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Established 1999
A Wesleyan-Anglican Church in Boise, Idaho

Pilgrimages

An English Pilgrimage

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Entry 4, Friday, First Week of Advent:
Oxford: The Essence of Civilization

And now, Lord, let us bless and praise your holy name for all the mercies and blessings of the day which we are concluding. We thank You for the many comforts which we enjoy; we thank You for exempting us from so many evils which multitudes suffer; we thank You, above all, for the spiritual privileges with which You have favored us. May we maintain a more abiding recollection of your never-failing goodness, and may our gratitude constrain us to all needful self-denial, and all holy obedience.

On April 25, 1725, while at Oxford University, John Wesley began keeping a journal of his daily activities. He did so, at least in part, because of the advice of the great Anglican theologian Jeremy Taylor-whom Wesley greatly admired-that keeping a journal helps one make good use of one's time.

The subject comes up today during a long and stimulating luncheon at Oxford with a thoughtful and well-known British actor of screen and television. I mention the scene in "The Shooting Party" in which James Mason's character continued to journal when everything was falling apart around him. Our friend said, and I paraphrase, that journaling "is the essence of civilization."

Why? Because, it is suggested, journaling expresses confidence that the past and present are relevant and important to the future and that there will be someone to read then what is being written now, so that it matters a great deal what we do now. Without that confidence, civilization would not continue. Without that confidence, there could be no rational optimism, at least about this life.

John Wesley maintained a thorough, rational optimism about this life, specifically because of his belief in universal prevenient grace which enables all to repent and be restored to a right relationship with God and humankind.

The others in the Oxford "Holy Club" followed John Wesley's journaling example. They-including Charles Wesley and George Whitfield-were encouraged to examine their own behavior and thoughts regularly and to describe their days in their diaries.

In particular, Wesley's journals have provided understanding, clarity and insight that would have been possible in no other way.

While a fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, Wesley attended daily services at the Lincoln College Chapel, built in 1630-1631, where he preached, too-and his pulpit still remains, although removed to storage in the entry foyer. He received Communion, and occasionally preached, at St. Mary's, the university church. (The other "greats" preached at St. Mary's, too-such as, more recently, C. S. Lewis.) In both church and chapel, the interiors remain pretty much what they were then-another form of optimistic continuity.

Oxford University is an assemblage of many separate colleges, each of which resides within an exterior surrounding wall, around residential quarters, offices, a green (the "Quad"-meticulously maintained, and off limits for walking), a "hall" for dining, and a chapel. Because of the tutorial system, classrooms aren't needed.

Such was Wesley's environment at Oxford, from 1720 to 1751. Such is the environment at Oxford today-even to the extent that today another group of Oxford students fills a role much like that of Wesley's "Holy Club".

Our luncheon companion, who studied at Oxford under C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, evidences a natural ease with and in a context that was assumed and understood to be Christian-not what we've come to expect, for those in the entertainment industry. The fact that he is able to do so is in no small part due to renewal in the Church of England brought about largely because of John Wesley.

And so, we return in our luncheon discussion to the matter of connecting the present with the past. We agree that it's not expected of any one of us that we personally discover and remember everything of the past, but each of us has our part to contribute-our pieces to put into place in the puzzle. We should be grateful not only that Wesley accomplished so much, but also that he reported, explained and contemplated his actions, in his journal.

After Wesley's Holy Club in the eighteenth century, the next major religious awakening at Oxford was the nineteenth century's high-church "Oxford Movement". This evening, enacting just a piece of our part, we participate in evening prayers in the dimly lit, Victorian-gothic Keble College Chapel with today's Oxford "Holy Club" students.

May we maintain a more abiding recollection of your never-failing goodness, and may our gratitude constrain us to all needful self-denial, and all holy obedience.

- Christopher

Theme Verse

Luke 1:78-79

Scripture Lessons

Dec 17: Isaiah 65:17-25, Psalm 126, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, John 1:6-8, 19-28

Dec 10: Isaiah 40:1-11, Psalm 85:7-13, 2 Peter 3:8-18, Mark 1:1-8

Prayer Emphases

Nation: Tunisia

Denomination: Pentecostal Church of God

Congregation: Epiphany Fellowship, Camden, NJ, and the Rev. Doug Logan

Ministry: World Alliance of Reformed Churches

Parishioners: Those living on Lubkin Street

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