My six-year-old son Augustine and I sat transfixed this morning from my home office in Los Angeles, watching the coronation of King Charles III. How the world has changed since a four-year-old boy named Charles watched his mother’s coronation 70 years ago.
The Coronation Of King Charles III
I was interested in how Augustine would react. What would he notice? What would draw his attention? He goes to Sunday School and is familiar with the pomp and pageantry of the kings of ancient Israel as recorded in the Hebrew Bible. He noticed the parallels immediately. As we watched the crowning, he perceptibly asked about what the meaning of the sword and other accouterments (impatient for the actual crowning). I told him to listen. Indeed, the Archbishop carefully explained the symbolism of each element.
The pinnacle of the ceremony was when Charles was anointed in oil behind a screen as George Frideric Handel’s coronation tune Zadok the Priest, written for George II in 1727, was sung.
ZADOK the priest, and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king; and all the people rejoiced, and said: God save the king. Long live the king. May the king live forever. Hallelujah. Amen. – 1 Kings 1: 39–40
Even so, my favorite part of the ceremony was when Charles was presented with a Bible, with the admonition:
SIR, to keep you ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes, receive this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.
The beautiful liturgy of the Anglican Church is always an inspiration to me and the liturgy of this service was indeed inspiring.
You can review the entire liturgy here.
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I love religion, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how that love is channeled. Religion can damn us to a superficial, hollow, and rote expression of faith (or indeed no genuine faith at all) that can lead others astray. Religion, like anything else, can become an idol that clouds us from the purest expression of truth and love found in a Man, not a following. As such, I must always remind myself that religion is a means to an end rather than an end in itself.
I think I’m drawn to the British Royal Family because it represents the Christian roots of our civilization. No, the US is not a Christian nation and I’m glad of that. I think religion flourishes when church and state are kept separate. Even so, the beauty of this service and its roots tracing back centuries into the past and indeed all the way to ancient Israel does give me pause…and appreciation. My hope is vested not in an earthly king or present, but the King of Kings and I was thankful that the service today at least gave lip service to that ultimate hope. It is always important to affirm that our leaders come not to be served, but to serve.
But as Augustine said, “That’s really cool.” Yes, there is something really cool about a tradition that has been repeated for nearly a millennium, and that points those of us under the progeny of the British Crown to the roots of our systems of government and tradition that continues to inspire even in our post-modern world.