Remembering Edward Pusey

Dear Reader,

Each Thursday my church celebrates a Eucharist at 12:15pm.  It is simple.  There is no music and the sermon is short, something like five minutes.  The whole thing takes about a half hour, intentionally designed for people to participate during their lunch break, including (but not limited to) the teachers at our day school.

For subject matter we turn to an Episcopal publication called Holy Women, Holy Men, which acknowledges (as the title implies) saints to remember throughout the year.  Last time this service fell to me it was a day to remember Edward Pusey, a nineteenth-century Brit (1800-82).

I don’t usually publish my sermons for this service.  Since they are only five minutes (roughly) and usually more historical in nature than theological, I always preach without notes; and usually from memory, meaning I don’t write anything down by way of notes.  Last week, however, I did write something down.  I wasn’t as familiar with Pusey as I usually am with these Thursday saints and I was impressed by his story.  I didn’t want to leave anything important out, in other words.

Anyway, since I spent the time to write it down (in bulleted outline), I’m now publishing it to my blog–for posterity if for no other reason.  But if you do happen upon this post, I hope you find it helpful.



I Peter 2:19-23

Today’s passage from I Peter very much encapsulates the life and works of Edward Pusey, the acknowledged leader of the Oxford Movement of the 19th century.

  • He endured unjust suffering, of a sort, for the sake of honoring God;
  • Christ suffered too, for our sake;
  • When abused, he did not return abuse; when suffering, he did not threaten; but entrusted himself to God;
  • Pusey followed this example, as should we.

Specifically targeted was Pusey’s preaching:

  • A scholar, he typically delivered his sermons at Christ Church, Oxford, often to a university audience;
  • An excellent preacher: catholic in resonance; evangelical in winsomeness;
  • The preaching his sermon, “The Entire Absolution of the Penitent,” is now understood to be the chief catalyst in the revival of private confession in the Anglican Communion.
  • But upon hearing another one of his sermons, “The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent,” his more influential superiors condemned the work and suspended him from preaching for two years:
  • It suggested Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist;
  • It seemed “dangerously innovative.”

But, like Christ, he bore his unjust suffering patiently; and, as I mentioned already, is understood today to be the leader of the Oxford Movement.

May we have similar resolve: to accomplish with integrity the tasks God gives us; and to endure with patience whatever suffering might come.


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