It had been difficult to know what the reaction to the Coronation was going to be. The country has changed out of all recognition since Queen Elizabeth II was crowned seventy years previously, although the great British weather ensured people stood outside in the rain for hours, just as had happened in 1953.
That said, the abiding impression was the extent to which the Coronation was an unmistakably Christian occasion. That millions in the UK, and round the world, watched a two-hour church service at which the example of Jesus Christ as the perfect King was honoured, is a source of great joy.
The service started with the King being welcomed in the name of the King of Kings, and him replying “after his example I come not to be served, but to serve.” Then, also right at the beginning of the proceedings, the King was presented with a Bible, with the words “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.”
And so it continued. There were references to Jesus as the exemplar of kingship to be followed and imitated where possible. There was anointing with oil, with the signing of the cross, which recalled baptism and ordination. And resounding throughout, amidst all the swords and the costumes and the pageantry, were the words of scripture.
From Colossians 1 was the reminder that Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. “For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.”
The Gospel reading was from Luke 4, recalling Jesus reading from Isaiah 61 to announce the beginning of His earthly ministry, when He proclaimed heaven’s good news, release for the captives, recovery of sight for the blind and the year of the Lord’s favour.
The contrast between the perfect Kingdom of Christ and our current political situation hardly needs to be emphasised. Even the Government admits that thirteen years in office has left the public wanting something different.
The last few years have been especially tumultuous, with the pandemic and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, but even more from the deep national trauma of the Brexit arguments, that has left us with as divided a public realm as at any time in modern history. No wonder the message of a perfect king who in His nature is both truth and justice stirs us in our deepest being.
The Coronation does not presage great change to our country’s politics. But it does help us stop and think about what God wants to be the pattern for leadership. Jesus is our example. He has three main offices - of priest, of prophet and king.
He is the Priest for ever in the order of Melchizedek who intercedes with God on behalf of the people. He is the Prophet like Moses who speaks God’s words to the people. And He is the eternal King, great David’s greater son, who rules forever over people. He is not just long to reign over us, as we sing in the national anthem, He is forever to reign over us, and we are to be forever His people.
“His dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness, for now and forever”.
As we read about the Kings of Israel and Judah in the Bible, we see what happens when kings follow God’s ways or go their own. King Charles has had a fantastic example in the life of Christian service led by his mother. This coronation service provided a firm foundation if he wants to follow Christ and follow his mother’s example.
It is good to step back from the daily politicking of Westminster, the fallout of the local elections and our media’s obsession with gossip, and petty egotism, and fix our eyes instead on the One True King, the author and perfecter of our faith. Let us pray that Charles will follow the example of Christ and seek not to be served but to serve.