Simon Oatridge

A Year at Oak Hill - Part Two

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Following on from last week’s guest post, our mission partner Simon Oatridge reflects on a year at Oak Hill College.

“How do you summarise a year in 400 words? Here’s a glimpse of what being an Oak Hill student has involved…

Width

It’s been an enormous privilege to receive such a wide range of teaching and experiences: from Communications Workshops given by a former West-End Shakespearean actor; to a whistle stop tour of the first 1000 years of Christianity. Studying the first six books of the Old Testament, and the Gospels has enlarged my view of God; attending a two-week placement at Westminster Abbey; learning more about Anglican Ministry (from Peter Juckes’ Dad!) and most recently having a week with the Chaplain of St. Luke’s Hospice back in Sheffield. Through it all, it has been good to study alongside others from different denominations, backgrounds, and places, and there was even the chance to set up “The Oak Hill Open” – an end of year golf day for students and lecturers.

Depth

Studying Hebrew and Greek has been interesting, confusing, rewarding, painful, and even fun (sometimes). My end of year exams included translating the parable of the sower, Genesis 22 and 37. I’ve come to (mostly) love writing essays, as they have given me the chance to consider a particular topic in greater depth. One assignment involved responding to Richard Dawkins’ view of God as a ‘moral monster’ based on the Canaan conquest in the Old Testament, while another gave me the chance to think more about God as Trinity. Each one has been practical: with essays on biblical youth and children’s work in church, servant leadership, and preaching being particular favourites.

Height

On the first day at College we were told “theology leads to doxology” – which is a fancy way of saying what we study is to cause us to love and worship God. Looking back on the year, I’m so grateful for how this has been a reality, whether in the prayerfulness of lecturers, in ending a lecture by singing together, daily chapel, or the example of faculty who model what it means to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Studying has caused me to rejoice, cry, smile, and silenced me as I have seen something more of the majesty, wonder, beauty and goodness of our God.

It was lovely to see many of you on Sunday. Thanks so much for your ongoing prayers, friendship, and support!”

Remember the Sabbath day

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Which of these have you heard, or said, in the last week?

‘I mustn’t waste time’

‘If only I had more time I could…’

‘The time has flown by!’

How God’s people spend their time is at the heart of the 4th commandment:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.
— Exodus 20v8-10

Sabbath means ‘to rest’ or ‘cease.’ This pattern of working 6 days and having 1 day off was unheard of in the ancient world, and reflected the goodness of Israel’s God. All they had known was slavery in Egypt, now God commanded them to have one day off a week, as well as festivals!

What does the Sabbath mean for Christians today?                                                              

The New Testament suggests some Christians continued to observe the Sabbath as a special day, while others regarded every day as the same (Romans 14v5). It seems for some Christians the Sabbath was a cause of tension and division. Colossians 2.16-17 states:

Therefore let no one pass judgment… with regard to the Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
— Colossians 2v16-17

If we want to know what Sabbath rest from work is all about, we have to look away from the shadow and to the substance, or reality. Christians are to look to Jesus. He has finished our work of salvation, and is sat down at the right hand of God our Father. From there he invites us to ‘come to me all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11v28).

Christ is the end of working for salvation. Christ is the end of justifying our existence by what we do. Christ is the end of slavishly living for the approval of our peers or bosses. It is easy to overwork and idolise our jobs, trying to find in them our identity, worth, and satisfaction. It is easy to live for the weekend, the next holiday, or ‘me time’ without the pressures of work and family. But Christ offers us the life we were always made for. Our Creator and Redeemer invites us to come to him and find ‘rest for our souls.’

In our work and rest, may we discover more of what St. Augustine discovered so long ago: ‘You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until it rests in you.’

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