Today was an all-Oxford day.
The Wife did a great job of hiring a private tour guide for Oxford—a 2nd year Oxford student named Zach, with a professorial knowledge of history.
All of this confirmed again for of us the importance of campus ministry. The Wife was a campus minister for 15 years, and Dr. H and Mrs. H for many years pastored a church birthed out of a campus ministry and trained others on reaching college students for Jesus.We went inside University Church of St. Mary’s, a church where Thomas Cranmer was tried and gave his defense, and where C.S. Lewis attended church when he taught at Oxford. When we entered the church I heard what sounded like a tape of a man speaking the words of Jesus in a flat, monotonous, drone. There was only one person in the pews listening. As we walked around where I could see down the isle, to my surprise there was an Anglican priest at the lectern.
I’ve never heard a more lifeless and boring reading of the Gospels. I sarcastically asked Dr. H if he had any idea why this church didn’t have more people in attendance.
The Wife and Mrs. H have had trouble sleeping on this trip, and if I had been thinking I would have suggested they record some of that sermon on their iPhones. They would never need another Ambien.
Not thirty minutes later though we came across the real deal, a man on sidewalk preaching the Gospel to students and other passers-by. It was one of the highlights of our day.
We finished our tour at the cross in the pavement on Broad Street marking the spot where Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, and Thomas Cranmer were burned at the stake in 1555-56 by order of Queen Mary for preaching the Gospel.
Latimer and Ridley were burned at the stake together. Latimer was heard to say to Ridley before the fire was lit, “Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”
Cranmer’s martyrdom followed the following year. After initially recanting, he recanted his recantation. He was then taken from University Church of St. Mary’s where he was condemned to the same place on Broad Street where Latimer and Ridley had been martyred the year prior. According to witnesses, Cranmer wore a smile during the walk from the church to his death, evidence of his confidence in his decision and God’s grace.