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Convergence of Martyrs Past and Present

Convergence of Martyrs Past and Present

by The Reverend Elizabeth Goodyear Jones

As my train approached Oxford, I marveled at how quickly London had faded into memory and Christ Church was looming, along with my study at The Oxford Experience. Very quickly I transferred to my cab and we made the hill for downtown Oxford, passing Broad Street on my way to my college. Coupled with modern conveniences, this ancient city of learning was as stunning as I’d hoped it would be.

I quickly saw to my bags and room, only wondering who might have shared these rooms from centuries past, and then I was out the door to walk around Oxford.

Back up a hill I went, coming to Broad street and making a right turn. And there in the center of 21st century traffic and colleges, was a cobbled street with a cross embedded in its center. On the cross was a fragrant red rose. I stood there transfixed by the convergence of the past, my present and the future.

If you follow the daily lectionary, you’ve probably guessed whose cross I was looking at, and you would be right. The cross was placed in the street in remembrance of the burning of Bishops’ Latimer and Ridley at the stake October 16, 1555, in Oxford England.

Bishop Latimer is said to have said to Bishop Ridley as the fires were lit, “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as shall never be put out.” 

There I was, looking at a cross embedded in a road, when a red bus drove casually over it. I wanted to kneel and give thanks for the valor of those who willingly die for the faith, so that those who come after might proclaim the same faith in their day.

That’s us. That’s England. That’s the power of Christ to carry our own crosses all the way, to Oxford and beyond. Wherever the light needs to shine.

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