Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter and the Coronation.

“Anything you ask in my name I will do so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Jesus in today’s Gospel, John 14:1-14.

“I come not to be served but to serve.” King Charles in the Coronation service, based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 20:28.

Yesterday’s Coronation featured glorious music, spectacular regalia and an updated service as 2,300 people came together in Westminster Abbey, with thousands of police and the military ensuring their safety and welfare. One of the events that seemed touching was when his son, Prince William, made the Homage of the Royal Blood to his father the king and, with Prince George being a page boy to his grandfather, the monarchy seemed to be at a point of greater stability after such a time of recent controversy. King Charles promised to serve and, tomorrow, there will be opportunities for others also to serve voluntarily in The Big Help Out, joining work being undertaken in their locality – rain permitting!

Today’s reflection is from Bishop Gregory, who has kindly given his permission for this extract from his recent Ad Clerum to be used. The Coronation, its symbolism and ancient rituals can be hard to understand and, although it is written from a Welsh perspective, this helpful resumé may clarify what is at the heart of the service for those who may otherwise find the service challenging. The Bishop writes:

“Whether we support the monarchy or not, however, this ceremony does represent the inauguration of a new Head of State for the United Kingdom, a present reality even if again there are those who’d prefer a free Welsh Republic. And what is extraordinary is that although we live in a largely secularized family of four nations, this sacred event will be put at the centre of the country’s life. For me, the presentation of the orb to the King will convey a central message, as the archbishop intones: “Receive this orb set under the cross, and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.”

I wonder whether the ceremony would be allowed at all if people realized the extraordinary nature of the statements made in the service. First, this is a Christian event. There have been rumours of tensions between the palaces (Buckingham and Lambeth) about the role of inter-faith representatives in the service, but the symbolism is entirely Christian. It asserts that for all the splendour of the robes, the King and the nation are subject to the supreme authority of Jesus, and all must stand in humility before God’s throne. Then, the crown jewels, for all their glitter and history, are symbolic as lessons about the importance of the values of mercy, responsibility, and service, and all made possible in the human world by the power of Christ as redeemer, the one who offered up his life as a sacrifice for our sins, and who offers us grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4.16)

There is a sense in which the ceremonies of the coronation sought to control, restrict, and direct the power of the mediaeval kings into good channels rather than tyranny. Power may have almost entirely been stripped away from the British monarchy in our modern democracy, but the ceremony remains at its heart as a reminder that everyone needs God’s help, and that Jesus is the true King and source of all that is good. Such a purpose should be supported in our prayers for our country’s life.”

Amen to that!

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.