversations after the service, it felt as though the emphasis duly fell on the value of figurative interpretation for binding us together with biblical characters and with our forebears in the faith, but I acknowledge that this skated closer to the verge of didacticism than I ordinarily approve.
The service and music were glorious, which is no surprise coming from Pusey House. The hospitality, both at the House after Mass and with the Westhavers afterward, was sumptuous; the weather for relaxing in their quad with a glass of fizz simply couldn’t have been beaten. It was one of those pinch-me moments: I’m here, a tutor at Oxford, serving in the monastic buildings that once housed the mother house of the Cowley Fathers, and preaching today at Pusey House. If this is a dream, don’t wake me up!
Now, late afternoon, I’m sitting with my sweetheart on our patio enjoying the warm sunlight (well, she’s enjoying the warm sunlight, I’m enjoying the shade), sipping a gin and tonic, and reading essays from Edinburgh in preparation for going north for a couple of days this week. For all this, and for all you who encourage and support me, I give hearty, heartfelt thanks.