One of the many nice things about my job is that I can invite people to preach in one of the world’s most beautiful buildings. As it happens, Clive James says it’s the world’s most beautiful building, and maybe he’s right.
Whether he is or not, like many Cambridge clergy I think that it’s quite a good idea to have a series of sermons with a theme. These generally run for a term but I have come to the view that it’s a bit more interesting if the series is not a week-in, week-out matter, and that it’s also nice if it keeps going, off and on, for two or more terms.
And this is indeed the plan for our ‘Women of Spirit’ sermon series that begins this coming Sunday (24.1.16) when Jessica Martin preaches about Margaret Benson. This is not perhaps the most obvious or famous person with whom to start. Margaret, or Maggie, Benson was a philosopher of religion, author and Egyptologist and a member of a remarkable Cambridge family where, on the whole, the men took the credit. Not that they were without personal achievements themselves: one of her brothers wrote the words of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and her Dad became Archbishop of Canterbury. Before that he was Bishop of Truro and when he found that the Cornish folk preferred going to the pub than going to Church on Christmas Eve he resurrected the medieval idea of a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. My predecessor Dean Milner White picked the idea up from him and the rest is history. King’s obviously owes a debt of gratitude to the Benson family, as does the Last Night of the Proms. But our focus on Sunday is not on that but on the under-celebrated Margaret. If you want to know more about her or how she can inspire us today you should come along …
As the series continues we will have sermons about Old Testament characters like Deborah and Naomi, there will be a sermon at the end of term about Simone Weil and I am going to offer one on Hild – or Hilda – of Whitby.
For next term I have so far lined up Christina Rees CBE to contribute to the series, also Catherine Ogle, Dean of Birmingham. I don’t yet know who they are going to speak about. Also next term we will have a special dance event inspired by women depicted in art in the Chapel.
For more information about our services this terms follow this link: King’s College Chapel Services Booklet
And if you have thoughts about who should be on any self-respecting list of ‘Women of Spirit’, please do let me know.