Today we honor Edward Bouverie Pusey. Pusey was the leader of the Oxford Movement – a movement that sought to revive High Church teachings and practices in the Anglican Communion. Born in 1800, Pusey spent his scholarly life in Oxford, England. In 1833 he teamed up with others to produce tracts for the Oxford Movement. But his most influential work was his preaching – which was both catholic in content and evangelical in his zeal for souls, but many of his contemporaries felt that he was dangerously innovative. In fact, Pusey was once suspended from preaching for two years for preaching about the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He was also responsible for helping revive private confession in the Anglican Communion. He established churches for the poor and helped establish sisterhoods, including the first Anglican sisterhood since the Reformation.
A lot of Pusey’s work seems non-controversial to us now. We are used to talking of Christ’s “Real Presence” in communion. We are familiar with private confession and Anglican sisterhoods. But Pusey was controversial in his day and faced much persecution. I imagine he may have read our Epistle lesson several times in those days: “ … if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” Our lesson reminds us that what is earthly suffering now can lead to powerful change later. Pusey’s work and witness changed the entire Anglican experience and identity. But he saw little of that fruition.
What Pusey and First Peter tell us today is that the work God has given us to do will not always be easy, but when we authentically live into our call, the reward goes beyond just us. We bless people all the time through our call. Living into our call takes courage and conviction. But when we do, we can be encouraged that we are walking the path that many saints before us have walked, and one in which many saints will follow. Amen