cause for pause mansfield weekly chapel


Week 5

In times of restraint and physical distancing, when the body of Christ cannot meet in one place we are finding new ways to worship together. This self-led order for evening prayer with contributions from members across the Mansfield community, invites us to slow down as we approach the end of the day. You may conduct your worship in silence or you may use the videos included throughout.

You may wish to begin by lighting a candle in your home (if you are able) and use this time and space to reflect on the activity of the day that has just passed and commit it to God. We are then invited to contemplate the night of restoration that lies ahead, entrusting ourselves to God.

'Christ is the unity that binds in one the near and far: for we who share his life divine, his living body are. On earth and in the realms beyond, one fellowship are we; and at his altar we are knit in mystic unity.' Timothy Rees (1874-1939)

Psalm 122

I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’

And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem; Jerusalem, built as a city that is at unity in itself.

Thither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as is decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord.

For there are set the thrones of judgement, the thrones of the house of David.

O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you.

‘Peace be within your walls and tranquillity within your palaces.’

For my kindred and companions’ sake, I will pray that peace be with you.

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do you good.

Gracious God, you have poured into our hearts the precious peace of your Spirit. Make us of one heart and one will, that as your children, we may be united in the bonds of love. Amen.

John 17:1-11

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.


by John Oxlade - Director of Music (Mansfield College)

The concept of UNITY – oneness – is strangely alien. Making unexpected connections with people in unusual situations the phrase “it is a small world” is often quoted. Yet with over 7 billion people speaking innumerable different languages – mostly even when countries are next-door neighbours separated only by an ephemeral border (while trying to preserve their national identity) – being “as one” is a huge challenge.

People often speak of some particular achievement as being “rather unique” or “almost unique” or “quite unique” but unique itself really means “One” from its Latin root unus (una, unum) and thus can’t be qualified, and unity – being one – is itself perhaps a bit over-optimistic. In the book of Psalms the term unity occurs only very seldom (and most famously in Psalm 122): as a former boy chorister at Southwark Cathedral in London I sang (along with lots of other choristers) the 150 psalms on the appointed days and got to know the words – many very meaningful, but many in rather archaic language and difficult for a young person (as I once was!) to understand. However, one of the very shortest psalms, no 133 “Ecce, quam bonum” is a delightfully positive and actually quite picturesque piece of poetry – and very memorable – and it features UNITY:

“Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity!”

The second verse “It is like the precious ointment upon the head that ran down…. Even unto Aaron’s beard “ – has a certain resonance in this current time of 1970’s long hair, but the concluding verse “The Lord promised his blessing – and life for evermore” is very heartening, and a pre-echo of the closing words of St Matthew’s gospel “Lo, I am with you to the end of time”.

Recently I was assured by a great friend, who is also a distinguished scientist (and therefore knows) that the present troubles “will get better” and it is, therefore, I am sure, factually so. It is also part of my personal rather fatalistic outlook to accept whatever happens in life, in the spirit that we cannot always expect good things and also that things may happen which are beyond (or different from) our hopes and expectations. Hence the words of the angel to Elijah are a good maxim:

“O rest in the Lord, wait patiently for him”.

Beyond my own self-absorbed response, it could be a unifying message to others looking for some sort of answer in our present situation.

My historical studies have given me some insight into the intellectual conflict suffered by conscientious thinkers in the past: two figures in particular provide a fascinating journey through the religious changes of their time – both in respect of their responses and how they resolved them. Miles Coverdale is one – a shining light in the complex inter-weavings of the English Reformation and to whom, though not very fully or often acknowledged, we owe so much to his translation of the psalms. And the other great figure, with life-long connections to Oxford (at the University Church, Oriel College and the parish of Littlemore) was St John Henry Newman. His attempts to resolve the deepest questions of faith provide ultimately a clarity which engenders unity. Although Christian unity is still hidebound by different precepts (particularly trans-substantiation) in all other respects the DESIRE for unity seems paramount.

Shared aspirations between other religions – for peace, goodness and a spirit of generosity to our fellow human beings – are not always sufficient to achieve universal unity, but it would be wonderful if, as the psalmist writes “for us to dwell together in unity”.

In this world of division, cultural and economic, it would be good, also, for more sharing – of ideas as well as commodities, and if the Church (at large, i.e. of whatever denomination) can continue to work to achieve that, the resulting unity would indeed be a “good and joyful thing”.

A Moment for Reflection

Shackleton’s Cross by Howard Goodall

Prayers of the People

Eternal God, in this time of uncertainty, may our love overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help us to determine what is best for our common life and to serve our neighbours in local communities.

Lord God, strengthen and sustain Mansfield College and its community. Bring us together while we are in apart in the common mission to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with one another.

Gracious Spirit, we pray that you will fill our homes with the light of your presence, and inspire us to grow in new ways as your church as we reach out to each other in faith, hope and love.

Gracious Lord, out of the depths we cry to you, grant mercy and refreshment to everyone in need. Keep watch with those who study, work, or wait or watch or weep; give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Lord God, grant us, we pray, patience and tolerance in these difficult times.

Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,

thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shades lengthen, and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Attributed to Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

A Final Moment of Music

Theme from Ladies in Lavender by Nigel Hess

Thank you to John Oxlade, Director of Music for all of his contributions to this order of service for evening prayer. If you would like to contribute, please contact the Chaplain, Rev'd Sarah Farrow (chaplain@mansfield.ox.ac.uk). Next week's service will be available from midday on Wednesday.


Created with images by Andraz Lazic - "Feather on the lake. " • Markus Spiske - "Steinmännchen - Stonemen. Made with Canon 5d Mark III and vintage analog lens Leica Summilux-R 1.4 50mm." • CHIRAG K - "untitled image" • Nine Köpfer - "frangible dance" • Ross Sneddon - "untitled image"