Monday, August 12, 2019

Reformation Cambridge 4) Fresh learning

I mentioned how I had learned new things.  After the cool we were hit again by the heat as we walked by the Market Square into Great St. Mary's - the University Church.  I had no idea that in the window of opportunity for Reformers granted by a different monarch (1547-1553) one of the great German reformers, a personal friend of Luther, a brilliant scholar and a powerful preacher had actually come to be the preacher in this church as well as Divinity Professor.   Martin Bucer is one of those names that should be better known.

He came to Great St. Mary's and preached from a three-tiered pulpit set up at the front of the church. So influential was his preaching that when he died after only two years in Cambridge (in 1551) the town and gown mourned him in vast numbers.  3000 people gathered at his funeral as he was buried in the church.

Sadly, the story does not end there.  Soon afterwards when Mary came to the throne she ordered his coffin to be dug up and his body burned with his ashes scattered in the nearby Market Square.  Later Queen Elizabeth 1 ordered the ashes to be collected and reburied in the church.  A plaque at the east end on the floor now remembers this great man.

In the sweltering heat we paused to take in this bit of history.  For me, it led to finding out more about Bucer.  One biographer reflects that he hasn't received enough attention for his influence on others was immense (especially on Calvin who claimed Bucer's commentary on Romans was one of the very greatest!)  So many aspects of his work sparkle - like how he initiated small discipleship cells for the spiritual renewal of believers with an evangelical service of confirmation (he designed) being a focal point of commitment to Christ.  What a story we belong to!

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