Latest Event Updates
In Chapel this evening, from 5:30-6:30pm, we are delighted to host the first presentation of a new liturgy based on William Shakespeare’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ‘Seeing More Clearly with the Eyes of Love’, as the liturgy is called, has been co-written by academics from Regent’s Park College and creative artists.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream contains two significant references to the New Testament: Bottom’s misquoting of St Paul (‘The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen…’) and Bottom’s declaration taken from the Letter to the Ephesians (‘I assure you: the wall is down that parted their fathers’). In this ‘Liturgy for Voices’ these references are woven together with other excerpts from the play, words from the biblical poem ‘Song of Songs’, and elements from the traditional Christian liturgy to enable those present to explore Shakespeare’s own theme of clarifying the vision which belongs to love. The liturgy also includes five newly commissioned pieces from contemporary poets based on characters in the play – Laurence Sail (Titania), Michael Symmons Roberts (Demetrius), Sinead Morrissey (Puck), Micheal O’ Siadhail (Helena) and Jenny Lewis (Bottom) – and the whole is intended to present an aspect of ‘Civic Shakespeare’, reflecting on the potentially transforming effect of love in civil society.
Today, Friday 27 May, at 5:45pm, Professor Keith Ward will give a sermon in Chapel on the question: ‘Where is Heaven?’ We are delighted to welcome Professor Ward back to Oxford, where he was formerly Regius Professor of Divinity (1991-2004). He is a distinguished speaker and the author of numerous books, specialising in the interface between faith and science. His most recent publications include: Why There Almost Certainly is a God (2008) and The Evidence for God (2014).
Our Trinity term sermon series on the theme of ‘Mortality and Immortality’ continues this week, with a sermon on the question: ‘Did God intend death?’ Dr Bethany Sollereder, an Oxford specialist in the theology of evolution and suffering, will respond to readings from the book of Genesis and St Paul’s epistle to the Romans, in which the apostle declared: ‘sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned’ (Rm 5:12). We look forward to hearing how Dr Sollereder, drawing upon her expertise in the fields of science and theology, comes to terms with these challenging texts, and the difficult question of the relationship between the Divine and the ultimate offences against creation, sin and death. All welcome.
To begin our series this term, Dr Lynn Robson, tutor in English at Regent’s Park, will lead a service of reflections on the theme of ‘Mortality and Immortality’ in poetry, music and art. Poetry readings will include works by John Keats (1795-1821) and Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), and the service will feature excerpts from The Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss (1864-1949). All welcome.
We are pleased to announce that our sermon series for the term ahead will be on the theme ‘Mortality and Immortality’. Preachers from a variety of confessional and academic perspectives will consider the subjects death, judgement, hell and heaven, traditionally called the ‘Four Last Things’. All welcome.
In an unusual take on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, at Compline this evening Fr Robin’s final Lenten meditation focused upon the elder brother; he is often the character in the story with whom people most readily identify. Here is the familiar text from St Luke’s Gospel:
“Then Jesus said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands’.’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe – the best one – and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. | Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found’.” (Lk 15:11-32)
At Compline this evening, Fr Robin delivered the third of his Lenten reflections on the theme of spiritual fruitfulness. His text was the following challenging passage from St Luke’s Gospel:
“At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them – do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’ Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down”.” (Lk 13:1-9)
Listen to Fr Robin’s reflection here: